I first heard from FullStack EU, because I'm a supporter of the Laravel community. The organizers are active contributors for new open source libraries, best practices  and improvements in that same community (Freek and Dries).

The theme of this conference caught my attention. It's a FullStack conference (duh, it's in its name), but topics were reaching far beyond the common definition of a full stack developer.

I like the theme because it's like a whole software agency can attend this conference. Usually, you find conferences that are focused only on one thing (either technology, or stack, or framework). This is an interesting new concept, and it makes a whole lot of sense since technologies are merging, and there's less cost to pay to move from one boundary to the other.

That's why I decided to come to Antwerp. To be honest, I've heard the city been mentioned once or twice. It's GORGEOUS! A traditional European city with a spice of coolness. I'd love to spend more time here, but Bruges and Brussels are waiting.

So, what exactly happened here?

250 people, talks divided into chunks of 1 hour, breaks with amazing snacks and coffee, and lots of networking in between.

There was also a space for lightining talks, where anyone (applying previously) could talk for 4 minutes.

The conference went pretty smoothly. The chunks of 1 hour were very digestible, and compared to other tech conferences, the timing was very accurate. So in general, there was plenty of time for networking, do some work, and rest the mind because of the rush of information.

What's the goal of technology? Our responsibility is to ensure that limition is diminshed.

What was discussed in Full Stack EU?

There was a fair amount of topics at Full Stack EU. Ranging from:

  1. Javascript and its gang (Typescript, React, Next.js Vue, etc).
  2. DevOps (how to debug, best practices, etc).
  3. Backend (architecture, tooling, machine, machine learning).
  4. Accessibility.
  5. How to improve as a developer (rely on a third party, ideas while building software).

I feel this is a very good start. I would probably have added a layer of communication and writing as well. Most of developers are good on the technical front, but we usually suck at communicating what we're trying to achieve.

Which are my takeaways?

  1. I very much liked that DevOps was suggested as a CULTURE. A culture where developers and ops people, collaborate and have a shared responsibility to improve software. Based on the talk, implementing this culture is a series of baby steps where you need to define metrics, run experiments (hopefully not expensive), and where managers need to enable a safe-to-fail environment. Very neat. Thanks Nataliya.
  2. I agree with Caleb Porzio's statement, about writing less Javascript. It seems all these new frontend tools are just adding more complexity, and we forgot how to rely on plain common HTML and Javascript functions. I think developers should understand the basics, and evaluate if a framework like React or Vue is needed for an application (I have this same constant struggle with mobile native and React Native).
  3. Accessibility is a major feature being forgotten by developers. There's a cool video that explains some easy steps to start fixing this. But still, we need more of these videos and more of these talks. I felt pretty bad by my lack of usage for HTML headings and elements positioning on a website. I hope I had this awareness as a junior developer. Thanks Sara!
  4. Even though it was a 4 minute talk, the idea of visualizing technical debt stuck with me. Funny situation at the end of this talk. Imagine a startup working on a room. Every time there's technical debt, a post-it is stuck in the window. When the room goes dark, it's time to refactor.
  5. Embracing change in projects is hard. Thinking about building the domain could impact significantly in your change rate and success. Start measuring how fast can you push a change to production, how fast can you rollback that change and how easy is to create a whole environment from scratch. That will determine how effective you and your team are.
How can we visualize technical debt?

What can be improved?

  1. As said before, I would add more topics in regards to communication and writing. I feel this is an unexplored area for most developers.
  2. There were some slides from speakers that had a lot of complex content or even lots of phrases and sentences. I think this could sometimes be overwhelming and distractive, and I would suggest the organization to review the slides beforehand, or place them at a time where attendees are less tired to digest this content.
  3. Use the hashtag #fseu19 so attendees can post questions for Q&A.

Thanks for a great conference and a great city to visit! I hope I can come next year.