360|AnDev 2017: My First Android Conference

Last week, I had the privilege of attending 360|AnDev in Denver, Colorado. As implied by the title of this post, 360|AnDev is an Android conference. This was my first time attending an Android conference and it was a great experience in many ways.

The talks I attended were wonderful. As an Android beginner, there was plenty of material that was beyond my level. I saw this as a good thing. It meant that I was around Android developers that were far more experienced than me. One might see this as intimidating (and I do not want to diminish that), but there is also a great opportunity for learning when you are around people more knowledgeable than yourself on a certain subject. I hope other people of all skill levels decide to come to this conference next year.

When I decided to attend this conference, I did not know exactly what to expect in terms of size and opportunities to network. I knew that many Android developers whose careers I had been following via Twitter and other social media would be speaking and I hoped to have the chance to talk to at least one of them. The conference was small enough that I got the opportunity to chat with a few of the speakers. For some of those speakers, I did not even have to approach them. I just sometimes happened to end up in the seat next to a speaker either at a session or at a meal during the conference.

In general, I felt more and more inspired as the conference went on. Being new to Android development, I had not quite set any Android-related career goals in stone, but I had some thoughts on potential goals. I had been pondering things like speaking at Android conferences, attending hackathons, and eventually becoming a Google Developer Expert.

As the conference went on, I started to get visions of myself actually doing these things in the future. I picture myself (hopefully) giving my first Android conference talk at 360|AnDev 2018. I am not sure how long it will take to become a Google Developer Expert, but I picture myself years down the line back at 360|AnDev as a Google Developer Expert reminiscing on my first time attending 360|AnDev in 2017 and how much has changed since then. As far as hackathons, one of the speakers (Mark Scheel) mentioned that he was close to reaching $50,000 in hackathon winnings. Despite my lack of hackathon experience, I can now see myself reaching a similar benchmark in a decade or so.

I plan on watching some of the talks I attended online later this fall after I have more knowledge of Android development. Look out for another blog post around then!

One talk I can easily discuss now was the closing session by Chet Haase and Romain Guy. Based on what I saw in the schedule, I expected a serious talk about the issues with current programming languages and suggested improvements. Much to my pleasant surprise, it was actually more of a stand-up comedy routine. Haase and Guy went through numerous comical features to add to programming languages. For example, one feature they had in their fictional programming language was "Do What I Mean (DWIM)." Say you wrote the code "if (x = 7) ..." with the intention of checking if x is equal to 7 in a programming language where the equal sign is the assignment operator. Well, this code would not work as intended. This is where DWIM comes in. It would know you meant to write "if (x ==7)" and would operate as if you did.

There were many more jokes like this during this session and Haase and Guy even took questions at the end. In the comical spirit of the community, people asked questions that were also jokes and quite clever jokes at that. This was a great way to end the conference.

A couple of other things I noted about this conference:
  • The weather in Denver is gorgeous in the summer. It's much milder than the hot and humid summers I am used to in my region.
  • The swag was very cool. I got several stickers, a mug, a phone charger that works for both iPhones and Androids, four free t-shirts, free pens, and more! I counted pieces of swag when I returned home and I had 25.
This blog post is coming to you a bit later than I originally planned because I had trouble condensing all my thoughts down to a reasonable word count. I have about 58 pages of notes from the conference including lists and notes I made afterwards when I tried to condense all the information I was getting.

I am very grateful to the 360|AnDev team for the scholarship that I received. This scholarship covered travel costs as well as my conference ticket and was sponsored by Shopify and Basecamp.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you at 360|AnDev 2018!