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DevConf attracts expert speakers in software field

DevConf – South Africa’s largest community organised annual gathering for software developers and professionals – has attracted a number of expert speakers on trending topics for the 2020 event, which will be held in Cape Town on 31 March and in Johannesburg on 2 April. 

UK-based game developer Matt Cavanagh says his goal is to motivate developers to step out of their comfort zone and start playing with physical hardware to make things happen in the real world – and to just have fun.

During his talk – ‘Brand awareness: teaching our robot overlords to tattoo their humans’ – he says he’ll show how anyone with little more than decent Googling skills and “the will to spur on the robot uprising” can build machines that do things at home. “Specifically, I’ll be guiding people through making a working Henna tattoo robot that can take a drawing and extrude (fancy word for ‘squirt liquid stuff out of a small hole’) henna paste along the lines onto someone’s arm. There is a good 60 percent chance no one will get hurt!”

Cavanagh says South Africa has exceptionally talented people, but a big shortage of opportunities to share knowledge and interact with each other.  “DevConf has stepped in here to fill the gap.  It is generally the highlight of my year and gives me an excuse to play with toys for ‘work’!”

Renowned software architect Chris Tite says developers are often faced with the challenge of having to integrate new development techniques with older technologies.

His talk is titled ‘Turning legacy systems into event streaming marvels: SQL meets Kafka and Event Store.’  He will tell the story of how they leveraged uncommon features in Structured Query Language to provide data events to modern external systems by publishing them in Kafka, a platform for handling real-time data feeds.  “I’ll guide attendees through how we implemented this approach on a legacy system, set out the principles behind the approach and walk through the code.

“One of the greatest challenges, as always, is for developers to remain technically relevant. This is even more important now because of the shift to the cloud. We have to think differently about our approach to problem-solving. Equally important is the fact that developers are now also required to work efficiently as part of a team, as opposed to years ago when we worked in isolation,” says Tite.

Pamela Hill, Android engineer at the cryptocurrency startup Luno, will discuss the attitudes and practices of successful remote workers and their teams. 

She says remote work benefits both the employer and employee and many businesses are already taking advantage of these benefits. “For the employer, this includes access to the best talent across the world, improved workforce productivity and cost-savings as a result of smaller offices. These advantages have already convinced prominent businesses like IBM to become remote-friendly and many smaller businesses to become remote-first. For the employee, the benefits include not having to commute, higher personal productivity due to fewer interruptions and the flexibility to live where and how they prefer. 

“The biggest challenge in introducing remote work into a company is that it requires a mindset change.  Many employers feel more comfortable seeing employees in the office at set times, as opposed to trusting employees to get the job done remotely. However, once remote working has become an option for employees, shifting from synchronous to asynchronous communication style requires getting used to.

“What I enjoy about DevConf is the dual focus of making you grow technically with high-quality technical talks from the experts, and making you think with talks about work/life balance, diversity and inclusion, and accessibility,” she says.

Other topics that will be discussed at DevConf 2020 include languages and technology, diversity and inclusion, architecture and domain design.

DevConf targets professional software developers, from solo developers to anyone who works in mid to large-sized organisations, contributing to projects of all sizes. For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.devconf.co.za or follow @devconfza.

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