Review of the droidcon Vienna conference
In mid-September, two of our Android developers went to Vienna for droidcon. When they returned, they shared their impressions. Details under the cut.
Attention: there are a lot of pictures under the cut!
- Tell me why you decided to go to droidcon in Vienna?
Anton : On droidcon before this was only in Moscow. I like the domestic version, so the Vienna expectations were very high. So I decided to attend a foreign conference, to learn new knowledge there.
Dima : In Moscow, I visited all more or less large conferences, except AppsConf. The first conference I attended in mobile development was droidcon in 2016. I decided that abroad, too, should start with her. From the nearest suitable dates was just droidcon in Vienna.
- What is known about the organizers? What conferences have they already held? What time is droidcon held in Vienna?
Anton: We do not have any special information about the organizers, only what is written on the conference website. The guys since 2012 are engaged in the organization of DevFest Vienna. As far as I know, the first droidcon in Vienna was held in 2016. So we can say that the conference is still very young.
- Tell us about the venue. Where is she located? Is it convenient to get there? What is it like?
Anton : The conference was held in the building of the Technical University of Vienna. It is located almost on the very bank of the Danube, one might say, on the outskirts of the city. However, to get there from the center is not difficult. In Vienna, a very well-developed network of urban transport. Nearby there is a metro station, several tram stops and a commuter train station.
Dima: The venue was 3 audiences of the Technical University of Vienna, located on the third floor, and the hall in front of them. The university is located in the 20th district of Vienna, which, as we later learned, is popular with immigrants. It is convenient enough to get there, there were no special problems with this.
- In your opinion, is this platform suitable for holding IT conferences?
Anton : In general, I am impressed by the holding of the conference in places designed for training in advance, so the university fits perfectly. Reports were read in auditoriums with good acoustics, where everything is heard without a microphone, speaking loudly enough. Quite comfortable audiences with additional screens for the back rows. Each seat is equipped with a folding table that lovers will appreciate to take notes during the reports.
Dima: And I’m too spoiled by the organizers of domestic conferences (Mobius, MBLTDev, droidcon Moscow), so I didn’t feel very comfortable and comfortable in university classrooms with hand-painted school desks. But in general, suitable, yes. It is quite convenient to listen to the speakers, in the hall you can ask your questions to the speakers personally, or just chat with colleagues in the workshop.
- How was the registration of participants organized?
Anton : Registration was organized quite normally. We did not notice the queues at the reception where we scanned the ticket's QR code and issued a badge. But we didn’t come to the discovery itself, but closer to the beginning of the first report, and didn’t get into the queue, so I can’t say if it was. The code was easily scanned from the screen of the mobile phone, so printing a ticket was not at all necessary.
DimaA: Because many came 30 minutes late, and the conference began with a delay of half an hour. It looked like a puncture of the organizers.
- What fed, what watered?
Anton : In the catering zone, there was a couple of capsule coffee machines, fruit, water and some kind of lemonade. In the morning they offered buns, pretzels and strudels, but we had breakfast at the hotel. The lunch break was long enough; we were offered hot burritos with chickpeas and various kinds of meat. There were options with beef, pork, chicken and purely vegetable. There was a lot of everything, and I did not feel any discomfort associated with food or drinks.
Dima: They fed without frills and monotonous, but no one was left hungry. Standard conference set: coffee, soda, cakes. At lunch, something was served between a shawarma and a roll from McDonald's.
- How was the navigation and informational support of the participants organized?
Anton : Weak. The benefit of the reports were held in neighboring audiences, so you can look and see what will happen now. About the round tables with which the whole second day was scored was announced at the beginning of the report, so there was a chance to miss this information. It would be great, for example, to receive such messages in the form of an email, so that relevant information is always at hand.
Dima: None. Of all the navigation there was only a schedule on the site. A couple of times it happened that we went to the wrong audience, looked at the title of the report on the slide, turned around and left. I think the speakers could demotivate a little.
- Were there any stands of any IT companies?
Anton : There were stands of a couple of local companies. They handed out all sorts of nishtyaki in the form of a cool rag backpack-pack, traditional stickers and jelly bears. At one of the stands, micro-ping-pong was organized (ping-pong, only on a very small table and with miniature rackets) so that you can warm up between the lectures.
Dima: There were only 2 stands. Merch was cool, I can add pens, cookies and even power banks to the listed Anton (but they, apparently, were given only to those who left their contacts for an interview, we could not get them).
- Tell us a little about the conference participants.
Anton : Offhand there were no more than 100 people from different countries. Present and our compatriots. Reports went in parallel in two streams. I saw a couple of people with a GDE badge and London GDG organizer Kaan Mamikoglu. There was also a gentleman from Grab (an Asian Yandex taxi, widely known in Indonesia, Thailand, etc.), who talked about their approach to unit testing. The main body of the speakers was from India, and many of them confirmed the stereotypes about their accent.
Dima: To Anton’s answer I can add that the conference lasted a standard 2 days. The first day is from 8:00 to 18:00, the second is from 9:00 to 15:00, while at 12:30 the barcamps started, where the participants of the conference were the speakers. This is something like a mini-report followed by a roundtable discussion. The official program included 20 speakers and, accordingly, 20 reports, not counting the barcamps.
- How do you rate the program and the level of the conference? What did you like and what unpleasantly surprised? Did you find out something new?
Anton: In general, I would rate the level of the program as low enough. All the topics covered were covered very superficially. Distinguished, in my opinion (and not in a good way), keynout, dedicated to tolerance. Honestly, I did not expect to meet such a report at a technical conference. And the first day ended with a dubious report that everyone urgently needs to adapt their applications to the Indian market. Neither the sane argument, nor any figures in support of this point of view was presented, therefore the speaker was hardly able to convince anyone.
And I liked the report about the new Motion Layout. Although it was interesting only because I did not have time to "feel" this technology myself.
Dima: I agree with Anton. The level of reports was low. Perhaps an unwarrantedly high expectation played a cruel joke. But when you come to a report with the title Having fun with Kotlin fun (), you don’t expect to hear a retelling of the documentation on the Kotlin functions. Perhaps 3-4 years ago this report would have aroused genuine interest, but in 2018 it is at least strange to hear about the fact that you can write single-line functions to = in Kotlin. We left this report at the same time.
I liked the report Sticky Authentication with Fingerprints . And I liked it not because it was super-interesting (the report would definitely have seemed boring to those who did it), but because the presentation was good and the material was unknown to me.
- How do you rate the general level of preparedness of the speakers? What level of knowledge of English would be enough to understand what was said at the conference?
Anton : The reports themselves were prepared at the usual level. Let there be 7 out of 10. There was nothing extraordinary. Some speakers would do well to pump a voice, because without microphones they could be heard very faintly. It was saved by the fact that such speakers were a minority, and the topics covered were not very interesting. At the same time, it was possible to understand the speakers without deep knowledge of English. This is partly due to the programmer specifics of the lexicon, and partly by the presence of slides. So, I think, the average knowledge of the language and terminology of Android-development was quite enough.
Dima: As for me, the reports were poorly prepared. Many performed without microphones, although they were there. Sometimes it seemed that the report was read for the first time, without moderation and runs. However, not all. There were certainly interesting, well-prepared reports. For example, Architecture and framework for clean test code and Sticky Authentication with Fingerprints . There were strange but well-submitted reports (for example, Leaving No One Behind: Building Apps for The Next Billion Users ).
To attend this conference, it is enough to know English at the Intermediate level. But if you have to listen to speakers from India, then with Advanced it will be difficult at first, although then you get used to it.
- Was it possible to communicate with the speakers after the speeches? How was it organized?
Anton : Of course. Every couple of reports there were coffee breaks during which you could “catch the speaker by the hand” and ask all the tricky questions.
Dima : From my point of view, there were not enough discussion areas for communication. On the other hand, there were also reports in which there was nothing special to discuss. No hardcore and other delights. As I mentioned earlier, it was possible to talk with the speakers in the lobby over a cup of coffee; there were no problems with that. The question is how many introverts are afraid to approach the speaker personally. In debatable zones, this is much easier to do.
- Would you go to this conference next year?
Anton: It was definitely an interesting experience for me, but the next time I first recognize the list of reports and topics of the Vienna droidcon, before buying tickets. In my opinion, the conference will seem interesting to novice developers, and experienced programmers will simply get bored.
Dima : Of the entire conference, the venue was more like, or rather the city itself. Vienna really liked. I definitely will not go to this conference next year and I dare not advise it. But I think novice Android developers who can afford to fly to another country to the conference (by the way, it’s not very expensive compared to peers, just 100 euros), it will be quite interesting.