James Governor's Monkchips

Monki Gras 2017 wrap up – on packaging

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Summing up a conference is really hard – you spend a few months hustling, working on design elements, selling sponsorship, planning and deciding on every detail, and then the speakers and attendees come for 2 days and breathe life into a space you’ve curated. Our theme for Monkigras 2017 was packaging and package management. I wanted to examine how we create great developer and user experiences, and look at the value of easy on ramps in driving technology adoption. Convenience is the killer app.

Having initially thought the theme would encourage a wider range of less technical, more “meta” talks, MG17 may actually have been our most technical yet. The container crowd is all about packaging, so we had some great talks from that sector. It was also notable that some talks while not ostensibly about containers, and Docker, ended up spending a fair bit of time how Docker had been influential in either thinking about packaging more deeply, or changing product development methods and strategies.

In writing up Monktoberfest 2012 Stephen wrote:

“We wanted to build something different. A conference where we took the user experience very seriously. A conference populated by talks that would not be heard anywhere else. A conference full of smart, engaged people who were there by choice rather than geographical convenience. And a conference, of course, that converged the world of craft beer and the craft of software development.”

This year I wanted to take the notion of user experience further than ever given the packaging theme. I wanted to run the slickest Monki Gras yet, with better swag than ever – and of course great talks. By and large I hope we succeeded.

We closely examined themes such as how language packages ideas, making design decisions on behalf of the user, the power of convenience, the costs of convenience, the history of packaging, the power of great documentation and so on. Rather than try and sum up all the great talks – I suggest you watch them here. Thanks for the video sponsorship Red Hat!

Great packaging also has to be inclusive to actually be great, and this is one area we did reasonably well. When a young black man comes up to tell how inspired he was to see a talk by a black woman – thanks Roslyn Scott! – at a tech conference you know you’re doing something right. Huge thanks to the Eclipse Foundation for sponsoring our diversity scholarship program.

We also wanted to do a bang up job of capturing the event from a social media perspective, wanting to package the streams and threads better so we asked Documentally to come along and weave all the strands together. He is amazing. Here is his storify about the event.

My colleague Rachel also wrote up MG17 here.

“– how and where is a product available, and how it is accessed? We are in an era where discussion of Docker images and containers are unavoidable in discussions of packaging; while those are both interesting and important, there was also a broader discussion around principles of distribution. Spend time thinking about a product’s delivery and distribution compared to your competitors, and particularly think about how your product competes with the service delivery of cloud platforms.
how easily does a product integrate with other products/platforms/tools? Products that easily fit into existing workflows and toolchains are more likely to be adopted. Consider how you can build or partner to create simple, out-of-the-box integrations.
how is the product documented? Documentation was a indirect theme of the conference, with several speakers touching on how imperative good docs are to user adoption”.

There were also a couple of great posts by Jennifer Riggins – Monki Gras: The Key to Open Source Success is in the Packaging and CONVENIENCE: THE INNOVATIVE WAY TO PACKAGE YOUR STARTUP BRANDING

So what else do you do in a conference roundup?

Don’t forget to thank your speakers:

So thanks so much for your epic work and respect for our community to Stephen O’Grady, Arianna Aondio, Kevin Smith, Kiyoto Tamura, Samiya Parvez, Claire Giordano, Bridget McErlean, Colin Charles, David Pollak, Gergely Imreh, Jonathan Boulle, Roslyn Scott, Erica Brescia, Tracy Miranda, Alvaro Videla, Guy Podjarny, Austen Collins, Gordon Haff, and our special guest Kent Beck.

Then a big big thank you to featured breweries:

Hackney Brewery, By The Horns, Gipsy Hill Brewing, Thornbridge, Partizan Brewing, The Kernel, Mongozo, Villages. Distinct South London feel there.


SOYA, Street Kitchen, and One in the Oven Bakery.

And our fantastic team:

Saffron Governor ran production and logistics. Jack James made all the swag and sponsorship signage and curated the design elements created by Sarah McDonnell and is running point getting the videos out the door. Ben James, video recording and production. Rob Lowe brewery liaison and running the bar, Kate Sage, Maya Sage, Ashley Curran, Max Milner, Megan Lewis, Courtney Huak, Mark Charmers. Visual Elements Ltd AV.

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