I was browsing my Twitter timeline between sets at the gym, when it hit me. “Folks, anyone wanna join me for a polyglot programmer conference in Poland?” I asked in our office chatroom sometime in May.
“3 days, 30 talks, 300 attendees, 3 parties”, declared the PolyConf website. Sounds pretty intensive, we thought. Five fearless adventurers from the Tammerforce tribe boldly stepped up to the challenge: Antti, Ilkka, Joonas, Jukka and I. Little did we know what we were in for!
Fast forward to the 2nd of July. Our merry group, barely surviving the scorching heat, arrived at the venue and dived into the workshops: getting acquainted with relational programming in miniKanren and learning some Commodore 64 assembly.
From there on it was a fireworks display. We heard talks with languages such as Crystal, Elixir, Elm, Julia, PureScript, and Racket, as well as of frameworks, libraries, and paradigms (Yan Cui wrote an excellent summary covering some techy details.) What surprised me was the prevalence of functional programming – there was a LISP lurking behind every corner! Some of it in glorious emoji flavor...
Also, ponies are apparently quite the thing in the scene.
Quite a few minds were blown by William Byrd’s talk about relational programming, as well as his Emacs skills. Some might call it Prolog on steroids: “here’s the answer, what was the question again?” Just watch him do his thing:
Lovely surprises kept coming through the day. We were offered lunch and amazing (and scalding hot!) coffee courtesy of Bike Cafe. That’s not to even mention being pampered with cotton candy, ice cream, cakes, frisbees and whatnot.
In addition to thirty-minute presentations, there were short and amusing lightning talks on a range of topics, including putting new domains live as well as addressing meritocracy. The extremely challenging nature of the lightning talk format was also highlighted as some people ran out of both breath and time. Shorter definitely isn’t easier!
Three days and thirty talks on one conference track was very intense, exhausting even. Days started at nine in the morning and ended at seven in the afternoon. While it would have been nice to get to sample more of one of Poland’s oldest cities, we were lucky to attend get-togethers and after parties both in a cozy craft beer grotto shaded by trees, as well as in a bowlarama-turned-discotheque above the city rooftops. While sipping cold drinks in the beautiful summer evenings of Poznań, we had insightful chats with some really nice people. The secrets of the croissant museum remain yet to be revealed.
I unlocked a personal achievement of spreading the joy of open source and Chilicorn, for the first time ever running out of both stickers and business cards. The title “Master of Time And Space” works quite nicely as a conversation opener, I might add.
PolyConf offered a valuable reminder as to why it’s so important not to get too cozy with a single set of tools, but instead to strive for having both a basic level of understanding about a wide range of topics, and a deeper mastery of one or two (being more π shaped) — and see software craftsmanship as the continuously evolving form of art it is. Without hesitation, I would recommend PolyConf for anyone looking to get inspired and expand their views on software development. In addition to programming languages, you can have a go at Polish too. Maybe next time, I’ll be able to order a pszeniczne without getting funny looks...
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