360 AnDev Conference: Personal Highlights
360 AnDev Conference: Personal Highlights
I got the opportunity to participate in 360 AnDev conference in Denver, Colorado this year. The main focus of it was Android development. In this article, I would like to share my experience and impressions.
The format of the conference was quite different from what I have experienced so far. Organizers encouraged participation from first time speakers, so around 30% of the speakers were speaking for the first time. Since the conference was a local one, there was a large number of local participants.
Another interesting thing that happened this year was the single track format. Based on their experience from past years, the organizers introduced a single track for talks. Participants didn’t need to decide which track to visit and didn’t need to be worried if a few interesting topics were being presented at the same time. The same was true for the speakers. They were sure that the whole audience was present and didn’t go to the famous speaker presenting at the same time.
I have never seen such level of transparency before from conference organizers. At the end of the conference they shared their budget and all the expenses with everyone. As a participant, I found this information open and interesting. Usually the participants don’t know how the money was spent and if organizers got any profit. An inspiration of showing such transparency came after reading the book The cluetrain manifesto
Women in Tech breakfast
The breakfast organized by the sponsors had a theme - Women in Tech. However not only women were invited but also allies. During that time I had a chance to know more about what Women in Tech is. It is supported by Google to encourage and support women to be a part of the IT world. I also understood more which problems women can face and how could they can be avoided. For example, not being taken serious during meetings or not being involved enough in making decisions in the team. This was a good learning, there are actually many Women in Tech communities in big cities around the world. After the conference back in Munich I found one and I’m planning to visit next their event. Look into them. It’s worth it.
This year there were more than 200 participants and 20 speakers. Below, I would like to mention a couple of topics that caught my attention.
Opening Keynote: Communication Effectiveness
Mike Hess from the Blind Institute of Technology opened the conference with the keynote. The impressive part of this presentation was that he is blind and he was trying to explain us why effective communication is so important. Especially, when the only way to consume information is through listening. He pointed out that the information should be structured and not redundant, otherwise it is very hard to understand.
Elliott Chenger shared his experience about developing, distributing and maintaining Android libraries (.aar). The presentation was about the benefits an Android engineer experiences when different pieces of the codebase are placed into separate libraries (not just a module, but completely independent library) and how to avoid and deal with common pitfalls.
Engineering better design relationship
Ivy Knight (UX/UI Designer in Austin) talked about communication between engineers and designers and why it is very important. Having a good collaboration between them can bring only benefits for the product and company. Designers usually are willing to help to solve UX issues, but for that they need input from engineers. If developers ask the right questions and give different suggestions, this already helps the cause pretty well.
Alex Lockwood from Lyft was presenting a tool called Shape Shifter. It was made to make life easier with morphing animations. Using this tool, a developer can create different kinds of transformation animations from one object to another. During the live demo attendees were able to see how to use it. Given two vector images, the common points between them must be specified, and the tool will do the transformation for you.
This talk was one of the few non-technical ones, but it was indeed very important. Joe Birch was talking about under-represented groups of people in software development industry such as female, people with disabilities, etc. Those groups usually are around 20%, a significant amount overall in the world. The main point of the presentation was how everybody (especially those from represented groups) can help those groups step-in and feel comfortable in a business environment.
Oluwasegun Fasima was presenting a talk about functional programming in Kotlin, different scoping functions and high order functions. In case you already learned Kotlin basics and want to go deeper - this talk was exactly about that. Another important topic presented by him was interoperability between Kotlin and Java, how it works and how to use it in efficient way.
Zhenlei Ji was presenting the power of using adb commands. For example, my learning was that with adb commands it’s possible to deploy any apk on device, grant app permissions, dump system log of the given app and many others. My favourite was how to change device screen size and density. Just using a single line command it is possible to simulate different screen sizes and densities on your connected device and check how your app would look like. So there is no need to have multiple devices and tablets just to ensure the UI of the app.
This talk was mainly about benefits of using Kotlin while implementing custom view. At first point you might not think about them, because what can developers gain just from different language? In this particular case the benefits are obvious. Everybody who implemented custom view at least once can already see advantages of having default parameters in constructors, init blocks, named parameters, lambdas. The talk provides examples of custom views in Kotlin and highlights obvious advantages of having Kotlin as a language there.
Another non-technical talk which got my attention.Each of us knows the importance of a code review. However, sometimes we are so deep in working routine that we simply forget about being nice and helpful during a code review. Imagine the situation when your colleague was working hard on some feature for a few days and then proudly presented their pull request for review. But what he gets instead are the comments like
Don't using this, use <another tool/class> here or
Why don't you use the class <Put any name>?. And the person gets frustrated about the work was done. Jonathan Maltz explained how to stay professional, polite and open to help people with code review. Just changing the way you leave your comments to something more like
What do you think if we improve this class/method? can increase an efficiency of collaboration during the code review.
360 AnDev is a local Android community event which is worth to visit. The people are open and friendly, everybody connects with each other, learns more about companies and engineers and what they are doing. This conference helps to discover more about what is going on currently in the world of Android development and the various solutions engineers have already applied and what they learnt from them.