London Java Community Open Conference review

November 23rd 2013 saw the arrival of the London Java Community Open Conference hosted at IBM Southbank in London. It is the fifth time this event has taken place, but the first time I have attended. It’s also my first experience of an open conference – I’ve usually known what the day will cover and what talks I’m interested in attending before I turn up. So this was a very new experience.


The day started with coffee (don’t they all?) and a bacon sandwich, while people wrote down topics and talks they were willing to give and stuck them on the wall on post-it notes. We then filtered into the main hall for the keynote by Trisha Gee and Martijn Verburg on what’s coming next in the world of Java – some interesting thoughts about the future of databases and application servers. By the time this was finished, the conference schedule was confirmed and I chose my path for the day.

ljc schedule board 1024x766 London Java Community Open Conference review

It’s been a while since I’ve presented at a conference, so I thought my skills could do with a brush up. The first session I attended was a ‘Novice Speaker Clinic’ given by Trisha Gee and Martijn Verburg. We talked about the basics of how to present, and then got the opportunity to stand up and present for a minute to the rest of the group. Something that used to be scary stuff but didn’t seem all that scary this time.

My second session was ‘Do You Really Get Classloaders?’ by Simon Maple and was an interesting session that gave an insight into how classloaders work in Java. There were practical code examples of some of the exceptions you see and the reasons why you get them, and steps to help you diagnose why you got them and how to resolve them (no more niggling NoClassDefFoundExceptions for me :o) ).


Lunch was sandwiched between an array of interesting lightning talks (my particular favourite was the Liberty car being driven by Tom Banks) before we delved straight back into the sessions. The next session I attended was ‘Lessons For Speakers Learnt The Hard Way’, again given by Trisha Gee and Martijn Verburg – more learning about presentation skills for me, in the hope that I’ll pick up more pointers and be ready to give sessions of my own.

‘Testing At Shazam – What We Got Wrong’ was the next session by Colin Vipurs. Coming from a test background, it was great to see a session dedicated to test, particularly focusing on lessons that people have learned from their testing strategy. ‘LJC 2.0 – What Is Next?’ was the next session I attended, given by Barry Cranford and which was looking at the future of the London Java Community.

The final session of the day sparked some very interesting conversations – ‘So Now You Are A Senior Developer, What’s Next?’, again hosted by Barry Cranford, with help from other community members. Here, we discussed where people can go next with their career once they’ve become a senior developer. Suggestions included becoming a CTO or CEO of a different company (maybe one you start), becoming an evangelist, switching company, switching programming language, and many more things in between.

Overall, I had a great time at the London Java Community Open Conference. I got to meet some really interesting people and learned a whole load of new stuff. I’m inspired to go along next year and see if I can present a lightning talk or a session of my own.