DeveloperWeek 2020 - Thank You Bay Area


The Conference

DeveloperWeek was a blast and I’m very thankful I had the opportunity to go. Shoutout to Sherry Bastion, my manager, for sending me out there! This was my first big conference as as a newbie in the workforce. Overall I was pleased with how it turned out.

This opportunity made it clear that my next conference should specific towards a community I want to engage with (such as React, Gatsby, or JavaScript). The spectrum of speakers and sessions at DeveloperWeek varied from basic and beginner concepts (someone walked through what NPM was…) to highly specific concepts that might never cross my desk. I enjoyed the mix, as I bounced around session-to-session.

I packed my schedule full of 50 sessions (some overlapping) and charged ahead for three days. Thank god for the Peet’s Coffee next door, shout out to them. Some of my favorite sessions were in the Product World and DevExec tracks. These high level discussions provided a break from the highly-specific implementations of ideas and tools in JavaScript that I often wonder when I would use.

Of those 50 sessions, the ones that stood out to me were:

  1. Adopting Agile Anywhere and Everywhere: From the Cloud to the Enterprise by Skyla Loomis
  2. The Ignored Voices in Product Design: Your Development Team by Peter Pezaris
  3. The Future of Front-End Frameworks by Minko Gechev
  4. One Team, One Dream? Gaining Cross-Functional Buy-In by Caroling Lee
  5. Modern React Design Patterns by Morten Barklund
  6. From Coding to Managing: What I’ve Learned so Far by Israel Heringer
  7. Progressive Web Apps Are the Future by Alain Chautard
  8. WebOps - How Developers and Marketers Deliver Great Digital Experiences by Josh Koenig
  9. HackerRank – Developer Trends in 2020 and Beyond; Research from the World’s Most Trusted Source by Vivek Ravisankar
  10. Winning Internal Negotiations by Shane Ray Martin
  11. GitHub – The Interconnected Developer Community and the Evolution of Software Productivity by Rachel Potvin

The Hackathon

Saturday the floodgates opened into Galvanize SF, the Hackathon venue. Our team gathered and immediately explored the challenges available. We honed in on the TomTom challenge, which was to build an application that helped eliminate food waste using location technology from TomTom. This would be the most viable challenge given our skillsets: a designer, a frontend developer, and a back-end developer.

Our solution was a simple progressive web app built ontop of Gatsby + NodeJS. The challenges we faced were: poor TomTom API documentation, poor TomTom Web API support, and a lack of time. The result was a basic application that utilized Material UI with Express endpoints to fetch data from a MySQL server.

I gained a lot of valuable insight in the process and met two wonderful people living in the Bay Area. Overall, I would say that this Hackathon went well. If we really wanted to win, I would say that we’d want to have: our team selected beforehand, a gameplan thought-out beforehand, and a more comfortable workspace. The challenges were visible for weeks beforehand, so a competitive team could have had a lot of scaffolding, if not an entire application, done way before my team and I even met.

The Experience

I, like many others, absolutely love California. I found the vibe in the Bay Area especially interesting, compared to the time I’ve spent in Los Angeles. I was excited that the conference in Oakland was right next to a BART station, only 15-20 minutes from San Francisco. The first day of the conference was a bit more slim in terms of sessions compared to the rest, so I took the opportunity to hop on the BART alongside the morning commuters into the city. I hopped off at Embarcadero Station and walked along the coast for a few miles. The views were spectacular and I found myself envying the people in offices along the oceanside warehouses.

It goes without saying that tech culture thrives in San Francisco. Walking alongside buildings you immediately notice the magnitude of familiar logos: Slack, IBM, LinkedIn, Salesforce, WeWork, the list goes on and on. I can’t attest to what living there feels like, but something about the presence of these companies felt moving.

Lastly, how could I not mention the food. I was lucky enough to be staying next to Swan’s Marketplace, a hot-bed of eclectic eateries. My favorite spot was Cosecha where I found myself devouring pork belly tacos two days in a row.

In the end, I walked away with new exeriences, a few new friends, and a plethora of information. I can’t wait for another chance to visit the Bay Area and another chance to get out of my comfort zone and participate in a hackathon.