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Developer Conferences

Developer conferences are a great way to learn about new and existing technologies. Almost as important are the conversations in the corridors between talks and bars after to find out what your peers from other companies are up to. Without them your company may run the risk of becoming like a small island cut off from the mainland, perpetuating a monoculture.


But there are a bewildering array of conferences to choose from, and for most of us only a limited time and budget to work with. Here’s a few tips.


The most common format is a few days of talks, usually spread across a number of themed tracks with each talk lasting somewhere between half an hour and an hour.

I try to get to a handful of conferences a year, which is in part made possible by speaking at some of the them. If you’re speaking typically the entrance fee is waived and if the conference is remote then often the organizer will contribute towards your travel and accommodation. Don’t expect too much though, unless you’re giving a keynote you shouldn’t expect to get paid, so for the most part speakers are giving their time freely.

A talk lets the speaker really emphasise what they think is important when introducing a subject, something that is much harder to portray in an article. I recommend choosing a few talks out of your normal area/comfort zone, often you’ll learn something new and interesting and sometimes even applicable. Don’t expect to become an expert after listening to a one hour talk, at best you might get two or three key concepts which you can build on in your own time.


Many of the large conferences tag half day training sessions at the start of the conferences. This can be a good way to deep dive in to a particular topic and get some hands on experience with the help and support of an expert. Some conferences specialize in this kind of training like Skills Matter’s Progressive .Net Tutorials and Progressive F# Tutorials which are comprised almost entirely of half day hands on sessions.


One or two day hacking events are another popular event style. They are often free and typically run over the weekend so those no need to use up your precious holiday days. As an example the Data Science London meetup recently organized a Big Data Hackathon and next weekend Skills Matter are hosting the London GameCraft game jam.

Big Conferences

For me more interesting things happen at the edges between disciplines, so here I’m going to call out mostly multi-disciplinary conferences:


Strangeloop, if I had to recommend one conference, this would be it, this year your can see the author of Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, Douglas Hoftadter speaking.

QCon/GOTO/Yow! conferences organized by Trifork, the team behind InfoQ, with events in San Francisco, New York, London, Aarhus, Amsterdam, Melbourne and Brisbane. I’ve attended in QCon London and a GOTO in Denmark, both were well organized with some great speakers

NDC Oslo attracted 1,600 developers this year. This conference is on my must see list, maybe next year. NDC London launches in December.

ØREDEV is based in Malmö Sweden, and attracts around 1,200 developers, this year the theme is the Arts and I’ll be giving not just one but two talks.

Build Stuff is organized by Greg Young, and based in Lithuania, it has a fantastic line-up.

MonkeySpace – there seems to be a real buzz around these conferences which focus on open source multi-platform development with .Net

If you can I’d recommend trying at least one new conference each year, this way you’ll be more likely to get exposure to new people and ideas.

Functional Conferences

Each programming language has their own conferences, for example Scala has Scala Days and the Scala eXchange (which I’ll be speaking at in December), Clojure has Euro Clojure and ClojureWest and F# has the Progressive F# Tutorials in London and New York (I’ll be there too).  There are also a number of cross-language events if you’re looking to broaden your horizons:


Lambda Jam ran in July in Chicago with a really strong line up organized by the team behind Strangeloop,

TechMesh, now CodeMesh, was a big hit in London last December, expect it to be even bigger this year.

FP Days is in its 3rd year, based in Cambridge (England), it’s a friendly intimate event.

FP eXchange is organized by Rob Pickering and brings together the London FP community.

flatMap is based in Oslo and has been running for 2 years now.

Other Conferences

Fancy trying something a little different:


That Conference is a conference and a summer camp.

CodeMash at the same location as that conference, for winter it boasts an indoor waterpark.

DDD – referencing Steve Balmer’s Developers Developers Developers chant, these free UK conferences are organized by the developer community.

Bacon is a conference on things developers love with sessions on topics including rocketry, Go, infinity, data visualisation, and continuous deployment.

GDC (Game Developers Conference) has tracks for design, production, programming and visual arts.

NIPS (Neural Information Processing Systems) you’ll learn about some really interesting machine learning projects, both research based and applied.

Conference Planner


Spring Summer Autumn Winter
QCon London NDC Oslo Strangeloop Build Stuff
FP eXchange MonkeySpace ØREDEV NDC London
GOTO Copenhagen Lambda Jam QCon San Francisco CodeMesh
GDC GOTO Amsterdam GOTO Aarhus CodeMash
Bacon QCon New York FP Days NIPS
flatMap That Conference    

I’d love to hear your event ideas and suggestions too.


F# UK ton of Meetups

Since the start of the year there’s been an F# meetup every 2 weeks in London at Skills Matter, in the middle of the month we do a hands session and at the end a talk or two. There’s always a good turnout and the group now has over 500 members.

Want to get in on the action, there’s a particularly exciting schedule of free events featuring F# in and around London over the coming months:

This week

.Net in the City with Daniel Egloff on Combining F# and GPUs on Thursday 16th May

Next week

F# Type Providers Hands On with Tomas Petricek on Thursday 23rd May

Gustavo Guerra on Developing a Windows 8 application with F# also Thursday 23rd May

Week after

F# on iPad and iPhone with Neil Danson on Thursday 30th May


Machine Learning Hands On with F# on Thursday 13th June

Lean vs Agile Fight + F# Eye for the C# Guy on Wednesday 26th June in Norwich

An F# powered Raspberry Pi internet radio with Ross McKinlay on Thursday 27th June

DDD East Anglia

DDD East Anglia is a free community event in Cambridge on Saturday June 29th and there’s a good number of F# talks:

Also don’t miss the awesome Sam Aaron on:

Outside the UK?

No problem, check out what’s going on at F# user groups across the globe:

If you’re in the US check out Lambda Jam in Chicago this July and the Progressive F# Tutorials in NYC this September.


Progressive F# Tutorials London 2012

First things first, a big thanks to the team at Skills Matter particularly Wendy and Anaïs for making this event happen.


This year the tutorials were held over 2 days in the atmospheric Crypt in Clerkenwell:

Progressive F# PanelProgressive F# Panel Progressive F# PanelSimon Cousins & Tomas Petrick

Expect a return next year in London and New York.

Day 1


Practical Functional-first Programming with F#


Friends don't let friends use null

An outstanding keynote from Don which built on the talk he gave at the Progressive .Net Tutorials earlier in the year, stacked full of nuggets. On measuring if you have a correctness problem in your code base Don suggests counting the occurrences of NullReferenceException in your bug database.

Don also demonstrated F# 3.0’s Type Provider feature, including a very interesting Hive type provider for Hadoop written by Matt Moloney.


Programming with the stars!


I generally avoid 'function' when showing the language to newcomers. Not a problem at #progfsharp :-)


i'm going to the Progressive F# Tutorials at #SkillsMatter Nov 1-2 intense coding with the greats of #Fsharp!

To demonstrate how to tackle problems with F#, Tomas & Nicolas neatly solved the Reversi kata live on stage. They started by transforming a board to a 2D array and then searched the array for legal moves.


F# Koans


Ready for some koans fun at #progfsharp!

The F# Koans are a simple, fun, and interactive way to learn the F# language through testing. You can run them from VS2010 or VS2012. My 10yo really enjoyed working his way through them.


Processing concurrent time-series data


See you at the Progressive F# Tutorials 2012


Not to miss #fsharp events! Tutorials at #skillsmatter in 2 weeks & Type-providers and financial tutorial at #techmesh…

Simon worked through some of the techniques he has used while developing solution in F# at E.ON Energy Trading for the last 4 years. There was also some ASCII art


Expert Panel Discussion


A very lively and fun debate, covering topics from industrial use of F#, cross-platform with Mono and the JVM, to data parallelism. Jon offered that several teams at Aviva, one of the world’s largest insurers, are using F#. Martin felt that F# on the JVM would be a smash hit. Finally Nick wetted our appetite for the upcoming release of {m}brace.


Day 2


Accelerate your TDD cycle – Coding dojo with NaturalSpec and NCrunch

sforkman turns out the whole "in the crypt" thing - not a joke. #progfsharp

In this session Steffen introduced TDD with F# using NaturalSpec and NCrunch.


Make Music in the Key of F#


@AnaisatSM thanks for having us, it really was a lovely event! /cc@skillsmatter @wendydevolder @ptrelford


Robert introduced Undertone a library for creating notes in F#, part inspired by Clojure’s Overtone. With the F# Koans under his belt my 10yo was able to translate the Baa Baa Black Sheep sample to Jingle Bells :)


F# in the Cloud


In this session, George and Gian demonstrated that F# can be used to perform computations in a cloud environment, using distributed actors, Azure Hadoop and the cool F# newcomer, {m}brace.


Web Programming


James started by talking through the F# MVC project template from Daniel Mohl.

After a short tea break I demonstrated some F# 3 type providers starting with accessing Stack Overflow’s API using the F# team’s OData type provider, followed by the file system and Freebase providers which are available in FSharpx via Nuget. Finishing up with a demo of the F# team’s B-Movie Madness sample web application which I’ve deployed on Azure.

James followed on with a site built using tube passenger statistics from TfL and a CSV type provider. Finally James demonstrated WebSharper compiling F# code directly to JavaScript.


Community Action

Thanks for stopping by, hope to see y’all at some of the upcoming fun F# community events: