Software development madness at codepaLOUsa

Tony Patton shares his thoughts about the recent codepaLOUsa software development conference and explains why he recommends the event to .NET developers.

As a Louisville, Kentucky resident I usually have to travel some distance to attend a first-rate technical conference and share ideas with like-minded individuals, but the second codepaLOUsa conference changed this for the better. The event, which was held March 15-17, 2012, was advertised as "software development madness," and they were not kidding. Great content was provided in various sessions with the opportunity to talk with other IT folks. I attended codepaLOUsa on Friday and Saturday, and here are my highlights from the conference.

Development focus

Application development was the main focus of codepaLOUsa. While it was not stated in anything I read, most of the content covered in sessions (at least the ones I attended) was on .NET and Windows. Open source offerings were included, but they were delivered with a focus on the Windows platform and languages. A few good examples were sessions on Haskell and Ruby.

The Friday keynote speech was by Billy Hollis, whom I first heard him speak a few years ago at TechEd, and he was entertaining as always. He focused on how IT changes and how developers should not hold themselves back with closed mind thinking that does not embrace change. As an older IT professional, it was comforting to see his gray hair on the stage while nodding my head agreeing with his speech.

All of the sessions were informative with lively discussions, but my favorites were the PowerShell Tricks for the .NET Developer and Building Rich User Experiences without JavaScript Spaghetti presentations and a discussion about RavenDB. Also, the CoffeeScript sessions were interesting as I have not had the chance to use the technology. Sadly, the Erlang session was cancelled. There was one session on algorithms that made me feel like I was back in my college calculus class and almost put me to sleep, but you can't win them all.

One thing I have noticed about tech conferences is that especially interesting and popular sessions seem to occur at the same time, which forces you to choose between at least two appealing options and makes me think that I missed something useful. Each session was recorded, so I am hoping the sessions I missed will be available online, but this was never announced or promised. Numerous presenters did commit to making their presentation slides available.


I was a bit worried about attending this conference at the start of college basketball March Madness with second and third round games occurring only blocks away from the conference location the YUM! Center. Thankfully, the heart of the conference did not conflict with the tournament games and crowd. The conference was on a Friday and Saturday (pre-conference deep dives were on Thursday), so there were no games on Friday and late games on Saturday.

The conference was held at the downtown Marriott, and my main complaint about the conference was a lack of signage or guidance at the hotel. There were no signs outside the hotel or immediately inside, so there were numerous attendees wandering aimlessly. The first hotel staff I asked was clueless about the conference, but this was quickly corrected by another employee, and I was shown the way to the event. The session rooms had plenty of space, and there was little walking once onsite. The Internet connectivity seemed to be a problem, which made using the conference mobile app EventBoard useless as it couldn't connect to download its data. The lunch provided was excellent, and there was plenty of soda available to maintain a caffeine buzz.

A worthwhile investment

One speaker on Friday morning commented that 20 U.S. states and three countries were represented in the audience of 500 or so people, but I did not peruse the attendee data to confirm this claim. The people I met were from Columbus, OH, Charlotte, NC, Nashville, TN, Indianapolis, IN, and of course Louisville. There was plenty of opportunity to network and meet other IT professionals, which always gives me perspective and keeps me grounded as most of us face the same or similar daily work challenges.

I have attended quite a few conferences over the years with some highs and lows, and I can recommend the codepaLOUsa conference as a great value for the price. It has a clear focus and delivers on its promise of development madness. My recommendation does come with the caveat that you are a .NET developer, but maybe next year, codepaLOUsa will broaden its scope. Hopefully, we'll see each other at next year's event.

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