This week I had the pleasure of attending iOS Dev UK, in the lovely Aberystwyth on the Welsh coast. Here’s my thoughts on the conference, including a look at some of the topics that were on offer and what could be improved for next year.

Having only been to cross-platform conferences in the past, I was curious to attend a platform-specific event, and the selection of talks seemed to cover a range of interesting topics. Furthermore, since I’ve mainly interacted with the local Android community (through GDG Liverpool), it was great to meet more Liverpool/North West iOS developers.

On arrival, the weather was as expected for Wales (extremely wet) and with the university up a seemingly-never-ending hill, it wasn’t off to the best start! However after visiting the town, getting the chance to meet a range of new faces, and stumbling across a sizeable Northern contingent, any worries were soon mitigated.

Aberystwyth beach and pier

A stand-out talk for me was on 'Resource Management', from Rebecca Eakins and Carson Ramsden from ThoughtWorks. This included some great insights into the tools available in Xcode to a developer, in particular the Instruments tool, and how to use them effectively to create an efficient app with a smooth UI. By analysing the results from the Activity Monitor, a developer can dig into possible issues in their code and UI that could be slowing down the application, which is especially important as an app grows in size. The memory graph in Xcode was also showcased, which allows a developer to easily spot memory leaks by showing the objects currently on the heap, and their respective references.

Talk on Resource Management

Another great talk was on 'Taming Animations' from Sash Zats. This covered the different tools available for your animation needs in iOS. These included UIViewPropertyAnimator, CoreGraphics and UIDynamics. Sash also discussed 'Lottie', a tool from Airbnb, although this limits you to needing a knowledge of Adobe After Effects, the consensus was that it’s a great tool for adding fun and meaningful animations to your app. You can find out more on Lottie from one of our product designers Chris here.

Core ML also had a decent representation, with Machine Learning being this year's hot topic in development. I was pleasantly surprised at how much the framework does for you, and it will definitely be something to experiment with over the next few months.

On the final two days, there were hour long sets of Lightning Talks. I always enjoy these at conferences as it allows a broad range of developers to get up and talk about interesting topics, and these didn't disappoint. Some of the stand out talks from the two sessions:

  • Snapshot testing with FBSnapshot
  • Smoke testing iOS Apps
  • Architecting iOS Apps beyond VIPER
  • The Lock Screen is the new Home Screen.

Overall I felt the conference was a great event, and a brilliant way to meet others in the iOS community. The diversity of the attendees and speakers could be improved, perhaps by doing more proactive outreach for next year’s event, and I think this would help diversify the content in the talks further. Also, an Android app for the conference would be great for the cross-platform developers in attendance who don’t have a particular allegiance. 😜