Big Android Barbecue Europe

While winter is getting near, it is time for some barbecue. At the end of October Google organised a two day Android developer event in the U.S.A. To be more specific: in the barbecue state Texas. One month later the European event was held in Amsterdam. The barbecue events are about sharing knowledge with respect to Android development, in the broadest sense of the word. It was composed of two days of speakers and a day with practical sessions.

The Android part of team AppStar (Eltjo and I) visited the european event. We traveled to Amsterdam  with high expectations, given the Texas barbecue was a big success. The topics ranged from high level Android features (like Android Auto, Android Wear, Chromecast, etc) to deep dives into Android internals (like Android and system permissions, reverse engineering apps, how android systems communicate, etc). Furthermore there were talks about: Why User Experience matters, Virtual Reality, Right to left languages, performance tips, testing. You name it, there was a talk about it.

We mainly attended talks on teamwork and Android features since those are topics that concern our day to day work. The schedule was interesting and in our minds we already made choices about which talks to attend and which to skip. We started out with a keynote from the CEO of Cyanogen and ‘Working in an effective team’. These were a nice kick-off for the event. We learned that we are using the same set of concepts and tools as other expert companies, which was a nice confirmation that we’re doing things right. We gained some insights in possible and useful directions for our development process from the lead Android developer from Blendle. Some other really good talks were about: Gradle and Right to left languages.

After day one it was time for some barbecue. This was kind of a disappointment since the food was rather simple and there was a long queue, so lots of waiting. During the waiting we reflected on day one and concluded that our expectations of the event were maybe a little bit to high. It was useful for possible new directions but we doubted if it was worth the trip to Amsterdam. We could have researched the topics ourselves.

The kickoff of day two was rather good with Android Performance tips/pitfalls from a Google engineer. I noticed some challenges I had faced to; and some possible performance issues in our apps too, ahumm…

With the exception of one really bad talk on Chromecast we attended some of the most interesting talks of the event. They elaborated about The Internet of Things and Android; very relevant after we initiated The Things Network Groningen. We attended a talk about Google Cardboard and Virtual reality and possible (baby) steps to undertake when starting development for it. The theory however was very heavy to a point where it made us dizzy. It was after a talk about how Android permissions work under the hood that things got really interesting.

We've got a tour through the available common Android libraries we use during development and why we should all use them. This talks was really nice and inspiring. The final keynote about ‘Why User Experience matters’ showed some good examples about how not to build apps. It made you think about how to approach development of apps in general.

The event ended with two possible conclusions: our expectations were maybe to high due to our level of expertise or the quality of this community organised event was below what we’ve come to expect from our experience. It was certainly an interesting experience, but next year we would be better of with a trip to the real experts in Texas!

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Karsten Westra

Allround Developer

A cabinet filled with games, drums in the middle of the living room and a TV that's constantly on. Our Tech fan from Middelstum is a real coding hero with unprecedented passion for innovation and technology!

17 Nov 2015