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. 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.
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
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
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
Software Architecture Conference
Twitter: @OReillySACon / #OReillySACon
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
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.
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 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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Twitter: @QCon, @qconlondon
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
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
Data Conference San Francisco
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 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
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
Twitter: @GOTOcon, @GOTOchgo, @GOTOamst, @GOTOber, @GOTOcph
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
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] 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
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 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
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
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 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
OSCON (O’Reilly Open Source Software Convention)
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
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 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
Twitter: @djangocon / @defnado
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
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
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
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
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 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
Who should attend: Developers, embedded developers, security professionals, data scientists
React Day Berlin
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
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.
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.