Three OpenTable heroes took to Norway last week to attend NDC Oslo. For two of us it was our first major conference and for one, Paul Stack, he had to speak.

Personally, as my first large, multi-discipline conference, I didn’t really know what to expect. Being away from the team for three days in a foreign country with major project work going on at the same time was a bit uncomfortable. I was worried that the time and expense needed to be justified. That fear went away after the first night in the bar!

The sessions were great, many things I haven’t had a chance to investigate were covered, things like Functional Programming, the latest JavaScript frameworks and tooling. There were also sessions covering things I am more involved with, Agile Process, SOA & Rest, Team Structure and Hiring.

There are other posts around about the individual sessions but I am now much more enthusiastic about functional programming particularly how we could use it and getting back into front end development (even if just in my own time).

The main thing I enjoyed and learnt though is meeting the other delegates. I think staying away from home makes this much more prevalent, something to consider for other conferences. Meeting people at all levels or experience and especially the speakers, most of whom are very generous with their time and ideas, teaches you the most. I probably learnt more over the shuffle board of The Dubliner Pub than reading blog post online in a year (that may be a stretch, but I did learn I was by far the best player on the night).

Watching a colleague speak was also interesting, when you work with a buffoon, however passionate and hard working, to see people actually interested in what he has to say is an eye opener. It makes you realise what you are doing and all its challenges are a step forwards and one to keep pursuing. It also makes you think, “if he can do it, I must be able to, what knowledge should I share?”. What to share is the hard bit.

My final point is how often I should try to get to these; one a year for sure, any more than that? I need to think that through.

Thanks to the organisers of the conference for a well organised, varied and enjoyable time. And if you have project work on, the wifi was excellent so you need never be too far away from the rest of the team, just do it.