August 26, 2013

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This past June, 2,500 associates from across Cerner came together for DevCon, our internal developers conference. Now in its 3rd year, DevCon is a two-day, engineering-led conference that was created to bring together Cerner associates involved in all aspects of development and technology. DevCon is organized and run like many other developer conferences, complete with a call for papers and a talk selection committee. This year, we had 80 talks covering a wide array of topics such as big data, user experience and design, DevOps, and mobile development.

A keynote presentation kicks off each day followed by talks across multiple tracks. Chris Brown, CTO of Opscode, the creators of the open-source Chef Platform, kicked off DevCon this year with a talk on the emergence and importance of DevOps. Within engineering at Cerner, embracing DevOps has had a big cultural impact on how we approach the software and systems we write and operate.

David Hogue, a leading Interaction Designer and instructor at San Francisco State University, kicked off the second day talking about the importance of interaction design in business and software. Hogue’s keynote was especially relevant to us as interaction designers play a prominent role in the creation and maintenance of our software.

As you can see from the two keynote videos, the visual theme for DevCon this year was 8-bit gaming. Two 1980’s living room setups, packed with vintage NES consoles, CRT televisions, and piles of classic games, provided entertainment and nostalgia during the breaks in the conference schedule. At night, 20 teams competed for bragging rights and awesome prizes at Geek Trivia Night, answering questions ranging from name the sci-fi spaceships to identify the programming language from a snippet of code.

As in previous years, DevCon ends with lightning talks in which anyone can present on a topic of their choosing provided it lasts for no more than 5 minutes. Lightning talks at DevCon can cover the gamut. Past lightning talks have covered Monads in Scala, a visual tour of Comic-Con, and world record strategies in Donkey Kong.

We’ve also made available the DevCon 2012 keynote presentations, both from Dr. Jeff Norris, a scientist at NASA JPL responsible for the robotic spacecraft in the solar system. Norris talked on remaining agile while working on mission critical systems as well as the importance of specialization in the advancement of fields – both of these talks are well worth watching.

DevCon allows engineers across organizations to come together to learn and present on a variety of topics, fostering a culture of innovation. It is no wonder then that many engineers at Cerner cite DevCon as their favorite and most anticipated event within Cerner.