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Flutter Europe 2020: My First Developer Conference

This year the first Flutter Europe conference took place in Warsaw (Poland) on January 23 and January 24. It was packed with interesting talks and it was awesome to meet other members of the Flutter community. I've learned a lot about animations, performance, augmented reality, building games, domain-driven-design, convincing companies and clients of Flutter's awesomeness, ... In this article I'll share some insights on what was undoubtedly one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

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The talks

There were 26 talks in total but 2 were always given at the same time, so you could only attend 13 talks in total. Sometimes it was very difficult to device which talk would be more interesting or fun. Luckily, all talks will soon be published on the Flutter Europe YouTube channel.

I've learned something useful from every talk I attended and I enjoyed all of them, but if I had to pick my 5 favourite talks it would be these:

  • Performance: Optimizing your Flutter app
  • Augmented Reality in Flutter
  • Animations in Flutter Done Right
  • Building games using Flame
  • How to convince business to Flutter? Real-life cases

Unfortunately I missed out on some interesting talks. Apparently 'Implementing complex UI with Flutter' was an amazing talk. From what I've heard, Marcin Szałek really had the audience in the palm of his hand. He was able to explain this topic so well that creating complex UI didn't look so difficult or intimidating anymore. This is definitely the first talk I'm going to watch as soon as they're available online.

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The Flutter community

If you're anything like me you read Flutter articles, watch Flutter videos, listen to Flutter podcasts, ... on (almost) a daily basis. A lot of the more famous Flutter community members who create this content attended Flutter Europe. I'm really glad I was able to meet so many of my personal heroes and heroines, like Emily Fortuna, Filip Hráček, Matt Rešetár, Simon Lightfoot, Rémi Rousselet, Felix Angelov, Jorge Coca, Hillel Coren, the Codemagic team, ...

They say you should never meet your heroes, but that's not true if your heroes/heroines are members of the Flutter community.

It was also amazing to meet a lot of other members of the Flutter community. On my plane to Warsaw the two people sitting next were also attending Flutter Europe, and I met a lot of others there in between the talks, during lunch or at the two parties.

I was travelling by myself, but there was never a moment where I was alone. I'm usually an introvert but it was so easy to connect with other Flutter developers. I heard a lot of amazing stories about other people's experiences with Flutter and I'm glad I was also able to share my own.

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The loot

As I've already mentioned in the title, this was my first developer conference. I've only attended gaming conferences like Gamescom so far. When I go to one of those I know I'll bring home a backpack full of loot, a.k.a. gadgets, toys and merchandise. I didn't expect this to happen at Flutter Europe. I wanted to attend this conference for the knowledge and the networking opportunity, but secretly I hoped I' go home with one of those Dash plushies you see everywhere on social media...

You should be going to a conference for the knowledge instead of the loot, but I can't be the only Flutter developer who wanted to get his hands on a Dash bird plushie, right?

Ever since I learned of their existence I knew I wanted one. I'm really glad attendees were able to earn one by completing a programming challenge. The challenge itself wasn't very hard, the most difficult part was typing on a German keyboard (the semicolon was very well hidden).

Everyone who attended received a Flutter t-shirt and a goodiebag with a hat, a water bottle and some other things. If you visited the booths of GDG, Codemagic, LeanCode and the others, you were also able to get some other t-shirts, all kinds of stickers, ...

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My personal highlights

Because I wanted the complete Flutter Europe experience I decided to go to the first party, the one before the conference started. This party took place in a stupendous building called the 'Warsaw Spire'. When I was standing in line to get my badge, someone who seemed quite familiar came to stand next to me. It was Matt Rešetár, a.k.a. Resocoder. In my opinion, his Flutter videos are the best you can find on YouTube and it was an honour to meet him.

At this party I was also finally able to meet Marie Jaksman in real life. You might know her if you're a member of the Codemagic community. She introduced me to Łukasz Kosman, one of the organisers of Flutter Europe and also the co-founder of LeanCode. He gave the 'How to convince business to Flutter? Real-life cases' talk on the second day. Marie told him I was the person who wrote the article about Flutter vs. other mobile development frameworks. His reaction was amazing, but also very unexpected.

He said that he had a slide in his presentation about an experiment I conducted for my article. I was flabbergasted (or should I say fluttergasted?).

This was the first article I've ever written, but apparently it was quite popular. To my surprise, some of the people I met at Flutter Europe had read it. The fact that it was also a part of a presentation at Flutter Europe was definitely a highlight for me.

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There's another person worth mentioning who definitely made the whole Flutter Europe experience even better. His name is Dylan Beattie. The first time we saw him was at the party after the first day of the conference where he gave a performance. He turned Billy Joel's 'Piano Man' into 'Bug in the Javascript', Bon Jovi's 'You give love a bad name' into 'You give REST a bad name', ... If you're a programmer who's into the rock classics, you should definitely visit his YouTube channel.

Dylan also gave the last talk of the conference named 'The Art of Code'. He gave some amazing examples of why programming could/should be considered a form of art and at the end of the presentation he talked about a special project of his. Dylan is the creator of 'Rockstar', a programming language designed for creating computer programs that are also song lyrics. It's difficult to explain how amazing his talk was, but you can watch it here and see for yourself. I can guarantee you that you'll enjoy it!

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In my opinion, and I'm convinced a lot of other attendees agree with me, Flutter Europe 2020 was an amazing experience. This was only the first edition, but the organisers already got so many things right. Hopefully Flutter Europe 2021 will be even bigger and better. I'm happy I was able to attend and I can't wait for next year's edition!

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