Nov 30, 2016

GOTO Berlin 2016 – Recap

I recently returned from Berlin where I attended the GOTO Berlin 2016 conference. Here are some of the insights I brought with me.

Diverse keynotes
There have been some amazing keynotes on important topics like prejudices, (neuro)diversity and algorithms gone wrong (producing biased, unfortunate and hurting results). I liked these talks a lot. Make sure you check out the talks done by Linda Rising, Sallyann Freudenberg and Carina C. Zona.

The Cloud is everywhere
This is no surprise. There have been many talks about cloud native applications and micro services. Mary Poppendieck did a good keynote, why these applications are so important now and in the future. On a more technical side IBM presented OpenWhisk as an alternative to Amazon's Lambda for building serverless architectures. It supports JavaScript, Swift, Python and Java right out of the box. Additionally, arbitrary executables can be added using Docker containers. What's especially notable about OpenWhisk is that it is completely open source (see So you could think about switching your provider or even host it by yourself. Of course IBM offers hosting on their very own cloud platform BlueMix.

UI in times of micro services
There have been a lot of talks covering the idea of using micro services and splitting up your application in different parts with potentially different independent development teams. Most of the time this is all about the backend. On the front end side you still end up with a monolithic, maybe single page, web application that uses these micro services.
Zalando introduced it's open source framework ‘Mosaic’, a framework for microservices for the frontend, that should tackle these problems. They do this by replacing placeholders in a template with HTML fragments. This happens during the initial page request on the server side (asynchronous replacements via AJAX are supported). The HTML fragments can be provided by the same team that developed the backing micro service.
Mosaic currently offers two server side components. One written in Go and one in Node.js.
Side note: to make the different application fragments look the same, they still have to provide some shared library code (in their case React components).

New ways to visualize data with VR/AR/MR
There was a talk and some demos about the new Microsoft HoloLens. Philipp Bauknecht put the HoloLens in the space of ‘mixed reality’ (as only existing device, Pokemon Go was the example for Augmented Reality). His talk covered some basics about the hardware, possible usage scenarios, existing apps and how to develop new applications.
The interesting part were some completely new possibilities of displaying data, which could result in amazing new kinds of applications. This is (with VR) one of the first really new output device for quite some time! Very exciting.

This and that

  • Ola Gasidlo mentioned PouchDb, an open-source JavaScript database inspired by Apache CouchDB. Interestingly, it enables applications to store data locally while offline, and then synchronize the data with CouchDB or compatible servers when the application is back online.
  • Ola introduced the phrase ‘Lie Fi’ to me: Lie Fi - Having a data connection, but no packages are coming through ;-)
  • Martin Kleppmann did an interesting talk about his algorithm for merging concurrent data changes. He did this with the example of a text editor like Google Docs. The project he is currently working on is actually about using cloud technology but with encrypted data (so you don't have to trust the cloud provider that much). The project is called Trve Data.

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