O’Reilly Open Source Convention in Amsterdam

I have some O’Reilly digital books but I didn’t know they organize conferences too, what I found out just 10 days before the start of OSCON EU in Amsterdam. Luckily at the same time I discovered the GitLab OSCON Challenge 2015 and I decided to spend some hours replicating the design of the speakers page and fill it with my own data, for a chance to win a gold pass.

On Friday, just three days before the start of the conference, I got the happiest Twitter notification ever announcing that I won the gold pass worth 1545 € to access all the sessions, keynotes and tutorials. So once more I have to thank GitLab for giving me the prize and for having such an amazing team (they are hiring), which I got to meet during the event.

Sessions and keynotes (Monday, October 26)

Monday started with the keynotes and some great quotes like “Open source and free software are the same thing. If you want to have an argument about how different they are, you are wrong!” said by Simon Phipps who doesn’t want more open source foundations.

As a JavaScript developer was exciting to see Douglas Crockford on stage; this time presenting The Seif Project which aims to solve the insecurity of the web in five steps:

  • The release of seifnode adding cryptographic services to Node.js.
  • The Seif protocol which is secure JSON over TCP.
  • Resource management to retrieve artifacts by hash.
  • Seif apps built with Node.js and QT.
  • Build a helper app so web browsers can interact with the Seif protocol.

Later in a session he gave a deeper dive into the project and defined what’s wrong with the web ranting against VeriSign and certificate authorities (the only thing they verify is that somebody pay money to somebody else), HTML templating (allows XSS injections), the DOM (worst API ever designed), CSS (Crappy Style Sheets) and the mess of JS (it was written in 10 days and you can make a lot of mistakes in 10 days).

It’s ok to fail could be the summary of Leslie Hawthorn‘s talk where she addressed quite an interesting topic as we are incentivized against failure with shame associated to it. But failure should be a requirement and we should celebrate what we have learned by failing.

Sam Aaron did a great show during the keynote performing music on a Raspberry Pi with Sonic Pi. It was so entertaining that it changed my plans of the morning and I attended his non-scheduled session where I got to know more about the project leaving some great sentences: “We use code for other people to make money. Why don’t we spend more time practicing? Coding is not just for businesses, it’s an amazing tool we have as humans”.

The most inspiring talk of the day was by Mark Bates about how to become a better developer based in five points:

  • practice: always be coding, contribute to other projects, write tests and build your own apps.
  • share: push to open source, fix issues and build your name.
  • write: improve your communication skills writing a blog.
  • perform: give conference talks and learn new topics so you get to ping the world and get free beer.
  • network: leave your laptop at the hotel and get to meet the people and learn something new.

And before the inauguration of the Sponsor Pavilion Job van der Voort explained how GitLab wen from open source to company opening everything, working remotely and therefore communicating asynchronously, being open and respectful, but at the same disagreeing and saying no.

Sessions and keynotes (Tuesday, October 27)

Tuesday started again with more keynotes and Stuart Frisby talking about AB Testing in Booking.com. You should be experimenting; test everything; question what you don’t understand; and prove your boss, the industry and yourself wrong.

It was also fun to see Ninh Bui and Hongli Lai explaining how they bootstrapped a business around open source creating a start-up when your product is available for free and why you shouldn’t be afraid of charging money for it.

However the most impressive keynote for me was David Arnoux explaining Growth Hacking and maybe because it was an unknown topic for me, it even made me thing about changing paths and learn about it.

I attended a couple of database related sessions first with Matthew Revell talking about how to make SQL more JSON friendly, having a look at different technologies (JSONiq, SQL++ and N1QL) and the question of why are we flattening everything. While later it was refreshing to see Curtis Poe faking a database design.

Before lunch Eleanor McHugh and Romek Szczesniak tried to squeeze the one hour talk privacy is always a requirement in just 40 minutes. Technology should protect the awful because everyone gets hacked.

The jaw dropping moment of the conference came after lunch with Scott Jensøn speaking about the future with The Physical Web, where browsers will be able to interact with any device through the use of sensors and beacons to broadcast URLs. This will change the economics of hardware and well, it looks just awesome.

Before the end of the day there was a couple of interesting sessions with Emily Samuels about the insides of the Spotify real-time music recommendation service using Storm and Chris Chabot with some massive facts about China, how Uber changed the restaurant business and democratizing data.

Tutorials (Wednesday, October 28)

Wednesday was tutorial’s day, so I chose to learn a bit of Go Language with John Graham-Cumming although it would have required of a full day training to get something meaningful.

After lunch instead was stunning to discover Neo4j and graph databases with Michael Hunger and Luke Gannon. We did some really neat stuff with a really expressive syntax and I even got a free book so I can keep exploring it.


This has been one of the most spectacular conferences that I’ve ever attended and not only because of the good topics but the conversations you get to engage with other attendees, sponsors and exhibitors in the corridors. It was great to meet the cool people working at GitLab and GitHub, to discover more about the insides of the engineering teams at Booking.com and PayPal, and to get to know products that before I knew just by name such as Ansible, Couchbase, OpenShift or OpenUI5.

In any case this is a summary about my experience of what I saw at the conference and could be more interesting as a Front-End Engineer; because the conference has four tracks and sometimes even five, so you really need to choose carefully which sessions you want to attend.

Special mention deserves O’Reilly as organizer because everything was smooth including the WiFI for the first time in a conference, so thumbs up as well for the Amsterdam RAI. The badges use RFID technology and once you spend five minutes in a room it gets linked to your profile, so you can later evaluate the session in the mobile application, while exhibitors could scan the badge to get your data which I think is a fine use of the technology.

O’Reilly also had a booth where you can get leaflets and stickers, but what is more interesting they organized book signings with their authors where I got JavaScript: The Good Parts signed by Douglas Crockford. Additionally his community manager Josh Simmons is a really nice guy and next year they will be back in Europe with OSCON in London but even better, the Fluent Conference will be held in Amsterdam in November 2016.


One thought on “O’Reilly Open Source Convention in Amsterdam

  1. Pingback: Lo mejor de 2015 | Un riojano por el mundo

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