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The best software engineering conferences of 2020

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John P. Mello Jr. Freelance writer
 

As a developer, you expect to get practical, technical content when you go to a conference, but you also want to network with other engineers in your field—​hopefully people who are dealing with some of the same challenges as you. You want to get up to speed on the latest trends, from quality-driven development to DevOps transformations. And if you're like most of your peers, expo halls are a lower priority.

Fortunately, most software engineering conferences focus on the technology more than the vendors. That makes developer conferences a great place not just to broaden your technical horizons, but to expand your other technical roles.

Here is TechBeacon's shortlist of the most popular software engineering conferences in 2020.

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January

PyCon

Twitter: @PyCon
Web: pycon.org
Dates: January-December
Locations: Multiple locations
Cost: Varies

The international community for the Python programming language holds more than 50 PyCon conferences annually. Many of the conferences change  venues every year and rely on volunteers to make them happen. This year's US conference will be held in April in Pittsburgh.

As Python becomes ever more popular in the scientific community and for big data, the influence of PyCon will continue to grow.

Who should attend: Developers, business leads, and other members of the Python community

Microsoft Ignite|The Tour

Twitter: @MS_Ignite / #MSIgnite
Web: microsoft.com/en-ca/ignite-the-tour/#cities
Dates: January-May
Locations: Global
Cost: Free with registration

 

Microsoft is taking its popular Ignite conference on the road this year, offering developers and tech professionals multiple venues to explore the latest developer tools and cloud technologies. This also helps attendees learn new ways to code, optimize cloud infrastructure, and modernize an organization with deep technical training.

 

Cities on the tour include Toronto, Ontario; Washington, DC; Chicago, Illinois; Shenzhen, China; Seoul, South Korea; Osaka, Japan; Sydney, Australia; Taipei, Taiwan; Singapore; Shanghai, China; Hong Kong; Mumbai, India; Bangalore, India; London, UK; Milan, Italy; Johannesburg, South Africa; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Prague, Czech Republic; Copenhagen, Denmark; Zurich, Switzerland; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Madrid, Spain; Tel Aviv, Israel; Berlin, Germany; and Stockholm, Sweden.

 

Who should attend: Microsoft developers

February

FOSDEM

Twitter: @FOSDEM
Web: fosdem.org/2020/
Date: February 1-2
Location: Brussels, Belgium
Cost: Free

FOSDEM is a mammoth conference held annually for the global free and open-source software communities. Some 8,000 people attend the two-day event, which has more than 450 speakers, 450 events, and 50 tracks. There are five categories of activities and sessions at the forum: keynotes, main tracks, developer rooms, lightning talks, and certification exams. You'll also find many fringe events that involve free and open-source software taking place in the days around the weekend conference.

Who should attend: Developers, testers, and DevOps engineers

Devnexus

Twitter: @devnexus
Web: devnexus.com
Date: February 19-21
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Cost: Conference, $495; conference and workshop day, $795 (group discounts available)

Conference organizers say their goal is to make Devnexus a forum for connecting developers from all over the world and promoting open-source values. While the conference caters to all developers, there is a slightly greater focus on Java topics, and JavaScript after that.

Who should attend: Java developers, cloud administrators, security practitioners, network architects, software architects, JavaScript developers, mobile and web developers, and application performance testers

React conferences

Twitter: Varies
Web: reactjs.org/community/conferences
Dates: February-July
Locations: Multiple
Cost: Varies

These conferences are staged by the community supporting React, a JavaScript library used for building user interfaces. React conferences vary from year to year, but the number and variety of cities continue to grow as the React ecosystem grows. This year's cities include Sydney, Australia; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Krakow, Poland; Bangalore, India; Atlanta, Georgia; Paris, France; Helsinki, Finland; Tel Aviv, Israel; and New York, New York.

Who should attend: JavaScript developers

Software Architecture Conference

Twitter: @OReillySACon / #OReillySACon
Web: conferences.oreilly.com/software-architecture/sa-ny
Date: Training, February 23-24 ; tutorials and conference, February 24-26
Location: New York, New York, USA
Cost: $1,595 to $2,395 (discounts available)

O'Reilly's Software Architecture Conference is a forum for developers with an agenda designed to attract more pure architects than do most software gatherings. Microservices and distributed systems are a huge focus of the conference, but integration architecture, DevOps, business skills, security, performance optimization, and UX design are also covered. In addition to the New York conference, O'Reilly is staging software architecture events in Santa Clara, California, and Berlin, Germany.

Who should attend: Developers, tech leads, business leads, and architects

JSConf Hawaii

Twitter: @jsconf / @JSConfHi
Web: jsconf.com / jsconfhi.com
Date: February 5-7
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Cost: $550 to $1,100 (discounts available for native Hawaiians)

JSConfs are staged by a loose federation of developers who share the same general idea about how a technical conference should be held. In addition to the Hawaii event, forums will also be held in South America, Europe, Asia, and North America.

Who should attend: JavaScript developers, general web developers, and testers

DeveloperWeek

 

Twitter: @DeveloperWeek, #DEVWEEK2020

Web: developerweek.com

Date: February 12-16

Locations: Oakland and San Francisco, California, USA

Cost: $795 to $1,595 (time-sensitive discounts available)

 

DeveloperWeek is a series of conferences held in the United States for developers and technology managers. In addition to the Oakland/San Francisco forum, events are scheduled for Seattle, Washington; New York, New York; and Austin, Texas. The Oakland event attracts more than 8,000 developers, engineers, software architects, dev teams, managers, and executives from over 70 countries. It includes a hackathon, a tech hiring expo, and a series of workshops, open houses, drink-ups, and city-wide events across San Francisco.

Who should attend: Developers, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists

ConFoo.CA

Twitter: @confooca
Web: confoo.ca/en/yul2020
Date: February 26-28
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Cost: CA$845 to CA$995; workshops CA$700 to CA$1,100 (early bird discounts available) 

ConFoo focuses on pragmatic solutions for web developers. The conference typically features more than 150 presentations and usually has some surprising topics. In 2020, for example, talks include "How Hackers Attack GraphQL and What You Can Do About It"; "It's New, It's Shiny, It's ... Email?"; "The Accidental Web Designer"; and "Never* Use Arrays."

Who should attend: Developers and data scientists

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March

QCon London

Twitter: @QCon, @qconlondon
Web: qconlondon.com
Date: Conference, March 2-4; workshops, March 5-6
Location: London, United Kingdom
Cost: Conference, £1,670; workshops, £595 to £1,140; conference and workshops, £2,220 to £2,730 (time-sensitive discounts available)

The sponsors of the QCon conferences say that what distinguishes their events is their marriage of innovation with practical advice. The workshops and conference sessions are lead by engineers, practitioners, and team leads instead of evangelists, trainers/coaches, and consultants.

The London conference will feature 18 editorial tracks and more than 140 practitioners. In addition to the London event, QCon conferences will be held in São Paulo, Brazil; Guangzhou, China; Munich, Germany; Beijing, China; New York, New York; and San Francisco, California.

Who should attend: Tech leads, architects, developers, and project managers

Strata Data Conference

 

Twitter: @strataconf / @OReillyMedia / #StrataHadoop

Web: conferences.oreilly.com/strata-data-ai/stai-ca

Date: March 15-18

Location: San Jose, California, USA

Cost: Conference passes, $1,345 to $2,145; training, $2,045 to $3,145 (time-sensitive discounts available)

 

Formerly known as Strata + Hadoop World, the conference now called Strata Data was created in 2012, when O'Reilly and Cloudera brought together their two successful big-data conferences. Topics cover cutting-edge data science, artificial intelligence, big data, and new business fundamentals. It's a deep dive into emerging data techniques and technologies.

Conference-goers dissect case studies, develop new skills through in-depth tutorials, and share emerging best practices in data science. Sister shows will be held in London, UK (April 20-23), and New York, New York (September 14-17).

Who should attend: Business analysts, strategists, architects, developers, data scientists, data analysts, CxOs, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, product managers, marketing pros, and researchers

April

Data Conference San Francisco

Twitter: @DataCouncilAI
Web: datacouncil.ai/san-francisco
Date: April 7-8
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Cost: $499 to $699 (discounts available)

This series of conferences emphasizes networking and interaction by capping attendance at 500 people. This year's conference has six tracks focusing on data platforms and pipelines, machine and deep learning, databases and tools, data analytics, building AI products, and hero engineering.

Who should attend: Software engineers, machine-learning experts, deep-learning researchers, and artificial intelligence buffs

Devoxx

Twitter: @Devoxx
Web: devoxx.fr
Date: April 15-17
Location: Paris, France
Cost: €215 to €625

Devoxx France is part of a family of conferences held globally each year. The conferences primarily focus on Java, but cover a few other topics as well. The Paris conference is a large event, attracting some 3,000 participants and more than 300 exhibitors and 240 speakers, and with hands-on labs and workshops. A sister conference is planned for London, UK, May 13-15.

Who should attend: Developers, software architects, data analysts, system administrators, DevOps engineers

SmashingConf

Twitter: @smashingconf
Web: smashingconf.com/sf-2020/
Date: April 21-22
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Cost: Conference, $599; workshops, $499; conference and workshops, $998 to $1,397

Considered one of the top conferences for designers, SmashingConf, affiliated with Smashing magazine, targets experienced professionals searching for a competitive edge in the design world. In addition to the San Francisco conference, SmashingConf events will also be held in Austin, Texas; Freiburg, Germany; and New York, New York.

Who should attend: Web designers and developers

GOTO Chicago

Twitter: @GOTOcon, @GOTOchgo, @GOTOamst, @GOTOber, @GOTOcph
Web: gotochgo.com
Date: Conference, April 28-May 2
Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Cost: Conference, $665 to $1,965; Masterclass days, $845 to $1,690

GOTO conferences, organized by developers, are highly technical and focus on the latest trends in software engineering. Track topics can vary widely, so check out the GOTO conference nearest you. This year's theme is "Our Digital Tomorrow," and tracks include cloud computing, IoT, serverless, and microservices. In addition to Chicago, GOTO conferences will be held in Amsterdam, Netherlands; Berlin, Germany; and Copenhagen, Denmark.

Who should attend: Developers, software architects, project managers, system administrators, DevOps engineers

May

RailsConf

Twitter: @railsconf
Web: railsconf.com
Date: May 5-7
Location: Portland, Oregon, USA
Cost (2019): $700 to $1,200

A conference focused on the Ruby on Rails web framework, RailsConf is organized by Ruby Central, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and advocating for the Ruby programming language community. Event organizers pride themselves on making their events friendly, welcoming, and diverse. They also offer childcare services and a limited number of scholarships for students, women, and minorities.

Who should attend: Ruby developers

PHP[tek]

Twitter: @phparch / #phptek
Web: tek.phparch.com
Date: May 18-21
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Cost (2019): $795-$1,095 plus training classes; Digital ticket: $175

PHP[tek] is staged by PHP[architect], a creator of magazines, books, conferences, and training dedicated exclusively to the PHP community. The organizers describe their conference as "a professional conference with community flair."

Who should attend: PHP developers, website builders, web application developers, and web content creators

Microsoft Build

Twitter: #MSBuild
Web: microsoft.com/en-us/build
Date: May 19-21
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
Cost (2019): $2,495

Build is a massive conference for developers who are building apps for Windows, Office 365, Edge/IE, SQL Server, Azure, Xbox, and HoloLens. Build is now also relevant for Android, iOS, and open-source developers, thanks to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's push for the company to be more platform-agnostic and distance itself from its old Windows-only strategy. Microsoft uses the conference to make important announcements for its ecosystem.

Who should attend: Windows developers, SQL Server DBAs, Azure admins, and general developers, IT administrators, and managers

GlueCon

Twitter: @gluecon / @defrag / #gluecon
Web: gluecon.com
Date: May 20-21
Location: Broomfield, Colorado, USA
Cost: $795 to $1,495

GlueCon has both a software engineering and DevOps focus. If you're tired of sales pitches disguised as talks, sessions that never do more than scratch the surface, throngs of people who seem more concerned with the after-parties than education, and networking that has no lasting impact, then GlueCon is for you, say conference organizers Kim and Eric Norlin. Topics change from year to year and have included serverless architectures, containers, microservices, APIs, DevOps, mobile, analytics, performance monitoring, blockchain applications, and cutting-edge developer platforms and tools.

Who should attend: Software architects, developers, mobile developers and architects, DevOps engineers, enterprise and startup executives, and team managers

June

DockerCon US
 

Twitter: @DockerCon

Web: docker.com/dockercon

Date: TBD

Location: Austin, Texas, USA

Cost (2019): $1,080 to $1,600; workshops, $100 each (time-sensitive and student discounts available)

 

DockerCon is a multi-track conference sponsored by Docker that focuses on the Docker platform and ecosystem. It includes keynotes, workshops, hands-on labs, and a "hallway track" for conference-goers to find like-minded people with whom they can share ideas in a structured way. The family-friendly forum offers childcare services for attendees and activities for spouses.

Who should attend: Developers, DevOps engineers, CxOs, and managers

Open Source Summit North America

Twitter: @linuxfoundation / @EventsLF / #ossummit
Web: events19.linuxfoundation.org/
Date: June 22-24
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Cost: TBA

Open Source Summits are a series of conferences sponsored by the Linux Foundation. In addition to the Austin forum, the Foundation will hold Open Source Summits in Dublin, Ireland, and Tokyo, Japan. The Austin and Dublin events will also include embedded Linux conferences, and the Toyko event will also include an automotive Linux summit.

In addition to the keynotes and talks, the summits are used by the foundation and partner companies to make major announcements.

Who should attend: Software developers, programmers, open-source maintainers, Linux IT professionals, IT operations professionals, legal counsel, executives, managers, and students

GopherCon

Twitter: @GopherCon / #gophercon
Web: gophercon.com
Date: June 22-25
Location: Orlando, Florida, USA
Cost: Conference, $795 to $1,395

GopherCon is an annual conference for the Go programming language community. Originally organized in 2014 by the Gopher Academy, a community-driven group of developers who wish to promote the use of Go, the event has steadily grown in size, to over 1,500 attendees.

The three-day conference is preceded by a day of workshops. The first two days of the conference consist of talks arranged in multiple tracks. The final day, formerly called Hack Day but now known as Community Day, features a large communal area for collaboration as well as breakout rooms for special interests.

Who should attend: Go developers and users

July

OSCON (O'Reilly Open Source Software Convention)

Twitter: @oscon / #OSCON
Web: conferences.oreilly.com/oscon/oscon-or
Date: July 13-16
Location: Portland, Oregon, USA
Cost: $1,395

OSCON is broadly targeted for the open-source community, including developers, innovators, business people, and investors. In the early days, the event was focused on changing mainstream business thinking and practices. Today, the attention is on real-world strategies for implementing open source in workflows and projects. The forum encompasses everything open source: languages, communities, best practices, products, and services.

Who should attend: Developers, architects, CxOs, designers, system administrators, hardware hackers, embedded developers, analysts, IT managers, managers, business development professionals, community leaders and managers, and educators

September

.NET Conf

Twitter: @dnetconf
Web: dotnetconf.net
Date (2019): September
Location: Online
Cost: Free

This virtual conference for developers is organized by the .NET community and Microsoft. During the three-day event, developers participate in live streaming sessions where they can learn and ask questions in real time.

Some of the presentations originate with Microsoft, but others are created by the community and open-source project members. Videos from previous conferences are available online.

In addition to the main conference, the community organizes several local forums  throughout the year around the world.

Who should attend: .NET developers

ApacheCon

Twitter: @ApacheCon
Web: apachecon.com/acna2020/
Date (2019): September
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Cost (2019): $575 for early registration

ApacheCon is an annual gathering of open-source community members—specifically those who are interested in learning more about open-source projects that are managed within the Apache Software Foundation. Popular projects include Kafka, Spark, and Hadoop.

Who should attend: Developers using Apache software and contributing to Apache projects, including Kafka, Hadoop, Cassandra, Spark, Mesos, BigTop, CloudStack, Lucene, and Solr

DjangoCon US

Twitter: @djangocon / @defnado
Web: 2019.djangocon.us
Date (2019): September
Location (2019): San Diego, California, USA
Cost (2019): Conference, $495 to $595; corporate, $695 to $795; student/diversity, $295; tutorial, $195

DjangoCon US is a six-day conference for users of the Django web framework. The event caters to the entire spectrum of Django users, from those who develop business apps on the framework to those who tinker with it in their spare time. Conference planners are committed to diversity and offer financial aid to members of the Django community to meet the costs of tickets, travel, and accommodations.

Who should attend: Web developers and hobbyists

Oracle CodeOne

Twitter: @OracleCodeOne
Web: oracle.com/code-one/
Date: September 21-24
Location (2019): San Francisco, California, USA
Cost (2019): $1,450 to $2,050 (government and time-sensitive discounts available)

First held in 1996 by Sun Microsystems, JavaOne (now organized by Oracle and renamed CodeOne) is billed as the largest conference for Java developers. CodeOne also includes all programming languages. Every year CodeOne is a key opportunity to network with the biggest luminaries and rising stars in Java programming.

Who should attend: Developers (especially Java developers) and business managers

October

Strange Loop

Twitter: @strangeloop_stl
Web: thestrangeloop.com
Date: October 1-3
Location: St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Cost (2019): Conference, $300 to $800; pre-conference workshop, $200

Talks at Strange Loop, created in 2009 by a team of St. Louis-based friends and developers, are code-heavy and avoid process-oriented topics such as agile and testing. The  organizers keep marketing to a minimum. Keynotes aren't sold to sponsors, and mailing lists of attendees are never sold or given to sponsors.

Who should attend: Developers, entrepreneurs, system engineers, security professionals, and scientists

DotNetOS Conference

Twitter: @dotnetosorg; #dotNetconf
Web: conf.dotnetos.org
Date: October 1-2
Location: Warsaw, Poland
Cost: €179 to €478

This two-day conference is dedicated solely to .NET performance. Although both foreign and native Polish speakers have been invited to present, all sessions are in English. Subjects for 2019 included "Cliff Diving into Async in .NET Core and C# 8," "Writing Allocation Free Code in C#," "Compiling and Running a Dynamic Language—PHP—on .NET Core," and ".NET Intrinsics in CoreCLR 3.0."

Who should attend: Members of the .NET community

November

Microsoft Ignite

 

Twitter: @MS_Ignite / #MSIgnite

Web: microsoft.com/en-us/ignite

Date: November 2-8

Location: Orlando, Florida, USA

Cost (2019): Full conference, $2,220; academic, $1,395; student, $995; 2020 prices to be announced in spring.

 

Microsoft created the Ignite conference in 2014 to consolidate several smaller conferences: Microsoft Management Summit, Microsoft Exchange Conference, SharePoint Conference, Lync Conference, Project Conference, and TechEd.

Ignite covers architecture, deployment, implementation and migration, development, operations and management, security, access management and compliance, and usage and adoption. Although it's organized by Microsoft and focuses on its products, it also draws more than 100 vendors that participate in the expo and as speakers.

Who should attend: Microsoft developers

RubyConf

Twitter: @rubyconf
Web: rubyconf.org
Date (2019: November 18-20
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Cost (2018): $400 to $1,000

RubyConf is organized by Ruby Central, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the support and advocacy of the Ruby programming language. Its RubyConf event is designed to allow the full spectrum of Ruby users, from novices to experts, to discuss emerging ideas, collaborate, and socialize.

Who should attend: Ruby developers and hobbyists

December

dotJS

Twitter: @dotJS
Web: 2019.dotjs.io
Date (2019): December 5-6
Location: Paris, France
Cost (2019): €199 to €299

Billed as the largest JavaScript conference in Europe—it attracts about 1,400 people—dotJS prides itself on being a developer-organized event. This year, day one of the conference will be on front-end development—UI frameworks, browsers, and so forth. Day two will be about back-end development and JavaScript as a language.

Who should attend: Developers, embedded developers, security professionals, data scientists

React Day Berlin

Twitter: @reactdayberlin, #reactdayberlin
Web: reactday.berlin
Date: December
Location: Berlin, Germany
Cost (2018): €260 to €650 

JavaScript engineers working with the React technology stack are the primary target audience for this one-day event. The two-track forum tries to balance the visionary with the practical in its talks. Organizers say the conference is a good place to meet and learn from forward-thinking and international community members.

Who should attend: JavaScript engineers, React practitioners, fans, and enthusiasts

DevTernity

Twitter: @devternity / #devternity
Web: devternity.com
Date: December 3-4
Location: Riga, Latvia
Cost (2018): €299 to €598

Rather than focus on a particular framework, technology, or language, DevTernity addresses the fundamental building blocks and practices necessary for building better, modern software systems. The forum covers the latest developments in coding, architecture, operations, security, leadership, and many other IT topics.

Conference organizers take a tough line on their event's content: "No agile bull__ bingo or marketing talks permitted," they promise.

Who should attend: Developers, architects, operations professionals, and DevOps engineers

Conferences call

Mark your calendars and make your choices soon, as prices may vary based on how early you register. Also, remember that hotel and travel costs are almost always separate from the conference pricing.

We've listed them all, although not all dates, locations, and pricing were available at publication time, especially for those events taking place later in the year.

In those cases, we have provided historical information on the event to give you an idea of what to expect, and what you'll get out of attending. Keep checking back: We'll update this guide as more information becomes available.

What are your favorite conferences and why? Post your comments below, and let us know if there are any other events or conferences we missed.

Image courtesy of DeveloperWeek.

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