GR8Conf US 2016 Recap

This was my first time attending GR8Conf and it was a really great experience. I primarily focus on Android Development now, but I enjoy dabbling in some API Development when I find the time. This conference was very inspiring and I plan on investigating many of the new things that I learned. Here are a few highlights of the event:


So the event took place at The University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This was my first time in Minnesota, it's a very beautiful city. I was especially impressed with the Skyway System, which allows you to walk between buildings without going outside. I took it on as a personal challenge to find the Target store from the main conference building and make it back on my own.

The conference is focused on the technologies related to the Groovy ecosystem, such as Grails, Ratpack, Gradle, and Spock. Despite "the hate" that I sometimes hear about Groovy, I'm a big fan and was excited to have the chance to be a part of the conference.


So there were a few sessions that I derived a ton of value from, one was the "Grails Keynote". It was delivered by Graeme Rocher, the Grails Project Lead. He discussed the many enhancements in Grails 3, such as:

  • Being Based on Spring Boot
  • Using the Gradle Build System
  • The Use of Profiles

He showed how simple it is to use the rest-api profile to create REST applications in Grails. I was really impressed with how quickly he was able to get an application up and running. He also demonstrated some of the upcoming features in GORM to support reactive programming, it was all very exciting to see.

Then during the "Documenting RESTful APIs with Spring REST Docs" talk, by Jenn Strater I really enjoyed learning about the various options available for making sure you have proper documentation for your REST APIs. She showed several examples of using Asciidoctor to generate documentation snippets. I had never seen that approach of using tests to ensure documentation was written before. I would love to see something similar for Android libraries perhaps.

I also really enjoyed the information shared during the "Feeling Groovy" talk. Ken Kousen brought up several compelling points about the perception vs. reality of the Groovy ecosystem. Specifically he spoke on how some perceive Groovy as being "in trouble", yet it's an extremely stable language backed by a very engaged community. He also showed several examples of how Groovy as a language shines in comparison to Java. The talk ended with a rallying cry for those in the community to share their positive experiences with others. It was truly well done!

Further, it was really great to meet people in real life that I only knew from Twitter, like Ken and Jenn.

This was my first time giving two talks at one conference. It was a little stressful, I admit, but I'm glad I stepped up to the challenge and had the opportunity to meet such friendly, interesting people.

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