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DDDNORTH - A PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE BY JOHN STAVELEY

Monday 10th October 2016
Tags: guest blog
 John Staveley is a full stack software engineer based in Leeds  with 15 years experience specialising in C#,  Mvc, AngularJs, SQL  Server and web application security. In this blog he shares his  experience of talking at the  recent DDDNorth conference in  Leeds  earlier this month...

 DDDNorth is the largest (and arguably the best), Developer!  Developer! Developer! conference in the country.  I'd been  attending for several years including once when I had no ticket  (shh!) This was the first time I was  going to be speaking. All  attendees can vote for the talks they would like to hear and this  year mine was  selected. I've been touring the north of England telling developers how to secure their web applications and  now I was going to do it at my first conference. My usual audience is community user groups which don't have  a formal feedback process, so it will be interesting to have an opportunity to take on feedback and use it to  improve.
 
 There are a huge range of talks given at DDD North. I went to the free speakers dinner the night before where I  met a lot of the speakers. They came all over the country (not many from Leeds), and seem to do a lot of talks at conferences and user groups. The range of subjects the gathered speakers could cover was impressive, ranging from the principles of software engineering, to the nitty gritty of a new Java Script testing framework.
 
The following day it would be my turn to attempt to wow a big audience. My talk was all about major threats facing web users today including: SQL injection, session hijacking, password hacking and sensitive data exposure.

 I would have been happy with 3 people but I got about 45 attendees which is a great turn out. I had to cut out a lot of material to cover the subject in a short period of time but it didn't seem to phase the audience who remained attentive throughout. I got lots of good verbal feedback after the talk but will have to wait several weeks for the formal feedback based on the forms filled in. 

After I had given my talk I went to some of the others that were available later in the day. Every year at DDD North subjects on offer range from the highly technical to the provocative. In terms of quality, this year was the best yet judging from the talks I saw. Many of us will have read The Phoenix Project, a foundation text for DevOps. Matteo Emili  took us through the steps to consider when attempting to implement the principles described in the book. A lot of DevOps talks focus on specific elements of DevOps such as tools or culture but this was a great outline of steps to take in a firm where DevOps is unknown.
 
Next up was my former colleague Fan Yang speaking on how to tackle and reduce code complexity and a measurement called Cyclomatic complexity. She offered two strategies using polymorphism and functional programming to try and reduce it. I'll definitely try these in my own projects.
 
The last talk of the day was a slick presentation on development by Chris Alexander a software engineer for McLaren F1. Yes, there were lots of pictures of cars and their shiny R&D centre but also some useful tips on how to manage a very fast paced 24/7 operational environment. They have 1 week sprints and every development they did followed the minimum viable product principal where only the minimum functionality required to meet a requirement was developed. They do this to release the maximum benefit from their development in the shortest space of time. 
 
It's always nice at these events to bump into and catch up with industry associates. After the talks we retired to the pub for some well deserved rehydration. Of course we talked shop, and the conference. Overall we agreed that a day at DDD North had been well spent and we'd be back for more next year.


Follow John on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn here.
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