The Latest text

October Lightning Talks Recap

We had our October event this past Tuesday. We mixed it up this month with a series of lightning talks around the theme of “Dev practices: what I wish I was taught.” About 30 people joined us on the 94th floor of Willis Tower for a night of sharing insights and real world examples of lessons learned.

Our sponsor for the evening was UCX. UCX is a marketplace for cloud services. They’re like Expedia or Kayak for the cloud. If you or your client have specific infrastructure needs, you can use their platform for a robust apples-to-apples search of various cloud providers to choose the best solution for you.

Andy Lester

Andy Lester introduced the night with his lightning talk, “What I wish students were being taught these days.” He shared many tools of the trade and gave the audience a bunch of reading recommendations for those evergreen skills we need to hone as developers. His approach to learning debugging was particularly interesting and applicable from day 1 as a dev.

Aji Slater

After Andy, Aji Slater took the podium to talk to us about commit messages in his talk, “Commit Message to the Rescue.” Aji introduced his topic with an entertaining Dr. Seuss themed anecdote and showed some great, real examples of how not to write your commit messages. He also shared some git and Github pro tips to make the development workflow and commit messages effortless.

Mina Slater

Next up was Mina Slater with her talk “Error Messages Are Your Friends.” One of her main takeaways was that getting an error message means something is not working as expected, not that we did anything wrong. But because it makes us feel that way, we don’t run our code often enough. Error messages provide a roadmap and help get you unstuck so we should run our code early and often.

Thomas Wilburn

Thomas Wilburn spoke next about “Accessibility testing in the palm of your hand.” Thomas walked the group through the specifics of how to use a screen reader on both iOS and Android so that everyone could start accessibility testing the code they’re writing right now. Knowing how screen readers work builds empathy for your users. Using sites that aren’t built well for screen readers makes you realize how cumbersome it can be for non/low-sighted users.

Eleni Chappen

After Thomas, Eleni Chappen shared her “5 tips for React/Redux.” It’s important to remember that React is just Javascript. ES6 classes are syntactic sugar for regular JS prototype inheritance. She also walked through some tips for component rendering, using PropTypes for type checking in React, and how to store state in large React applications.

Jeremy Hanna

Jeremy Hanna gave us a “Deploying software 101” and talked to us about how software delivery cycles and deploying software has changed. He also shared some really wonderful diagrams to illustrate different deployment strategies.

Doug Bell

“The Features of Good Documentation” by Doug Bell was next, and he walked us through a practical example of why code is not (and should not) always be self-documenting and why we as developers need to add more context to our code. Doug gave the group some amazing checklists to reference for what type of information to include in your documentation as well as specifically what to document in your code.

Mat Biscan

And wrapping up the evening was Mat Biscan with “Vim: Never Use a Mouse Again.” Mat gave his entire presentation in Vim and walked through some of the various commands. He provided a lot of great references for learning Vim and acknowledged that its a process that takes everyone, no matter their experience level, time to learn.

Thank you to everyone who came out for the event. It was so amazing and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!