From getting down with the kids to moving up the pay scale read about the last three talks from the latest Djugl get-together

In our two previous blogs, we gave you a rundown of the first seven Lightning talks at our recent Djugl event. Now we’re onto the final three – and like those that went before, they were diverse and fascinating. Our speakers hailed from Amazon, Beamly and our lovely hosts, Potato. Here’s what these very different speakers had to say…

Working less and getting paid more
This talk certainly had the audience paying attention: David Smith, of Amazon Web Services, explained what Coders need to do to break through the salary ceiling. In his opinion, great technical skills are all very well. But when it comes to moving up to higher salary brackets, soft skills are essential. Using a typical unsuccessful project as an example (and some very amusing gifs), David illustrated how lack of communication leads to a rushed product – and an unhappy customer. It’s at this point technical folk need to step up and make things better by talking to the other teams including Sales and Creative. David says this is how Developers increase their impact and access more senior roles. We saw a lot of the audience taking VERY detailed notes…

Getting involved with work experience
Michael Strutt left us with a warm and fuzzy feeling, as he explained how Potato has been giving back to communities by providing work experience. Surprisingly, not all schools now include work experience as part of the curriculum. For those that do, it’s increasingly difficult to find organisations prepared to participate. Michael talked us through Potato’s experience, sharing the two-week programme the business created and the impact it made. Feedback from the children showed that it was a formative – and in some cases, future-defining – experience for them. Michael also showed the audience how their businesses could follow Potato’s example, with a simple guide to running work experience.

Mind the gap…
The last talk of the night was Transitioning from Web Development to Data Engineering, with Beamly’s Dami Onajole. Having worked in both arenas, he was well equipped to compare and contrast the two different professions. Dami described the parallels between NVC and ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) before going on to highlight two key tools he’s been using as a Data Engineer. The first was Airflow, which allows you to schedule tasks and manage dependencies between tasks. The second was Pandas, a Python library, which according to Dami, is to Data Engineering, what Django is to Web Development.
If you enjoyed reading about our Lightning talks and would like to come to the next event, follow Austin Fraser – we’ll be posting details online.

How Strawberry and Poetry can improve Developers’ lives: Djugl debrief part 2

The story so far: at the latest Djugl community event, we welcomed ten fantastic speakers. We met the first four in our first blog and in this one, we’re focusing on the following three. They are Ahter Sonmez, Patrick Arminio and Daniel Knell. Each had some hugely useful tips for our developer community, which we’ll summarise here…
Back to the future!
For Software Engineer, Ahter Sonmez, there is something more important than code: version history. In his talk ‘Back to the Future: Benefits & Intricacies of Re-writing the History with Interactive Rebase’, he showed the audience how to go back and change a commit history. Why is that necessary? Because you may need to consolidate or re-order commits so they make more sense in the future. Using interactive git rebase as a ‘time machine’ he demonstrated how to go back and re-write history so commits tell a more comprehensible story. Ahter strongly recommended making this a daily task in order to create sustainable and maintainable code base.

Why Patrick loves Strawberry
Next up, was Patrick Arminio, a Backend Engineer with @OnVerve. He’s a big fan of Strawberry, a GraphQL tool library for Python. Having found that REST simply didn’t scale as his team built increasingly complex apps, he turned to Strawberry – and has been using it ever since. “Strawberry uses modern Python features to build APIs,” explained Patrick. He then went on to demonstrate some of these features including ‘type hints’, ‘data classes’ and the fact that with Strawberry, you have a single end point. If Djugl developers didn’t have a taste for Strawberry before, they certainly will now.

Poetry in motion
Our seventh speaker was Daniel Knell, Chief Artisan at Artisan of Code Ltd. He proposed a tongue twister of a talk, ‘A Poetic Posture for Python Positively Perplexing Packaging Predicament’. In short, it was all about the virtues of the build tool, Poetry. This uses the pyproject .toml, a file defined in PEP516. “It defines a file where can find some special stuff around how to hammer a package and define stuff for tools,” Daniel clarified. And helpfully, it’s a file that’s being used by more and more tools. So, what can Poetry actually do? “Poetry finds all the metadata and dependencies. It’s all in one file and it’s a sensible format. The other thing that makes it powerful is PEP517,” Daniel explained. With a quick demo to illustrate these points, Daniel successfully showed the audience Poetry in motion.

Seven speakers done and three to go – look out for the final installment of the Djugl debrief, coming soon!

Djugl Lightning Talks: From nailing 121s to winging it as a CTO

The scene: Potato’s offices in central London. The crowd: curious developers with a hunger for industry knowledge. The refreshments? A sizzling summer barbecue – but that’s another blog. This one is all about the ten amazing speakers who made the evening such a success. We can’t cover them all today, so we’re going to focus on our first four amazing guests.  
Testing times
First up was Chris Beecham of @ThomsonReuters, whose topic was Unit Testing. This was among our techier talks, but Chris made sure that everyone was on the same page by drawing on a scene from classic sci-fi adventure, The Matrix. Using the famous red pill-blue pill quandary, he demonstrated a high level testing process. It was a great way to illustrate what to do when you have an object method which uses a resource that isn’t available in the local development environment.

Too many hats?
Chris passed the baton on to Leah Cohen of @DigitalGlacier. She tackled a very different subject: What Makes Managing Engineers so Difficult? Drawing on her own experiences, Leah explained how organisations often expect line managers to be hands-on senior developers too. The result? Someone who’s too distracted and burnt out by different tasks to be dedicated to their team. Shockingly, only 58% of managers have actual management training, according to Leah. Her solution is simple: distinct career pathways for Engineers and Managers.
121 101s
Our hosts, @potatolondon, also had some expert advice for the audience. Agile Coach, Laxmi Kerai (likes: owls, cat gifs and reading) took the stage to discuss the basics of 121s. She gave some hugely useful and practical tips to make 121s productive and less intimidating, from changing the setting by heading outdoors, to designing the agenda together. Laxmi also talked about the importance of clear, two-way communication and listening to feedback. And watch out for those ‘door handle moments’ – casually making hugely significant comments just as you usher the employee out the door!

A crash course for CTOs
Coming up to the half-way point, we met freelance developer, Richard Kirsch. Except he wasn’t always a developer – in the past, he was also a CTO. Having never performed the role before, he had a serious learning curve. And that formed the basis for his talk: How to Blag Being a CTO. The self-deprecating title concealed a wealth of guidance that was relevant for both experienced and wannabe CTOs, from getting the critical stuff right, to seeking advice and fighting for your time.
Phew – so much to think about and we’re only four speakers in! Stay tuned for part 2 of our latest Djugl debrief.