Heartland Developer Conference 2016 Wrap Up

Another day, another conference - the fifth for me this year! I can't tell you how excited I am to continue my speaking career, and my latest stop was Heartland Developer Conference in Omaha, NE.

I was asked to submit to this one last-minute and was thrilled to have my Angular 2 and TypeScript talk accepted, along with a brand new talk on the Elm programming language, which is by far my new favorite frontend web framework (gasp!)

My talks

I did my Angular 2 and TypeScript talk to an audience of about 150. One challenge I faced was cutting it down from an hour to 45 minutes, but I ended up having a bit of time to spare. I spent some time beforehand improving my slide deck to cut out the excess words and rely on visuals or a key phrase.

One thing that I learned that I did early in my speaking career was using my slides as a crutch, e.g. I'd use the bullets to know what to talk about next. A friend told me that this is normal for new speakers, but I knew I wanted to do better. I really worked to eliminate this, because wordy slides aren't the ideal. After doing my Angular 2 talk for so long, I was pretty comfortable with the content and so it didn't take me much practice to deliver it without the wordy slides. Success!

The talk that I did on Elm was my proudest yet. I worked really hard to dial this one up to 11. The strategy/style for this talk was a mixture of some of my favorite speakers - Cory House (be entertaining, focus on selling the idea, and don't do live demos) and Jay Harris/Jeff Strauss (know your slides really well, transition naturally, and make your slide deck absolutely beautiful!)

Overall, I did a pretty good job, but I knew after I finished that I need a stronger closing. I also unintentionally rushed a bit, so I ended up with some extra time. One of the great benefits of being in the speaker community is the feedback you get from your peers. I was thrilled that Cory House was attending HDC, so I asked him to come to watch my Elm talk and critique it. He went so far as to take notes and was very thoughtful on things I could improve on. My friends Jon Mills and Ken Versaw also had some great suggestions. I can't wait to use their feedback to make my talks even better.

Session highlights

I wasn't able to attend any sessions this time, which really bummed me out, but hey - duty calls! However, I did catch the end of a couple of talks that were very popular. Namely:

Jon Mills' excellent talk on Habits of Highly Effective JavaScript Developers. It was the most popular session at the conference according to the conference software, which is awesome!

Heather Downing has cornered the market on unique talks in the mobile development space, including one on using beacons.

Finally, Cory did a great session on scalable JavaScript. I saw this one at KCDC and it's both entertaining and informative.


The MESH party was a ton of fun and the food was great. Awesome venue, good friends, and even a HoloLens to play with!


This wasn't a stop I was planning on making in my speaking travels, but it was a totally worthwhile one. I had a ton of fun and the tech community in Nebraska is awesome. If I have the opportunity, I'll definitely be returning next year!

Music City Code 2016 Wrap Up

Music City Code in Nashville, TN was amazing.  This was its second year – it started as a one-day code camp and is now four (!) days – an agile conference, a day of workshops, and two days of regular sessions.  This was my first time there and I can’t tell you how awesome it was. I originally didn’t think that I would send in a talk, but decided to try on the very last day.  Lo and behold – two sessions and a workshop were selected!  And let me tell you, I’m glad I submitted.  Gaines and Mary Kergosien are incredibly gracious hosts who put on an amazing conference.  It’s clear that those two care deeply about the community.

My talks

First day was a day of workshops.  I gave my Angular 2, TypeScript and ASP.NET Core talk to the biggest group yet – just over 100 people.  The workshop was for the latest version of Angular 2 at the time (RC5) and everything went off (mostly) without a hitch.  Overall, the feedback for the workshop was great and I was very happy with it. The next day, I gave the firehose version of my Angular 2 workshop that introduces Angular 2 and TypeScript at a very high level.  Not much to say here other than it seemed well-received. My RESTful APIs talk had about 30 people in it which I was happy with since it was in the last session slot of the day on the last day of the conference.  This talk is always very popular and I was happy to close the day out with it because it’s by far my favorite talk to give.

Session Highlights

I went and saw Jay Harris’ talk on Designers for Non-Designers and it was awesome.  I learned a lot of stuff that I did not previously know about color and typeface.  (Also, his slides are amazing.)

The functional panel was really fun and informative.  On the panel was Bryan Hunter, a well-known functional programming expert.  He probably had the quote of the day.  (Fun fact – any time I tweet about F# or functional programming, it seems to get a lot of likes and retweets – this one was no different.)

Another talk I went to was Jeff Strauss’ excellent talk on modern development workflows backed by .NET, including using tools like NPM, Gulp, Kudu, WebStorm, and others.

The opening keynote by David Neal and Jeremy Clark was awesome and emphasized the importance of building relationships during conferences.  Jeremy gave a good piece of advice – Meet Someone New – which was kind of funny because Jeremy was the first person I met at Music City Code.

And of course:

I spent some time working and prepping for my talks, so I wasn’t able to make it to any other sessions.  Overall, it was a high-quality speaker roster and I know attendees got a lot of value out of the sessions.


The speaker dinner was very nice – drinks, appetizers, and good conversation.  I got to meet several awesome new people and the venue was great.  The conference ended with a very nice attendee party.  The drinks were flowing and the food was great!  Not much else to say here except that it was awesome.

Some nice things

I can’t talk enough about how great Gaines and Mary are.  They really care about the community, but they take care of their speakers too.  Things such as:

Are all nice touches that make you feel appreciated.


Overall, I had an awesome time.  I consider it to be a must-see Midwest conference.  I got to meet a lot of great people and get to know some I’ve met throughout the year.  It’s truly been an amazing and humbling experience to get to go to so many of these conferences!  As always, thank you to my employer Ryvit for sponsoring me.

I'll just leave this here

Jeremy told me I should put this here. I guess I have quite an entourage.