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Swift big topic on first Dutch iOS conference

Who wants to visit Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, needs to pay a tidy $1559 and hoping to be one of the 5000 lucky ones to get a ticket. Until recently there was no Dutch iOS conference, but on the 9th of November the Do {iOS} conference was organized by Xebia, not for an audience of 5000, but at least half of the Dutch professional iOS developers showed up. And what has a good lasagne to do with Swift? Everything, proved that afternoon. 

It was a beautiful day for a conference. Outside it was stormy, it was cold, it rained cats and dogs and the waves on the estuary IJ lapped against the quay. It was better to sit inside with likeminded people. And so did around 150 iOS developers in the main hall of Pakhuis de Zwijger for eleven speeches about iOS and likewise topics about mobile app development. 

Coding is communication
It was Daniel Jalkut, who opened Do {iOS}. Today he runs Red Sweater Software, but in the past he was one of the software engineers for the first version of Apple's OSX. His keynote was a historical story about all the program languages Apple used trough the years for it's own products. He made a comparison between speaking languages and program languages, both are about communication, said Jalkut.

Java vs. Objective-C
After a long detour he came - of course - on Swift, the new programming language for iOS that Objective-C eventually will going to replace at the Apple offices. He made links with Pascal, 68k Assembly and C which characteristic he recognizes in the code of Swift. Apple, says Jalkut, has used twenty different programming languages for its products. Interesting fact was that there were plans to use Java in Cupertino, but with the release of Objective-C 2.0 Java was off the radar. Perhaps the choice for Java had today delivered a nice connection to exchange with Android. But let's put it as wishful thinking aside, history has decided otherwise.

Knowledge of Objective-C benefit at Swift
Another historical fact was that Apple developed Swift in secret at it's Cupertino headoffice. So besides the development team, no one knew they were making a new programming language. It is conceivable, because as an Apple programmer are you actually working on an exit language, that doesn't give a good feeling. Jalkut concluded that Swift is a good programming language from which he has high expectations; and who masters Objective-C, has an advantage.

Mobile and Bluetooth
Communication was also the essence of the somewhat tough reading of Dan Federman. He was working on an app for sharing payments. Imagine sitting in a restaurant with twenty people and you have to share the bill. Then it would be useful that anyone can fulfill his part of the bill. He wants to do it via Bluetooth to overcome the communication problems between Android and iOS. It's wishful thinking that tech has a solution for all problems, reality proves recalcitrant. Nice reading, but it was very technical and very detailed. Although it was nice to hear about how many technical pitfalls Federman had to walk. Educational!

Nikita Lutsenko of Parse during his lecture.

App developers should think of security
Who also had a highly technical story was Nikita Lutsenko of Parse, the platform which contains thirteen native SDKs for mobile, desktop and IoT devices. Facebook is now the developer of Parse, a database to be used in the cloud, a nice application for app developers, as much as he explained. But with all due respect he could learn something from Anastasiia Voitova, the Ukrainian security officer. She made a nice slideshow (projected on the three huge screens above the stage) that made things clear to even a layman. Her slides were a kind of children's book that was synonymous with the programming world. Her story: developers are responsible for security of data, but most are sloppy. And it really should not, do not invent your own solutions, use cryptography that is proven. Funny story was that she was once at a forum on security in reading about a case that was done very poorly. She found out that it was an app that she had made herselves. The Ukrainian spoke from personal experience. Beautiful reading of an open woman from the tech industry.

Anastasiia Voitova, the Ukrainian security officer, was one of the two woman who did a keynote.

Quest for app developers: too little training
Also present was ING, the bank now sees itself as a technology company and has taken over the organization model of the Swedish music service Spotify to the IT department. That means that managers no longer manage, but that professionals have been handed the helm. Developers, marketers and strategists are brought together in small groups to develop new products with each other and without hierarchical intervention. Pim Stolk, member of the so called Think Forward team, is one of the developers who have been with the bank for several years working on digital products. He gave a lecture on ING's approach to new techniques and described the battle with different versions of operating systems and how ICT should focus on customers. Strikingly, he said that most consumers do not have any worries about safety. We had to immediately think about the reading of security officer Anastasiia Voitova who thinks very differently about it, and let's be happy with that. Stolk of ING Bank said his team wrote around one million lines of code so far, in 40.000 hours by 40 developers.

No attention for new developers
ING had a large booth on the conference to recruit new developers. That would not have helped much, because the senior iOS developers at the Do {iOS} conference are not exactly unemployed, because seniors in The Netherlands are in high demand. The Netherlands has a shortage of developers, startups and other companies are crying out for staff, but can not be found it. Reason: regular education programs and schools do not provide students the skills asked by (tech) companies and the government and municipalities do not over see the negative effects for the economic development in the tech sector. There is much talk, a lot of meetings and a lot of policy reports are written by the wrong persons. There is widespread ignorance.

Junior app developers need the help of seniors
Therefore, the only commentary on Do {iOS do} is that there was not a lot of attention on the development of new talent which is so desperately needed to bring this sector to maturity. A reading of StartupAmsterdam and StartupDelta (presided by Neelie Kroes, ex Vice-President of the European Commission) to ring the alarm for the lack of developers in Europe and the need to help juniors to medior and senior level. This is important for the whole tech ecosystem and could have been a nice addition to the conference. With all due respect for the beautiful conference, but a look slightly different from the navel of iOS and more a vision of the future had given the conference more urgency. Perhaps an idea for next year. 

The App Academy trains people to app developer. Headmaster speaks
The App Academy, the Amsterdam based school for programming for iOS App Development was alongside Platinum sponsor, also present for a keynote from headmaster Axel Roest. Roest who trains juniors iOS developers in bootcamps with his team, is no stranger in the world of app developers. He belongs to the first iOS developers and together with teachers Daniel Salber, Stijn Oomes and Jasper Stokman present at Do {iOS} with their students.

The App Academy was sponsor of do {iOS}, but also the schools headmaster, Axel Roest did a keynote about the program possibilities of Apple TV.

tvOS new world
Axel Roest did not lecture about The App Academy, but about tvOS which is finally developed after years so we can write scripts and apps for Apple TV. That took quite long and therefore Apple TV is now more than a nice box to stream movies. Roest spoke about the possibilities, but most about the restrictions tvOS carries. Mainly for UX'ers it's a new challenge because there obviously is not a touchscreen, objects are in focus so it's like working with the WII console: you have a remote in your hand which you can swipe, click and move. But in the meantime Apple brought new devices on the market such as game controllers and also a keyboard that can be connected, but the user on the couch is not used to operate a TV in that way.

Axel Roest also said that tvOS works with TVJS and TVML. This offers new possibilities for applications on Apple TV.

UX design is a profession but in code is also much to do
Yeah, let's talk about UX and design: Marin Todorov in who we lost a standup comedian in favour of the iOS world, had a lecture how you can use code for UX and design effects. He played with the audience, "Who knows this trick," he asked. "We'll leave the fingers, because there is always someone who knows." Humor with a sense of understatement. He was well placed in the program of the conference because he could tell his story a bit loose, though he showed thick rows of code on the screens, so Todorov told a serieus story.
He teached us to play with different properties and it's simpler than you think. He showed us of things with Objective-C properties. He held a number of tricks with corner radius and displayed playful scenes on the screen of an iPhone. For those who prefer no fireworks on December 31 will contact him, because Todorov simulated Chinese fireworks considering the performance of the iPhone screen.

Swift, the new language accordance the guru
And then it was time to leave the playground. Back to hardcore code. Swift guru Daniel Steinberg entered the stage for the closing keynote. Soon it is clear he is a born performer, who didn't give a keynote for the first time. He enjoys cooking and compares bad code with Italian pasta sauces from a jar. That speaks and reveals a lot.

Daniel Sternberg, Swift guru, played with code and his audience.

Good code is clean code
On three large screens a piece of code appears, Steinberg takes the time and talks about how minimal code can be, if you're an arrogant flashy developer who wants to show it's skills by writing minimal code, he tells you what is wrong about that. Three quarters of an hour, he plays with a few lines of code, they always changed, asking the audience whether it is right and every time he says it's not quite right. And still, the Italian cuisine comes back: how to make a beautiful Bechamel sauce? His belly tells that the man loves good food and he talks like a refined speaker. Ultimately it comes down to Swift that still is in development so it is better to write simple clean readable code because the language syntax can change. When your code is clean you can easily transform it. A beautiful lesson that continues the next day during a masterclass.

It was tough with Steinberg and all his examples, a specialist who has published a book about Swift, a magician with code. That was nice to see and a fine finale of a beautiful iOS conference for the first time in the Netherlands.

The last question to Steinberg had to be asked. If you make your own lasagne sauce, you also make your own lasagne sheets. And yes he cranks his homemade dough. 

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