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Software Development: JavaLand Conference 2024 Interviews

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Software Development: JavaLand Conference 2024 Interviews

To mark JavaLand’s anniversary, we spoke to Gregor Trefs, Sandra Ahlgrimm, Thomas Much and Gerd Aschemann. They report on their experiences so far and why they will be there again this year.


Hendrik Ebbers is Java Champion, JCP Expert Group Member and has been recognized several times as a Rockstar Speaker at JavaOne. With his own company Open Elements, Hendrik is currently helping to design the Hedera Hashgraph and make its services available to the public. As a software architect, consultant and trainer at embarc Software Consulting GmbH, Falk Sippach is always looking for the spark of passion that he can ignite in his participants, customers and colleagues. He has been supporting mostly agile software development projects in the Java environment for over 15 years.

Javaland 2024 – Why are you there?

Gregor Trefs: I actually gave my first talk at a conference at JavaLand. And over several years I ran a workshop with Falk that was intended to introduce Java programmers to the basics of functional programming. The openness and positive atmosphere of the event always impressed me. I find the lively discussions and diverse perspectives extremely enriching. That’s why this year I submitted a deep dive session on the topic of “Stateful Property Based Testing and Refactoring”. Beyond simple examples, I show how property based testing can be used in stateful environments and how to cleverly use jqwik for refactoring purposes.

Sandra Ahlgrimm: I didn’t want to miss the most important Java community conference.

Thomas Much: JavaLand is just fun! The relaxed atmosphere, the varied formats, the speakers and participants from home and abroad – that’s nice to experience every year, both as a participant and as a speaker. The relaxedness and diversity may also mean that you not only enjoy meeting old acquaintances again, but also that you regularly interact with new people.

In addition, JavaLand always takes place early in the year, after the winter break, when the personal battery is recharged and new ideas are bubbling. With the postponement this year, that’s just within the time frame.

Gerd Aschemann: For me, JavaLand is always one of the highlights of the conference year. In addition to exciting lectures, I am also looking forward to the varied community events. I enjoy discovering new things with like-minded people and being able to exchange ideas in a relaxed atmosphere.

This year Javaland is celebrating its 10th anniversary. You’ve been a regular guest for a few years now. How has JavaLand developed in the 10 years?

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Gregor Trefs: Since my first visit in 2016, JavaLand has developed really well. The number of visitors has increased and there are more attractions and highlights in the supporting program. The ability to follow lectures online makes participation more flexible. It’s great to see the conference growing and evolving.

Sandra Ahlgrimm: My first JavaLand conference had yet to be held as CyberLand. Now I’ve already experienced it in Phantasialand and I’m excited to see what the new location has in store. Thematically, the JavaLand conference has always been cutting-edge. That’s why I’m looking forward to exciting “Aimpulse” again this year.

Thomas Much: I’ve been there since 2016, so I missed the first two years (unfortunately!). It’s definitely gotten bigger! The liveliness has remained the same; you can literally feel the energy on the conference grounds. And in order to maintain this energy, the conference must have evolved in many small, perhaps not so noticeable ways.

But I would like to highlight one development: the newcomer program, in which first-time conference speakers are offered a stage so that they can gain experience. This keeps the conference grounded, offers the listeners variety (the newcomer lectures have been absolutely worth seeing in recent years!) – and at the same time, JavaLand is attracting the next generation of top speakers.

I am particularly pleased that I can support my colleague Karl as a newcomer mentor this year. Karl has stage experience as a musician, which is evident during the preparations. Experiencing how meticulously he prepares for his first conference presentation makes every mentor’s heart soar (@Karl: No pressure! 😉)

Gerd Aschemann: The JavaLand conference was at a high level right from the start, but it also always dared to try new things, some things worked, others didn’t. It’s like in the real life of software development: JavaLand keeps venturing into unknown regions of collaborative exchange. I am particularly pleased that last year our “unconference within the conference” was so well received that everyone involved practically demanded that Tobias and I do it again.

JavaLand has a new location this year. What are your expectations here?

Gregor Trefs: I’m curious to see how JavaLand will play out at the Nürburgring. I can well imagine that the distances to the various lecture locations will now be a little shorter compared to Phantasialand, where you often reached your 10,000 steps at the end of the day. When it comes to conferences, I always have the expectation of learning something new, even if it’s just a small thing. I’ve also never been to the Nürburgring before and I’m really excited to experience the race track.

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Sandra Ahlgrimm: It will be difficult to keep up with Phantasialand – but it’s not impossible!

Thomas Much: I hope that the new location at the Nürburgring will also offer a creative setting for learning and networking – again with a mix of indoors and outdoors, large lecture halls, bustling squares and quiet places to retreat. And if there is another nice get-together with good music in the evening, I have nothing against that.

However, the journey is a particular challenge for a public transport and train driver like me this year, at least it feels a little like that. But I have full confidence in the organizing team that the shuttle buses there and back will work well (and of course I have already bought my shuttle tickets).

All in all: I expect nothing less than that things will just be really good again.

Gerd Aschemann: It is of course a bit of a shame that we are leaving the familiar environment with its attractions, rides and places to exchange ideas (cafés, hacker garden, etc.). Since we were looking for rooms for our own community event in advance, I was able to get a very good overview of the location, which offers many new options. I am pleased that JavaLand is also open here.

As a community conference, JavaLand always tries to stand out from other conferences. What particularly stands out to you in this context?

Gregor Trefs: JavaLand always tries hard to get feedback, accepts criticism, constantly tries to improve and experiments. One year stands out in my memory when a tent specially designed for the community was set up behind the carousel. Due to the cool March temperatures, it was removed again the next year. Nevertheless, I found it remarkable that this experiment was undertaken to break out of the usual patterns.

In the iJUG meetings, existing challenges are reported transparently and what support is needed. I am particularly impressed by JavaLand’s dedicated support of the user groups. There is the JUG Café, where you can come into contact with various Java user groups. It should not be forgotten that the entire stream is designed by the community. In my opinion, no other conference offers such community participation.

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Sandra Ahlgrimm: The choice of location is extraordinary. Unfortunately, the timing this year is a bit inconvenient as it coincides with another large Java community conference (Editor’s note: This is due to the departure from Phantasialand).

Thomas Much: There are community events! And without it just being “open space” or other formats in which everyone can get involved – but rather spontaneously. But rather firmly planned, prepared events in which very specific topics are often discussed and tried out in smaller groups. And although it is clear that these events do not attract crowds, they have remained in the program for years and thus contribute to the diversity of JavaLand.

Gerd Aschemann: For me, the community means that people with different experiences meet and exchange ideas. The JavaLand conference has always particularly promoted this exchange due to its structure and the varied event formats.

Thank you for answering the questions. We look forward to seeing you again at the JavaLand conference from April 9th ​​to 11th, 2024 at the Nürburgring for the first time.

Gregor is one of the organizers of the Java User Group in Mannheim and Software Development Manager. His first program was a text adventure written in BASIC. He now writes a few articles on his blog every now and then, gives lectures and workshops. Sandra is a Cloud Developer Advocate at Microsoft. Her professional focus is primarily on Java in microservice architectures and containers on the Azure platform. She supports the Docker and Kubernetes community whenever she can. She is the organizer of the JUG Berlin-Brandenburg and the Docker meetups in Berlin. Thomas is a technical agile coach for the Techniker Krankenkasse in Hamburg. He and his coaching colleagues support teams in getting better and better at collaboration and agile programming practices – including by promoting pair and team programming, TDD and test automation. Gerd advises his clients on a freelance basis as a developer and software architect . His focus is often on the topics of build/configuration/version management and the development of continuous integration/delivery platforms.


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