I'm going to SATURN 2014 and you should too!

The SATURN 2014 conference is taking place this May 5-9 in Portland, OR. You should consider joining me at this essential software architecture conference. Register now online while tickets are available!

After graduating from Carnegie Mellon with a Master in Software Engineering degree, I needed a way to stay relevant on software engineering topics. As great as it would be, taking time off of work to earn a new degree every 5 to 10 years just doesn't work. It’s time consuming and stressful, not to mention cost-prohibitive. Rather than going back for more degrees, I decided that I would attend at least one professional conference every year. Ideally, I also try to present or write at least one paper every year too, but attending at least one conference is the most important goal.

This year my conference of choice is SATURN 2014. I decided to attend SATURN this year for a number of reasons.
  • SATURN is the largest conference dedicated exclusively to software architecture practitioners (not academics) in North America. I will only attend conferences where I can learn something that I can actually use in my job. My expectation is for a high density of practical knowledge.
  • SATURN is one of the few conferences in the world dedicated to software design principles and practices. There are lots of conferences out there on methods. Tons of conferences on programming and specific technologies. SATURN is one of the few conferences that examines these topics from the perspective of architecture and software design. This perspective if desperately needed sorely lacking in software professionals today.
  • SATURN is an established conference. The conference is co-hosted by the Software Engineering Institute and IEEE Software, and this year marks the 10th consecutive conference held. The SEI and IEEE are responsible for having established and promoted nearly every standard practice in software architecture that has ever existed. Their participation in this conference is a strong indicator of the kinds of topics that will be covered.
  • SATURN is attended by the folks who define software architecture. Here are just some of the software architecture thought leaders who are speaking at SATURN -- Philippe Kruchten, Rick Kazman, Len Bass, Robert Nord , Felix Bachman, George Fairbanks, Ipek Ozkaya, Jeromy Carriere, Rebecca Wirfs-Brock, Ted Neward, Linda Northrop, and more…

    If you measure a conference by the number of speakers who have a Wikipedia page, this conference has at least 5. Bonus points if you can find them at the conference.
  • SATURN has a good mix of presentations, workshops, and longer tutorials. The tutorials and classes are top-notch. I personally am looking for advanced tutorials and workshops to attend and SATURN has these. There’s also a couple with introductory information for software engineers just getting started in the world of software architecture.
  • SATURN is hosting a co-located Open Space facilitated by Diana Larsen. I’m an explorer. When choosing a conference I look for opportunities to explore beyond the established program. I love a good Open Space conference and I am very much looking forward to having an Open Space filled with software architects. I am even more excited that Diana Larsen will be the facilitator. She has done an amazing job facilitating at the XP conference in Europe every time I have been.
  • SATURN keynotes this year look amazing. It’s unusual for me to attend a conference based on keynote speakers. Most of the time I’m not that excited about the big speakers and I’m really looking at the overall topics in the conference. That said, the SATURN 2014 keynote lineup looks really solid.
  • SATURN is held in Portland, OR this May 5-9. Timing and location also play a significant role in my deciding what conference to attend. I have always wanted to visit the Pacific Northwest and Portland in particular. I’ve heard so many amazing things about Portland that I really need to see it for myself. May is also a great time for a conference, at least for me. I must admit that if I could afford to go to Europe this year, I am extremely tempted by XP2014 in Italy.
I should mention that I am serving as the technical chair for this year’s SATURN conference. You should view my serving as the technical chair for SATURN as the greatest possible endorsement I can give a conference. Given the massive time commitment required to plan and organize a conference, I can’t afford to spend time on something that I do not feel is massively important to software architecture, and something that is not great. SATURN is important to our profession. SATURN is a great conference. I very much hope to see you there this May.

Other Conferences of Note:

  • Software Architect London -- I would call this SATURN's sister conference for Europe.  I have not attended, but it is pretty close in terms of quality of program to SATURN and a good choice if you are from Europe.
  • XP 2014 -- outside of SATURN XP is my favorite conference after having attended twice.  The biggest problem for me is that it is in Europe.  Like most Agile conferences it is usually light on software architecture (albeit the strongest architecture presence of the Agile conferences I've attended), but the locations, excellent planning, and dedicated research track more than make up for this.
  • Agile 2014 -- Agile has been expanding to include Agile coaches and UX topics, which has shifted the focus away from core software development.  That said, if you pick the right tracks this is a great conference.

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