KotlinConf 2018 Recap

Got comments?
KotlinConf 2018 Recap

KotlinConf 2018 took place in beautiful Amsterdam at the beginning of October, and this year, I had the chance to attend. Though only the second edition, KotlinConf has already become something of an institution within the developer community. Events like these help you meet the people whose work you admire, but would otherwise not be able to meet in person.

This is my short recollection of the two wonderful days in Amsterdam:

The Announcements

We ❤️ Kotlin and Kotlin ❤️s us too!

Kotlin 1.3

The long-awaited Kotlin 1.3 release was announced, which would supposedly remove the “experimental” flag off of coroutines and make it a first-class language feature. It will also help promote the concept of multi-platform programming forward. Using Kotlin to develop backend systems is not a new idea, but the 1.3 release is going to firmly set foot in many domains, beyond Android.

Best of all, we can finally use one IDE to develop on Kotlin for all platforms. We no longer need to jump back and forth over to CLion or AppCode, unless we really want to. Otherwise, IntelliJ (incl. the free Community Edition) should be more than sufficient. For finalizing the iOS builds, we ultimately still need XCode, but that’s not something under JetBrains’ control.

The Topics

There is a DSL for that…

Of course, topics revolved mainly around the major announcements, including, but not limited to, the development of DSLs (domain-specific languages) for solving just about any problem, multi-platform development (for the JVM, JavaScript, or natively on iOS, macOS, Linux, etc), server-side, data science and machine learning, and of course, many, many sessions targeting Android.

Kotlin on the Server

I was happy to see the involvement of Google into Kotlin, beyond Android. In fact, there was quite a Google presence from the Cloud Platform team. Other companies, well-known using Kotlin on the server-side, such as German online-bank N26, were there to inspire the community.

If you are interested into trying out Kotlin on the server, I recommend these three talks straight out of KotlinConf:

for a quick overview, before checking out http4k

and, of course, Ktor

Kotlin for Data Science

Ever since I tried Kotlin for the first time, I was convinced that it has the potential to outpace Scala, and stand shoulder to shoulder with Python and R, as the dominant programming language trio of data science. Although we are still far from this moment of ultimate bliss, the efforts of folks like Holger Brand l and Thomas Nield (and to some limited extend, my humble self) can only help reassure that there is a serious potential, which is about to unroll in the coming months.

Kotlin … Everywhere (Even on iOS)

Yes, the big keyword of KotlinConf 2018 was /multi-platform/. Although not a silver bullet, and definitely not a write-once-deploy-everywhere proposition, multi-platform has the potential to help developers organize big projects around modules that can be shared across platforms. Kotlin/Native makes this possible. Unlike Flutter or React Native, however, the idea is not to overtake the UI development of each platform, but rather, deliver the native look-and-experience, by sharing the shared business logic across.

The Venue

The venue (Beurs van Berlage) is a former Dutch stock exchange, now turned into a convention center. It is located in the perfect city center, literally, 5-minute walking distance from the central station. I was extremely thankful for that, since I was commuting with the morning train from the nearby city of Utrecht.

{% include figure image_path="/assets/img/2018/november/TJ1QL%KsR8evl5H0LZjn4Q_thumb_14ca.jpg" alt="A beautiful morning in Amsterdam with Beurs van Berlage in the background" caption="A beautiful morning in Amsterdam with Beurs van Berlage in the background" %}

The service and catering at the location were very good. Food, refreshments, and coffee were present at all times, so one could never enter a session hungry or or in lack of caffeine. The organizers and stewards were always present, always helping, politely answering questions, or helping people get to their sessions on time.

There were however, a couple of minus points. The event felt a bit overbooked for the venue, and one could see this right from the start. The keynote hall could not fit everyone, so a separate hall was designated, where the keynote was streamed. Also, during follow-up sessions, some of the smaller halls filled up quickly, and late newcomers would stay around the edge of the room, or get ushered to a separate, silent room with a few large screens streaming each of the four parallel sessions live. Some people liked the silent rooms, but I didn’t. I go to a conference mainly for the live interaction with others, not for passive consumption of the presentations. I wish there were a little more room and space for enjoying your chat, without being ushered to move aside ever 10 seconds.


Of course, all of these things are normal for such a big conference, and compared to the overall excitement to be there and meet the Kotlin community, they felt like a minor nuisance. I totally enjoyed my stay in Amsterdam and Utrecht, and am already looking forward to booking my tickets for next year’s KotlinConf.

KotlinConf 2018 through the eyes of others

KotlinConf 18 | Zsmb
Krazy KotlinConf 2018 in Amsterdam