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Are there other conferences worth attending?

Posted by rpg on June 15, 2003 at 1:48 PM PDT

JavaOne is over - thank God! It's a great conference for finding out who is doing what in Java, and there are lots of opportunities to learn Java-related things. But I prefer conferences not so identified with a single company - hey, even when it's my own.

This month there are two different sorts of conferences that might deserve your look. Both are heavy into Java, but their focus is elsewhere. This first is the Agile Development Conference, June 25-28, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Agile development is about recognizing that the requirements for a project change as the users of the software see the software and learn what it can do. Agile developers care about interactive or participatory design, delivering software early and often, and test-driven development in which the tests are developed before the code as part of its specification.

I was on the technical paper selection committee and we were quite selective. Unfortunately I can't go because I'm off to a writers' conference. I think you might enjoy hanging with the agiles.

The other conference is the Eighth European Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs,
25–29 June, in Irsee, Germany. This conference is affectionately known as EuroPLoP, and is one of a set of conferences the Hillside Group started. The Hillside Group is a non-profit that shepherds patterns-related things. Doug Lea and I are members of its board. PLoPs are interesting because they feature a writers' workshop style of interaction. (I wrote a a book about them.) A writers' workshop is a semi-formal way of reviewing and critiquing work, developed at the end of the 19th century in the creative writing community. At PLoPs we use them to help authors improve their patterns and pattern languages, but audiences are allowed to observe. In a sense it is like watching the process of creation, and people find they get a much deeper understanding of the work in this format than in a standard presentation style.

The best part of EuroPLoP is that it takes place at Kloster Irsee, which is a former Benedictine monastery (founded in the 12th century) and now housing a brewery, located in Bavaria, Germany. The accommodations, food, and beer are excellent, and the atmosphere is not like any other conference you've been to, unless you've been to one of the other PLoPs.

The patterns community over the years has brought us not only patterns and pattern languages, but writers' workshops, wikis, extreme programming, and agile development in their search for how to make programming more effective and humane. Check it out.

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