Liferay DEVCON 2016 at Darmstadt

Fri, 25/11/2016

This year Liferay DEVCON found place in Darmstadt, Germany. 

At last, I made it to the DEVCON. And this DEVCON was different than the others in the past. Actually, it was a DEVCON and a MODCON at the same time, one day each. Before these two there was also the Uncoference. The MODCON was a conference about the modularity, which is now a great part of the Liferay world.

Throughout the whole conference, those 3 days, it became clear that Liferay is very serious about the switch into the modularity. From a monolithic code they managed to create many (about 700) modules. They had been working at this for years now, even version 6.2 contains an OSGi container. I was together with a friend from Sri Lanka (who’s also a German citizen). He didn’t have any previous contact with the liferay world, and after those 3 days, he told me he felt it brought him back on the track again. He will invest in Liferay and try to integrate it in his work. And he is right. Αfter all those presentations and workshops I felt also refreshed, I felt we are on the right path, being liferay partners all these years. I felt more confident.  As a developer I got also the confirmation that the way we work is the right one and it can get only better. The modularity, the OSGi promise, is to work easier, with less confusion and easier reuse of the code.

But, it was not only about the code. Many presentations were about modularity, most of them compared the nature of our world with the toolbox of a developer. The world is based on modules as is our code now with OSGi. It was a nice way to see things, especially for a developer who lives in his IDE. Its a fresh point of view. It makes you think more close to nature. Olaf Kock was the showman of the DEVCON. With his german humour he succeeded in keeping the spirit up, even after 8 hours of presentations, workshops etc. In this event we got to know the people of Liferay, how they thinκ about their product and also how they work with it. I had previously thought that those guys would be working very close to each other, but this was not the case. They are separated from each other perhaps by thousands of kilometers and each one of them works at a different part of the product. 

Day 1 - The unconference
The unconference was something strange, at least for me, but it leaves one with the feeling of knowing the people who attended at the conference, not only the Liferay guys that came from the whole world, but also the other developers. The idea is this: in the beginning everyone can assign a discussion subject by writing it on a piece of paper, to be discussed at a specific room and time. After a while a whole wall is filled with little papers and with subjects that could concern everyone on this conference. You can find anything: OSGi modularity, theming etc. 
I think the best one was “What I found bad in liferay”. I felt good with this one because I saw people from other countries, with other customers and flows, having the same problems with the product we love and work with. It was a moment of truth. We are not alone. The whole day was dedicated on those small papers. You get to know many of the liferay guys, and to know them as people, how they talk, what kind of jokes they laugh with. Liferay is a big company with offices in many countries, and these events help them also to get together and talk with their colleges from other countries. Like we, they also have a lot to share. Brian Chan was also there, he seemed like a tourist with his big backpack and a bottle of water the whole time in his hands. He is the founder of Liferay. At the end of the day we received an invitation to the Cubana bar in Darmstadt, about 2 km away from the conference center. The stickers and the socks we got that read "Liferay supports Nerds since 2003" were worth the trouble.
Day 2 - ModCon
The first day of the deacon, Olaf told us that this time the devcon will consist of a mod con and a deacon. The first day would be the mod con and the day after that the deacon. So the ModCon began. A Conference dedicated to Modularity. The day began with Brian Chan’s speech about the similarity of the solar system and an atom. Somehow he managed to argue that we live in a simulation, this part was above my understanding. I could not agree with that. The second presentation was from a guy from aQute. He presented very nice how nature works, the cells, that someone can see as modules and he made a very nice swift to the computer programming and how modularity works there through an OSGi container. He made it very clear how natural the modular way of programming is and that this is the right way to go.
The whole day was full of modularity. Everywhere were modules and packages, components and coffee. Yes, I forgot to mention the man who made our tasty coffee. Every time and anytime he was there with a smile, and he gave us a very good cup of coffee with a heart.
The day ended with a WWW (Wild Wide West) party. At the conference center foyer, the whole place was full with cowboy games, bier, wine and food. Even some women was there, mostly as waitresses. Like anyone knows, software developing and women don’t usually seem to mix very well together. So, we had everything that a developer needs to have a good time. The games were difficult but the bier was easier. We had a great time.
Day 3- DevCon
Then the third and last day came. The last day is always a little sad, because one knows that all this super atmosphere is coming to an end.
First, they gave the presents to the game winners from last nights party.
We got to know WeDeploy, a revolutionary service for developer by liferay. You have to check it out to understand the freedom it gives, and the power of it.
Also, many of us attended to workshops. Due to lack of time, they gave us homework, but that's ok, we like it.
Liferay, had some great presentations that gave us the chance to look at our work from a more philosophical perspective, to make us more aware about what we do and how we function, and also how the other people look at us and at our work. And as everything comes to an end, so did this conference. The promise for the next deacon was there and it will take place in Amsterdam, in 2017!
Many of the presentation (if not all of them) are here to find.
Liferay DEVCON 2016 at Darmstadt

Liferay is a big company with offices in many countries, and these events help them also to get together and talk with their colleges from other countries. Like we, they also have a lot to share.