DDD South West 4

June 5, 2012 - 4 minute read -

DDD South West 4 ran a couple of weeks back, and I was lucky enough to be amongst the attendees. Here’s a round-up of my experience.

I was travelling to DDD South West 4 with my friend and colleague Adrian; this was our second DDDSW, and after last year decided that it would be better to catch the train to Bristol rather than driving as we did last year; in another change from last year, we also decided to book into the speakers’ hotel which turned out to be a good choice. Like last year, the event was held at the University of West of England, a little way outside Bristol. UWE proved to be a good venue, if a bit warm due to the air conditioning being turned off (on the warmest day of the year so far).

The journey to Bristol from Paddington was pretty horrible: we’d decided not to book seats on the train, which was packed. Even the corridors were rammed with people standing all the way there. I will, in future, be reserving seats on longer train journeys! We didn’t make it in time for the pre-event dinner on the Friday night, so we checked into the hotel and retired to the pub over the road, the rather good Fox Den, where we met a few other attendees. After the Fox Den closed later that evening, we moved to the hotel bar, found a larger group of attendees, and stayed up for a while chatting.

The event itself began with an early start, a disappointing breakfast at the hotel, and a wander over to UWE. We arrived in plenty of time to pick up our swag bag and register for the post-event meal, and went in search of the coffee and pastries.

After a brief welcome and introduction from über-organiser Guy, I went to my first session, Chris Hay’s Redis the New Black on the repeat track. Chris gave us a clear and thorough overview of Redis, and was as engaging and interesting a speaker as always; highlights included the section he presented from the floor, and the story about the time he nearly got killed by the mafia. Redis seems like a cool technology, and I’ll keep it in mind for the future if I find I need a separate caching store.

Next up, I went to Tim Gaunt’s session, entitled Taking it from Side Line to Full Time, figuring it would be useful for GiveCRM. Tim presented very well on the nuts and bolts of kicking off a start-up, and I’m glad to say that it seems we’re doing many of the right things for GiveCRM based on his experiences.

After the coffee break, I went along to Ashic Mahtab’s Clean up your JavaScript Act. Ashic spoke clearly on using QUnit, a JavaScript unit testing framework, in TeamCity builds, and how Knockout.js can reduce the amount of code that you need to write, whilst also making your front-end JavaScript more testable through the application of the MVVM pattern.

After collecting our mahoosive lunches featuring sandwiches, cornish pasties, muffins, and more, Adrian and I headed back down to the main room for the lunchtime lightning presentations and grok talks. There was an interesting and highly varied array of presentations, on topics from AppHarbor, through to a masters degree programme (…), to some guy’s holiday snaps! To be fair, being a geek, he had also used his round-the-world tour to document the WiFi provision in every corner of the globe.

After lunch was Seb Lambla’s talk on Web Caching. This was an interesting session, as it was presented entirely from the perspective of HTTP, so dug into the nuts and bolts of the various locations and types of cache that might be between you and the requested website, what the various HTTP headers mean (hint: generally the opposite of what they say), and which headers you need to send to support different scenarios.

Next it was the famous cream tea break, although I had to skip the food as I was still stuffed from lunch!
The final session I attended was NoSQL Document Databases: Why Would You Use One?, delivered by Ian Russell, a first-time speaker at a DDD event. Ian spoke well, and knew the subject matter, but his presenting style didn’t seem to sit well with his audience; speaking to him later that week, at the Progressive .NET Tutorials, it turns out he was expecting some feedback and dialogue with the audience, which wasn’t really forthcoming from that particular group of people, and what discussion there was got bogged down in something of a SQL Server-vs-NoSQL debate.

Thank you to all the sponsors who made DDD South West 4 possible, in particular Gibraltar Software for sponsoring the morning coffee and danish, and eDevelopment for putting on the afternoon Cream Tea! Also particular thanks must go to JetBrains as well, for supplying the dotTrace licence I won at the swag giveaway at the end!