I thought the Codestock conference was pretty smooth this year. I’m glad the free sodas made a return (last year, a can of soda cost more than a Starbucks latte, though that wasn’t the conference’s choice). I wish there was a little more variety in talks – everything is still web/.NET/soft skills. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of good talks – there are – but I keep hoping to see more Ruby/Python/Mobile/XR/etc type of talks so you have a more diverse (from a technical background) audience. It was hosted at the Knoxville Convention Center in downtown Knoxville, TN again this year. It’s a great space with plenty of room.
If you’ve never been, it’s a good deal if you’re anywhere close to Knoxville. Ticket prices vary each year, but it’s usually in the $125-$200 range if you get in at the “early bird” pricing. For that, you get two days of talks, lunch provided both days, a social event at the conference on Friday, and an after party later on Friday (though the after party doesn’t happen every year), and a nice conference T-shirt. It’s a great value overall.
I ended up having to skip Saturday due to illness, but here are the talks I attended on Friday.
Keynote: A Tale of Short Links
I enjoyed this talk, though it was a little different than previous keynotes. It was half about Jeremy’s history and half how he used Azure to solve a specific problem he had. I think the point of the talk was to point out how new tools are always becoming available that will save you time and/or money, so it’s important to stay on top of them.
Introducing .NET Core 3
This was a great overview/demo of .NET Core 3’s support for desktop apps. Jeff did a live demo where he converted a WinForms app over to .NET Core 3 without much trouble. He pointed out it was obviously a simple app and a production app would certainly take longer and have more fixes needed, but it works. The migration progress was a little clunky, but it sounds like that’s only because .NET Core 3 is still a few months out from being released – so all of the VS tooling is in flux or flat out missing at the moment.
Terraform: Everything as Code
By Andy Cowell
This was my first introduction to Terraform. I always had the impression it was similar in concept to a Dockerfile – not that it used Docker or any of that, but the same types of things you did in a Dockerfile would be what you did in Terraform…you were just targeting a physical server/VM instead of a container. My take away from this talk was Terraform wasn’t anything like that and it sounded like it was more trouble than it was worth. I came away from the talk wondering why you would actually use Terraform given how limited it sounded. Maybe it was just the introductory nature of the talk that a lot of important details were skipped, but from what I saw, I wasn’t encouraged to try Terraform.
Goodbye REST APIs. Hello GraphQL!
This was a pretty eye opening talk about GraphQL. I’ve heard of it and seen a few examples, but I didn’t understand how the backend was implemented. Cory didn’t get a chance to go into too much detail on the backend side of things, but he gave enough info in the talk to get a feel for what is going on. I can see why it’s a powerful technology and it’s something I think I’ll experiment with in the future. His suggestion was to wrap your existing REST APIs with GraphQL so you can use both depending on which one made sense in a given situation. I believe I’ll try to implement this in one of my personal projects to see how it works. I do wish we had more time to go through filtering/paging/security in the talk.
Drawing: How to be a Superhuman Communicator
This was another great talk. I always enjoy David’s talks because they are a bit different from the usual tech talks. I was familiar with the tools David talked about – basically using an iPad Pro + Apple pencil + Sketches Pro, but, I enjoyed seeing his live drawing demos just to get a feel for his process. I really want to try this type of sketching/illustration and his talk was a good motivator.
The Highs and Woes of Innovation on a Small and Highly Effective Team
This talk was about Branden’s experience building & working on a small team within a larger organization. There were some interesting tidbits of what worked/didn’t work for them. I was hoping to find some action items that might help my current team, but I can see the tips working better in a larger company vs a smaller company. I used to work for a giant 60,000+ employee company and I could see these tips being handy there. I still had a few takeaways for my own small team at a smaller company.
Jeff Fritz’s Live Twitch Stream
This wasn’t officially part of Codestock per se, but Jeff does lots of live coding on Twitch and was able to setup a Codestock twitch stream. He talked to the Codestock organizers, quite a few speakers, and a few sponsors. I hope he’ll make this a part of the yearly conference since.
If you’re curious what types of talks are at Codestock, see this PDF built by Cody Lambert from KnoxDevs. The schedule always changes just a bit due to cancellations/travel issues/etc, but that’ll give you an idea of what you’ll likely see at Codestock.