Star-spangled DevConf gears up for fourth edition


The organisers of DevConf have revealed their mystery speakers and a series of riveting talks at DevConf – the summit for South African developers – this month.

DevConf co-organiser Robert MacLean says: “This agenda is something really special, with a number of international speakers and local superstars covering the essential topics developer teams will need for success in 2019.”

DevConf is now in its fourth year, growing year on year from its standing room only success in 2015. This year, the summit will be staged at The River Club in Cape Town on 26 March and Vodacom World in Johannesburg on 28 March, with more than 1100 international and local developers networking and sharing insights on the latest developer trends and tools.

With up to five tracks covering everything from microservices, AI and hacking satellites, through to developer burnout and wi-fi catapults for office warfare, DevConf deep dives into every aspect of software development in SA today.   

Clifford de Wit, so-founder of Dexterity Digital, will open DevConf with a look at the impact today’s developers have on society and the world as a whole. A top-rated speaker, William Brander of Particular Software, will address Microfrontends as a solution to legacy JavaScript. “William has spoken at every DevConf so far, and his was the top rated submission this year,” says MacLean. “His talk is very unique and while very technical, it hits on major concern companies have: with technology changing all the time how do you build a system made up of multiple technologies?”

Software architect Chris Tite, who has also spoken at every DevConf, will cover mentoring and growing stronger teams using Agile techniques this year.

German software developer Felix Wu, a part-time Frontend Consultant for TNG Technology Consulting,  Open Source contributor and the co-creator of the JavaScript snippet collection 30-seconds-of-code and a platform for tech interviewees called 30-seconds-of-interviews, also maintains react-perf-devtool. He is also only 17 years old.  He will give an Introduction to Mutation Testing. Says MacLean: “Felix is doing one of the most innovative and forward-thinking approaches to software testing we’ve ever seen.”

Robert Bravery, manager and Senior Developer at IQ Business will talk audience through using AI for facial recognition that can understand emotion, gender and age; while Tom Wells will cover challenges building realtime AI at hyper-scale. Ian Buchanan, a Principal Solutions Engineer for DevOps at Atlassian, will explain why everything you learned about CI/CD is wrong;   second-generation coder Pamela Hill will demonstrate that Kotlin can be used for full-stack web development, and Jade Abbott, a Senior Software Developer and Data Scientist at Retro Rabbit, will pit the three big cloud provider against each other on three real world applications.

Helge Reikeras, Data Scientist at OfferZen will outline Data Science and Machine Learning Tools for Developers; Anna Migas, a Front-end Developer and Designer at Lunar Logic, a no-management software house in Poland, will help developers move beyond perceived performance to effectively debug user interaction performance issues, and Enrique Geldenhuys, Senior Software Engineer at Entelect, will talk on mentorship and using the right tool for the job. “Like the saying ‘when all you have is a hammer, it’s tempting to treat everything like a nail’, we can get over-enthusiastic about the new trend and try to apply it to everything in the environment. But there’s no ‘golden hammer’,” he says. Also looking at skills, Gregory Fullard, head of EOH Digital Platoon, says senior programmers should not keep playing superhero and stepping in to save the day. “In most teams, you’ll have a mix of juniors and experienced people, and often the juniors don’t know just how little they really know about the work at hand. This ‘Dunning–Kruger effect’ perceived competence can put development projects at risk and force one or two senior ‘hero programmers’ to pick up the slack,” he says.     

With a recent survey finding as many as 57% of employees at 30 tech companies reporting burnout, Tanya & Riaan du Plessis, a psychologist and a programmer, will talk through tools for identifying, understanding, preventing and dealing with burnout.  Justin Slack, head of design, user experience, and front-end development at NML, covers the intersection of web fonts and performance; and Netstar Solutions Architect Quintin de Kok will talk on Infrastructure as Code on Azure AKS. “Having gone through the pain, I can say it was an awesome lesson in how not to do it again,” de Kok says.  

Python developer Sewagodimo Matlapeng will talk on ‘From Zero to kind of hero: Getting your Python side project ready for deployment’. Says MacLean: “Sewagodimo has an amazing story of how she saw how her little sister lacked support resources for her education and used technology to solve it.

DevConf kicks off with a Lean Coffee meetup, includes lunch, and ends with a cocktail networking session, and for the first time this year will also include a Fish Bowl open space with dedicated facilitators to keep the conversation flowing throughout the day.

DevConf is presented by organisers Robert MacLean and Candice Herodotou (Mesk), in partnership with Diamond Sponsor Derivco, Platinum Sponsors AllanGrayMicro Focus and Obsidian Systems, Gold Sponsors EOH and Synthesis Software Technologies, Silver Sponsors Accenture TechnologyEqual ExpertsLuno and OfferZen, Bronze Sponsors dvtMicrosoft and Red Hat, as well as Media Sponsors Digital Streethypertext and IT-Online.

DevConf Cape Town is sold out, but a limited number of seats are still available at the Johannesburg event. To reserve a space, and for more information, visit or follow @devconfza #devconf

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