try! Swift India 2017 — An iOS Conference Experience

It was a fine summer morning of 2017, and I was reading up on regular tech blogs. That is when I came across a Slack channel (Swift India) for iOS Swift users. I too was using Swift for all of my iOS projects, and naturally I became a member of this community. The idea was to validate my understanding of Swift, learn from others, get acquainted with the community standards (libraries, coding practices etc.), and in due course share my learnings with the community. Over the last few months I learnt a lot being part of this community, and cherry on the icing came over the last weekend when I attended the first Try! Swift India 2017 conference at Bangalore.

Swift India

I had not been to B’lore in a few years now, and hence planned a buffer on both sides of the conference day with a view to go places sightseeing! However, on reaching B’lore I was sort of intimidated by the (in)famous traffic 😃 and hence kept my travels limited to nights/offbeat-hours over the next 3 days (A flight from Pune to Bengaluru takes less travel time as compared to the time taken by bus from B’lore airport to Horamavu 😱 ).

Pune-Bengaluru journey

I had a fun time catching up with friends, watching JusticeLeague at IMAX (boy it turned out to be a downer 😔), and a long drive on the NiceRoad with NO traffic (a magic trick pulled off by a friend!)

try! Swift India Bangalore 2017

I started early on the Sunday (19th Nov’17) morning to reach the conference venue in(before) time…I had intended not to miss out on anything! The organising team had made good arrangements to onboard the audience. I got my badge and made myself comfortable in the conference hall.

Even before the talks started Chris, the event’s official ‘magician’ had got the audience engaged with his cool magic tricks. (It was at the very end of the day that I appreciated the work done by Chris in keeping the event lively and engaged!)

After a short break for tea, Natasha announced a book giveaway. The book was one ‘Pro Swift’ by Paul Hudson. A quick glance of the book, and I found it very valuable; especially in terms of functional programming constructs like flatMap(), design patterns in Swift etc.

First set of speakers were Jono Guthrie, Satoshi Hachiya, and KS Sreeram
Juno introduced several Swift frameworks like Vapor, Kitura, Zewo, SCADE, and Swift Package Manager.

Swift based frameworks

The very first talk set the mood of the conference towards Swift as language for frontend and backend. Satoshi’s talk “What is Swifty?” revolved around what makes your Swift code ‘Swifty’. The crux of the talk was to follow the Swift API guidelines to a tee. Sreeram’s talk made the audience imagine a world where machines and humans code together side-by-side. His demo was an interesting one where the machine coded a singular-to-plural generator with a little help from the dictionary.

Google Firebase HotSauce @ Try! Swift Bangalore

During a short break I saw some familiar faces from Google’s Firebase team. I had interacted with them during the Firebase DevFest in Pune. It was good to see disparate tech communities intermingle with each other in order to try out different technology stacks.

The next set of speakers were Sai Hema Kanduri, Mugunth Kumar, Aishwarya Kumar, and Cate Huston. Sai talked about her journey towards contributing to the open-source. According to her the key was to start early, start small, and not to wait for something big. It didn’t strike me till she said, but making documentation of open-source projects more readable and effective could also be a huge contribution in itself!

Mugunth talked about the CoreML features that have been made available to the developers since the latest release of iOS11, and the corresponding advantages it brings to the developer’s table.

Aishwarya discussed how Flipkart got rid of their App’s frame dropping issue by using of Realm, playing around with LinkedIn’s LayoutKit, AsyncDisplayKit (now known as Texture), and implementing Flux design pattern etc.

Achieving 60fps @ Flipkart!

After a sumptuous lunch the next set of speakers included Kamilah Taylor, Vatsal Manot, Shivam Misra, and Chris Bailey & A B Vijay Kumar. This session brought forth topics like robotics, Declarative vs Functional Swift programming, and design patterns. Shivam used a rather interesting analogy of the film Sholay for the MVVM architecture of BookMyShow’s iOS App. Chris and AB talked about how IBM is up-n-running with an all-Swift framework named Kitura.

Shivam explaining BookMyShow’s App architecture with a Sholay analogy!

The final set of speakers were Robin Malhotra, Bharghav Gurlanka, Akanksha Sharma and Jesse Squires. Robin talked about refactoring of the Apps with RxSwift. Bharghav gave a demo of SwiftPackageManager in action. Akanksha talked about how her team used the CoreML and MetalKit to implement and run Deep Learning in their App called Flo.

Jesse’s talk - Adapting to Change: design patterns in Swift

The final talk of the day was “Adapting to change: design patterns in Swift” by Jesse. Using some hilarious examples Jesse explained the importance of well-factored code, following good design patterns and principles. At the same time, he emphasised not to follow certain patterns/acronyms (MVC, MVVM, WTF… :D) just for the sake of it, and rather let your understanding of your application (requirement) decide which pattern to follow.

The day concluded with a few more tricks from Chris and an awesome group photo. A few talks caught me in the foot-in-mouth state, as I had no idea about what the speaker was presenting. However, those talks gave me good pointers as to where to start. I always had respect for tech communities like Swift India; and it increased many fold after the experience I had at the conference.

Back home! :)

My friends in Bengaluru played awesome hosts for 3 days ☺️
3 days of Bangalore traffic, masala-dosa, JusticeLeague @ IMAX, NiceRoad drive, Try! Swift India 2017, 1 hour 45 mins flight, and 10 mins drive later I was back in Pune!

I’m now looking forward to start reading, learning, and implementing a few of things that caught my attention at this conference!

- Peace 🤘