Pittsburgh TechFest 2018

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending Pittsburgh TechFest. For just one day, software development professionals from Southwestern Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas gather to talk and learn about perfecting their craft. Topics are wide-spread and include discussions on coding, tools, project management, and much more! We also discovered that all development disciplines and stacks are welcome. Whether you’re a developer, tester, Ruby-enthusiast or .NET lover, there is a place for you at Pittsburgh TechFest.

Path to Pittsburgh TechFest

Our day started bright and early on Saturday, June 2nd. After traveling to La Roche college, Troy Taylor (GrapeCity’s Technical Engagement Engineer) and I set-up our booth and had the chance to speak with representatives from the Pittsburgh Technology Council and current and past users of GrapeCity products. We really enjoyed answering their questions about ComponentOne, Active Reports, Wijmo, and Spread while introducing them to our newest product line -- GrapeCity Documents.

As always, it was great to re-connect with our friends at the PTC. They were accommodating, supportive, and shared the news that Justin Driscoll will be stepping down as the Senior Director, People & Culture Initiatives. Good luck, Justin! Thanks for all your hard work.

Pittsburgh TechFest 2018

Pittsburgh TechFest afternoon line-up

After the morning keynote, the 100-or-so Pittsburgh TechFest attendees scattered to their morning sessions. Outside the main dining hall, Troy and I had the pleasure of hearing the CEO of BlastPoint, Alison Alvarez, speak about the tools her company builds to obtain geographic insights. While detailing her daily work, she also sprinkled in lessons she has learned from her own journey in development. We really enjoyed hearing her highs and lows and how those moments led her to speak to us that day.

Once Alison wrapped her speech up, we heard from Matthew Barlocker, CEO of BlueMatador Inc. He opened with a story from his early career as a developer: 30 minutes after his 3rd child was born, he was forced to spend the next three hours solving a web development issue because his job required him to be on-call. He spent the next hour describing how that moment inspired him to start his own company and gave his best tips for being proactive during work -- so YOU don’t have to spend the night your child is born -- working.

Other points of discussion and things that we learned:

6 developer life hacks:

  1. Optimize on-call schedules
  2. Use the right tools
  3. Take production issues each sprint
  4. Scrutinize your alerts
  5. Run a proactive post-mortem
  6. Detect problems during release meetings

During the afternoon, we were introduced to Jesse Weigel of Franciscan University of Steubenville and Erica Peterson of Moms Can: Code.

Not only is Jesse a front-end developer, but he is also a pro at YouTube live streaming! You can see him on his own YouTube channel or on FreeCodeCamp. Watch him successfully finish a project or help him along the way. Whether the project is completed or not, you’ll still learn a lot and get the chance to connect with other devs.

If you haven’t heard of the trail-blazing, Erica Peterson, don’t worry, I will give you the overview right here. After founding a successful non-profit, Science Tots, Erica started Moms Can: Code. Her latest venture is an online community for moms looking to build a new career for themselves. Coding and web development offer moms of all stages and ages the opportunity to comfortably work and be there for their family. With Moms Can: Code, women in the midst of raising a family can instantly access the resources needed to bring their career to fruition. A SXSW finalist this year, Erica is creating a robust and more inclusive work environment for women in tech.

Pittsburgh TechFest wrap-up

Troy and I had a great time at Pittsburgh TechFest. We had the chance to speak one-on-one with our customers, introduce the product lines to new faces and engage with the growing Pittsburgh tech community. Look for us at these other conferences in 2018!

Pittsburgh TechFest 2018

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