Back in July, Joe and I travelled across from Novoda's Liverpool office to Manchester for ThoughtWork’s day long conference, XConf.

One of the great features of XConf, is that it is also run in Hamburg a few days earlier. This is an interesting way of running a conference, as it allows a group of people who would otherwise never meet to potentially interact online regarding similar topics of interest.

Being based in the Liverpool office, we don’t get the chance to visit the same variety of conferences as our London counterparts. Though that isn’t to say the quality isn’t there, and XConf certainly delivered. The range of topics on offer for a two-track conference was great, covering topics from Artificial Intelligence to VR.

Two talks particularly stood out to me, and these covered topics on Voice Interfaces and language. Firstly, we had Conversational AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP): It is All in the Intent from Pinar Wennerberg and later in the day we had Evolutionary Interfaces: Exploring from Voice to VR from James Linnegar. It was fascinating hearing about the issues surrounding making Voice assistants more user friendly, and the techniques behind crafting any trigger words and follow up questions.

Another interesting talk was All Roads Lead to DevOps, from Erik Dörnenburg, Developer and Head of Technology at Thoughtworks. An interesting topic for me, as it has always been a bit of a buzzword at previous companies I have worked at. It was great to hear the issues the speaker felt were prevalent in the industry, how these are similar to the issues felt when Agile was first becoming a widely used technique, and the ways in which teams can combat issues in the workplace.

Overall, the conference was great for a single day, and it was great to get out of Liverpool for a change of scenery! The opportunity to meet others in the community that so often crosses over into ours was great, and we got some good interest in the Google Developer Group that we run in Liverpool once a month. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Xconf 2018!