The Agile Bench team is heading to the YOW! conference in Melbourne, Australia (again!) because it filled with fantastic speakers and we always have great corridor conversations. There are a bunch of great talks on product development, process improvement, software development, dev ops, big data and creativity.

Are they YOW! attendees or The Bondi Hipsters?

We’ve trawled through the speaker bios, read their web pages and cut to the chase to help you decide on what to see at YOW. So we present to you our opinionated guide to the YOW! conference.

The keep on top of the conversation, follow twitter on the #yow2012 hashtag.

We’ve broken the speakers down into the following groups:

Process (Agile/Lean) and Product

Don Reinertsen

  • Consultant and Author of “The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development”
  • Twitter

For me, Don is a major drawcard. His work on Managing the Design Factory set my head spinning and made me want to learn more about product development and set me on a new course. And if you’re a Lean person you can meet the person who introduced Cumulative Flow Diagrams to the software community in 1997. If you can’t tell, I’m pretty excited to hear Don talk.

Dan North

  • Agile Troublemaker, Developer, Originator of BDD
  • Twitter
As Dan North
I want a ubiquitous language for the analysis process
so that TDD is accessible and effective for teams new to agile software delivery.

Yes, Dan North formalized (discovered) the “As a”, “I want”, “so that” language in his seminal Introducing BDD article in 2006. [Update: Dan mentioned that he didn’t come up with the format I attributed to him, it was Connextra somewhere around 2001. ¬†Oh the other hand, he did come up with Behaviour-Driven Development]. He is speaking on embracing uncertainty, which I like to think of as “embracing reality”. Crazy, I know.

Jeff Patton

Jeff is also a drawcard for me. Not only has he won the Gordon Pask award (a fancy Agile thingie) for helping establish what User Centered Design means in Agile, he wrote a great article advocating the the product backlog should be more than just an ordered list by introducing story maps. Go see him.

Zach Holman

Zack talks a lot about GitHub’s process and culture. He’s had a couple of killer articles like The Product is the Byproduct and Unsucking Your Team’s Development Environment. I love a guy who uses “Use computers to do things. Use humans to drink with.”

Mike Lee

  • World’s Toughest Programmer
  • Twitter

Mike’s talk last year was a hit when he spoke on product design. And he’s back.

Fred George

  • Seasoned Software Leader, Large Scale Development, Programmer Anarchy and Micro Service Architectures
  • Twitter

Fred is a seasoned software leader, but let it be known that Fred George is not fried, or a chicken (the the best of my knowledge). He has been writing about his post-agile work under the moniker of Programmer Anarchy which he’s bringing to YOW! He’s got some serious credentials so he should be worth hearing.

Aino Vonge Corry

Aino spoke last year at Ignite Melbourne and was very funny and super dry. She’ll be talking on Agile Retrospectives

Raw Awesome

John-Henry Harris

  • Inspire the Builders of Tomorrow, Toy Designer at Lego

I love that there is a talk about innovation and design that isn’t from some smarmy MBA, or social media try hard.

Software Development Techniques and Languages

Jim Weirich

  • Ruby Programmer, Agile Developer, Ukulele Player
  • Twitter

He’s coined a term, Connascence, to talk about different types of coupling. Jim’s very interesting and smart and you’ll be a better developer after hearing him talk. Oh, and Jim is a giant in the Ruby community.

Gary Bernhardt

  • Creator & Destroyer of Software (Screencasts for Serious Developers)
  • Twitter

Gary is a presence. He has strong opinions and isn’t afraid to voice them. His Destroy all Software screencasts have reached cult status for those in the know. If you feel comfortable in your current software development world, then Gary is sure to provide you a severe jolt (in a good way).

Michael Feathers

  • Software Investigator, Author Working with Legacy Code
  • Twitter

Stuff you wish you knew when you started programming from a guy who knows his stuff and has 25 years under his belt. Go. Michael has spoken in Melbourne a few times and his talks are always well received.

Michael Ficarra

  • CoffeeScript/ECMAScript Enthusiast

What happens when you write a compiler without knowing how to write a compiler. Yes, you rewrite it when you know what you’re doing. Take the journey.

Aaron Bedra

  • Application Security Lead, Groupon
  • Co-Author of Programming Clojure, 2nd Edition
  • Twitter

Aaron is best known for his role on Clojure/core and his talk dives into setting up a Clojure app from scratch. We haven’t been using Closure at Agile Bench, but we’re really interested to find ways to use the JVM without Java.

Brian Beckman

  • Physicist, Microsoft Veteran
  • Mathematica Hacker, LINQ, Xbox, Rx Developer

Brian seems to chat about Monads, Monoids, and Mort (things that sound more like a medical condition than something in a programmers toolkit) but his YOW! talk is for people with a love of languages & compilers.

Joking aside, Brian is very smart and funny (just check out his Channel 9 videos) where he chats about Lambda Calculus, LINQ, Mondads, Physics (he’s a cosmologist (as opposed to a cosmetologist)) and a bunch more interesting stuff.

Erik Meijer

  • Computer Scientist, Master of Duality, Creator of MS LINQ, RX Lead MS Cloud Programmability, Prof of Cloud Programming Delft Technical University

Erik is part of Microsoft’s Research team looking into removing the impedance mismatch between databases and programming languages. Oh yes, that little bug bare of ORMs. I’ve seen Erik talk before and he is engaging and entertaining – and being a keynote speaker I’m definitely going to see his talk.

Kevlin Henney

  • Author – Focuses on Patterns, Programming, Practice and Process
  • Twitter

I’m fascinated and a bit curious about this one. It’s like Kevlin is a code archeologist showing us our past. I’m definitely going to check this out just for curiosity sake alone.

Walter Bright

  • D Language Designer, Language Expert Developer of Zortech C++Symantec Java
  • Twitter

Sure, you know about C and C++, but what about D. Yeah, I thought so. Another talk for the language nerds!

Dev Ops

Bjorn Freeman-Benson

  • Software Psychologist
  • VP Engineering, New Relic
  • Twitter

How can you not like a name like this! It’s hyphenated AND it’s got a touch of nordic sophistication! Since he’s at New Relic I’d expect we’d here about how they used New Relic to make New Relic scale. We use it at Agile Bench and we think it’s the bees knees.

Ben Hogan and Peter Moran

  • Ben – Iteration Manager, REA Group – Twitter
  • Peter – Development Manager, Hooroo – Twitter

Ben is a Melbourne Agile coach and trainer and really knows his stuff. Peter is a fantastic development manager. They are speaking on how they got their respective company’s to the point where they can easily deploy to the cloud! If your company is on a devops journey, then this will be a must see talk.

Also, Ben’s site, agileben, has remarkably similar name to Agile Bench and therefore gets our seal of approval.

Mark McGranaghan

  • Platform Engineering Lead, Heroku
  • Twitter

My guess is this is another DevOps talk, but the difference here is that these guys are doing it right, and at scale. Heroku is a seriously impressive platform and I’m hoping Mark drops nuggets of DevOps goodness throughout his talk.

Todd L. Montgomery

  • Middleware and Networking Expert, VP Architecture Messaging 29West / Informatica
  • Twitter

If you’re a hard core Unix systems programmer or sys admin who loves a bit of TCP/IP & UDP you’re going to get a kick out of this.

Big Data

Nathan Marz

  • Engineer at Twitter , Creator of the Storm and Cascalog Open-Source
  • Twitter

Scaling. Proper Scaling. None of this enterprise stuff. Web Scale.

Kurt Schrader

  • CTO, Intent Media, Co-Founder CTO School
  • Twitter

Kurt is going into show how to be data driven. Beep.

Ron Bodkin

  • Think Big Analytics, Former Xerox Parc AspectJ Committer
  • Twitter

If you’re’ thinking of implementing a big data project, then this is one to go to. Ron is going to talk about a good reference implementation they’ve come up with.


Marko A. Rodriguez

  • Graph Systems Architect, Creator Gremlin and Tinkerpop

If you’ve been thinking about Graph DBs then this is a must see talk. There’s a nice bit of background on his company here (seriously, how cute are those mascots).

Say hi to us at the YOW! Conference

If you are going along, please come up and say hi! I’m (Mark Mansour) hosting the “Through Ruby Eyes” and “JS/HTML5″ tracks.

Also, we’d love to hear how you are using Agile Bench (and if you’re not, you can try it free for 30 days.)

About Mark Mansour

Mark is the Founder of Agile Bench. Mark has distilled 15 years of experience delivering software projects into Agile Bench to make your life easier.