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May 15th, 2017

Another year, another QCon!

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

LSE IT News

May 15th, 2017

Another year, another QCon!

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Senior Analyst Programmer Caroline shares her views on QCon London in this two-part blog series. Here’s part one of eDev@QCon London 2017.

eDev@QCon London 2017

For those who don’t know, QCon is a software development conference which is held in various cities around the world every year.

Designed by software developers for software developers, QCon provides an opportunity to keep up to date with what’s going on in the field by attending technical (and non-technical) talks given by others working in the industry.

QCon London 2017

Members of the Enterprise Software Development team try to go to QCon London (held in March) every year, and this year Ron and I attended.

So, what do I think were the key takeaways from the conference?

Microservices

Microservices were once again high on the agenda. This architecture, where an application is broken up into small services which are each responsible for different bits of functionality, is now decidedly mainstream.

Best talk on this topic: Microservices at the Heart of BBC iPlayer.

The BBC iPlayer team have replaced their Java monolith application with microservices using Javascript throughout. Response times which previously could hit 5 seconds are now down to 10 milliseconds.

A very nice architecture was presented, and it was good to see that they made mistakes along the way before getting to that point. Software development is an incremental process after all! Overall, an excellent presentation of how to practically (and pragmatically) apply microservices to a production system.

Javascript

Javascript continues on its march to becoming the technology stack of choice for many, with further developments in JS based frameworks and languages.

There is a growing consensus that introducing languages based on Javascript which utilise data types can only be a good thing, especially for back end developers who are more used to using strongly typed languages such as Java.

[Quick explanation of types: Javascript is what is called a “dynamic” language, where a variable can be anything depending on how it is used.

A “typed” language is one where the developer is able to specify what a variable is supposed to be, for example a number, a bunch of letters (a string), or something else. A “strongly typed” language goes further and demands that all types are specified and consistent.]

Best talk on this topic: Full Scale Elm in Production.

Elm is a relatively new functional language which compiles to Javascript. It is currently only for client-side use, but plans are afoot to make it work server-side as well.

This presentation demonstrated how Elm can be incrementally introduced into existing systems, and what benefits can be gained from doing so.

The presenter’s company, NoRedInk, has experienced zero Javascript runtime errors (errors which happen to users when using an application) since switching to Elm. This is mainly due to Elm being so strongly typed that there is no such thing as “null”, which in code-speak means “nothing” or “something that doesn’t exist”.

A large proportion of the audience were enthused to try it out, if the sound of furious typing and number of open laptops were anything to go by!

I’ll cover some more highlights from QCon in part two of the eDev@QCon London 2017 series.

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