GDevCon2 Initial Thoughts

photo by Kabul Maharjan

I finally got home and am starting to recover from GdevCon. Like many of these types of conferences, attending GDevCon is like drinking from a fire hose. Add to that attending the workshop that Steve, Fab, and Joerg put on, lots of late-night discussions at the bar and a little jetlag and it can be overwhelming. I haven’t really had time to digest everything yet. This is my first attempt to get something to paper. There may be more coming. James McNally had some interesting thoughts here that you may be interested in. Steve also put a post up on his blog.

Thanks to all the sponsors (see the whole list here).

We are very proud to have been a sponsor this year. We really believe in these types of community events. While we certainly appreciate all the NI sponsored Events and Conferences (we routinely attend and present at them), we think it is important to have something that is independent. We were really happy to be a part of making that happen this year.

Why GDevCon is important

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what makes GDevCon so special. The best I can come up with is the community aspect of it. When I am there, I really feel like I am around “My People”. As George Berry says: Go where the best community is because communities are difficult to change. That led to a new question though: “What makes one community better than another? and is there a way to measure that?”

A really good rule of learning to program is: go where the best community is.Tools can improve. Frameworks can get rewritten to be faster. Communities are difficult to change.

Jourdan Olivier had a great tweet on what makes GDevCon and the LabVIEW Community so special. He referenced a presentation that listed 5 values that were important in building a great tech culture. I thought I would talk about each of these points as they relate to GDevCon.

New Compassionate Tech Values
1. Not Ego but Humility
2. Not Elitism but Inclusion
3. Not Competition but Cooperation
4. Not Being Smart but Learning
5. Not Being a Rockstar but Being a Mentor

Humility

I think the presenters at GDevCon2 did a great job at being humble. Noone got up there and said “This is the only way to do it, and your wong if you don’t do it my way.” Rather the attitude was “There are many ways to solve this problem. Here is the way I chose and why. And here are the tradeoffs I made.” Often the decision-making process was the most interesting part.

Inclusion

On the inclusion front, I think GDevCon is definitely moving in the right direction. There were definitely more women in attendance than last year. Arev got up on stage and gave a presentation. Dani, Fab, and Stephanie were part of the panel discussion on team building. Many presenters took up Fab’s ‘Our Giants are Female’ cause. There is still some room to improve, but we are definitely making progress.

Cooperation

When it comes to cooperation, I think that is definitely improving. There are several efforts taking place on that front. NI announced a new Community Edition of LabVIEW that will ship with LV 2020 at the next NI week. It will be fully functional and free for non-commercial and non-educational use. Ollie made an announcement about GCommunity which is an initiative he’s working on to make LabVIEW Resources easier to find. There is also GCentral, which is hoping to make packages easier to find and make it easier for developers to collaborate on open source projects.

Learning

Learning is definitely the strong point of GDevCon. Everyone is up there sharing what they have learned. If you didn’t come away with a list of things to research and/or implement you weren’t paying attention. Also this year, they added a software development workshop as well as an addon. Definitely a learning conference.

Being a Mentor

The DSH Pragmatic Software Development Workshop was a big hit. It felt more like a roundtable discussion than a class. They would take turns presenting a topic and then moderating the ensuing discussion. It was interesting seeing how each of their approaches differed. I definitely learned a ton. Also on the mentoring front, the panel on team building had lots of good content on mentoring new developers.

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