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Develop Denver Conference Recap

A recap of my two days at Develop Denver.

I recently had the opportunity to attend and speak at Develop Denver.

This is a conference in Denver that covered all aspects of the development experience, from design to devops. Uniquely in my experience for a conference of its size, Develop Denver had an open speaker process. Anyone could apply to be a speaker, and the community voted on which speakers would give sessions. There was one optional day of speaker training. This process led to a wide variety of topics and speaker experiences, as you can see by checking out the schedule.

This was my first Develop Denver, but it was clear that it was built by the community. There were a number of volunteers organizing the conference, and it was quite well run (there was one instance where the paper schedule and online schedule were off by an hour but other than that I can’t point to anything that went wrong). They ran it across five different venues in a half mile radius, so participants got out to see the neighborhood as well (Rino). I was lucky enough to be able to take the bus to the train to a nice walk to get there. Also of note, the founder of Develop Denver moved last year, so this was definitely a year of transition. (He did come back for the conference.)

There was plenty of great content to choose from, from UX and design focused talks to discussions about Devops pipelines. There was also a heavy emphasis on the business side, with talks about freelancing and interviewing as well. This type of conference is just a different experience than a conference like GopherCon that has a singular focus, as you meet folks from across the development spectrum and the topics vary more wildly (no freelancing business tip talks at Gophercon). I especially appreciated the focus on diversity and inclusion. For instance, there were a number of talks about getting your first job or how to hire non traditional candidates, and there was a session about woman created video games where you actually got to play them (including Hairnah).

I enjoyed my chance to speak as well. I talked about Amazon Machine Learning, an offering from Amazon which makes it very easy to use supervised machine learning. I spoke to a full house and quite enjoyed the diversity of the audience–there were ML experts and newbies attending. Do you want to be able to make predictions from structured data? If so, AML may be for you. I also gave a lightning talk on awk, a text processing language. All the lightning talks were, as expected, varied and interesting without requireing commitment to a full session.

Everyone was very friendly. I ran into an old colleague and met several new connections. In fact, the conference organizers exhorted us to all meet and chat with people we didn’t know. The conference attendees were diverse as well. I met a number of experienced people, but also a bootcamp graduates, looking for their first job. There were two official nights of social gathering, appropriate for a community focused event. Here’s another recap if you want a different perspective.

All in all, it was exciting to speak and attend this conference. If you are in the front range of Colorado and are interested in a technology conference, would recommend!


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