./NET/Fringe retrospect - the best .NET OSS conference

I'm just back from DotNetFringe! Before flying to Portland, Oregon, I blogged about how Glenn Block arranged for a free ticket (thanks Glenn!) and helped me organise my first trip to the US in order to attend and speak at the conference. After having an amazing time in Portland, hanging out with some really cool developers and learning about a lot of new technologies and tools, I decided to share my thoughts about my overall experience and explain why you should make it your goal to attend next year. Yes, everyone agreed that there should and will be a follow up! This conference held a lot of firsts for me so lets get sharing.

In case you haven't heard about DotNetFringe let me start by explaining what it is:

.NET Fringe is a new conference focused on .NET developers who are breaking the rules and pushing the boundaries. The .NET platform is more interesting today than it ever has been! The old Microsoft that was at odds with Open Source has been replaced with one that is actively contributing to OSS and hosts a huge number of important projects on GitHub! The .NET OSS community has been collaborating and creating new, really exciting, interesting, and innovative projects which are changing the landscape. They are defining the future!

And break the rules, we did!

The conference lasted 3 days and it was packed with workshops and talks. Lots of talks and every single one of them was more enlightning and inspiring than the previous. It was great to see what everyone's working on and get an understanding on how far the .NET OSS community has come.

Sunday Workshops:

We kicked off things on Sunday with the pre-con workshops split in 2 tracks. The first one, which lasted all day, was on AKKA.NET. Akka.NET is a cross-platform toolkit and runtime for building highly concurrent, distributed, and fault tolerant event-driven applications on .NET & Mono. There was a beginners and advanced users workshop but after having a chat with Aaron Stannard and Andrew Skotzko, the developers of AKKA.net, I decided that this wasn't a technology I would be using in the immediate future. It's nice to know that the framework is out there and exists, but I thought it would be better to focus on technologies and tools that I could benefit from.

I chose to attend the OzCode workshop in the morning, which was delivered by my two good friends Omer Raviv and Ariel Ben Horesh. OzCode is probably the most amazing debugging tool you'll ever use and I'll be writing a follow up post about it soon. In the meantime I would urge you to check it for yourself and get an insight what this tool can do for you.

With the morning spent around OzCode and after having a great lunchbreak outdoors (the weather really helped), I was ready for round 2. This time things got serious with Elastic Search. Elasticsearch is an OSS search server based on Lucene. It provides a distributed, multitenant-capable full-text search engine with a RESTful web interface and schema-free JSON documents. The goal of the workshop was to deploy a local server, populate it with data and run queries against it in order to explore its capabilities. We only started to scratch the surface of the framework by the time we finished the workshop but it was enought to make me appreciate how powerful this framework is.

The day concluded with the pre-con party, music and drinks and, after the party was over, we continued our geeky conversations at the bar across the venue where we ended up staying until well after midnight.

Day 1 - Keynote and talk

From the keynote to the end of the day, there were non stop talks. I really enjoyed the format of the conference. All talks were 30 mins long and the lightning talks 5 mins each. Glenn and Troy did an excellent job and the whole thing run smoothly from beginning to end.

My talks was at 1.35, the second one in the lightning talks and it went better than expected since I chose to speak about a very controversial subject: code comments. I managed to deliver a good talk and the audience seemed to resonate with my points. From all the talks I've given, this was probably the most daunting and high-pressure one due to the calibre of the developers in the audience! Trying to educate developers of this level on such a difficult subject can make for one interesting talk. Nonetheless, I got through it and I was really happy with the outcome.

The video from my lightning talk is available below. Enjoy:

With the pressure off, I was able to enjoy the rest of the conference. The night concluded with the most awesome, geekiest party I've ever been: at a ping pong place. Drinks and ping pong, what could go wrong?

Day 2 - Talks and goodbye

Day 2 started slowly after a long and late night. I made it to the conference on time to grab breakfast and watch the first talk. The second day was also fully packed with very interesting talks but I think everyone was too excited about the panel discussion which was scheduled to start straight after the first talk. The panel consisted of the following people and it was moderated by the .NET Rocks podcast hosts Richard Campbell and Carl Franklin:

The panel was definitely thoughout provoking and some of the issues discussed were around the past relationship between OSS and Microsoft, the exciting new direction of the .NET community and how we can make it better and easier for developers to embrace the new open philosophy of .NET. One exciting thing that I took out of the talk was a statement that Scott did about a new lightweight Visual Studio with less than 100MB footprint coming out soon (hold you horses, it will be at some point in 2016)! Now, that's something I can definitely look forward to!! Unfortunately, at the end of the panel discussion, I had to leave to catch my flight back to the UK. I felt a bit sad that I had to leave so many interesting talks and people behind to return my daily routine, but I was happy to be returning to my family and fully re-energized to work on my OSS projects because they deserve some love and I have a few new ideas I need to implement.

Making friends

One thing I loved about this conference was how open and chatty everyone was. There was no speaker/attendee relationship. Everyone was equal and everyone had something important and interesting to say. I don't remember the last time I geeked out so much and it was great to be around like-minded, excited people that contribute so much to the community. I made a tone of friends and I finally got to meet some of my "heroes", people I look up and follow (on Twitter only and not in a stalker-like way) daily. The trip was worth it even just for that. I'm sure I've left someone out so if you read my blog and you don't see your name, give me a shout!

Scott Hansleman, Phil Haacked, Richard Campbell, Carl Franklin, Adron Hall, Troy Howard, Glenn Block, Jimmy Bogard, Serial Seb, Brian Lagunas (mean ping-pong player!), Mat Mcloughlin, James Montemango, Noah Addy, Ian Copper, Toby Henderson, Adam Ralph, Darrel Miller, Amir Rajan, Chris Missal, Andrew Skotzko and so many more.

Actually, every single person in that conference was important so I would urge you to follow as many as you can because they have a lot to say and their impact in the OSS arena is very important.

Software and frameworks

Below I have include some of the OSS project I want to look into, play with, contribute etc:

Finally, I would like to thank Glenn for making all this possible and thanks to everyone who made this such an amazing experience. This has been one of the best conferences I've been, hands down.

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