Kats Conf 2

2017-03-13

Kats Conf 2 is a young functional programming event held every year by a small group of software developers in Dublin (Website here). This review/post-about-a-conference-I-went-to-mu-ha-ha-ha comes a little late because I didn't realise how long it'd take to get this blogsite running on digital ocean. I remember what was important to myself however, and that is the important part. The importanter part is that another much better blogpost, from someone else, about Kats Conf 2 can be found here. I should also mention that this was to be the last conference organised by the great Andrea Magnorsky(@silverSpoon) who will be doing something else from now on. I honestly have no idea, but judging from her twitter feed, probably making a AAA videogame. In any case, my kat goes off to her!

I'd gone to a few Functional Kats meetups in the past, and enjoyed my time there. The group really wants to impress the idea of "just be nice and don't be an ass" and it really shows in the culture they've fostered. Everyone is nice! Kats Conf 2 is however, a paid event so is a bit more formal than the relaxed Functional Kats meetups. The format was the usual presentation-break-presentation with each presentation taking about forty minutes. There was also a lightening-talks event near the end of the evening, which was actually quite refreshing after a day of long talks. That's not to say that the longer talks were boring however. I'll go through a few of them below:

 

Program Derivation for Functional Programs - Felienne (@Felienne)

Felienne was an outstanding talker, which should be no surprise since she lectures at Delft University of Technology. Her talk was on the far-end of mathematicy-computer-sciencey-wiency stuff, so while it was difficult to understand all of it, the general gist of the idea was there. Her presentation was excellent and despite having very little to do with functional programming, it was an enjoyable break and one of my favourite presentations.

 

Rug: an External DSL for Coding Code Transformations (with Scala Parser-Combinators) - Jessica Kerr (@jessitron)

Jessica Kerr's presentation followed a similar format to Felienne's, full of energy and humour again. This talk was more focused on functional languages however, with an edge on automation. Rug can be found here and is an interesting functional programming project if you enjoy your automation... automatey. Overall a great talk and I'd definitely enjoy seeing another presentation by Jessica in the future.

 

Relational programming - William Byrd (@webyrd)

Will Byrd somehow managed to keep a straight face on throughout his talk, despite another speaker drawing kat whiskers on his face. Yes, you read that right, this man somehow managed to present with actual whiskers on his face and managed to do a damn good job while doing so. Will's talk on relational programming got a lot of attention when it became apparent that his latest project is going to take all of our jobs in the next ten years. Showcasing this "code generation through test cases", he garnered quite a bit of attention by making us worry over job security. Oh dear. PHP anyone?

 

Total Functional Programming - Edwin Brady (@edwinbrady)

Another fantastic speaker who gave me a free copy of his new book Type-Driven Development with Idris through a little raffle thingy. Idris is a functional language with an emphasis on "totality". It's an interesting slant on functional languages that I'll do a blog post about at some point in the future. I kind of have to now since Edwin was kind enough to give out free copies of his book!

 

So to conclude, this was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. Even during our breaks and even in the after-conference pub trip, I found passionate developers discussing languages paradigms and generally getting drunk in what was an awesome time. The networking opportunities were pretty great too. Oh well, time to see wtf F# is now...