Developers today should be more than developers – they are business problem solvers, and as such they need to change their models and focus on communication and their ability to learn.
This is according to German trainer, coach and software developer Marco Heimeshoff, of Germany’s Domain Driven Design (DDD) community renown, who opened this year’s South African DevConf in Johannesburg today.

DevConf, the conference for South African developers, is now in its third year of sold-out success, bringing together the entire local developer community for a full day of in-depth discussions. This year, close to 1100 developers are attending DevConf, staged in Johannesburg on Tuesday and Cape Town on Thursday.

Keynote speaker Marco Heimeshoff, who co-organises Germany’s DDD conference, said that to model successful business software, developers needed to understand the real business problems and needs first, in order to build the appropriate solutions. Then, he said, developer teams should be structured to align to business needs.

“If, for example, your customer is an online retailer, the shopping cart might be the most important thing you work with. The shopping cart is what distinguishes you from the rest of the world. But you also need to build a warehouse. So your core domain is the shopping cart. This means you need to find the boundaries that enable you to focus on your core.

“You need to structure your company to support this, with dedicated teams for the shopping cart and the warehouse, but the shopping cart is upstream. This team determines change and upgrades and the warehouse team knows they are downstream by design.

“If you model your company aligned with your priorities, you have a very transparent structure,” he said.

It is also important for developers to communicate more effectively with business, said Heimeshoff, and this is reflected in the language used in development.

“We have trained business people to see us as human compilers reduced to translating technology and ideas, but we need to change that. We need to teach them that we can actually help them with their business problems and not just about what they want to change in the programs,” he said.

“We need to design a ubiquitous language,” said Heimeshoff. This language needed to penetrate the source code and communications to eliminate so-called ‘weazel’ words – empty shells which mean nothing. Business code had to use only business terms that are clear and unambiguous.

“We need to simplify the terms used, define the ubiquitous language we use, so we know what we are talking about and to build linguistically, semantically sound code,” he said.

Local and international speakers at DevConf 2018 also covered case studies, trends and models, with talks ranging from data science, Kotlin for droids, kubernetes, monorepos and Pi, through to blockchain, bots, AI and cognitive learning.

DevConf is presented by organisers Robert MacLean and Candice Mesk Herodotou, in partnership with sponsors BBD, EOH, DVT, Microsoft, Chillisoft, Derivco, AWS, Offerzen, Quest, Red Hat, AllanGray, redgate, Redgate, in partnership with blue turtle, Micro Focus, MMI Holdings, WiseTech Global, and Obsidian.

DevConf Cape Town will be held at The River Club on 29 March 2018. For more information go to or follow @devconfza