Since my first day at Axxes, I heavily advocated attending Devoxx, because I consider it the number 1 Java Conference in Europe. It helps that its price is reasonable, and it’s also nearby. Devoxx keeps growing, selling out earlier year after year and improving some of the flaws of the past (looking at you, Mister Caterer). Since the conference grew rather large, your first time here can feel overwhelming. Here are some tips to fully enjoy the conference and its potential.
DO: Review the schedule & download the app
This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a must if you want to attend the talks of your favorite speaker. While it is perfectly possible to schedule your sessions ad-hoc, I recommend building your own schedule beforehand, with a couple of backup sessions in case rooms are full. So read the session summaries, check out the speakers’ Twitter, have a look at the companies they work for and pimp your Devoxx experience.
DONT: Stay if the talk isn’t what you expected it to be
I’ve encountered this a couple of times: a session summary promises a lot, but doesn’t deliver. The speaker‘s French accent is a complete turn-off. People in front of you are discussing a production issue, distracting you from the talk, or the room is simply too crowded. Don’t worry: every session is recorded so you can view it later on YouTube. At home you can freely re-create the Java Posse experience and enjoy a beer with every session.
DO: Register in time
If you’re reading this and still haven’t got your ticket: tough luck! Devoxx was already sold out early September, even before the speakers were announced. The organisation has a waiting list and sometimes they free up some tickets, but I certainly wouldn’t bet on it. The better option is to monitor the Devoxx website and/or Twitter and order your tickets in time.
DONT: Stay in your comfort zone.
DO: Witness a Rockstar speaker talk
You don’t often get the chance to hear someone famous talk. Devoxx is one of these rare opportunities where you can listen to a great variety of industry leaders. Grab that chance! To this date, I remember Joshua Bloch giving his “Java: The good, the bad and the ugly” talk (found here – not the Devoxx talk), essentially combining his “Java Puzzlers” talk with hints from his work “Effective Java”. Another rock star is Venkat Subramaniam, a constant in the Top-3 of Devoxx talks for the past 5 years. His fluent, practical and humoristic approach to relevant Java technology and patterns is enjoyed by many every year. Check out his talk on using Design Patterns in Java 8 here.
DONT: Attend sponsored talks
While there are a bunch of great talks at Devoxx, there’s also a minority of what I call sponsored talks. I’m not sure whether they are sponsored or not, but talks that are titled somewhat covertly and disguise a marketing talk to promote some kind of product should be labeled as such. These are generally the lesser talks and I suggest avoiding them. Pro tip: don’t stay if the talk isn’t what you expected it to be.
DO: Watch a movie!
Thursday night is movie night at Devoxx, reserving the biggest room for the coolest and geekiest blockbuster running in Kinepolis at the time. The Kinepolis staff will provide you with a drink and some popcorn, and the Devoxx staff picks a movie. Think Blade Runner, James Bond or any superhero.
Stephan, if you’re reading this: I haven’t seen Venom yet!
Update: Looks like I’m too late, the movie was announced and appears to be First Man.
DO: Come rested!
You need all the energy you have to be able to attend a whole day of intellectually challenging sessions. Don’t underestimate this! Sadly, I have seen many people doze off in those very comfy seats. So get plenty of sleep and grab some sweets when you need to: there are fridges filled with soda and there’s an abundance of sugar to be looted at the Axxes booth!
DO: Come prepared
Attending a hands-on session? Make sure to bring your laptop. Pen and paper or a tablet come in handy to take notes. See a slide you want to save for later? Use your cellphone to take a quick snap. Missed a session? Bookmark it in the app so you can watch it later. There’s plenty of knowledge you can get from Devoxx by taking your research home.
DO: Meetup at the Axxes booth!
Attended the necessary sessions and low on sugar? We have you covered! Axxes hosts a small candy shop at Devoxx. Come take a spin at our giant wheel and win the candy to get you through that last session of the day. We’re also close to the entrance, so our booth can be a perfect meetup point. While you’re there, have a chat with our lovely staff who can tell you more about working at Axxes. Did you know we were a top company last year, sending 28 attendants to Devoxx? We love conferences, my colleague Hannes Lowette explains that perfectly in a blog post here.
See you in 2 weeks!
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