Microsoft Ignite 2020

Why not start a new year by learning something new? I’m visiting Microsoft Ignite 2020 — let’s see what’s there to discover this time. For readers that have not been to this event yet, it’s an annual conference happening in different cities all over the world led by Microsoft experts and the community. Usually you choose a learning path, depending on what you’re interested in, build your schedule and go learn something new. There are presentations for people with all different backgrounds, from basic introduction to cloud and discovering tools and features available, all the way up to expert talks about dev-ops, saving costs for cloud services and building your next cloud business solution. Make sure to pre-register as early as possible — the event is free, but there’s a limited amount of spaces available.

Since there weren’t too many technical talks this year, I chose the “Developers guide to AI” path. Microsoft is trying to push Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies to the limit and make user experience as smooth as possible. From building machine learning models without code to deploying pre-built AI to live servers, chat bots, speech recognition, business intelligence, future predictions, computer vision, you name it, it’s all ready and available on cloud.

Some of the paths contain all of the material presented, but not all of the presentations are uploaded to the site. Usually if you are at the presentation the speakers present an extra slide with a link to all the material at the beginning and end of the talk. From my experience it’s a way easier and more reliable to find the relevant materials that you’re interested in from these.

Developers guide to AI

I’ll go into a bit more details and a short summary for what was presented on each of the AI topics but make sure to check out the path site for more details and in-depth samples or presentation slides. For most of the presentations Tailwind Traders business samples were used. It’s a fictitious retail company showcasing the future of intelligent application experiences. The project is open source and you can use it for building your next business solution or running some tests.

Making sense of your unstructured data with AI

Presentation on how you can use Cognitive Search to make sense of both structured and unstructured data. Discussion about AI concepts, like the ingest-enrich-explore pattern, skillsets, cognitive skills, natural language processing, computer vision, and others.

Using pre-built AI to solve business challenges

Really interesting and practical presentation with some demos on how to use AI to improve product search on the Tailwind Traders site. If you’re missing a piece from under your sink and don’t even know what it’s called, why not take a picture and use AI to search for it. Check out this talk if you want to know how text to speech, photo search, user behaviour analysis or other pre-built AI models can help out your business.

How to build machine learning models with no code

Building custom Machine Learning Models is not an easy task and requires a lot of effort, or does it? In this presentation you can learn how to build ML model right on Azure portal without even having to do any coding. Choose data sources, train and test the model and eventually deploy everything to an API.

Taking models to the next level with Azure Machine Learning best practices

AI and ML can greatly increase business processes productivity, but sometimes existing models are just not enough. A session on how to train your own model for more specific tasks or how to increase its accuracy. In some cases it’s even hard to identify what sort of model can fit your business needs, that’s where AutoML can help out creating a model from scratch.

Machine learning operations: Applying DevOps to data science

In some cases, collaboration between developers and data scientists can be very limited and deploying ML models to production in a consistent way is often a pipe dream. An in-depth session on how to apply DevOps practices to ML projects using Azure DevOps and Azure Machine Learning Service.

The conference overall was a really great experience despite the huge amount of people that came over to visit this year it was really well organised. Glad to see Microsoft taking community reviews into account and making adjustments on how the talks are spaced out to have at least a short break between them so you don’t have to run from one end of the venue to the other just to make it on time to see another session. Make sure to check out more details about any sessions you’re interested in and see you in the next Microsoft Ignite conference!

Visit to Devoxx UK 2019

This year I had an opportunity to visit the Devoxx conference again and it’s been an amazing experience. For those of you that hear of Devoxx for the first time – it’s a 3 day developer community event where people from all over the world share their technical experiences covering topics like Cloud, BigData, Programming, Methodologies, Architecture, Security, AI and so on, you name it. It’s also not just about talks, there’s Hands-on Labs and Deep Dive sessions, where you can learn new things together with experts and a Coding Café, grab some coffee or lunch and you can join in the community to fix that bug that didn’t let you sleep during the night.

I’m a senior backend developer and I mostly work with Microsoft technologies, .Net, C#, Web and Cloud development, but I’m always open to learning something new. You can’t just close your eyes and assume that this is the best technological stack for every problem, there are a lot of different solutions in the market and you’re always looking for the best one that suits your business. Devoxx is mostly oriented towards Java and that was the key factor for me to look out for best solutions in the market – this year’s theme: Back to the Future!

With the technology trends of AI, Autonomous Devices, IoT, AR/VR and Quantum Computing – “back to the future” seems like a really fitting theme. Autonomous vehicles are roaming the streets, we’re getting our questions answered by assistants on our phones, data centres are getting their first quantum computers installed and our industry is transformed by smart devices, but is that all there is to it? What’s next? My quest for finding the best and latest news in the market begins.

I’ll only cover some of the topics as this article would be way too long to cover it all, but if you feel like it’s not enough then all of the recorded sessions can be found online. The talks take place in multiple rooms and auditoriums in parallel so I had to choose of what’s of most interest for me. Here are some of the talks and topics that I found really interesting:

Cloud, Containers & Infrastructure

Continuous deployment to Kubernetes with the Google Container Tools

Talk by David Gageot – container orchestration systems like Kubernetes are great, but what about developer experience. Google listened to the community request and there are quite a few tools around to make your life as a developer easier. Check out his talk to find out how to use tools like Skafold, Kaniko, Jib and Bazel – CI/CD doesn’t have to be painful.

Service Mesh patterns

Talk by Alex Soto – microservice systems have huge advantages compared to  monolith architecture, but comes with its own challenges. Monitoring, collecting statistics, tracing, unexpected failures, routing etc. check out his demo on how you can solve those problems.

Architecture

Building Reactive Pipelines: How to go from scalable apps to (ridiculously) scalable systems

Talk by Mark Heckler – how to build systems that scale? Technical talk and a live demo about message brokers streaming platforms and how Project Reactor builds on reactive streams to help create performant and scalable reactive microservices.

Reacting to the future of application architecture

Talk by Grace Jansen – she’s a developer advocate at IBM, but before that she was a biologist and gave a talk about how we can learn from bees to better architect our software, make systems more responsive and resilient through reactive architecture frameworks.

Modern Web

An Introduction to WebAssembly

Talk by Guy Royse – he’s a Developer Evangelist and was explaining how WebAssemly works and how to use it. Javascript has been the king of front end for a long time now, but it’s not the only way to run code on a browser. WebAssembly is a byte-code language that you can run on modern web browsers.

The Web, its frameworks and its standards: deconstructing them for a more resilient code base

Talk by Hubert Sablonniere – an amazing show and presentation about the current situation in front end world. React, Vue, Angular – these are the most popular frameworks right now, but Hubert raises some very important questions – why are we using those tools? What problems do they solve? How can we produce future-proof code that resist against the hype and evolution of Web platforms?

Methodology & Culture

Me, My Code and I

Talk by Rosanne Joosten – she’s a software engineer and has a bachelors degree in Psychology. Presentation about code reviews and if it would be possible to read people from the code they write? What sort of people you need in your teams to achieve better results.

Agile is a Dirty Word

Talk by James Birnie – how did Agile become a dirty word? What does dirty look like? Agile, Lean, Kanban, Scrum, MVP, Prototype – all of these words are becoming toxic in one sense or another. How do we clean up this mess and what does clean look like?

Summary

At the end of the day there’s some fun to be had as well – Blind Ignite sessions where speakers get 5 minutes to present 20 slides, the slides are on auto forward and the presenter has never seen the slides before, what could go wrong? The rest of the evenings are some open sessions where everyone gets to speak on topics like writing documentation or writing your own blog or a book, it’s all about that community feeling where people share their experiences from all different fields.

After the whole conference I tried to come up with some general ideas of what the current IT market feels like and where it’s going. It’s not an easy task to take all of the information in from two days of talks, but here are my thoughts:

  • Microservices is still the leading architecture, make the services reactive and resilient – there are a lot of new tools out there to make your life easier to achieve this.
  • Serverless platforms are on the rise, they’re scalable and require less infrastructure, depending on the problems you’re trying to solve – serverless could be your next answer.
  • If you’re building microservices – Kubernetes is currently the most popular open-source platform for managing your containerized workloads and services.
  • Data is the most valuable resource available in today’s market – use Machine learning and AI to make good use of it.
  • Continuous integration and continuous delivery are the best practices – if you don’t have it setup yet then this is your next goal.
  • The web as we know it is evolving, WebAssembly could be the next Javascript, there’s already some projects, tools and languages in the market like Blazor, Emscripten and Rust to make this happen.
  • Storing large amounts of data for a long term archive is quite expensive – there’s a lot of research going into using DNA as archive storage. New portable devices that are able to read/write DNA code could hit the market fairly soon.
  • If you’re dealing with a lot of sensor data or just purely with a lot of devices – go for an IoT solution.

It feels like we’re concentrating more on making our lives better by optimizing our tools and processes instead of coming up with new frameworks and solutions, the big bang of new things in the market is starting to slow down and that’s a good thing I think, this is how evolution happens. The whole conference covers a wide range of topics and even if you’re not a developer, it is definitely worth visiting.

Why do we attend conferences? #dotSwift 🇫🇷

Intro

As a developer you know that technology is continually evolving. So, in order to succeed you too need to continually evolve.

You can use books, courses, forums, etc. but today I am going to talk about conferences and one conference in particular, dotSwift (for iOS and Mac developers).

The aim of this article is to help you to understand if a developer conference is for you. You can then judge if it’s worth your while to go to such a conference.

Continue reading “Why do we attend conferences? #dotSwift 🇫🇷”