The Craft Conf 2022 just ended a few days ago which was the first-ever offline conference I have attended. In this article, I will share the experiences I have collected at the conference.
I went to the Craft Conf with exact goals. I have written in my previous article Why Am I Attending The Craft Conf 2022 Software Development Conference? about them. I advise reading it before this writing as I will revisit my goals one by one and reflect on how much I was able to achieve from them.
I remember I was a little nervous before the day of the conference. As I explained in my previous article, I am an introvert. The idea of being together with hundreds of software developers freaked me out a little bit.
Luckily I was not alone, as 4 of my friends came with me to the Craft Conf. I cannot exaggerate enough how much it meant for me. The idea of spending two days with my developer friends, talking about software development, and of course, about other friendish stuff made me happy and helped to reduce my nervousness.
I was not sure what to wear during the conference, but I was not alone with that problem as two of my friends also asked me about that. In the end, we decided to dress as we would go to work. For me, it meant jeans, a Hashnode T-shirt, and a shirt too which I took off in the end as it was pretty hot.
In today's fast-paced world, where new technologies emerge yearly, it is very important to train yourself if you do not want to fall behind. By now, many companies have realized how important it is to support their employees by sending them to training or giving them conference tickets. It is important for the company not just because the new learning will benefit them too, but also because this can be a factor that motivates a developer to stay with the company. At least for me, it is an important factor.
Unfortunately, my previous company hardly ever supported me in improving myself, which was also why I did not attend conferences before. Finally, after 15 years, I moved to another company in December.
My new company is different as it provides a budget and 4 extra holidays for its employees to train themselves. I have already spent one day visiting the Future of Testing Framework conference, about which you can read my report here. So I could visit the Craft Conf using two days from my holiday budget. I am not exactly sure what will I do with my fourth day. Still, if I have to answer now, then I would say I will visit the Crunch Conf, which is also organized by CraftHub, but instead of software developers, it is targeting Data Engineers and Data Scientists.
What about the imposter syndrome? Luckily I left it behind around half a year ago. So I was excited to visit the conference, as instead of thinking, "I have no place amongst these much better developers," I felt I would be in the right place with fellow developers who would be there to learn and have fun just like me.
That is enough about the backstory. Let's start the conference.
We arrived quite early at the conference as luckily my friend Szabi brought me to the location by car. Our first journey led us to the registration booth. It was quite a surprise to see the registration is on the dodgem field. Look: There were many desks where you were able to register. Almost nobody was there when we registered, but based on the number of staff there, I am pretty sure the fellow developers could register quickly too.
After the registration, we entered the building and headed directly to the breakfast area as both of us were hungry, especially me. A few (at least compared to the total number) of the developers were already having breakfast, as you can see in the picture. There were sandwiches and other food too and even dessert. I am a meat lover, so I sadly realized all the sandwiches were vegetarian, but this sadness faded as soon as I tasted the sandwiches. They not just looked good, but they were delicious too.
This was the same place where we had lunch. Luckily lunch was not self-serving, as I think it would have been chaos if hundreds of hungry developers would have appeared in an all-you-can-eat area. So the food was served by the staff thanks to which you did not have to wait too much. There were chicken, pork, beef, fish, and vegan food so that everyone could find something for him/herself.
There were many stands where you could get drinks and coffee too. Luckily there were many glasses prefilled with drinks, so you could simply grab one when thirsty. All in all, the food was delicious and as it was all-you-can-eat I am pretty sure no developer remained hungry.
Now that our stomach is full, let's look around at the location.
Craft Conf took place at the Hungarian Railway Museum. I have to admit I did not look around thoroughly, but during a lunch break I went out to see the locomotives. I have spent more than 10 years of my life traveling by train twice a week to visit my parents, then go back to school. To be honest, I did not like traveling, but I still love locomotives. I remember there was a beautiful black locomotive at the Mezőhegyes railway station. I loved that locomotive. We always jumped on it with my brother Tamás and played in the cockpit. After checking the trains it is time for a cigarette.
The Smoking Area
I have to admit, all my friends and also myself are smokers. Thanks to this our meeting point was the smoking area. After each talk, we gathered together in front of the main entrance where the smoking area was located. During smoking, we discussed the previously heard talk and also used the time to have many friendly talks. For me, that was the best part of the conference. Of course, we heard amazing talks and had a lot of fun, but spending two days with my friends was invaluable.
Talks and Speakers
More than 70 speakers were invited to the Craft Conf 2022. Most of them were there personally and the others had an online talk. Arranging the speakers' traveling, accommodation, local transportation, and creating the schedule must have been very difficult, but the CraftHub team did a great job, in my opinion.
Kevlin Henney opened the conference with the talk Non-Functional coding. His speech was fascinating and fun at the same time. Perfect start for the conference. I even brought a picture of one of the slides.
The Main Stage was full. You could even smell the scent of software development.
However, depression was not inside me this time, but it was pretty close to me as it was sitting right in front of me, as you can see in the picture above. I have no idea why the guy in front of me wore that T-shirt, but I was too shy to ask.
I used to love visiting meetups, as in addition to learning and networking, I always got a huge motivation boost for weeks. I am eagerly waiting for how long will the motivation boost last this time.
If you read my previous article, you know my plan was to visit Michael Feathers', Dan North's, and Ivett Ördög's talk.
Michael's talk was the first one on the list. So I went to platform 2 to listen to his talk. To my biggest surprise, there was a completely different speaker there. I suppose the talk was canceled, and I did not reload the schedule on my phone. Never mind. As a photographer, I loved Platform 2. Just look at the lights:
When I realized Dan North's talk was a virtual talk, I decided to watch the talk from recording and visit a real-life talk instead, as that is the beauty of offline conferences. Listening to talks of top-notch developers from all around the world in person.
Luckily I could listen to Ivett's talk, which was the last talk of the conference. She was talking about how to sell a big refactor to the management. I had expected a bit more practical advice, but the presentation was still interesting.
I found Fabrice Bernhard's talk the most fascinating at the whole conference. I have to admit I am highly biased towards QA topics as I work as a test automation engineer. Fabrice was talking about the Dantotsu method with which you can drastically reduce the bugs in your code. I will write an article about his presentation as I would like to share the Dantotsu method with my team as I am pretty sure it would benefit us too.
To sum it up, there were many great talks during these two days, and I could only listen to a small portion of them thanks to the many parallel talks. I am pretty sure I will spend hours listening to the missed talks, and I will also watch some of the talks again as I would like to write a few articles about the ones I found most interesting.
Many of the conference supporters had a booth in the exhibition area. Epam, Morgan Stanley, Cloudera, Tesco, and of course CraftHub just to mention a few of them.
I believe the exhibitors knew most of the developers are there to learn and have fun and not to find a job, cause of this many of them prepared some minigames which made the booth visits quite memorable. Instead of job ads, they asked for your approval to get your contact info, so they could reach us after the conference with relevant content. I already got a few emails and I am sure more is on the way.
I have visited almost all the booths and played most of the games. You could win prizes by playing. Let's mention the most memorable minigames.
Epam had a smartphone slide challenge where you got points depending on how close you could slide your phone to the center of the target. Sliding the phone to the center gave access to the highest gift category. My first slide was too weak and the second one almost blocked the center, but I nailed it on the third try. Here is a pic of the game:
At adnovum, you had to play an AR game. You had to catch bugs using a phone's camera on which either a cake or a bug appeared when you moved your camera above a symbol on the wheel. It was quite fun so I played it both on the first and second day too.
At the Tresorit booth, you had to open a safe by getting the code of the safe by answering a few questions from which you could figure out the code. Of course, we opened it and we could even get some chocolate from the safe.
At the Tesco booth, you had to decrypt a message which pointed to a location. I couldn't solve it right there but a cigarette later I went back with the solution.
(Almost) all the exhibitors had a grand prize. You could participate in the drawing by sharing your personal info and the winners were mostly selected randomly. Unfortunately, I had not won any of the grand prizes but I was not sad about that because of the swags.
Swag Here, Swag There, Swag Everywhere
The exhibitors prepared for the Craft Conf with an extreme amount of swag. I did not realize up till now how fun it is to collect swags. There very everything you could imagine. Pens, notebooks, socks, sunglasses, t-shirts, and even rubber ducks. I have to admit I might get too excited and collected too much swag, but I had a good excuse. I have collected almost all the swags for my son. This is mainly true, but I also gave some of them to my wife and I also kept a few. Here is a pic of almost all the loot I collected at the conference. 😊
The CraftHub staff was very kind and helpful and we could even get mango-flavored beer from them, so it was no question whether we visited them or not. At the location, there were many people with a Staff label on their T-shirts who were there to help us if we had any questions.
Despite I had a map I had no idea where the Innovation stage was so a friendly staff guided me there. Actually, it was right behind me but I did not realize it. 😊
After the second talk on the main stage, I went to the CraftHub booth and asked them to increase the volume on the speakers' mic as thanks to sounds coming from the lively exhibition area we had a hard time listening to the talks from the back rows. They were quite helpful and I am almost sure they increased the volume, as, from the following presentation, I had no problem with it.
Unfortunately, I could not participate in the networking party as I had to go home to be with my son as my wife had an important appointment, but one of my friends was there and he told me it was great. Epam supported everyone with 4 beer coupon so the mood was guaranteed. Maybe next year I can visit the party too.
Being a Kid Again
Even at the age of 40, I still consider myself a kid, as I never grew up. Especially nowadays, when I play a lot with my son I can enjoy such activities as playing lego, video games and much more without feeling any guilt of not spending my time on "useful things". Luckily there were many activities at the Craft Conf which brought back my childhood memories.
I love dodgem since my childhood and for decades I never sat in a dodgem car as I thought that was for kids. Last summer and also recently I had the opportunity to realize how enjoyable it is even for an adult. I was even able to persuade two of my friends to jump into a dodgem. It was really fun.
As I mentioned before, the conference took place at the Hungarian Railway Museum. They have built a mini railroad at the location on which people could sit. I did not try this activity, but I saw many of the participants sitting on it. I brought you a picture to help you imagine it.
I loved candy floss as a kid and I realized I love candy floss as an adult too. Luckily there was a candy floss stand right beside Cloudera's stand so it was no question whether I tried it or not. Look at my happy face. 😊
There was a stand beside SAP where you could play Playstation games with a VR headset. As I had never tried it before, I took the opportunity. It was fun, especially as you had two handles in your hand with which you could interact with the virtual world instead of a mouse or a controller. As I learned, you can borrow these VR headsets if you have an event like a birthday party or want to have fun with your friends.
I would like to say thank you to Anna, Felhő bácsi, Médea, Károly, Barna, Vanda, Viktória, Anna, Renáta, Fanni, Bianka, Réka, Kata, Barbara, Veronika, Vivien, Marcel, Martin, Emilía, Kristóf, Gergő, László who are the people behind CraftHub the organizer of the Craft Conf. They made my first offline conference really memorable and I am pretty sure the organizers of my next conference will have a hard time outshining the Craft Conf 2022.
I would also say thank you to my friends Szabi, Fűrész, Karesz, and Laci who joined me personally for the time of the conference. I really enjoyed this 2 days and I just hope we can repeat it next year too.
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