Saturday, May 20, 2017

Impressions from Voxxed days Athens

After Voxxed day Thessaloniki, it was the turn of Athens to host the event. The bar was set very high because of the enormous success of the first Voxxed days in Greece. As i walked through the venue and talked with my fellow engineers i could notice that almost everyone was anxious for the talks and had absolutely no concern about the various organizational aspects. They expected everything to be just fine and so it was.

The event was sold out and the venue was full of IT professionals. The sponsors had their own place to present themselves, answer questions and discuss potential collaborations and prospects with people interested in their work. The most impressive was stoiximan  who had an installation of the VR project they made with the Greek football champion Olympiakos. It was really impressive to see it and more impressive to live it. You can see it on youtube

I was very happy to see many Greek colleagues that now work abroad and came to Athens for the event. Looks like Voxxed has become a pan-European meeting place.

The venue was OK for the talks but the rooms for socializing and networking were a bit small and were always very crowded. The food was fine, not as good as in Thessaloniki but honestly no Greek city has better food than Thessaloniki.

And now the interesting part

The talks


There were 3 tracks with a total of 17 talks and also 2 common keynotes, the opening and the closing ones. That way you could attend at most 8 talks. My choices were:

The Art of Visualising Software Architecture by Simon Brown


The opening keynote of the event was a small workshop about notations and diagrams for software architecture. This topic reminds me of a Dilbert strip, obviously inspired from real life


but fortunately the talk had a very solid base also inspired from real life. It discussed various abstractions and notations for modeling the software architecture and presented many examples both good and bad. Architecture Visualization  is very important but most engineers use their own custom notation and not a common vocabulary. This hinter communication, understanding and eventually evolution of systems. Simon also presented his own model of software architecture, called C4 for Context, Containers, Components, Code, and structurizr his tools for expressing and visualizing architecture. You can find his presentations, tools and much more at https://structurizr.com/ A very interesting talk that reminded us the obvious we always forget, that a software system is much much more that the code

Implementing binary protocols with Elixir by Ole Michaelis


I attended the http2 talk by Ole at Voxxed Thessaloniki and i liked his lively presenting style, so i decided to attend his talk. This time he presented an elixir implementation of an http2 request parser. I have a good picture of elixir, mostly by following the blog of my friend Dimitris. I can understand code snippets in elixir but still can't use it. You see the book i bought at Fossdem is still in the bag :-(


Nevertheless Ole explained the features he used each time and it was easy for us to keep in touch with his ideas. He implemented the parser using pattern matching. To oversimplify, it is a mechanism that instructs the compiler to decide at runtime which function to call based on the values of the arguments. With this mechanism he "almost" embedded the http2 request format in the signatures of the functions and the compiler practically unraveled the parser flow during the runtime. It seems magical, and elixir pattern matching is indeed magical. I am not a fan of such exotic features, they are like the songs of the sirens and i prefer explicit function calls. However i really enjoy such talks from hackers to hackers presenting good hacks. I liked this talk and probably i will take the book from the bag.

Security issues and challenges when building novel web applications by Barbara Vieria and Theodoor Scholte


A talk for systems security based on the speaker's experience from auditing and reviewing software systems. They presented common areas of errors, statistics about failures and some of the features of ISO 25010 Then they proceeded to describe a very common system architecture, a typical 3tier with angular.js and mongodb and discussed many of the security errors and pitfalls like unauthorized access, code injection, XSS, output escaping and many more. A very useful talk for engineers without a proper background on software security. The also presented a tool that can help you with code and security. You can find it at https://bettercodehub.com/

Continuous learning of Tech Professionals in an evolving world by Dimitris Livas


One thing is sure in the IT industry: Nothing is steady, everything moves very fast. You cannot rely on today's knowledge to take you very far. Technology evolves with a very fast rate: Tools, practices and even whole platforms that are relevant today may not even exist in 10 years. Industry also evolves with a very fast rate: You cannot predict what kind of jobs will be high in-demand in the future. Business evolves: The business models keep changing. We have witnessed the internet effect and we are now seeing the AI effect. Finally people evolve too: They have ambitions, goals and needs. In such a world continuous learning is a necessity. Dimitris presented a methodology for it that he calls "the scrumification of personal development process". In a nutshell each individual is the product owner of the most valuable product, himself, and he can apply scrum and agile methodologies to evolve personally. The values the process are having a purpose, being adventurous, being agile, respecting colleagues and trust. You can find more about his methodology at the web site of his company, Agile Actors

The topic of continuous learning is a very interesting one. It is not simple however. It always depends on the context. It is very difficult to decide what to learn next and when and to make the decision proactively before you are forced to. It is always better to be prepared for the future that trying to catch up with it. The "scrumification" seems mostly a proposal for IT companies to adapt such a process so that they can evolve together with their personnel. An individual of course can embrace it but it is not clear how it can work in this case. Anyway it was a very nice talk about a very topical issue.

Create a JEE Test Automation Framework with Cucumber.io and Selenium Webdriver by Vangelis Ghiossis


A talk about the internal test infrastructure of Advantage FSE. They develop mission critical systems for banking and payments and it is of great importance to ensure the quality of their deliverables. They presented to us how they test their products. They assembled a stack for testing using maven, gitlab, nexus, ansible, docker, cucumber, selenium, appium and acunetix and configured it for their needs. This stack helps them test quickly and reliable applications on different mobile devices and on different OS/browser configurations. The specifications written in cucumber in a human like language are under QA and version control and the whole stack uses Jira and slack to communicate the results with the engineers. They also made a live demo of the stack testing the voxxed Athens page.

A good talk. Objectively there are many ways to assemble such a stack and each company has it's own variant but it is of great help that companies share such knowledge and in a way teach and urge engineers to build and use them.

Elixir: scaling for the future using 30 year old tech by Manos Emmanouilidis


The second talk about elixir today. This was an 101 talk but the purpose was not to demonstrate the language vigorously. It was an overview of the history of erlang and elixir, the design motivation for the new language and a tour of the features. The goal was to urge the audience to have a look at elixir and expunge the fear of erlang both the VM and the language. A very nice motivational talk indeed.

A language that supports concurrency must be in every developer's arsenal. There are many good choices available like clojure, scala, go (my favorite) and elixir. If you are a fan of ruby you should try elixir right away, it has the same feel.

To get a glimpse of elixir in a real production environment check this blog post by Manos on "Binary data over Phoenix sockets"

Costs of the Cult of Expertise by Jessica Rose


Who is an expert? Who has exceptional skills? Is expertise and skills related? How can we spot them? Can we pass an incompetent for expert and vice versa?


A great talk about managing people and expunging the myths of expertise. The talk had 4 sections:
  1. Definition of expertise and skills in various contexts
  2. Teams and expertise - the part about hiring an expert
  3. Community and expertise - the part about identifying and acknowledging an expert
  4. Individual expertise - how can you become an expert if you already aren't

The talk was full of interesting stories from her experience about geniuses and jerks, experts and incompetents. Moreover the talk was very lively as she talked with the audience for opinions and experiences. Very nice and thought provoking talk. Kudos to Jessica for it.

Numbers by Douglas Crockford


The closing keynote was by Douglas Crockford of javascript and json fame. He made a very interesting talk about numbers, how they evolved historically from ancient Sumerians to Greeks and Arabs. How they served civilization faithfully for many centuries until we integrated them badly in programming languages. Then we started having problems with integer overflows and floating point rounding errors. He believes that the solution is a single numeric type that is always correct. This is his DEC64 project that he presented to us.

An exciting talk about low level computer arithmetic and programming language design. It remains to be seen if his ideas will be accepted by new language designers.

The talk had many historical references and a tribute to great mathematicians of the past. I will only reference Tahuti, the inventor of writing who later become an Egyptian God. As Mr Crockford said, "in a sense we are his children"

Aftermath

Voxxed Athens was a great experience. All the people i talked afterwards liked it very much and renounced the meeting for Thessaloniki. We are very happy because we now have 2 great conferences for developers in Greece and we are looking forward to attend them every year.



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Reflecting on FOSDEM 2017

FOSDEM 2017


FOSDEM is the largest European event for software developers. The 2017 edition had around 600 talks and almost 12000 visitors. Every community is present there. You can meet people from the projects you are interested in and interesting people from projects you haven't even heard about. You can influence and be influenced in many and often unforeseen ways. An idea or a random thought that you say or hear may result to a single commit or to a new project.

All talks in FOSDEM are streamed live yet all these people choose to come to the event. It is like going to a good restaurant. In the end it is not about the food but about socializing and spending time with interesting people.

The organization of the event was very good, because of the work of many volunteers. There were complaints about full queues for food or full rooms or small rooms but of course in such a scale these are inevitable. No hacker there claimed that he can write an app to improve on the organizational aspects and this is a proof of the good organization. The good mood of the people was not affected even by the rain that kept on for all the weekend. I would say that because of the rain people stayed a bit longer at the stands discussing with the representatives of each one and looking for stickers and t-shirts. 

The Talks


Before the event i made a plan for the talks i would attend. I intended to focus on non-technical talks and hear about software in general, applications and social aspects.  However it didn't go as planned. Sometimes the fatigue, sometimes a full room but more often a change of plan because of an instant inspiration(remember the vibes of the communities), resulted in a much different talks set than intended.  The talks i attended in Saturday, the first day:

Kubernetes on the road to GIFEE A talk on Kubernetes and how it enables consistent infrastructure everywhere. Also a small perusal of the tools offered by CoreOS. A good overview of the above, mainly intended for a less experienced audience.

Software Heritage Preserving the Free Software Commons This is a very interesting project. It views software as a common resource for humanity and builds infrastructure to preserve it and make it easily accessible to everyone. The talk was a presentation of the project, it's goals and it's targets. At FOSDEM they also released an API for data and now they are starting to build the community around it. I think it is a project that must be watched very carefully, it has great value.

What legal and policy issues concerning FOSS need to be systematically researched? A legal talk about FOSS which was mind blowing. There are many issues of critical importance. To name just a few:
  • software procurement
  • data formats, open or close
  • standards and organizations
  • licenses
  • copyright
  • distribution
and many more. I liked this talk very much as it was presented in a very simplistic language and touched all the points. At the time of writing the slides are not published yet. Luckily i have photographs 😉 It is very important to understand, in par with the talk on software heritage that software is much more than code and plays a very important role in our lives. We, developers, tend to focus on technical stuff and easily miss or bypass these aspects which is wrong.

Introduction to A-Frame Build Virtual Reality on the Web A talk on virtual reality for the web. To be honest i went there to see some mind blowing graphics but it was a tutorial of the technology. Well, at least i saw that it is easy to do it yourself but i really wanted to see graphics not markup

From pipelines to graphs A lightning talk about dgsh a shell supporting scatter-gather pipelines. This was a very exciting talk as it demonstrated examples of data flow processing on acyclic graphs that usually are written in higher level frameworks and not in the shell. If this works then we have a very good tool for quickly prototyping such flows. From a first glimpse on the project the documentation is very good and is easy to start with. I will certainly give it a try as i have some very good use cases.

The RocksDB storage engine for MySQL A new storage engine for MySQL. It is supposed to be a replacement for InnoDB, it has good prospects but is not there yet. It was a high level talk. I really wanted to hear about SSTables and disk latencies but as they told me these were presented at FOSDEM 2016 and this talk is the logical continuation. In other word i saw the second half of a big talk.

Don't break the Internet!, Mozilla Copyright Campaign in Europe The EU copyright law is broken. Go to https://www.changecopyright.org and read about it. The new law under discussion is in fact worse. The law makers do not understand copyright in the digital age. The talk was a synopsis of the current state of the new law. Visit the site it contains very useful information

The Go room


The second day, was the day of go and i attended all the talks of the track. For this track i want to talk about gophers not talks. Although go was designed as a systems programming language it is now used in every field. In FOSDEM officially, we saw go for android, go for robotics (with drones flying in the room), go for advanced assembly, go for systems programming and go for monitoring. In FOSDEM unofficially, go was everywhere. There were many people interested in the platform and there were many teams already using it for exceptional things. Most of them passed from the go room to attend. The room was overcrowded for the go1.8 features. It seems without exaggeration that nowadays go is the second most important point of excitement in our industry, the first one of course being AI. But really it is amazing that so many people become excited because a new version of a platform adds a new API for something. My 1p thought is that people have become tired of learning complex platforms and they just want simple and efficient tools to concentrate on their applications. Go is such a tool and the excitement is justified.

Aftermath


FOSDEM is always a great experience and the 2017 edition was not an exception. It is the kind of event that reboots your mind and installs new software. The impressive is that every time the spike is different. It can be an aspiring talk or an impressive demo or just an idea you discussed in the cafeteria with someone you met there. The spike is different but the source is always the same: the people and the communities they form.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Mindmapping an AI talk

Yesterday, Professor Constantinos Daskalakis of MIT gave an interesting talk in Athens about AI. The talk was intended for a general non technical audience and discussed general issues like the definition of AI, its impact and its future.

Unfortunately i was a bit late and couldn't get an invitation for the auditorium so i watched it live from the video wall. While watching i tried to mindmap it for future reference. The final result from paper to iThoughts is:


Friday, December 30, 2016

Thoughts on silversmithing and software engineering


"Yiannena, leader in arms, in piasters and in letters" is a famous Greek phrase that summarizes the status of the Greek city of Ioannina at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th. Indeed Ioannina, at that time a part of the Ottoman empire and under the leadership of Ali Pasha, were the wealthiest Greek city, had the most schools in the country and were a significant military force.

Ioannina gained a large part of the wealth by trading silver artifacts. The city gathered the greatest silversmiths and they were producing beautiful artifacts and eventually became known as the city of silversmiths. That tradition continued for many years and included many great craftsmen. One of the most famous was Sotiris Voulgaris who eventually migrated to Italy and founded the famous Bvlgari house.

Recently a new museum for silversmithing opened in Ioannina and i paid a visit today. It is housed on a beautifully renovated Ottoman building of the 18th century inside the castle of Ioannina. The museum consists of two levels.

The first level is the technological museum. It demonstrates all the techniques used by the craftsmen to construct the silverware. For each technique there is a showcase with tools, first matters and instructions about it. Next to the showcase is a screen that shows a video of a silversmith that demonstrates the technique to build an artifact. Almost all the techniques require great precision, timing and a very steady hand. Silversmithing is definitely not something you learn by learning a book. It requires years of practice. The most important techniques are: cupellation, hammering, raising, sand casting, filigree, savati and repoussage. Each of them produces a very different type of artifact.

The first level also contains information about the history and tradition of silversmithing in Ioannina, the bios of some great craftsmen and some illustrious clients of them. Also there are important informations about the social impacts. Greek readers should know that the phrases "ροδάνι η γλώσσα" and "ξετσίπωτη γυναίκα" are metaphors for some tools of the silversmiths.

The second level of the museum contains a rich exhibition of silver artifacts. It includes guns, swords, cartridge boxes, lucky charms, belt buckles, candelabras, bible covers, chalices, jewellery and much more. Each one of them is demonstrated in a proper showcase that allows viewing from all sides so that the visitor can fully admire both the piece and the craftsmanship. All these are accompanied by rich information on the social status of silverware through history.

In both floors there are touch screens with additional information and there is also a computer room with applications related to the museum like quizzes, encyclopedia and a drawing program with patterns from the exhibited artifacts.

In a nutshell the new museum is a jewel for Ioannina. It beautifully demonstrates a very important part of the city's history but also succeeds in hooking the visitor into the art of silversmithing. Add to this the beautiful building of stone and you have a very good reason for a visit.

My impressions from the visit should end here but alas i am a software engineer and can't avoid compare this art with mine.

Of course you can make many parallelisms like comparing software maintenance with cupellation (recycling silver), or compare sand casting with reusable libraries and frameworks. You can even go very far and compare filigree (a silver thread) with the flow of a program, or compare working on hot metal with testing on production. All these are valid but the main differences are two in my opinion.

The first one is visibility. A silver artifact is designed to be beautiful and breathtaking. There artifacts will be visible by many people who will admire both them and the skill of the craftsman. You buy silverware to impress. On the contrary, the best software is transparent. Users do not and should not care about the internals of the software but only if it gets the work done. They don't care about scaling they care only to find quickly what they search in the web. They don't care about clustering algorithms, they just want to find the best product to buy in the cheaper price. They don't care about containers they just want their machine to boot fast and never crash. They don't care about filesystems they just want to see the photos in their camera. The internals of software should concern only engineers not users. Although this is a very simple principle it is very often violated in practice. Engineers sometimes fail to properly evaluate the user's needs and they expose everything under the Trojan horse of configurability or as big tables of complex data or forms of colored buttons which is wrong. The correct way is to build it properly. Sometimes they focus too much on technology that software is impossible to be used by casual users.  But the worst thing is that most engineers think that something is good if there is a path to learn it, even if this path is difficult. This is very wrong. Computers and software should help users not vice versa and hence must be very easy to use. If a user has to learn a very different part of the software to do a slightly different job something is wrong. Good software is transparent.

The second big difference is craftsmanship. A silversmith masters his art and creates beautiful artifacts. His artifacts reflect good reputation to him and he gains glory and recognition. He may pass his knowledge to an apprentice if he desires. Well, not in software. We have learned that good software can only be build by teams not individual great programmers no matter how good they are. Also knowledge should be free and distributed quickly through communities. Although this is also obvious it is also very often violated in practice. Still some engineers believe in the legend of the great hacker/craftsman and they work that way. Undeniably they are very good in their work but they don't distribute their knowledge in the team and some times they don't want teammates, they prefer to work individually. But even in the case of a team the knowledge, the skills and the work are not evenly distributed and this causes great problems if the master fails to deliver. The situation is worse for communities as many good engineers don't share experiences and knowledge fearing that they may loose the master badge. Good software can be produced only by teams of uniformly skilled individuals very actively collaborating. Everything else that focuses on individuals and not on teams will fail in the long run.

Silverware is a luxury. A century ago people were buying silver artifacts to increase their social status. Today it is out of fashion as people prefer electronic gadgets and cars. However it may return in the future. But software is not a luxury, it is the engine of the digital age. Every day we rely more and more on software to do simple and complex things. We rely so much on it that it is crucial to be good and working. It is difficult to write such software but at least let not the myths of the craftsman and demonstration hinter us.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Impressions from Voxxed days Thessaloniki

For the first time, voxxed days was held in Thessaloniki, Greece. We, the community, were very excited about this but we were also anxious if it would comply with the high quality standards of the brand. And it certainly did! And it certainly met all our expectations!

I had a great day meeting colleagues and friends and new interesting people to talk with. The topics of discussion were of course the talks delivered during the conference but also and more important the state of the Greek IT which has been hit hard by the Greek economic crisis. But no matter how a discussion between developers starts, even for debt and IMF, it eventually becomes purely technical about microservices and designing for failure.

Thessaloniki is one of the most beautiful Greek cities and a great destination for food lovers, so no surprise that the venue, the food and the pastries were excellent.

Now the talks. There were three tracks: java/devops, big data/methodology and web. There were 2 common keynotes so you had to chose 5 out of 15 talks to attend. I decided to optimize for best practical value and i avoided talks about new technologies and future directions. I unashamedly cared only for the present.

The opening keynote was by Simon Ritter about the upcoming features of JDK9 and project jigsaw which adds modules to java. It was a detailed talk about the language changes and how they affect legacy and new code. Alas I am with those who believe that jigsaw is too late and it will be irrelevant. Developers have learned to live without modules using facilities provided by build tools, frameworks and application servers. I hope that the final release of the JDK9  next year will prove me wrong.

But while jigsaw value is debatable the value of HTTP 2 is not. In a very informative and lively talk Ole Michaelis presented the problems of HTTP 1.1, destroyed the myths about some web techniques that we accept as best practices but actually are limitations of the protocol and presented the next version of HTTP. It is supported on all major browsers and platforms and it can be used right away. I totally agree with him. Let's use better technologies to build a better web. Let's get rid of the asset pipeline that makes our lives bitter. A great talk, i enjoyed a lot.

Next was Stavros Kontopoulos who talked about data streaming engines and used Apache spark as a case study. He presented the design principles of such engines, guidelines for good design of applications that use them and showed examples with spark. It was the kind of the simple straightforward talk that helps you tidy up your concepts and views about the topic and rethink your approaches. Personally it helped me a lot to clarify that an application I maintain is actually a custom streaming engine as it has all the characteristics of them. Now it is obvious how it should evolve.

Most developers hate documentation. They believe the myth that if the code is well written there is no need for documentation. I adore documentation. I even prefer to write documentation than unit tests. Peter Hilton delivered a great talk about documentation and discussed all aspects of it: when to avoid it, when to write it, how to avoid it without harm for the software, how to write it well and many many more. The slides were by itself a beautiful document on documentation. Find them and use them as a manual. This was imho the best talk of the conference.

Now it is time to become technical. Ali Kheyrollahi discussed best practices to write microservices. These are in a nutshell: ActivityId propagator, retries and timeouts, io monitoring, circuit breaker and canary, health endpoints. Although the context was microservices they are applicable to general network programming. The essence of his talk was that distribution is about reliability and in distributed systems everything can fail, so design for failure from day 1. This is of course a big topic but the talk succeeded in making it's point clear.

Dimitris Andreadis from redhat presented the latest versions of wildfly and wildfly swarm. These are JEE application servers for the cloud. Plain wildfly is a classic server on steroids, very fast and extensible. Wildfly swarm is a modular version of wildfly that you can assemble and configure as you wish. It has very small footprint, and has all the functionality of wildfly. This is the version for cloud deployment. JEE is still strong although not as dominant as it used. I really liked the architecture of swarm. Note however that many of the decisions were made to bypass the lack of modules in java and swarm's design is a better foundation for modular apps than jigsaw. Nice project but personally i like dropwizard very much to change it.

The closing keynote was by Sandro Mancuso about career design and development. To be honest, in Greece this is frequently discussed between developers because the environment is generally toxic for good career development. There are good jobs, good companies, good engineers but no full path for career development. We have the dots but we cannot connect the line, to paraphrase a classic talk by Steve Jobs. Sandro gave us valuable advices but most importantly he transmitted positive energy to us. Thanks Sandro.

Voxxed days Thessaloniki finished with good news. Next year  there will be Voxxed days Athens and we hope it will be as good as this one. Greece is back to the map of good IT conferences.

Spyros

PS1 I am writing on a bus without wifi, so i can't provide links. You will find them at the web page of the event but first make a small stop to check the people who organized this. Greece is not back on the map of conferences by luck or accident. People worked hard for it and they deserve our appreciation.

PS2 Outside the venue there was a chess event. I bet nobody figured out that the guest of honor was the girls world champion under 18 which is Greek! Google for her, she will win the women world championship one day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Impressions from DotGo 2016

The best thing about go is it's community. It has taken a language designed for systems programming and used it in many alternative ways. This boosted the development of the language and emphasized the consistency of go's design.

I attended dotgo last year and enjoyed it very much, so I came to this year's event with great expectations and I wasn't disappointed. The organization, the venue, the food and the happenings were excellent. The highlight of course was the giant French gopher which dominated the stage, and i also liked very much the idea of a professional illustrator that drew the speakers and the best moments of the conference. Unfortunately I am writing from a mobile device of limited capabilities and i can't post links, photos etc. You can find them at Twitter at the organizer's account @dotgoeu. They will also publish the videos from the talks, freely available to the public.

Now, the talks. I will present them not in the order delivered but rather grouped in three groups according to the major aspect of go they revolved around: language, tools, environments.

Language

These are the talks about how to write good idiomatic go.

The first one was from Dave Cheney and he talked about first class functions. He presented examples of functions that return functions and used them to simplify code and write more coherent APIs. This wasn't about functional programming. There is a duality between single method interfaces and functions and go's simple design makes it very easy and straightforward to alternate between these two, something that is very difficult in other languages. In go we get benefit from both sides of the duality.

The next talk was from Damian Gryski who talked about caching and memory layouts in modern architecture. He tried to simplify and present advanced performance topics and he did a great job. His advice: measure first, optimize later.

Peter Szilagyi was next and he discussed immutability and concurrency. Go has no support for immutable objects, so to build his object graph he needed some scaffolding. The resulting code was simple to read, understand and extend. It favors go's simplicity but raises the question if the language needs support for immutability.

Katrina Owen talked about a technique for refactoring that she calls "noop noop noop interface maneuver" and she used it on a buggy piece of code to make it more readable and testable. Basically the technique extracts pieces of code to small interfaces and assembles them in helper types. This can be done easily and fast in go because the types are open and there are no type hierarchies that you must be careful not to break or bloat.

The final talk this group was by Robert Griesemer, one of go's creators. He gave a talk about software design and prototyping. As a working use case, he extended go to support two dimensional slices and showed how good is go at rapid prototyping. A great talk that emphasized the cultural difference between hackers and engineers.

Tools

A good language should support good tools. Go does this excellently.

Rhys Hiltner presented practical examples of using the go execution tracer. This is a tool that gathers execution events, for example a goroutine starts, and presents them in a compact form to the user. It can be used alongside a profiler to check how a large program behaves. Rhys presented examples of application bugs, false alarms and bugs in the go runtime. That is the talk that emphasized the design consistency of go. You get an excellent tool from the standard library and you can use it in a uniform way to investigate your application and the go runtime all in once. Compare with other platforms that rise barriers between your code and the platform.

Next was Matthew Holt who talked about ACME, the automatic certificate management environment and how easy it is to use from go. He argued that we should encrypt our apps since now it it very easy especially in go. I am not a security expert to have an opinion on this but the talk received many kudos from people involved with the subtleties of TLS.

Environments

Go was designed to run in a networked environment but what exactly is a node of such an environment? Is it just a traditional computer?

Dmitri Shuralyov maintains gopherjs, a go to javascript translator, and he believes that a browser can be a very friendly environment for go programs. He run ivy, Rob Pike's apl interpreter, in the browser, used chrome to stream http content written with net/http and as this wasn't enough he demonstrated an example of GL written in go, running in the browser. A great talk. The point is that it makes you rethink the basic interfaces of the standard library and how they map to the browser environment. What is an io.Reader in chrome and how well the fetch API maps to net/http and vice versa. After you define these building blocks the code is the same, both for the browser and the desktop computer.

Go can also run very well in mobile devices. Elias Naur talked about the latest version of gomobile and the features that allow you to write go and create bindings for Java/Android and Swift/iOS. The percentage of go code in a mobile app increases but we are not to 100℅ yet. Daring explorers can program Android in Go straight away.

Next was Kelsey Hightower, of kubernetes fame, who talked about why static binaries that bundle application code and the platform runtime are great for deployment. He demonstrated the concept using kubernetes and increased the size of the cluster for each run. Go binaries don't even need a container like docker, although it is highly recommended but for other reasons not for the sake of deployment. It was a very nice and lively talk about the go feature we all loved from the first days of the language.

Brad Rydzewski talked about plugin architectures for go, or in his words "designing for the unexpected". When you design a system and you release it to public, you can't predict the changes. Sometimes a plugin architecture is more suitable for projects that customization needs are highly anticipated. This is a case where our beloved single self contained binary is not always the best choice. There are alternatives like custom binaries or RPC to a process running the plugin or RPC to a container running the plugin. Brad discussed all these and the new architecture of his CI tool that incorporates these ideas. Clearly this is an open topic and I would like to see a solution in the standard library.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed this year's dotgo and I left with new ideas, new images and new friends. The go community has the best balance between going forth and stay relevant. We want to advance but we also want to stay relevant. It is a great feeling to be a part of such an active and prospering community.

See you next year at dotgo 2017