Thomas Ardal

Freelance software consultant and entrepreneur building SaaS applications like elmah.io

Build Stuff Spain 2018 Retrospective

Nice cove

I usually spend some time evaluating the conferences I go to. Last year, I made the mistake of participating in too many conferences and rather than getting more input, I ended up feeling like I didn't really had the time to evaluate what I'd learned. On my latest Founders Retreat (which I recommend all founders to try out), I decided to participate in a max of two conferences in 2018.

I started the year spending some time planning which conference to check out, which resulted in a quite popular blog post on the elmah.io blog: Great .NET Conferences to Attend. Choosing the right one was hard, but after participating in more business-related conferences last year, I wanted to check out a developer conference in H1. I'd heard a lot of good stuff from Build Stuff Lithuania (November 2018), why Build Stuff Spain in H1 seemed like a good choice.

Enough blabbering. Here are my notes from Build Stuff Spain 2018. Scroll down for my thoughts about the conference in general, the location, etc.

  • I watched the talks from both Mark Rendle and his (12 yo) daughter Willow. Mark is a great speaker and the keynote was a fun "history" lesson of programming languages during the next 50 years. Recommend you to catch this one, if Mark presents it again. Willow debuted as a speaker with her talk about programming for kids. I've seen talks about Unity, Scratch, and other tools available to kids, but hearing this from a kid, is the coolest idea ever. Great job Rendle family!

  • Bill Dinger gave a talk about the updated OWASP Top 10. While the top 5 were trivial stuff, I sure did learn some new and nasty exploits through both XML and JSON.

  • Denise Jacobs' talk about banishing your inner critic was very well put together. Denise presented a great set of tools to help us do our best, without constantly fearing getting judged by others. As a developer trying to sell my own software, I am without doubt my own biggest critic. The talk encouraged me to go for the things I want and to swipe left (delete) on the things that don't help me get there. Later the same day, Dennis Traub gave an excellent and very moving follow up talk about his burnout and what he is doing today to stay happy.

Swipe left!

  • The last talk I want to mention, was from Russ Miles about Chaos Engineering. Russ obviously has a lot of experience in the subject. What I liked about the talk, was that Russ actually laid out a good plan for starting to implement chaos engineering using small steps, instead of the usual "try pulling the network cable to your database server and see what happens" kind of talk.

As for the conference itself, it felt very well organized. It's clear that Neringa and her team have gained a lot of experience from arranging Build Stuff througout the years. I very much liked the intimate atmosphere at the conference and with two tracks only, you didn't feel the "what talk should I pick out of these 8 tracks" as with other conferences. The speakers were available during the conference and there were a great flow and connections between most of the sessions.

The conference was held at the Blau Privilege Portopetro Beach Resort and Spa. I only have a single thing to say about the resort: IT'S FREAKING AWESOME! The weather wasn't great during the first day, but the resort totally made up for this, with a spa (actual spa not a single page app :D), great rooms and awesome food. And who doesn't love to be transported around the hotel in a golf cart!

Great pool areas

Restaurant with a view

Lobster with fries

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