South African software developers and programmers are set to get their first major developer conference in years, when the inaugural DevConf is staged in Johannesburg next month.

DevConf, expected to attract over 350 professional software developers and programmers, will be presented at Riversands Incubation Hub in Fourways on 8 March. The one-day, vendor-neutral event will fill a significant gap in the South African ICT event calendar, says co-organiser Robert MacLean.

“There are many ‘boutique’ events held for developers around the country, but they are typically small, niche events. We haven’t seen a major developer conference giving professional, working developers access to trends and in-depth information across a broad spectrum of technologies in around four years,” he says.

DevConf 2016 is set to address the burning issues facing the fast-growing developer and programmer community in South Africa. MacLean estimates there are currently around 10 000 developers in the country, with up to 50 000 professionals involved in development or programming as a component of their work. Opportunities for these professionals to network and gain exposure to new trends, technologies and strategies are important to keeping them up to speed with international developments and help them better support their business’s strategic goals, says MacLean.

The conference grew out of the Developer User Group forum and monthly meetings coordinated by MacLean, Terence Kruger, Mark Pearl and others – all veteran developers themselves. With around 1 500 members in the user group, MacLean and Pearl identified among them a need for a large conference that facilitated networking, access to information about technologies outside of their daily work focus, and give insight into trends in development. Aiming to meet this need, the organisers and sponsors designed DevConf to serve as a key technical conference for software developers, database-focused professionals, software deployment teams, team leads and solution architects.

“A major focus at the moment is the move to DevOps,” says MacLean. “Developers want to learn how to harness DevOps methodologies to improve processes and collaborate more closely with IT. Another challenge facing developers is softer skills needed around collaboration and team work.” To address these questions, DevConf will include tracks focused on DevOps and Automation and Teams and People, as well as tracks on Crafting Code, Persistence and Data, Tools and Frameworks and a sponsor track.

Top speakers participating in the event include keynote speaker Danie Roux – consultant and expert in the developer community;  Canada’s Willy-Peter Schaub – locally and internationally known for his expertise in Scrum, Kanban, and Agile Portfolio Management with Visual Studio Team Services; Austria’s Andreas Grabner speaking on Metrics Driven-DevOps: Delivering High Quality Software like Facebook & Co, and England’s Tugberk Ugurlu, a database expert speaking on Architecting Polyglot-Persistent Solutions. 40 local and international experts have been selected from the 160 papers submitted, to deliver talks across the event’s six tracks.