OSCON Austin 2017 – Workshops

Recently I posted about my experience attending the Serverless Conference in Austin at the end of April. Two weeks later I attend OSCON in Austin as well. OSCON stands for Open Source CONvention and is put on by O’Reilly.


Got there early, waiting for the keynotes to begin.

The convention was held over 4 days. The first two days were workshops, 2 a day. The last two days were a combination of keynotes and hour long talks. I really would have preferred that the workshops came at the end instead of the beginning, but this was just as good I guess.

Given the vast amount of information I received over these 4 days I’ll split this into two posts, this one will be on the 2 days of workshops, followed by one post on the 2 days of keynotes and talks.

Day 1

Workshop 1:Building, deploying, and running a scalable and extensible serverless application using AWS

The workshop was taught by the two founders of Symphonia, an expert Serverless and Cloud technology consultancy based in New York City (Make sure to get their free e-book “What is Serverless?” available on their website now). John Chapin and Mike Roberts tag teamed the workshop to great success, leading us through a lesson on what exactly serverless is, talking about AWS, Lambda and Java, and then finally taking us through a tutorial.


They planned their course well as we learned a great deal without feeling overwhelmed (at least I didn’t). Having already attended workshops and sessions at the Serverless conference two weeks prior probably helped me a great deal in understanding.

One way this workshop was different though is that the code was all in Java and used Maven. The workshop I attended at the Serverless Conference used NodeJS and npm. I spent 8 years as a Java developer, I even taught Java at the college level a couple of semesters way back right after I finished Grad School in 2000. It all felt very familiar which was wonderful.

I had a chance to talk with John Chapin briefly at both conferences. I didn’t get to talk with Mike Roberts but I did get to see him speak at the Serverless Conference. They are both very knowledgeable and easy to talk with.

I look forward to contacting them for advice and guidance as my business develops. Thanks for a great workshop!

Reference Material:

Workshop 2: “Building a deployment pipeline with Jenkins 2.0”

This workshop was on a topic I felt I should know or at least be exposed to more, mainly for my current full-time job that pays the bills, and possibly for myself down the line. The workshop was taught by Brent Laster who was obviously well versed on the subject.


Sitting a little too close!

Unlike the previous workshop, this felt like a double-barreled fire hose. We went through topics and exercises quickly and I was doing what I could to keep up. When I get into that mode I am happy when I complete the tasks and keep up, but I really don’t learn anything along the way.

After a bit he said that he designed this course to have as much information as possible so we can learn it afterwards on our own time and have a lot of reference material. While that is nice to have after the workshop, during it I felt I was getting very little out of it. I would have rather gone at a slower pace during the class and had more time to digest so I would retain more. Now I just have a bad taste in my mouth about it and will only go back to the reference material when I need to.

He did mention this book above, Continuous Delivery, as the main source of his material for the workshop. I provide a link here as a first attempt at monetizing the site a bit. 🙂 Every penny helps!

Reference Materials:

Day 2

Workshop 3: “Power Git: Rerere, bisect, subtrees, filter branch, worktrees, submodules, and more”

So my first workshop on the second day was a lot like my last one from the day before. Something I felt I should know more about though I wasn’t that excited about it. Git however is something I do use every day and maybe I could get more out of it if I get to know it better?


I picked a better seat for this one.

The workshop was taught by the same person who taught the Jenkins workshop, Brent Laster, so it was a very similar format. I’m more familiar with Git so it seemed more like a single-barreled fire hose than a double. This was also a bit more straight forward as well.

He mentioned a book where he got a lot of material for the workshop, and this time it is a book he wrote himself!

Work through the labs if you want to learn more about some higher level functions of git. I don’t ever need them with the work I do, but it’s nice to be a little familiar with them and to be able to quickly look up what I need.

Reference Materials:

Workshop 4: Building a real-time recommendation engine with Neo4j

My final workshop was my biggest surprise. I knew what I was getting with the first one and was excited about it, the next two were all about acquiring necessary knowledge, but the last was just something that I thought might be interesting.

I honestly hadn’t thought about it much going into it. I got what I was looking for with the first workshop and felt numb after the next two, so when I walked in to this one I had a blank slate. No expectations.


Sat way too far away for this one!

The workshop was taught by William Lyon from Neo4J. We first got into what the Graph Database Model is and how it differs from relational databases. The idea of nodes and relationships instead of tables and rows really fascinated me. The more we learned the more powerful I realized this format was.

Then we started to get into the query language for Neo4J called Cypher. This took a while to get used to. I have spent a lot of time writing SQL queries over the years, but Cypher takes a shift in thinking. By the end I felt I was really starting to catch on.

He pulled data from the Meetup.com site for the Austin area and we were able to query it. I’m a member of a few (though like an idiot I never go) so I was able to query myself.

We did all of this querying in the Neo4J sandbox which uses the Neo4J browser and it has an amazing interface. I really fell in love with using it. I want to find a use for it just so I can use it (actually I am sure I’ll have a use case for graph databases soon enough). I really look forward to going back through all of this and exploring further when I get to that point in my app development. Thanks William for a great workshop!

Reference Material:

OSCON Austin 2017 Part 2 Coming Soon….

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