WebCamp Zagreb 2019 – Conference Overview

Author Rudolf Jurišić
Category Technology
Date Oct 22, 2019
6 min read

WebCamp is one of the most popular non-profit community-organised conferences for developers in Croatia.

The first WebCamp conference was organized all the way back in 2012, and it quickly became one of the most visited regional conferences. It’s organized by a variety of local development communities, like PHP, JS, Ruby, Golang, Rust and many others.

This year’s conference was extremely exciting as the topics weren’t exclusively focused on technology and development, but also included a variety of topics that talked about soft skills and some more ‘philosophical’ aspects of development. All in all, it was one of the better conferences I attended this year both in terms of organization and the amount of new things I got to hear and learn.

But let’s not beat around the bush anymore. Let’s jump right into the talks!

Some of the best talks on the WebCamp agenda

The top work skills you need in the 21st century by Merlin Rebrović

WebCamp 2019 talk by Merlin Rebrovic - Bornfight Blog

In his talk, Merlin Rebrović explained how we live in a world where requirements for jobs we do and skills needed to do these jobs are constantly changing. Some of the jobs didn’t even exist until yesterday, and we can’t actually predict or tell for sure what kind of jobs we will do in the future. This human progress is beneficial for humanity, but it can be overwhelming for an individual – especially when it comes to determining which skills should we learn considering the demands and our own limited resources.

But, although a lot of needed skills are changing, there are some underlying skills that will be needed for the future. And if we want to relieve some of the stress and anxiety caused by having to choose between all of the available skills, we should focus on these more universal skills.

So what are those universal skills? Merlin says:

  1. Communication
  2. Creativity
  3. Critical thinking
  4. Collaboration.

Merlin also talked about this topic at the last Digital Lab.in conference, and you can see it in the video below.

 

The 737 MAX — Human Factors in Complex Systems by Kyle Kotowick

WebCamp 2019 talk by Kyle Kotowick - Bornfight Blog

During his talk, Kyle told a very interesting story of the Boeing 737 crashes. The story was very well carried out with a clear timeline and clear cause and effects from an objective point of view – referencing the The Seattle Times articles and excerpts.

He later connected this story to the main point of his talk and explained the importance of fail-safe mechanisms and life-critical systems such as aeronomy, telecommunication, public services, automotive, health care and military. This was one of those talks that took us beyond the process of coding and showed us why double and triple-checking needs to be a core element of everything we do as developers.

Leadership lessons from building a remote team by Evelin Andrespok

WebCamp 2019 talk by Evelin Andrespok - Bornfight Blog

Demand for remote work has exponentially grown in last couple of years, especially in our industry. That is why Evelin shared some of the experiences and insights she gained in a company that went full remote 5 years ago.

Her talk was very interesting because, in addition to talking about pros and cons of remote work, she also covered a variety of topics that are also extremely important, like isolation, productiveness and practicality, as well as how remote requires more communication and how, in the end, remote work is still work.

She also put all of this into a much larger perspective. Think about this – if you go to work when everybody else goes to work, you’ll also go to the groceries shop when everyone else does, you’ll go to gym when everyone else does… And this affects your quality of life and makes you and the entire society less efficient.

Our industry is one where remote work could and should work and she claimed that remote work is a future skill that will be extremely desirable from both the employer’s and the employee’s point of view.

Raising $24 million to Build an Open Source Skynet by Tal Ater

Quick public service announcement before we start – no need to panic, they aren’t really building Skynet. I hope. But just in case someone out there is, I just want it to make it clear that I, for one, welcome our robotic overlords. Now that I’m safe, let’s get back to the talk.

Tal is focused on standardizing transport in general and works for DAV — a blockchain-based transportation protocol that enables a decentralised, peer-to-peer global transportation network. It is a very disrupting niche which will affect our lives in the not too distant future.

In his talk, Tal explained the difference between driverless and autonomous and then shared an interesting story about how driverless drones can now deliver goods to your doorstep, but they have a very limited reach. The goal is to make these drones autonomous, and enable them to go to publicly available drone charging stations, pay for the charging time and continue with their jobs.

With this, the future will be extremely interesting. Just please don’t create Skynet!

Conducting Humane Code Reviews by Adrienne Tacke

Code reviews are a very important event and the main goal of them is to ensure better quality of the code itself. In her talk, Adrienne mentioned two essential elements of code review:

  1. For someone who wrote the code, the learning part is essential
  2. For someone who is conducting the code review, the key is to transfer the experience and knowledge in an educational manner

According to Adrienne, code reviews can be events where a lot of friction can happen between team members because of ego, pride, embarrassment etc. To tackle that issue, she shared with us some examples of what bad code reviews look like and what good code reviews look like. The main thing we need to keep in mind is that the communication is the key element between good and bad.

Key message from her talk -> “suggest with facts, reject with courtesy, clarify with an open mind”.

From Conversation to Software by Pim Elshoff

The essence of this talk, as Pim said, is dismantling stories through conversation. Pim told us a little anecdote from his own experience – it was a story about a feature that was not so simple to create. It took 2 weeks to finish and, in the end, the feature was never used by the client. Sounds familiar?

The point of his story and his entire talk was to always check who the stakeholder is (before asking all the other questions). Who will be using the product, what do they expect from it and how it needs to work – that is the key. Everything else is just nice to have – just like that feature from the beginning of his story.

Here’s one clear advice I remembered from the talk -> “pick the solutions that fit the budget and constantly have conversation with clients”.

WebCamp Zagreb 2019 statistics

On of the most interesting additions to the conference was the F5, also known as refresh – craft beer that was specifically brewed for this conference. It was a great touch and all of the devs enjoyed it – we all drank around 350L of it, so you know it was good.

In addition to beer, the organizers prepared a bunch of other stats just like the previous years.

WebCamp 2019 statistics - Bornfight Blog

Quite an awesome achievement if I may say.

So, What did I think about it?

All in all, it was great. There were a bunch of talks, a bunch of workshops, there was even an “unconference” part of the conference that was very interesting as visitors themselves had a chance to organize an entire separate track of talks with anything they wanted to learn more about.

I have to say that the organization keeps going up a notch with every year, so I’m not even surprised that the conference is gaining more and more popularity – even in countries outside the region.

Well, now that we’ve reached the end of this blog, all I can say is – hope to see you all at WebCamp Zagreb 2020!

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