Geecon 2015

Every year Espeo”s team visits GeeCON. We always want to be up to date with the latest trends in Java. This time, the organizers also did not disappoint – GeeCON was largely devoted to Big Data and microservices. Each of the participants had similar impressions of the quality of the entire GeeCON, but different on the specific content that he most liked. So I asked what most stuck in their memory. My workmates considered microservices the most rememberable, and have some opinions about this part of Geecon”s presentations:

Geecon 2015

For me each Geecon is special in it”s own way. This year was no different. The most interesting path was about Microservices. It was great to meet the founders and practitioners of this approach, it really changes your mindset and gives new ideas after you come home. The only thing I was missing about Microservices was a proper dose of criticism. Unfortunately even asking direct questions about disadvantages left me with an unsatisfactory answer. Microservices are a great way to build scalable and uncoupled systems but we still need to be vigilant and aware that there is no silver bullet to all our problems and we always need to consider all the pros and cons.

Most interesting lectures about microservices treated TDD like it was old practice and even suggested that small microservices do not really need tests. It’s a bold move and it will ripple through Java community. In my personal opinion it is a little bit extreme. But what I really enjoyed mixing the technologies in microservices. Software developers are often shielded from using other stacks and do not realize the possibilities of the other languages and frameworks which is ultimately bad for the end product. Having a large toolset at one”s disposal make it easier to build high quality software.”

”This year’s Geecon was all about microservices, hence it’s no surprise that I enjoyed Fred George’s “Challenges in implementing microservices” the most. In his talk, Fred George shares his experiences with replacing monolith applications with microservices. He explains how microservices facilitate a Service Oriented Architecture and “going faster” as shorter reaction time for the whole company. What was most interesting to me was the comparison of asynchronous and synchronous approaches to microservices. He mentioned his friend Chad Fowler suggest synchronous communication on default mainly because it’s easier for most of the modern programmers. In contrast Fred George believes that asynchronous messaging gives so much of an opportunity for robustness and graceful degradation that the systems should be modelled with asynchronous approach.
Well, Fred George convinced me to his approach. But it might have something to do with him being a really cool guy and his grey, sage-like, hair”
Geecon 2015
TDD is dead. Such idea comes to my mind after GeeCON. There is new king! But no one really knows how it looks like. We only know his name – ”Microservice”. New buzzword. And I am totally into that! New Holy Grail to look for. I definitely want to try this approach. After GeeCON at least I know what is and what is not a microservice. But GeeCON wasn’t all about microservices. There were also many interesting technical talks with a lot of life coding. We could see Hystrix library in action and Akka driven applications. Few topics were about application monitoring via proper log management using Elasticsearch, Logstash and Kibana – very interesting toolkit. Plenty of things to rethink!
Of course there were other very interesting topics besides microservices. Some of us consider other things to be the best at Geecon:
The Big Data world is talking about new and shiny Apache Spark. I think the paint on Spark is still wet but it has been proven to be faster than Hadoop and quickly gains popularity among data scientists and developers. In Poznań we have Data Dojo, an initiative to learn Spark after hours during free workshops.”

”A few stray lectures that do not fit GeeCON main themes (agile, software craftsmanship and JVM) were really good. I especially enjoyed the Quentin Adam’s ”Why postgres SQL deserve noSQL fan respect”. We’ve been using advanced PostgreSQL features for years and it’s great that it finally has some recognition as an alternative to JSON-based databases. As a big PostgreSQL fan I encourage you to try it instead of both NoSQL and commercial DBMS. Check out materialized views or table inheritance!
It was also worthy to stray from fancy microservices lectures path. For instance ”10 noSQL databases you have to know”, was a great fast paced journey through most relevant noSQL solutions. In contrast to pure enthusiastic approach of microservices path evangelists Tom Bujok has managed to deliver honest professional presentation stressing both strong advantages and disadvantages of using leading products on this market. The speech was based around a neat diagram showing which databases meet which guarantees of CAP Theorem ( Nevertheless it was noSQL speech, he also noted that in many cases RMDBS are still the best choice. Facebook uses mysql. RMDBS was also talked about in ”Why postgres SQL deserve noSQL fan respect” – it turns out that new versions of postgresql can handle JSON based data quite efficiently for volumes which are not too big. But ”not too big” means 500GB – quite decent load of data for many business cases

Do You use any of Apache Tools? Like it? Thought of contributing to it? Go ahead! Just like David Blevins(@dblevins), creator of for an e.g TomEE, said to me on geecon party – ”The common mistake that people do when developing something for Open Source project is that  they start with something big, when what You should really do is take any Java file and make it better”. One of the greatest perks of GeeCon is meeting speakers after lectures, talking about programming passion we share, getting more in touch with newest trends in Java world or, like in my case, getting inspired.

I remembered especially Angelika Langer lecture about Streams in Java 8 . It”s a pleasure to see such a well-prepared speech . Leading to concrete examples showed how much they can improve the performance of our code, and when their usage actually makes sense from the performance point of view. Parallel stream operations are supposed to run faster than sequential operations, and they are, but not in all kinds of usages, and Angelika Langer”s lecture was a clear lesson about it.

There were also few non-technical speaches:
The final talk ” & The Future of Work” contained some non-technical but interesting thoughts about errors of companies trying to build so called company culture. Speaker strongly expressed his idea that company culture and values can be by no means imposed or artificially codified. They have to implicitly emerge and this can only happen when leaders give good, honest and truly respected example, otherwise artificial culture is doomed to fail from the start causing a disaster. Beware of bullshit. These ideas and attitude were greatly applauded by the audience.”

As you see, Geecon left us with many memories and inspirations.
Last, but not least: we will be organising two more GeeCON events this year: GeeCON Microservices in Sopot ang GeeCON in Prague, so ”let”s move the JAVA world!”.
author: Iga Stępniak

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