Monday, November 18, 2013

AnDevCon SF

It's AnDevCon time again! This time I did something slightly different. Instead of giving lectures, I gave a workshop. It was a hands-on session to build a custom view called FractionView.

My most popular talk is Android Custom Components. I have given it many times already, and people are still requesting it, so I know the material is very much in demand. But since I offered it during the past 3 AnDevCon already, I thought I'd change it up a bit and go deep with a workshop. I want people to come in not knowing anything about custom view and walk out with one built from scratch.

The challenge of a hands-on workshop is pacing. I allowed plenty of time for people to complete the exercises, stressing that they should interrupt and ask questions. Some of the exercises were copy-and-paste, others were tasks with guidelines only. This way people had a chance to apply the knowledge right away, hit some of the common mistakes, recover, learn and remember.

I also added an extra-credit exercise for people who were ahead to keep busy. It was very well received. In fact some people wanted more! I will do that in my next workshop.


Workshops happened on Tuesday, the day before the conference started. That meant I could enjoy the rest of the conference without distractions from getting ready to deliver my own sessions. Cool!

Reto Meier from Google opened the conference with a wonderful keynote. He urged us to push the boundaries of the system, not only by claiming the benefits, but also showing us why we were not doing it already.

Engineers have two time assessments for tasks: 5 minute or forever. Incremental improvements are often seen as "taking only 5 minutes", and it feels good to get things done. Going into the unknown, however, is daunting. For instance a lot of developers have been putting of in-app purchase, because "it will take forever". Turns out "forever" could end up being just 2 hours. So take the plunge and try something new. Make a big change. It may not be as daunting as you presumed.


I have always learned a lot from the talks at AnDevCon, so I was a bit surprised to find that I felt I was going to fewer deep-dive sessions than before. Looking into it a bit more, I realized there were still a lot of advance topics on the schedule, but I attended quite a few of them at previous AnDevCons already, and there were some slots with multiple talks I wanted to go. The conference is so much more than just the talks, though. I had many great conversions over lunch, at social breaks, after sessions chatting with other attendees, etc etc. And of course, at the women luncheon as well.

Women luncheon

I have attended the women luncheons at every AnDevCon, and it was always fun to hang out with fellow women attendees. This time I was hosting the luncheon with Sonia Sharma from Google, and I was actually a bit stressed about it, almost more than my workshop. I felt that the fun came from spontaneity, not something I could plan or practice. So we went for table topics, hoping to seed the conversations and let the attendees take it from there. I am happy to report that it worked quite well!