Last week was AIM’s Heartland Developers Conference (HDC) in Omaha. Spread out over three days, this annual event was held at the CHI Health Center arena (a change of scenery from the past several years). Each day was geared toward a different experience level: Novice, Pro, and Expert.

This year’s event allowed me to do something I had never done before: give two presentations at the same conference. But more than that, this event – at least for me – was the beginning of a return to more “normal” interactions.

Our Booth

Don’t Panic Labs has been a participating sponsor for many years, and we were all excited to be at another developer conference after most everyone’s 2020 hiatus. As usual, our team had many great conversations with developers, and not just from the Lincoln/Omaha area but from across the Midwest. Hearing about how other teams are collaborating in this new world is always interesting.

To spur on more conversation and some critical thought, we created an interactive survey (hats off to Bill Udell and Shana Durham for making this a reality). We had clear tubes representing goals that developers often want to set for themselves and ping pong balls representing barriers preventing them from reaching their goals. Participants would drop a ball in the appropriate tube. The results were tallied at the end of each day, and what we found was interesting but not surprising. But I don’t want to give any more away since Brian Zimmer is working on a blog post going into the details of what we learned.

Don't Panic Labs booth at HDC

My Presentations

My two HDC presentations were on the second and third days for the Pro and Expert audiences. Talking about how to design your startup for the Azure cloud and setting up your Azure DevOps pipeline were great ways for me to get out in front of people and share what we’ve been learning.

My presentations and code demoed during them are on GitHub.

Reconnecting IRL

As I think back on the conference, I keep returning to how much I enjoyed catching up with folks I haven’t seen for some time. We all had interesting stories from the past 18 months and a few terrifying situations involving COVID-19. When you hear what some people have been through, discussions of architecture patterns suddenly don’t seem as important.

While this is our last conference of 2021, I’m feeling ready to get back on the road in 2022 to learn, share, and connect with others.

Did you attend HDC last week? If so, share your thoughts in the comment below.

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