CITCON London 2010

I’m returning from CITCON London 2010. What a great conference (and I’m not just saying that just because I helped organize it)!

In fact, I feel it has been the best CITCON so far. I was a bit afraid of the large crowd (150 people registered, a similar number to Paris last year; I’m not sure how many showed up. 120, maybe?), but it turned out easier than expected to discuss with other participants. Also, and most importantly, there was a feeling of a higher level of experience than usual. Few talks about the basics of tests or Continuous Integration (and no “what’s the best CI server” session at all, thank God). Instead, it was “Advanced TDD”, “Share Pair Programming experience”, “Mobile Testing”, etc. All good stuff and, as usual, I just couldn’t attend all the sessions I wanted.

Break Sponsors

As a side note, there were also less talk related to competing programming environment. Only a few people introduced themselves as working in Java, .NET or another programming environment. I can think of a couple of reasons:

  • Java is so overwhelmingly everywhere that there is just no point bragging about it anymore
  • the .NET crowd (and possibly others) have given up on trying to make their work environments better. I didn’t attend the one “CI in .NET” session (there were no Java-specific sessions), but I was told that it was a slightly discouraging share of thoughts such as “it wasn’t my choice, but I want to make the best of it”, “I like .NET but the environment is just lacking” or “seriously, what do *you* guys do to implement CI in .NET?”.

In some ways, the Java world is also calcifying around some tools such as Maven (some contenders are barking at the door, though). But the feeling is that, by and large, things get done is a fairly productive way. (I’ll admit that I can be overly optimistic about this, considering that I am in a Java shop (Algodeal) where the incredible freedom helps us being particularly efficient)

Now, I was surprized that few mentioned up-and-coming languages such as Scala and Clojure. Are they just being lumped into the Java category? Was CITCON London the wrong area to find experts in them?

Other highlights of the conference include the venue. Thank you ever so much, Wendy, for opening the doors of SkillsMatter. You went out of your way. The location was fantastic, and the venue perfect for us. I especially appreciated the powerful wifi internet access, a rarity even in fancy hotels.
I also appreciated the fact that this area London has large pubs that can host all willing participants after the conference is over (this was frustrating in Paris last year, where bars can be small and especially crowded on Friday evenings). Too bad music can be so loud there, making conversations sometimes difficult.

A few things to remember from CITCON London:

  • Narrative, by the good folks at youDevise is a new test framework/helper. They present it as a BDD framework, but I rather see it as a way to enforce readability in your test classes. I like the modest, KISS, approach too. Plus, it seems easy to extend. I wrote a quick sample here.
  • Continuous Deployment was a big topic, as expected. There were few mentions on specific tools or techniques, but the feeling was that the practice was getting mainstream.
  • Apparently, a big framework in the JavaScript TDD space is QUnit. The session had left a lot to be desired (I left mid-way, but I’m told the end was good), but it at least drove the point that TDD was getting common in JS.
  • Again, I left with the feeling that we are not doing enough to generalize Pair Programming at Algodeal.

For CITCON 2011, there were many votes for Berlin. Sounds like a good destination. Again, it will depend on whether we can get a cheap enough venue there.

Continuous Deployment

About Eric Lefevre-Ardant

Independent technical consultant.
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