• Aug 17-18, 2018
  • ·
  • 555 E. Lafayette Ave., Detroit, MI 48226, Detroit

Coraline Ada Ehmke: Keynote - Metaphors Are Similes. Similes Are Like Metaphors.

Ballroom, Friday, 9:00 AM


Language matters more than you think. And the more you think, the more you need language. This talk explores the connections between language and problem solving, how the metaphors that we use can expand or constrain our thinking, and how it all relates to our identities as software developers and as human beings. Along the way we'll learn about linguistics, category theory, Russian colors, gigantic bridges in France, and how to pronounce the word 'lacuna'. And you'll definitely have some things to think about. Hopefully, in new ways.

About Coraline Ada Ehmke

Coraline Ada Ehmke is an open source advocate and developer with over 20 years of experience. She was recognized for her work on diversity in open source with a Ruby Hero award in 2016. Coraline is the creator of the Contributor Covenant, the most popular open source code of conduct in the world with over 40,000 adoptions. She is a founding panelist on the Greater than Code podcast. In her free time Coraline pursues her interests in artificial intelligence and writes and records music in her home studio. Find her on Twitter at @CoralineAda or on the web at

Nickolas Means: Keynote - Who Destroyed Three Mile Island?

Ballroom, Saturday, 9:00 AM


On March 28, 1979 at exactly 4:00am, control rods flew into the reactor core of Three Mile Island Unit #2. A fault in the cooling system had tripped the reactor. At 4:02, the emergency cooling system automatically kicked in as reactor temperature continued to climb. At 4:04, one of the operators switched the emergency cooling system off, dooming the reactor to partial meltdown. Why?

Let’s let the incredibly complex failure at Three Mile Island teach us how to dig into our own incidents. We'll learn how the ideas behind just culture can help us learn from our mistakes and build stronger teams.

About Nickolas Means

Nickolas Means is infatuated with disasters of all kinds and the amazing things we can learn from them. When he's not stuck in a Wikipedia binge loop reading about plane crashes, he leads the engineering team at Muve Health, helping build software to improve the joint replacement experience for patients and caregivers. He works remote from Austin, TX, and spends most of his spare time hanging out with his wife and kids or going for a run.

Rae Krantz: A Game of Theories: Why languages do what they do

Ballroom, Friday, 10:00 AM


How often do you search for “how to do [x] in [language]”? Maybe you’re a Python developer who thinks Go’s dedication to clean syntax feels familiar, or maybe you’re a Ruby dev who thinks Erlang’s pattern matching doesn’t leave enough freedom in your code to deal. Language differences and similarities both enamor and infuriate us, but much as we love to debate otherwise, no language is 100% evil or 100% good. There are reasons and background stories for why they do what they do. So let’s compare how they solve our common problems. What does a language’s built-in-functions tell us about why they were created and how they are best used? Language list: Ruby, Python, Go and/or Rust, Erlang, Clojure, JavaScript

About Rae Krantz

Rae's 9-to-5 hours focus on Angular, and her past experience has included Ruby, Chef, and enough Python to be dangerous. She also did a kata in Erlang once. In her local community, she has started a programming book club, monthly hack nights, and a bi-weekly TDD practice. One thing she's proud of is hiking 6.5 miles up a mountain to Grinnell Glacier (Glacier NP) while 6.5 months pregnant. She has lived in Akron, OH since 2014 and dreams of one day having an apartment that allows dogs.

Charlotte Shreve: An Introduction To Prolog & Why You Should Care

Salon A, Friday, 11:00 AM


Prolog is the most popular logic programming language, yet many developers have never even heard of it. For this talk, I’ll start with “What even is a logic language?” and end with something like “Why is teaching different types of programming languages important to the thought diversity of our industry?”

About Charlotte Shreve

Charlotte is a .NET developer at United Shore Financial Services, 2017 Computer Science graduate of the University of Michigan, and washed up college marching band geek. She loves learning about programming languages almost as much as she loves Baby Groot. Some people call her varchar and she's found as @littlechrob on twitter.

James York: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards: Javascript Antipatterns as Tom Waits Songs

Salon A, Friday, 1:00 PM


If you’ve written much JavaScript you’ve probably run across legacy code or a language feature that appreciably diminished your belief in the concept of a just and loving god. If you’ve listened to much Tom Waits you might have heard some songs and lyrics that do much the same. How deep does this parallel misanthropy go? Let’s find out in this fun exploration of the language everyone loves to hate and your favorite songwriter’s favorite songwriter.

About James York

James York is a musician-turned-software-developer who is like a knowledge TARDIS. He currently builds and teaches JavaScript curriculum for Grand Circus. He has previously built web apps for cars. He also co-founded a user group dedicated to software craftsmanship in downtown Detroit called the Detroit Craftsman Guild. He loves good chocolate chip cookies, bad kung fu movies, and is still waiting for Gandalf to invite him on an adventure.

Vishal Bardoloi: Deliberate Practice: Learn soft skills like you learn to code

Salon B, Friday, 11:00 AM


Being a great programmer doesn't stop at writing great code. All developers must learn how to listen with empathy, communicate effectively, and lead well. But why don't we bring the same rigor to learning soft skills that we bring to programming?

Skills like active listening, communication and negotiation are not just important for your individual success, they are the key to team bonding and success as well. In this talk, you will learn how to quickly improve your soft skills using familiar development practices. Love code katas? You will see how to use katas to improve your communication skills. Love TDD? See how to use the same ideas to learn active listening. Love pair programming? See how to turn difficult conversations into collaborative ones with the same principles.

We will also bring all these individual practices together using the concept of Deliberate Practice.

About Vishal Bardoloi

Vishal is a lead software engineer at ThoughtWorks. For over 11 years, he has been leading mission-critical software project teams for clients. His code is currently helping run planes, trains, automobiles and the Space Station. In his spare time Vishal loves reading and biking, and his proudest achievement is that he's raising two kids to be good human beings.

Darryl Holliday: Democracy, Documenters and the City Scrapers Project

Salon B, Friday, 1:00 PM


Public meetings are important spaces for democracy where any resident can participate in civic life and hold public figures accountable. But how does the public know when meetings are happening? It isn’t easy! These events are spread across dozens of websites, rarely in useful data formats.

That’s why we're working with a team of civic coders to develop and coordinate the #CityScrapers, a community open source project designed to standardize, scrape and share these meetings in a central database, in collaboration with City Bureau's Documenters program. The project is already ongoing in Chicago (and we'd love to talk about our findings) but we're expanding the project to Detroit (and we'd love to get you involved).

Are you working on issues related to governmental transparency, civic tech and journalism? Join us for a hands on session, stay for lessons on creating a more perfect democracy.

About Darryl Holliday

Darryl Holliday is a journalist, multimedia storyteller and reformed crime reporter based in Chicago. He’s the editorial director and co-founder of City Bureau, a civic media lab based on Chicago's South Side. In 2011, Darryl co-founded Illustrated Press, a media production collective covering urban issues with comics, sequential art and traditional reporting. He's been cultivating and supporting innovative approaches to media coverage, newsroom diversity and civic engagement ever since—formerly as a beat reporter for DNAinfo Chicago and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Jeremy Searls: DIY IOT: Creating Connected Devices to Automate Your Life

Ballroom, Friday, 2:00 PM


As a society we are now fully immersed in the age of IOT. Connected devices permeate our lives and have crept into our homes. While there are a plethora of devices for purchase, there are still tasks around your home that can only be automated with custom hardware and software. The process of building your own connected device doesn’t have to be a complex mess of wires and frustration.

Using low-cost hardware and free cloud services, this session details how to create a custom connected device that incorporates the Particle Photon micro-controller, IFThisThenThat (IFTTT) and Amazon's Alexa. We will map out the process of identifying an automation task and building a device from scratch. The session will include a survey of basic electronic components and principles including sensors, OLED screens and actuators. Next, we will discuss the code to connect these components to the micro-controller. The session will conclude by triggering the micro-controller using a voice activated smart speaker. This session requires no prerequisite knowledge regarding programming or electronics.

About Jeremy Searls

I live in Kalamazoo Michigan and work remotely as a developer for a division of Grainger Inc. I do many side projects that include Arduino and micro-controllers. Before working in software, I was a firefighter by trade and have a degree in clinical medicine. I made the transition to software development 3 years ago and have never looked back. I love this industry and especially the kind people that make it such a wonderful place to learn and grow.

Jane Prusakova: Ethics of software development

Salon B, Friday, 2:00 PM


Software has a lot of power to influence people’s lives and to encourage social change. With great power comes great responsibility. It is up to individuals involved in building software to decide what is right, ethical and moral, and then to step up and take responsibility for our work. These are not easy decisions.

This presentation raises a number of ethical questions related to the fields of IT and software development. We will discuss real-world cases of software producers facing ethical dilemmas, and how these dilemmas can be approached. The topics include considerations of privacy and information sharing, failing to deliver a service, security vulnerabilities and bugs, and building software that encourages evil behavior.

IT professionals wield a lot of power in today’s society. The ways technology influences society can be overt and subtle, immediate and long-lasting, bring out the best and the worst in people at large. We all need to be better informed to make ethical and moral choices in our work.

About Jane Prusakova

I am a software architect and developer, an Agile proponent, and a great believer in building valuable software that users will love to use. I build large back-end systems that require high-performance and high-reliability, and process vast amounts of data. I believe that successful software is created by strong teams, requires good engineering practices, and evolves in close collaboration with the users. As a Principal Consultant for Improving Enterprises, I work with distributed teams on distributed software. As a consulting team, we focus on technical excellence, close contact with the client, and rapid iterations.

Josh Larson: Extreme Functional Programming

Salon B, Friday, 3:00 PM


We’ve all heard of Functional Programming, but what about programming using only functions and nothing else? It turns out that it’s possible to write any code you want that way. It also turns out that that’s how I learned functional programming to begin with.

We’ll go over some of the theory of lambda calculus, and some of the practice for how to build non-trivial software. We’ll also use this strange topic to talk about related ideas, like a basic overview of type theory, and effective strategies for learning new things.

About Josh Larson

Josh has been a software developer for the last six years. When he's not writing code under unusual constraints or thinking about accessibility, Josh can be found playing a Zelda game or somewhere out on his bike. Josh currently works at Braintree Payments.

Adrienne Lowe: From support to engineering to leadership: What you take with you, what you leave behind

Ballroom, Saturday, 10:00 AM


I've had the special experience to, in an extraordinarily short amount of time, move from working full time on a customer-facing technical support team, to working as an full-stack engineer, to finally, leading an organization as Director of Engineering. In each transition, I've had to learn and use certain work skills to both get the current job done and prepare myself for my next. Come hear what attitudes, behaviors, work habits, and lessons I learned and chose to take with me, and what I intentionally left behind, as I made these transitions -- and consider what you might take and leave behind in your own journey.

About Adrienne Lowe

Adrienne Lowe is the Director of Engineering at Juice Analytics and the Director of Advancement for the Django Software Foundation. She is also an O'Reilly contributor and shares thoughts on coding, cooking, and compassionate leadership at her website Coding with Knives (

Giorgio Natili: Funtastic Kotlin

Salon A, Friday, 4:00 PM


Kotlin was on the market for a while when Google announced its official support in Android over one year ago. This announcement consolidated an already rich user base and brought new enthusiasm to the language making it a de-facto standard tool for Android development.
Kotlin supports both the object-oriented and functional programming paradigms. Even more, its support for high-order functions, extension functions, scoping functions, lambdas, and immutable values can revolutionize the way Android apps get developed.
In Kotlin you define a function with the fun keyword, and I have to say it, no better choice for a language keyword!
During this talk, I will show you all the peculiarities of Kotlin's functions and drive you through the transformation that you can apply to an existing Android code base and make it functional, testable, and, even more, easy to read.

About Giorgio Natili

On paper, Giorgio Natili is an engineering lead at Amazon where he leads the layout team of the Kindle organization solving the problem of converting, delivering and rendering the content of millions of books on billions of devices.

On the job, Giorgio is a strong proponent of agile development practices whose passion for usable, maintainable and testable code is only surpassed by his determination to make things work. In addition to web-standards-based application development Android and iOS, Giorgio's areas of expertise include real-time communication, accessibility and surfing off the coast of his native Italy. His previous speaking engagements include Adobe Max, 360|Flex, FITC, Codemotion (Rome, Milan and Tel Aviv), Mobile Web Dev Conference, Mobile Tea, Droidcon (Berlin, New York, and Boston), Web Unleashed and many other community-driven events in both Europe and the United States

Cassandra Faris: Health: The Most Important Tech Tool

Salon B, Friday, 10:00 AM


Working in the tech industry often involves spending long hours sitting down, staring at a screen, consuming copious amounts of pizza and caffeine. The work is mentally demanding and can be stressful. In the rush to get everything done, it can be easy to neglect our health. But a healthy body and mind are necessary for effective performance. Based on HR training, research, and personal experience, this session provides realistic suggestions for managing your well-being at work. It covers the connection between physical and mental health, as well as how to discuss these topics with your employer. You’ll leave with a better idea of how to take care of yourself and be a happier, healthier, more productive person.

About Cassandra Faris

Cassandra Faris is a Support Agent at Test Double, a software development consulting agency. She leads Test Double’s employee and community outreach initiatives. She is responsible for the growth, support, and success of the company’s agents. Cassandra is passionate about growing the tech community and its people. She is an international speaker who specializes in teaching professional skills at technology conferences. She is also the President of the Microsoft and open source conference, DogFoodCon, and a Per Scholas Advisory Board member. She has an MBA in Organizational Leadership. When she's not busy with the tech community, she is avid tabletop gamer, runner, and soccer fan who travels as much as possible.

Caleb Thompson: How I Built Software to Kill People

Salon A, Saturday, 11:00 AM


In 2011, with a team of interns at a Department of Defense contractor, I created a Wi-Fi geolocation app to locate hotspots. It could find the location in 3D space of every hotspot near you in seconds. We made formulas to model signal strength and probable distances. We used machine learning to optimize completion time and accuracy.

I was so caught up in the details that it took me months to see it would be used to kill people. What do we do when we discover that we're building something immoral or unethical? How can we think through the uses of our software to avoid this problem entirely?

About Caleb Thompson

Speaker, developer, painter, gamer: an eccentric eclectic. Caleb is currently coding mostly in Ruby and Go. He's not a fan of the SPA.

He has braved the wintry tundra of Alaska and the harsh deserts of Arizona. He has fired a [Mosin-Nagant] without blinking, fought the Red Menace, built [Battleship Couch], and killed a bear and wore its pelt.

He enjoys fine wines, craft beers, and punching comets.

[Battleship Couch]:

DeeDee Lavinder: How the Game is Played: Understanding Blockchain Basics

Salon B, Saturday, 2:00 PM


"What the internet did for communications, blockchain will do for transactions."
-- Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO

Let that sink in. What role did the internet play in your life 10-15 years ago? Can you imagine a technology that has a similar impact on transactions? Indeed, blockchain technology is touted as having the potential to revolutionize the world economy. Consider Bitcoin: it was the first application built using blockchain technology and it is projected to have a total worth of over 1.2 trillion dollars in 2018. It is also worth noting that more than 70% of Bitcoin owners are men and more than 50% are white.

Technology affects everyone and so should include everyone. Learning the basics of blockchain technology will prepare you to take a seat at this table, to add your voice to the conversation, to help steer the evolution of this technology and its impact on our lives. We will look at a brief history of blockchain, examine a few of the many applications beyond cryptocurrency, and dissect the technical elements thoroughly enough so you will be able to explain it to someone else.

About DeeDee Lavinder

DeeDee is a Software Engineer at Spreedly in Durham, NC working in the payments landscape and a Director with Women Who Code Raleigh Durham. The juxtaposition of analytical thinking and creative problem solving is where she is happiest and is thrilled about finding that sweet spot writing code. Previously DeeDee led the life of an entrepreneur and small business owner. When not coding or avoiding large groups, you can find her listening to audiobooks, playing with her puppy, or coordinating something somewhere.

Leta Keane: How to Escape the Cult of Expertise: growth mindset & how the words "I don't know" can save you

Ballroom, Saturday, 2:00 PM


Tech is a field full of experts. How do we know when our own love of knowhow is holding us back? If we can't admit that we don't know something, are we really able to keep learning? How does this idea of Expertise contribute to the lack of diversity and inclusion on our teams?

This talk will examine grit, growth mindset, and the ways our love of knowing everything can actually keep us from cultivating an environment where we can do our best learning or take the kinds of risks that lead to innovation. This also becomes especially important as more and more teams are tasked with training junior developers - how do we best ramp up enthusiastic rookies? In this talk, we'll learn concrete strategies to check our pride at the door, lean into the discomfort of growth mindset, and cultivate a team that isn't afraid to say "I don't know, but let's find out!"

About Leta Keane

Leta is an assistant instructor at Turing School where she teaches the under-the-hood, inner workings of JavaScript to students who have been programming for a whopping six weeks. She loves science, code that's readable instead of just clever, and high fives. Like, she's really great at high fives.

Ted M Young: Human Learning: How We Learn

Salon B, Saturday, 1:00 PM


Learning how people (not machines!) learn is not something we're often taught in school (and not always understood by those who taught us). Understanding the learning process is not only important for our own self-learning, but vital for communicating information (often technical) to others so it will be understood.

We'll start with laying down a solid foundation by looking at how we process information, how it moves from working memory to short-term memory and, if we're lucky, gets stored in long-term memory. Like salmon returning to where they were born, getting the information into long-term memory is an upstream struggle, so we'll see some ways to make that process easier by having images and words work together instead of fighting each other.

We'll then find out why forgetting is a good thing; mixing things up instead of cramming makes for better long-term memory; and making things a bit harder to read (like a fuzzy text font) can actually be desirable. On the other hand, we'll see why there's a fine line between making our brains work hard on what we're trying to learn vs. what just makes things hard, similar to isolating muscles when strength training.

At each step, we'll see how to apply the research to the different ways we communicate in our work: technical documentation, training manuals, video courses, and presentation slides.

About Ted M Young

Ted M. Young has been involved in commercial software development since 1980, and was a Java trainer/consultant in the late 1990's delivering the first Java training courses in the world. In 2000-2001, Ted led a consulting team doing eXtreme Programming for a county government as part of a distributed team. In 2007, after stints at eBay and Google, Ted joined Guidewire Software as a Tech Lead, and later development manager, helping them become more Agile & Lean.

After working on an internal next-generation cloud project at Apple in 2017, Ted is back to training with his new venture, Spiral Learning, where he designs, creates, and delivers training for coders that is based on the Science of Learning.

Chris DeMars: I Can't See: Low Vision A11y & Users


When you think of low vision, what comes to mind? A user that is near sighted? How about far sighted? Maybe partially blind? These are all qualifying cases of poor vision, but low vision is more complicated than the prescription of glasses or contacts.

According to the World Health Organization, they categorize low vision based on specific levels of visual acuity and field of vision (, 2016). With that in mind, we as developers can look at different categories of low vision including color vision, visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, etc and make an effort to bake in things like zoom, non-conflicting colors, and re-wrapping of columns in to our code.

My talk will cover what vision accessibility is, different categories of low vision, what the needs of the users are, and what we as developers can do to achieve a great user experience for low vision users.

About Chris DeMars

Chris DeMars is a UI developer first, UX architect always, working out of Detroit, Michigan. Chris is also an instructor, teacher assistant, and volunteer for the Ann Arbor chapter of Girl Develop It and co-organizer for the Ann Arbor Accessibility Group. Chris loves coming up with solutions for enterprise applications, which include modular CSS architectures, performance, and advocating for web accessibility. When he is not working on making the web great and inclusive you can find him writing blog posts, recording episodes of his podcast, Tales From The Script, watching horror movies, drinking the finest of beers, or in the woods of northern Michigan.

Ronda Bergman: I'd Hire more Women if they Would Apply!

Salon B, Saturday, 3:00 PM


Maybe you’re the one that’s not really trying? Are you sending signals that say “Dudes Only”?

As a Chapter Leader of Girl Develop It (GDI) I have had numerous companies ask me why can’t they get women to apply to their openings. They want to diversify but have a “pipeline” problem. My experience as a woman in tech and helping women enter the tech field through GDI tells me otherwise.

In this discussion we’ll consider the some of the common reasons women might not apply to certain companies and or job postings, examine some of the “red flags” you might not realize you are waving and explore ways to make the hiring process more inclusive.

About Ronda Bergman

Ronda has been working as a software developer for 18+ years, primarily in the .NET stack. She has worked for large multi-national organizations and small startups. She is the Co-founder and lead consultant of EllaVatec, a diversity and inclusion consultancy, the Co-founder and Chapter Leader of Girl Develop It Ann Arbor, the Vice President of Ann Arbor .NET Developers, and a Software Artisan at Pillar Technologies. As a female developer and the mother of 2 female developers she is working hard to help level the playing field for everyone in the industry.

Stephanie Vaughn: Internet Access: What It Looks Like For 40% Of Detroit


According to the Federal Communications Commission (as reported by Motherboard, Vice Media’s technology-focused vertical), 40 percent of Detroit residents do not have internet access at home. 70 percent of school-aged children are among them.

What challenges do people without Internet access face? What limitations do people with mobile-only Internet access encounter? How does this put them at a disadvantage? As technology (and our relationship with it) continues to evolve, how can we better serve those who fall into the gaps of the Digital Divide?

In this talk I will discuss some of the grassroots efforts in Detroit which seek to address the yawning chasm that separates those who can readily access technology and information from those who cannot. I will draw on my experiences working as an instructor for nonprofit tech education organization JOURNi and the Allied Media Project-sponsored Detroit Community Technology Project. Together, we will see what this divide looks like, what local grassroots initiatives are doing about the problem, and how we can help close this gap.

About Stephanie Vaughn

After being adopted by Chicago for 14 years, Stephanie hit 'RESET' and returned to her hometown of Detroit in 2015 to reboot her writing ambitions into a tech career. This bold move has since yielded a foray into Computer Science education and working on staff with nationally recognized STEM education programs like SMASH and tech diversity organizations like Black Girls Code. With over a decade of experience in media-focused Communications, the Grand Circus (Javascript, '16) and Integrate Detroit (Software Development, ‘18) alumna is always looking to share her passion for the T in “STEM” with developers & non-developers alike.

Jamie Wright: Introducing Juvet: Building Bots in Elixir

Ballroom, Saturday, 3:00 PM


There is another massive shift happening with how we interact with companies through software. Users feel comfortable naturally talking with their applications through chat bots. Chat is the next generation of the user interface.

Companies like Slack, Facebook, WhatsApp, and WeChat have some of the most popular apps in the world and they are all betting on a messaging interface.

Elixir is the perfect language and ecosystem for building bots and for conversational interfaces. In this session, we will see how we can build scalable, realtime web applications (or “bots”) using a new library Juvet and the Slack API. We will see what a good bot architecture looks like and how we can integrate with existing artificial intelligence services to make our bots smarter.

About Jamie Wright

Jamie Wright is a maker of internet things with a love/hate relationship for Redbull™, standing desks, and paintball guns. He has a love only relationship with teaching, learning, and building bots. Jamie runs Tatsu, a software bot that helps teams save time by performing standup meetings over Slack.

Sarah Withee: Maintaining Your Mental and Emotional Health While Job Hunting


Searching for a new job. We all have to do it at some point. In the thick of the search, you’re likely to get a lot of terrible tech interviews as well as a bunch of rejections. How do you maintain your energy, your motivation, and perhaps more importantly, not feel like a failure after all that?

I will talk a bit about my most recent job search. You’ll see how I went into it with a different frame of mind than I had in the past, and how that helped me push through the interviews easier and take better care of myself in the process. You’ll also hear about some of the specific interviews and the problems I saw with them. I’ll show how, as companies and teams, we can improve the process for everyone. Finally, I’ll offer ways that both companies and employees can offer feedback to continue to improve interviews.

About Sarah Withee

Sarah Withee is a polyglot software engineer, public speaker, teacher and mentor, and hardware and robot tinkerer located in Pittsburgh, PA. She has a passion for technology, and has ever since she wrote her first computer programs in elementary school. She captivates audiences with both popular and powerful technical and anecdotal talks. She gives workshops to teach programming and hardware building to women in tech, as well as to students of all ages. She's mentored middle and high school robotics teams to world championships. She's even helped organize five conferences, been on a Google Year in Search video, and started the viral hashtag #SpeakerConfessions. She lives up to her username @geekygirlsarah.

Amanda Sopkin: Making Code Reviews Beneficial for Everyone Involved

Salon A, Saturday, 2:00 PM


Code reviews are a great opportunity for teams to help others grow, but giving and receiving these reviews can easily become one of the most frustrating parts of our jobs. It is easy for teams to develop bad habits that hurt our codebase and even end up inhibiting our growth as developers. How can we turn code reviews into a positive space that encourages improvement?

We will walk through (made up) code reviews and see how they can create problems on a team. We will discuss ways to turn these situations around and practical advice for language that can be used in code reviews. Come discuss some concrete ways to provide constructive and actionable feedback and learn the best ways to respond to code suggestions.

About Amanda Sopkin

Amanda is a Seattle transplant from Denver, Colorado with a great love for coffee and a bit less love for rain. She is a full-stack software engineer for the rentals team at Zillow working to make the process of renting better for renters and property managers. She is passionate about addressing problems in the technology industry through writing, speaking, and taking action.

Jonathon Baugh: Mapping User Needs: What Cartography Can Teach Us About Agile Roadmaps

Salon B, Saturday, 4:00 PM


Roadmaps can be a somewhat controversial topic in Agile software development. In this talk, we will discuss how user experience plays a vital role in the prioritization of a roadmap. We will use a data-driven approach, leveraging design thinking and user validation. Taking inspiration from the cartographers of the Age of Discovery, we will discuss the ins-and-outs of maps and walk through a technique used to help companies from startups to Fortune 50 companies identify and prioritize opportunities for innovation based on the needs of their users. By collaboratively constructing a roadmap during the talk, you will have hands-on practice with this methodology that you can take to your next project.

About Jonathon Baugh

Jonathon has been designing and building digital experiences for over 20 years. His unique ability to understand and balance people, technology, and business has proven instrumental across companies of all shapes, sizes, and industries. He has designed experiences for everything from mainframe and web to mobile and custom devices. His approach is more broad than just glass-slab interfaces utilizing Design Thinking supported by deep UX principles and practices (including ethnographic research, information architecture, user testing, etc.) to maximize value with each design. Jonathon’s holistic approach has led to him holding a diverse set of roles in addition to UX, including leading software teams and founding his own startup in 2006. Jonathon now shares his passion and expertise with others as an Experience Architect at Pillar Technology.

Kim Crayton: Never Underestimate The Underdog: How To Use Perspective and Technology To Exploit Hidden Opportunities

Ballroom, Friday, 1:00 PM


Detroit is due for a comeback. With the power of technology to democratize one's ability to identify a need and create solutions, with the right tools and support, members of marginalized groups are positioned to benefit.

About Kim Crayton

Kim Crayton is the founder of the #causeascene movement and a proud multipotentialite and advocate for diversity, inclusion, and safe spaces in tech, who is committed to facilitating honest conversations and intentional actions for positive change. She is also currently pursuing a Doctor’s of Business Administration – Technology Entrepreneurship.

Kim has years of experience working with learners of all ages, skill level, and abilities and is now using her knowledge to develop technical people, ideas, organizations, and communities. She is known for her skills as a problem solver and strategy developer. She possesses a unique ability of being able to see the BIG picture while still managing the details. She also promotes positive organizational and community change in fun and engaging ways.

Whether in the role of strategist, educator, consultant, writer, public speaker, mentor, organizational anthropologist, trainer or curriculum designer, Kim is always in search of innovative approaches that enable individuals, organizations, and communities to intentionally and skillfully create environments which support the sharing of common attitudes, interests, and goals in order to build more innovative and profitable businesses while growing a more inclusive and diverse technology community.

Nara Kasbergen: Principled Product Development for Voice-Based Interfaces

Ballroom, Friday, 3:00 PM


Voice assistants are arguably the hottest consumer technology of 2018; if your employer hasn't already asked your product team to investigate building an application for voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomePod or Samsung's Bixby, they likely will soon. The tech is also finally reaching a place where this is a more realistic goal; the initial launches of the Alexa and Google Home platforms were primarily RSS feed parsers with a text-to-speech engine tacked on, but the technology has finally matured and is now able to support full-fledged custom "skills", or voice-based apps. But as with any new technology, we need to be responsible and consider the morality of what we build as we enter this new space. This talk will discuss the ethics of developing applications for voice assistants and voice-based interfaces, based on the firsthand experiences of a software engineer who has has spent the past year working with a small skunkworks team doing a deep-dive into voice UI development. The audience will learn practical strategies for respecting privacy, dealing responsibly with user data, and designing for an audience that could include children in an unsupervised setting, as well as ponder the thought-provoking implications of issues such as perpetuating gender stereotypes through voice.

About Nara Kasbergen

Nara Kasbergen is a full-stack developer in NPR (National Public Radio)’s Digital Media group, where she's worked on a variety of projects, most notably the third-party developer platform for NPR One. She recently joined the tech conference speaking circuit because of her interest in Developer Experience (DX), community-building, the intersection of humans and code, and her volunteer work for Open Sourcing Mental Illness, a non-profit organization raising awareness about mental health in the tech industry.

Though she has no noticeable accent, she hails from The Netherlands and lived in Munich, Houston, Pittsburgh, Tokyo, and New York City prior to settling down in Washington, DC. In her spare time, she satisfies her foodie habits by trying out all of the best restaurants in the city, collects board games, and watches too much Netflix.

Alex Harms: Psychological Safety: The hard parts

Ballroom, Friday, 11:00 AM


When we’re feeling stressed, threatened, or unsafe, our bodies help us do a lot of things better. We’re able to run faster, hit harder, yell louder. We are able to notice the slightest movement out of the corner of our eye.

Things we do not do better: think creatively, work collaboratively, solve problems.

These are very human activities, and they work best in a very human environment. Our movement is coming to realize that feeling free to express ideas, questions, joys and concerns without fear of rejection or judgment is vital for agile collaboration.

But even though we say "without fear of judgment", we don't do a lot of talking about how to actually get there. And it's hard!
Here's the hard part: we not only need psychological safety for ourselves, but we're a source of safety for our teammates. We all get scared, and we all have the power to ease each other's fears.

Let's explore together what it takes to cultivate psychological safety for yourself and your team, and what gets in the way.

About Alex Harms

Alex Harms is a team coach and occasional coder who wants to make the world a little gentler for developers and tech teams. From a place of mindfulness and empathy, Alex helps disempower fear, strengthen communication, and build connection, so that tech teams learn together and thrive. Author of the Little Guide to Empathetic Technical Leadership. Coach at Maitria.

Mike Nitchie: SELECT FROM WHERE is boring, but SQL can be cool!

Salon B, Saturday, 10:00 AM


Select From Where is boring. Let’s talk about some cooler stuff! I’m not talking about Group By and Having either. Let’s talk about using sql to actually solve some nifty problems and boost productivity. In fact, it’s often the case that a quick sql statement can have a larger and more immediate impact compared to the time, effort, and cost of implementing a new first-class feature in your application. With some of these tricks you can get results in hours or minutes instead of weeks. In the constant struggle to achieve maximum impact with minimal effort, sql can often be the right tool for the right job.

After leaving this talk you’ll have an exposure to some more intermediate and advanced topics in SQL such that when you’re faced with a problem to solve you will be that much more equipped to handle it. If you’re a professional DBA this talk may seem cute or quaint, but if you’ve only ever interacted with sql via an ORM or in a college course, this may be pretty cool. If you’re at all interested in growing your sql skills, this may be the primer for you.

About Mike Nitchie

Mike is a full stack developer from Ann Arbor. A former classical trumpet player, he made the switch to tech partly to afford luxuries like food and shelter, but mostly to have more time to play with cool toys. He went back to school to earn a graduate degree in computer science where he also spent time teaching classes and writing assignment submission applications for the department, and held the super-cool title of, “President of the Computer Science Club”. Now he works in the healthcare field on a health information aggregation and interoperability platform.

Mike Schutte: Stop Testing, Start Storytelling

Salon A, Saturday, 1:00 PM


Stop trying to be a computer; you're a human! You know what humans are good at? Storytelling. Stop trying to write tests just to get a green test suite, and start telling rich, descriptive stories. Once you have a good story, then you can worry about the implementation details (wait, is testing a form of abstraction and encapsulation?!). In this talk, we look at writing tests as simply telling stories to the test suite. By telling stories about the application (from function to feature) the suite holds the storyteller accountable for making those stories become, and stay, true.

About Mike Schutte

Detroit based. Bozeman, Seattle, and Denver roots. Finding my kicks via software development, running, music, film, books, sociology, team building, and relationships.

If a life story is a chandelier — made up of an ornate collection of hooks, loops, chains, and light — mine is anchored to the ceiling of the world by a love for learning.

Tori Brenneison: Strangelove.js, or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love the Framework War

Salon A, Saturday, 4:00 PM


The early- to mid-twenty-teens was a strange time for JavaScript. A new framework appeared every week, only to be dead three weeks later. We went through them in quick succession: Backbone. Knockout. Ember. Vue. React. Angular. The other Angular. The other other Angular. And, along the way, developers fought tooth and nail amongst themselves to declare which framework was ultimately, definitively the best.

Or did they?

Did the framework war really happen, or was it only figment of our collective imagination? Better yet, did the framework war--and its outcome-- ever really matter? This talk covers the "big three" JS frameworks, their histories, use cases, strengths, weaknesses, and their roles in software's popular imagination. It will also attempt a final answer the big question: did anyone win the framework war, and if so... who did?

About Tori Brenneison

Tori Brenneison is a software developer/art historian whose purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others. When not writing integration code in a language no one has ever heard of, speaking at conferences, or teaching web development to teenagers, she can usually be found hiking, petting dogs, or admiring her collection of midcentury glassware. Best to approach her in the wild with a sacrificial cup of coffee, and be forewarned: she's a hugger.

Sarah Dutkiewicz: The Impact of the Women Trailblazers of Tech

Ballroom, Saturday, 1:00 PM


From compilers to high level applications, knobs and tubes to wearable tech, women have made great strides throughout tech. In this talk, we will learn about some of the lady trailblazers in tech - including Joan Clarke, Erna Hoover, Barbara Liskov, Limor Fried, and more!

About Sarah Dutkiewicz

Sarah – who goes by “sadukie” in the tech community – is a platform-agnostic technologist known for helping developers understand user experience and on boarding developers into new technologies in a short period of time. She also helps with promoting communities, engaging over social media, and helping non-technical teams understand how to work with their technical counterparts. Sarah is a native Clevelander and uses her local knowledge to help connect people – technical and non-technical – for common good. Sadukie knows how to identify the audience and get them to care. She knows her technology and holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Computer Science & Engineering Technology from the University of Toledo. Sarah is a Microsoft MVP, published technical author, frequent podcast/live coding guest, conference organizer, speaker, community advocate, software developer, wife, and mom.

Megan Tiu: The Practical Guide to Building an Apprenticeship

Ballroom, Saturday, 11:00 AM


Currently, our industry has a surplus of bright junior developers, but a lack of open junior positions. Building a developer apprenticeship in your organization is a great way to provide a haven for these talented devs, while simultaneously making your team more productive and easing the pain of hiring.

In this talk, you'll learn from the mistakes I've made and wins I've had in creating an apprenticeship. From pitching the idea to growing your apprentices, you'll gain a step-by-step guide to successfully building your own apprenticeship program.

About Megan Tiu

Megan Tiu is an Engineering Manager at Women Who Code that loves helping other developers grow and solving problems with Ruby. She works to make technology more accessible to women and people of underrepresented groups in any way she can. Megan also hopes to pet every dog in existence.

Rufo Sanchez: The Web is an Elegant Series of Hacks

Salon A, Saturday, 10:00 AM


Modern web applications are towers of tech stacks, with frameworks on top of abstractions on top of standards. Even for seasoned web developers, the sheer volume of things that happen when clicking a link can be hard to keep straight, and keeping our stacks upright can feel like an ever-increasing burden. Didn't the web used to be simple? Was it better before CSS frameworks and Javascript compilers? In this talk, we'll go back to the early days of the web, when HTTP requests were one line and tags were controversial, and examine each addition in the stack that brought us to the modern era. By doing so, we'll gain a greater appreciation for our towering stacks of technology, and maybe even learn a little history along the way.

About Rufo Sanchez

Rufo is a second grade dropout, obsessed with computers from the age of 3. He took a long, strange trip to adulthood with his family, stretching from their hometown of Rochester, NY to north of the Arctic Circle and south to the Guatemala-El Salvador border, all in a 1997 Volkswagen camper van. He spent his early twenties as the other half of a consultant shop before settling into web development using Rails as a career. He currently resides in Minneapolis, MN and works remotely for a software company that's big on octocats.

Jackie Michl: When to Build & When to Deploy: Project Management Lessons from Scythe

Salon B, Saturday, 11:00 AM

Scythe is an incredibly complex game with several moving parts that you track and progress diligently throughout play. To be successful, you need to manage your time and resources wisely.

This unique talk dives into a handful of strategies for achieving victory in Scythe that also have uncanny parallels to managing software development IRL.

Attendees of all backgrounds will walk away with useful task, team, and time management tidbits effective in agile environments. (They’ll also have a strong desire to pick up a modern board game. Wallets be warned.)

About Jackie Michl

Jackie is the Delivery Lead of a mobile app development team at Detroit Labs. Her passions range from rock climbing, to modern board games, to an odd obsession with moose. Even though she is a “project manager,” Jackie has a thirst for technical knowledge and is in the midst of developing her own Android app (despite being an iOS user). Jackie has met seven moose IRL and hopes to meet many, many more.


Ellen Mey: WIP: Debugging Depression

Salon A, Saturday, 3:00 PM

Depression and anxiety are widespread in the tech community; over half of those who took part in the 2016 Mental Health in Tech Survey identified as being diagnosed with a mental health condition by a medical professional. This doesn’t include those who suffer in silence without seeking help. Between long hours of solitary work and high pressure, often high-conflict team environments our field puts extra strain on our mental health. How can we care for ourselves and move beyond just ‘getting by’ to truly thrive in the workplace? This talk will share steps you can take both as an individual and as a company to help support your own and other’s mental health at work. Just as we learned to recognize the warnings and errors in our IDEs, we can learn the signs of mental illness and we can help. We will also discuss proactive steps to promote a safe, healthy work environment and address common issues before they start. We spend a lot of time talking about how we can prepare our code to be a good environment for future developers. Let’s give the same care to how we can support each other’s well-being outside the codebase.

About Ellen Mey