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GeekOut 2018 participants tell Nortal what’s hot and what’s not

by Priit Liivak, Head of Engineering, June 21, 2018

GeekOut, a must-attend conference for the Java development community in Estonia, was the perfect place for a Technology Radar exercise since everybody who is somebody in our field was there. As a result, we captured a snapshot of which tech tools the 600 participants consider high-flyers, hopefuls, flops or has-beens.

We will make the full results available on Nortal’s website in July, but can already say that most were in line with what we had expected. Techniques like code reviews and continuous delivery showed far more favor than working with no project manager or inventing from scratch. The high popularity of the Spring Boot framework was also anticipated.

One surprise for us, however, was how divided opinion was over the Typescript language, with some participants recommending adopting it and others cautioning developers to avoid it.

This difference underscores a critical point about Technology Radar results. Namely, that they should always be taken as a measure of the specific sentiments of a specific group at a specific time. They are not an absolute guide to what you should use in your situation. It’s still important to choose the right tools for the task.

Methodology

Nortal’s Technology Radar strategy is based on that used by the tech company ThoughtWorks, but in this case it came with an important difference. While theirs voiced the opinions of a closed community of their internal experts, Nortal’s was the first to open up the process, gauging sentiment among a large number of developers in a conference setting.

We welcomed all conference participants to add techniques, technologies and tools to the radar in one of four layers:

  • Adopt – Everyone should get acquainted with these technologies and consider using them in upcoming projects.
  • Trial – There are some risks involved with using these, but there are rewards as well. These are items that have passed the experimentation phase but are not as affirmed as Adopt items.
  • Assess – Items worth researching. They show a lot of potential or follow a promising mindset but are not mature enough and/or still need to evolve.
  • Avoid – Think twice. There is no need to start a major refactor if your project happens to use any of these, but strongly consider other options when starting a new development.

To kick things off and elicit an initial response, we added some items to the board. When someone felt a technology was misjudged, the item was duplicated into their recommended layer. Participants also had a chance to express their approval regarding a specific placement of any given item on the board.

Which tools Estonian developers consider high-flyers, hopefuls, flops or has-beens? 600 people had their say @Nortal_AS Tech Radar exercise during @GeekOutEE

There was an expectation that votes be accompanied by a short explanation. Some universally awful items were followed by a laugh and controversial ones with a proper discussion. Quite often, attendees discovered disliked technologies in both the adopt and trial layers and provided solid feedback as to why they disagreed. As expected, the senior attendees were far more insightful — but the juniors’ eagerness to learn added quite a few new items to the board.

The main purpose of this assembly was to network, help people voice their opinions on technologies they like or dislike and perhaps even find something to test-drive in their upcoming projects. In retrospect, we feel that the Tech Radar exercise was a great way for conference attendees and us to keep our minds sharp in between the awesome talks.

As said, we’ll make full results available in July. Stay tuned!

In 2016, we built a Nortal Tech Radar to map our developers’ opinionated view on the technological landscape at the time. You can see the results here.

Priit Liivak

Nortal's Head of Engineering, Priit Liivak, is an experienced software developer who is forever on the lookout for new ideas and technologies to adopt. A member of the Nortal team since 2006, he coordinates activities between the company and academia, frequently guest lecturing at the University of Tartu. Send him an email to chat about where the Java world is heading.