On May 16th and 17th, 500 developers from around the United States gathered in Broomfield, CO for Gluecon, a developer conference. With amazing sessions on topics ranging from Release Management to diversity in tech to Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the enterprise (My talk!), I was honored to be able to attend and speak. If you haven’t had a chance to attend or speak at a non-Salesforce developer conference, I highly recommend it!

Why attend a conference?

Learning is key to any developer’s success in technology. With platforms being updated daily, new APIs created all the time, and the general rapid pace of the world, a conference like Gluecon can be a great space to learn and explore new things. While I’m super passionate about AI, Release Management, and Salesforce, Gluecon let me explore outside of my bubble. I got to learn more about Kubernetes, Chaos Architecture, the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) and API styles like REST, GraphQL, gRPC and Webhooks.

The Keynote ‘Many Charts with Many Circles’ with Max Whitney (left) and Lisa Kamm (right) was really fun, a great way to talk about the Software Development Life Cycle.

Not only can you learn, but conferences are great places to meet new people. Connecting with speakers and attendees was by far my most favorite part of the conference. Since the conference was quite small and the audience was diverse, I was able to have lunch on Day 1 with two directors of IT at very different companies. I picked their brains about conferences they’ve attended and they both said they really enjoy these small technical conferences because it’s a time to talk to all kinds of diverse audiences and people. I spent lunch on Day 2 with a whole crew of people, from a founder of a startup to a hacker who makes websites for fun. We spent time discussing our favorite web development frameworks and connected over our shared love for the Heroku platform.

Of course, I wasn’t just at Gluecon for the fun of learning and connecting: I was also there to share my excitement for AI. I shared how you can leverage Einstein Platform Services via our REST API and had a lot of fun showing how to create datasets, train a model, and start making predictions! If you want to check out similar content, I recommend a similar session I gave at TrailheaDX this year here and getting hands-on with the Einstein Trail.

Pre-talk selfie! I was so excited to get up on stage.

Diversity at Gluecon

Increasing diversity at Gluecon has been a mission of organizer Eric Norlin since 2013, when he partnered with Salesforce for the first diversity scholarships and started inviting a mix of speakers.

“Our goal is to create as diverse and welcoming a conference environment as we can.” – Gluecon

This year, Salesforce supported that goal by providing 12 scholarships for attendees from any group underrepresented in tech. Diversity has grown each year and this year 40 percent of the attendees were from communities underrepresented in tech (Up from 30 percent last year).

In addition to increasing the diversity, Gluecon (And its sister conference, Defrag) have raised the topic of diveristy and inclusion on the main stage over the years.

This year, Rakia Finley, founder & CIO of FinDigital and Salesforce MVP (Who usually graces stages to talk about Mobile Dev, UX, IoT, and AI), owned the Day 1 closing keynote stage with an honest and actionable talk about diversity. Read this live tweet thread or connect with Rakia on Twitter if you want to learn more.

Rakia creating a safe space (using “safety silk”) for everyone to talk about bias and empathy [Photo credit to @vinucharanya on Twitter, used with permission]

Wrapping it all up

Overall I’m really thankful for the opportunity to attend and speak at such an interesting conference, especially one so close to home. It was nice to connect with many people and share my love of AI. If you’ve got a bit of post-event #FOMO, be sure to checkout #Gluecon on Twitter and catch up on all the action!

What about you? Have you attended a conference recently? What was your experience? Share your thoughts with me on Twitter at @SlytherinChika.

Heather Dykstra
Developer Evangelist, Salesforce

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