For the past two years, Issuetrak has hosted the Hampton Roads DevFest, an annual technology event that brings together members of the development community from across the region. During the day long conference, relationships are forged, ideas are shared, and knowledge is gained. Anticipation for this year’s fest was especially high. As Jason Wilson (@WilsonUponSea) tweeted, “Getting excited about @HRDevFest tomorrow morning. Lots of great presentations on the schedule and I need the networking!”
Held on November 4th, the 2016 DevFest festivities kicked off at 8AM with registration and breakfast. Even at such an early hour, the crowd was growing fast, with attendees excited to reconnect with peers and colleagues. As the keynote and first set of speakers kicked off, developers, strategists, and IT professionals listened and watched with rapt attention. The topics themselves varied between product and language walkthroughs to important conversations about diversity in tech and lighthearted but insightful talks on Pokémon Go and tool building via Nicholas Cage. Additionally, speakers highlighted ways to keep customers happy and engaged, to find talent, and to maintain positive morale within a development team.
Referencing Troy Connor’s talk on diversity, Gabe Truitt of Issuetrak shared how much it spoke to him:
"Troy provided some concrete ways that diversity improves teams. People with different backgrounds and life experiences enrich the lively discussion and collaboration that teams like ours thrive on. He also talked about ways for those of us who are embedded in the community to help people of diverse backgrounds feel more comfortable participating. Being present for our peers of different backgrounds can be as easy as saying hi when someone shows for a meetup or conference."
As with any professional community, DevFest is important because it brings together people from across the industry. For nearly twelve hours, they aren’t competitors or business partners or employee A of company B - they are students, peers, and comrades, united in their goal of being better developers and stronger assets to the development community as a whole. But it's also more than that. Development Manager Lisa Cockrell says, “When one thinks of developer hot spots, areas like Cupertino and Mountain View California, and Redmond, Washington immediately come to mind. However, Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA does not. With DevFest, we're trying to show that we're an important community of developers, too.”
Along with hosting the event this year, Issuetrak was also the primary sponsor. As a family owned and operated software organization, Issuetrak has always valued technical innovation and industry best practices. Being involved with DevFest not only allows the organization to stand as a leader in the development community, but also to learn from the tremendous talent pool of Hampton Roads. Our region boasts rich talent when it comes to software developers, and having the chance to take part in the conference was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.
Reception for the event was overwhelmingly positive. Naomi E. Jerome wrote, “Had an awesome time @HRDevFest can’t wait until next time!” Ken Taylor, software engineer and organizer for the Google Developer Group Hampton Roads, said “Thank you so much all of the attendees, speakers, sponsors and organizers of another successful @HRDevFest.!! #hrdevfest2016.“ Lee Perkins with Issuetrak listed what he took away from the fest: “Networking with peers in my field, exposure to new technologies, learning other people's viewpoints on familiar technologies, a day off from work.” While his last item is playful, it certainly raises an important point.
Not every employer offers time off for events such as these, so a special thanks and kudos should be given to those companies and managers that understand the value such events provide in terms of growth and career enrichment.
If you are developer and missed this year’s event, we encourage you to subscribe to @HRDevFest on Twitter and the 757Dev channel via Slack and to keep an eye posted to hrdevfest.org for information about future events. Issuetrak looks forward to continuing our relationship with the event in the future and watching the growth of this amazing community. Thank you to all the speakers, attendees, and sponsors, and to everyone who helped make the event a highlight of the year. See you in 2017!