FOSDEM is an annual event for software developers, focused on open source software, happening in Bruxelles during the first weekend of February.
The event this year was the 5th FOSDEM conference I attended, starting from 2010. During the years I have seen it evolve: as the presentation focus moved along with the industry, some topics faded out and got replaced by newer things. Many of these newcomers did not actually gain traction over the years and also faded out at some point.
One of the main transitions I have noticed was the one from abstract or too general things (e.g. discussions on the Linux Kernel or performance tricks in C/C++) towards end products and getting (soon to be) mature technologies applied in order to get clear outcomes.
Some sessions were good, others were not: even if the slide contents were really interesting, the presentation skills of the person in front of us could have really benefited from some improvements. Not even the position held by that person, in terms of their current employment, made a lot of difference. Some concepts were simply ruined by the presenter lacking the ability to keep the audience focused on the topic at hand.
Another move I have noticed was having all the non-technical presentations and discussions in the smaller, so called “developer” or “community” rooms; unless one got a seat early in the morning, there was no way of getting in. The door queues got quite long as the interest on the topic often exceeded the room size.
The whole event was busier than last year’s and this trend can be traced back for a few years now. The hallways and the common areas were getting really crowded at times with a lot of time to be also spent for lunch. All vendors had 20-30 person queues at lunch time.
I also expected the last keynote to cover something that is both interesting and innovative: maybe a sneak peek into the future, maybe something to cover events from the previous year or just some achievements that made the World, as a whole, a better place. Well, … no. All we got was a boring presentation that many people did not follow until the very end. No questions were taken from audience, unsurprisingly.
This was the FOSDEM 2017 event. I expect the organizers to split the topics on more days or set up some form of registration: the venue, as big as it is, is starting to show its limits.