Philly ETE Notes

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This week I attended the Emerging Technologies For The Enterprise 2021 conference online. Normally hosted in Old City Philadelphia, I’ve been a long time attendee of the show.

I find ETE to be a great place to hear about fresh tech things outside the echo chamber of my day to day work. This year’s event was no exception. One talk I really enjoyed was from Simon Wardley, “Crossing the River by Feeling the Stones: Sensing A Business Environment Before Taking Action”.

During this talk we will examine the level of situational awareness within business, why it matters and whether we can anticipate and exploit change before it hits us.

Simon reviewed his Wardley Mapping technique and I was impressed with the way this visualization can give you a fresh perspective about your company and its work. I’ve bookmarked this link index to learn more over the next few months.

I also enjoyed “The Edges of Cutting-Edge Languages: Where does the language end and ‘user space’ begin?” by Richard Feldman. Richard is a great presenter and teacher. I’ve seen him teach Elm locally via some Philly meetups and have previous enjoyed hisĀ other conference talks, like: Why Isn’t Functional Programming the Norm?. I was pretty confident I’d enjoy whatever he was showing. His talk summery:

For decades, mainstream programming languages have drawn similar boundaries around what’s a first-class part of the language and what’s a third-party addition outside the scope of the language.

For example, the language ships with a compiler that reads text files and compiles programs. The package and editor plugin ecosystems are completely separate. Compiled programs have unrestricted access to operating system primitives, unless they’re running in a browser. The list goes on!

A number of modern languages are drawing these boundaries in different places than where they’ve been drawn historically. This talk compares some of these languages and their boundaries, and introduces a new programming language that’s being developed to draw these boundaries in different places from others have before.

Come see what programming can be like when we redraw the foundational boundaries of our languages!

It was a really cool talk and I was able to hear about a bunch of languages that were new to me, including one Richard is working on called Roc. Roc is still super early but that page does link to a few video demos of what is being worked on and the ideas behind it all.

Other big themes of the conference:

  • The continued escalation and evolution of DevOps, infrastructure as code, automated deployments, etc. I dipped my toe into these technologies last year. I’m not sure they are what I want to be doing day to day but having knowledge and appreciation for them is likely to be important.
  • Observability is another big topic. Feel like we continue to see new opportunities here to improve stability of systems. Elixir itself has gain a lot of tooling for this recently and it feels like I should spend some time digging in.
  • Never ending language evolution.

For myself, I hope all these patterns and tools help small teams do more while keeping the team small – BUT I do worry how it is hard to ask any one person to have experience in all these areas of study.

The conference sadly did not really experiment with much online socializing. We had an event-specific Slack but no real organization around getting people to mingle. I’ve seem this be hit or miss at other online conferences but one of the things I do miss from the in-person ETE is seeing many locally Philly tech friends in the hallways. Hopefully we can return to in-person next year.

I’m told conference goers will have exclusive access to the talk videos through July so I would keep my eye on the Chariot Solutions YouTube channel if you want to check these out in the future for free later.