For the Polyglot Developer, Lots to Learn at London Code

By Dominic Collard

The first thing you see walking into the Oracle Code London event is a huge word cloud: “participate,” “exchange,” “influence,” “connect,” and ‘“learn” take up the most space. Developers have something of a split personality when it comes to community events like this, and these words reflect one-half of their personalities. “At one level, they are loyal to their employer and so in competition with each other to continually develop faster and better,” says Darren Jones, head of membership for the UK Oracle User Group (UKOUG), which placed the sign. “But on the other hand, there is a deep sense of collaboration and support.”

Oracle Code, which recently landed in London as part of a 15-city world tour, is a free event for developers, designed to bring them up to speed with the latest tools and technologies. The event’s popularity reflects the heightened sense from developers that their world is moving much faster—creating excitement, along with some angst. As one attendee commented, “Developers need to be more machine than human to keep up.”

Oracle Code offers sessions on many languages, open source technologies, and architectures such as microservices, along with sessions on Oracle technology. Jay Norton, a director for Oracle University, says he was struck at Code by how developers have become less loyal to one language. “You don’t hear them say ‘I’m a Java developer, I’m a Ruby developer, I’m SQL,’ and so on,” Norton says. “Developers are realizing they need to be multilingual.”

Cloud platforms have to be agnostic as well, and Oracle’s credentials here were on show at Code London with a coding challenge, dressed up as an adventure in deep space, complete with lightsaber sound effects. “It wouldn’t be a coding event without a little Star Wars reference somewhere,” said Linus Hakansson, an Oracle consultant hosting the workshop. Completing the mission—which involves shooting down an enemy spaceship, hacking into the enemy’s database, and identifying the coordinates of the evil empire’s reactor core—required using languages including Java, Python, PHP, and Node.js.

But the main aim was to remind developers that what they do is fun—“something we forget too easily, but is so important to doing our jobs well,” says Hakansson. On a technical level, it’s about demonstrating one of the fundamental advantages of cloud native development, namely the ease of deployment. “In the on-prem era, you’d have a development team creating and testing the code, then passing this over on a zip file, and a separate team deploying it,” Hakansson says. “Now all that’s done in the one environment, with the same people. It’s instantaneous.”

Bees and Beer Prove It’s Practical

Agility, accelerated innovation cycles, and agnostic platforms mean little outside of the developer community if they don’t translate into business outcomes. To show the link to business outcomes, Code London offered demonstrations about bees and beer—two projects where developers have been putting the Oracle Cloud to the test.

For bees, Oracle developers have been working with The World Bee Project, a producer of “smart beehives” to tackle a multi-million dollar problem. It’s that bees fly. Or more specifically, to stop them flying away too soon. One of the biggest costs to bee farmers is when their bees abandon the hives, says Christopher Wing, a member of Oracle’s graduate program who’s working on the bee project. The secret is to predict when the bees are likely to swarm—something that can be done by measuring the temperature, humidity, and noise in the hive—and then to adjust those conditions to trick the bees into staying put. Sensors throughout the hive collect this data, and a combination of Oracle Analytics Cloud and Oracle Mobile Cloud feed the farmers the all-important data. From a test site in the UK, the project is now running across 10 locations throughout Europe.

Across the demo hall to the beer stall, and it’s the Oracle Internet of Things Cloud that was on show, recording readings at various stages of the brewing process, and then using data from an online customer feedback form to make adjustments to taste, texture, and color. (The samples on offer suggest it works.)

Oracle Code continues with events in Berlin and Paris. And some of the developers at Code London will be back together in a few weeks, as Oracle hosts a coding event at its London HQ. The event, a partnership with the Prince’s Trust, a leading UK charity for young people, will give developers 36 hours and the full armory of the Oracle Cloud to uncover new insights and imagine solutions to challenges facing young people, from mental health issues to school bullying, education, and employment. They’ll be working with old data—government records, some from the charity itself, and the rest publicly available from various open sources. The toolkit though will be cutting edge technology, including Oracle’s analytics, big data, mobile, chatbot and IoT cloud services. The developer profession has never had more power to make an impact. Extraordinary things are expected.

Dominic Collard is an Oracle technology writer based in London.

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