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Learning Paths: QCon London Expert Recommendations


Key Takeaways

  • Read recommendations from thought leaders on how they might navigate QCon London 2017
  • Surface popular trends that span multiple QCon personas
  • Get a jumpstart on planning your schedule
  • Discover underlying conference trends like the focus on multi-core parallel computing

There are a lot of choices to make when attending a software conference. QCon London 2017 is no exception.

With 18 tracks at QCon, there are paths for just about all personas that come to QCon. In this article, five software leaders attending QCon London, this March 6-8, list the most interesting paths others who share their persona might take to get the most out of the conference. What follows are a handful of recommended paths for performance-focused engineers like Martin Thompson, Java developers like Trisha Gee, developer turned CEO/CTOs like Rob Harrop, culture/methods-focused coaches like Ben Linders, and finally, data scientists like Fran Bennett.

Each of these software leaders looked over the QCon London 2017 schedule and suggested an intentionally opinionated view of their suggested paths for people matching their persona. Call them learning paths, call them time savers, call them what you like, but regardless, here are five takes on content you'll want to see at QCon London 2017.



High Performance Computing Persona

Martin Thompson, High Performance & Low Latency Specialist

Thompson is a Java Champion with over two decades of experience building complex and high-performance computing systems. He is most recently known for his work on Aeron and SBE. Previously at LMAX he was the co-founder and CTO when he created the Disruptor. Prior to LMAX, Thompson worked for Betfair, three different content companies wrestling with the world's largest product catalogues, and was a lead on some of the most significant C++ and Java systems of the 1990s in the automotive and finance domains. He blogs at, and can be found giving training courses on performance and concurrency when he is not cutting code to make systems better.




Thompson's recommendations focus on what you might expect. He focuses his recommenations on tracks such as Monday's Performance Mythbusting. He has the most conflicts on Wednesday, with competing talks in the Java, Bitcoin, and Modern CS in the Real World track. 


Data Science Persona

Fran Bennett, CEO and cofounder @MastodonC 

Bennett spent a number of years working for search engines, helping them to turn data into money. She likes coffee, running, sleeping a lot, and large data sets. She is the CEO and Co-Founder of MastodonC. Mastodon C are big data and data science specialists. Our open source data platform, applications, and expert team are focused on unlocking the power of your data for a better future.




QCon London has two primary tracks that attract Data Scientists like Bennett. Monday's Data Engineering: Where the Rubber Meets the Road in Data Science is focused on the engineering discipline needed to ingest, cleanse, and structure data. Tuesday's Modern Learning Systems then takes that pipeline of data and shows application of machine learning frameworks (like Keras) and practices needed to move these models to production. With one exception, Bennett's interests easily map to these two tracks. For Wednesday she also highlights Gary Lam's talk on Notifications @Twitter as one of interest.


Java Developer Persona

Trisha Gee, Java Champion, Engineer and Evangelist 

Gee has developed Java applications for a range of industries, including finance, manufacturing, technology, open source and non-profit, for companies of all sizes. She has expertise in Java high performance systems, and is passionate about enabling developer productivity. Gee blogs regularly on subjects that she thinks developers and other humans should care about; she’s a leader of the Sevilla Java User Group, a key member of the London Java Community and a Java Champion - she believes we shouldn't all have to make the same mistakes again and again.




"This is my highly opinionated view on the most interesting/valuable sessions for a Java programmer at QCon London." Gee takes a much more nomadic approach to the schedule. She moves between tracks that trigger her interests. Her schedule hits on tracks like Sudhir Tonse's Engineering Culture track, Michael Feather's Tech Debt track, and Jamie Dobson's Container's, track while keeping a healthy focus on her own Java track and Martin's performance track.


Culture & Methods Persona

Ben Linders, Agile/Lean/Quality Consultant 

An Independent Consultant in Agile, Lean, Quality and Continuous Improvement, based in The Netherlands. As an adviser, coach and trainer, he helps organizations by deploying effective software development and management practices. He focuses on continuous improvement, collaboration and communication, and professional development, to deliver business value to customers. He is the author of Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives, What Drives Quality and Continuous Improvement. Additionally, he is the editor for Culture and Methods at InfoQ.




Linders has several of the QCon open spaces in his schedule. Open spaces are organic audience-driven talks. These facilitated sessions invite attendees to discuss topics that are most important to the people present. Through dot voting, the top topics are selected and groups break out to discuss each topic. Open spaces are a powerful way to network and meet new engineers/software leaders. One talk Linders selected that jumps out to me, is given by Anjuan Simmons. Simmons' talk Lending Priviledge is about practical advice to improve inclusion in software. 


Engineer Turned C-Suite Persona

Rob Harrop, CEO @Skipjaq & Co-Founder of SpringSource ()

As CEO at Skipjaq, Rob Harrop leads a team working on the cutting edge of machine-driven performance optimisation. When he’s not thinking about how best to tune the myriad workloads encountered by Skipjaq customers, he’s thinking hard about how to pass the optimization burden on to machines that learn. Harrop is well known as a co-founder of SpringSource, the software company behind the wildly-successful Spring Framework. At SpringSource he was a core contributor to the Spring Framework and led the team that built dm Server (now Eclipse Virgo).




The suggestions Harrop offers also show his focus on Java. But you also see interests in the London startup community, work on cgroups v2 at Facebook, and parallelism with Rust.



There you have it: five different software leaders (driving innovation in their teams) who are attending QCon London and their recommended paths to get the most out of the conference. Worth noting... four of the five leaders above chose Cliff Click's talk on Policing the Stock Market with Machine Learning.

Wednesday is shaping up to be an interesting day. As you know, there is a lot of energy focused on multi-core parallel computing. Wednesday shows the trend clearly. The day kicks off in the morning with Joe Duffy's keynote Our Concurrent Past; Our Distributed Future. Duffy's keynote links current work (and future trends) to concurrency lessons over the last 15 years as he built and explored Midori. At 11:50am, Brian Goetz (the Java Language Architect) discusses the different goals, tools, and techniques involved in harnessing multi core computation. After lunch, one of the primary designers of Rust dives deep into topics like the Data Race Freedom safety offered by the language, and how the architecture itself supports extension by third parties in areas like concurrency. If that isn't enough, at 2:55pm the Modern CS in the Real World track convenes a language designers panel called What's Next for Our Programming Languages.  This expert language design panel explores where our languages are heading and how designers are enhancing the developer experience. Expect a heavy focus on debugging topics tied to the Three Safeties Duffy hits on in his morning keynote. Led by Martin Thompson, the language panel brings together Brian Goetz (Java), Sylvan Clebsch (Pony), Felix Klock (Rust), and Joe Duffy (Midori/C#) in a must-see language summit of some of the world's leading language designers.

QCon London offers many choices for a variety of different personas. These guides by leaders in the software community hopefully will help you navigate the 100+ sessons at this QCon London 2017.

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