MongoDB World 2018 a Review and Retrospective

Every year MongoDB hosts a conference called MongoDB World. 2018 saw the conference return to New York City and the Midtown Hilton on the 26th and 27th of June. There were a lot of exciting announcements made, sessions to attend, and people to meet.

I had a slightly different experience than many of the over 2,000 attendees at the conference. I received invitations to a few different events and presented in a couple of different sessions. I’d like to spend this post talking about my experience at MongoDB World 2018. Hopefully, it provides you with some motivation to attend the event next year. Or, if New York is too far to travel, to attend a local MongoDB community event.

MongoDB World Day 1 – 26 June 2018

The first day of the conference had a few different offering. First, there were hands-on full-day workshops. These allowed people to get some detailed, hands-on exposure to MongoDB. Topics ranged from data modeling to security. While I didn’t attend any of these sessions I heard great things about them from others.
 
So how did I spend day one of MongoDB World 2018? The developer advocacy team at MongoDB put on an amazing day of learning. It also provided access to some key team members. Jay Gordon was our host for Developer Advocacy Day and did a great job on the agenda. There was a nice mix of MongoDB team access along with career-oriented talks.

Developer Advocacy Day at MongoDB World

Several MongoDB employees were there for the majority of the day including Michael Lynn (Global Director of Developer Advocacy), Joe Drumgoole (Director, Developer Advocacy, EMEA), and Aydrian Howard (Developer Advocate). They were around to answer questions from the 60 or so developers in this invite only session. Additionally, several MongoDB Masters in attendance that were a joy to talk with. Additionally seeing, and meeting, people from around the country and world was exciting.

Technical

There were sessions coving many of MongoDB’s product offerings, such as Stitch and Atlas. Francesca Krihely provided some excellent information on the MongoDB Accelerator Program, which was great to learn about.

We had the opportunity to have MongoDB Co-Founder and CTO Elliot Horowitz joined us for a Q&A session. He answered several questions about MongoDB past, present, and future. This was the day before many big announcements so many answers were pretty broad in scope. But, having access to Mr. Horowitz in this close-knit environment was awesome.
 
Another great session was the panel discussion of MongoDB product and engineers. This provided another rare opportunity to get questions answered about specific product features. Further, it allowed us to get an idea about some of the internals of the various products MongoDB offers.

Career Oriented Discussions

Taking Care of your Engineering Manager

Jenna Zeigen from Slack provided a nice talk about things to think about as an individual contributor in an engineering department. It was great to hear her insights as a former manager. Check out her slides here.

Branding

There was a very informative talk by Brandy Morgan on social media marketing. She covered things to do and consider for managing business and personal branding. She did a nice job of walking through some techniques to increase one’s social media presence. If doing so is of interest to you, she is launching a new company and site in September 2018 to provide advice. Sign up for creatorscode.co now to get on the waitlist, or view her talk here.

Community Involvement

I presented a talk to this group of developers. The topic was Getting Involved in Community to Advance Your Career. I talked about my journey in the MongoDB community, some ways to get involved, and how that involvement can benefit your career. Including personal examples from my own life. The slide deck is available here, and I’d be happy to answer any questions on how to get started.

MongoDB World Day 2 – 27 June 2018

Sessions

Mr. Lynn and I presented a talk during the first session on Wednesday. The talk was MongoDB & NodeJS: Zero to Hero in 80 Minutes. There were some unplanned technical issues during the talk making us have to change presentation plans mid-way. However, we made it through and received some positive feedback for the session overall. If you’re interested, you can explore the GitHub repository here to learn more about Node.js and MongoDB.

Video Interview

Jay Gordon grabbed me again for a quick sit down interview to discuss my thoughts on the event.

MDBW18 Interview
Jay Gordon (left) & Ken W. Alger Interview
Innovation Awards

Wednesday night after the conference ended, the 2018 Innovation Award ceremony occurred. MongoDB recognized companies “who are using MongoDB to dream big and deliver incredibly bold, innovative solutions that are moving forward industries and changing lives for the better.”

Companies like accenture, Charles Schwab, and Coinbase, among others, received awards for their creative and innovative development solutions backed by MongoDB. It was great to be in the room with them. Learning how MongoDB is being leveraged is always interesting.

Learning about how 7-Eleven is utilizing Atlas was fascinating. Medical device provider, Humana, won for their implementation for the Internet of Things category. As someone who is interested in IoT, I found that interesting

Zola Award at MongoDB World 2018
2018 William Zola Award for Community Excellence. Ken W. Alger (left) with Michael Lynn (right), Global Director of Developer Advocacy, MongoDB

Wrap Up

MongoDB World 2018 was a spectacular event. They haven’t announced yet where MongoDB 2019 will be. Wherever it is, I would highly recommend you attend.

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Factoring Offline Syncing into your App Design

While most of us are connected to the Internet most of the time, there are still times when we are not online. Just because we are offline doesn’t mean we won’t want to use our apps. Herein lies the problem if you’re developing apps that depend on the Internet to function correctly. We want to check our fitness app part way through a run in the woods, we’d like to play our game apps while sitting on a bus. If your app doesn’t work for everyone, all the time, then your customers will soon find an alternative app that is available offline.

App development

So what do you do about it?

Database synchronization is the key. Luckily, this isn’t something you’re going to have to develop yourself. It’s far easier to use a third-party provider such as Google Firebase or Amazon Cognito for your synchronization needs.

Which provider should I go with?

Looking forward

Choosing which provider to opt for will depend on your own specific requirements. It’s important to think about the future. While your app may currently be aimed solely at mobile devices, will you eventually want to branch out to enable users to install your app on their desktop or laptop machines? Make the right choices now, so you won’t have to make big changes in the future. You should also find an option that allows for some flexibility. While you can predict the future to some extent, it’s hard to visualize what your mobile app development requirements will be in several years time. A provider that allows you to be flexible will help you to grow and expand without limiting you.

Security is paramount

You’ll need your data to be encrypted, you’ll also need data to be sent securely, either via SSL or TLS. Your users will presume any data they send via your app, or store within the app is secure, so you need to make sure it is or you’ll have big problems later. A security breach is the quickest way to lose a good reputation.

Security

Synchronization conflicts need to be addressed

When you’re synchronizing data, there is always the risk of conflicts. For instance, a user has the app open on both their phone and their tablet. How do you deal with this? This data conflict needs to be resolved in the least noticeable way for the user. Check out the providers and do your research. Whose approach will best suit your own needs for conflict resolution?

It’s all about timing

Your users won’t thank you if your app is syncing when they’ve got their mobile data on, racking up a big bill and draining their battery. It’s important to find a provider that makes sensible presumptions and gives options for the timing of synchronization. For instance, you may well want your app to synchronize only when the user is on a wifi connection and not to sync when their mobile device is low on battery.

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