Archive: 2017-01

Longtime SATURN participant Eltjo Poort has posted a summary of SATURN 2017 on his blog. Eltjo was the winner of the inaugural Linda Northrop Software Architecture Award in 2016.

"This was my fifth SATURN conference," writes Poort, "and just like the previous years I returned home full of new ideas and inspiration, and with many useful new contacts. I am already looking forward to the 2018 edition in Plano, TX."

Read the whole thing.

Since 2010, the SEI and IEEE have been conferring two attendee-selected awards at SATURN. The IEEE Software SATURN Architecture in Practice Presentation Award is given to the presentation that best describes experiences, methods, and lessons learned from the implementation of software architecture practices. This year's award winner was Sebastian von Conrad of Envato for his presentation titled An In-Depth Look at Event Sourcing with Command Query Responsibility Segregation (CQRS). See presentation slides in PDF here.

The second award, the IEEE Software SATURN New Directions Presentation Award, is given to the presentation that best describes innovative new approaches and thought leadership in the application of software architecture practices. This year's award winner was George Fairbanks of Google for his presentation titled Functional Programming Invades Architecture. See presentation slides in PDF here.

In addition to reflecting the high regard of SATURN attendees, these awards also contribute to the maturation of the practice of software architecture by recognizing sound and innovative practices.

As the technical co-chairs for SATURN 2017, we're looking forward to welcoming you to the conference in a few weeks' time, and we're excited about the practical, forward-looking program that the hard-working program committee has assembled for the conference. We had many good sessions proposed and unfortunately had room for only a fraction of the submissions in the final program. However, we're sure you're going to find the sessions on the program relevant, engaging, and full of information to take back to work after the conference.

First, we have three terrific keynote talks to look forward to. Kevlin Henney will be speaking about the importance of detail in software development as he talks about Software is Details. Chris Richardson will talk about microservices as an architectural style as he tells us that There is No Such Thing as a Microservice!, while Jeromy Carriere will be exploring speed in software development in his talk, Velocity in Software Development: Why do Companies Slow Down and What Can We Do About It? Additionally, we're thrilled to have a talk from Ruth Malan, the recipient of this year's Linda Northrop Software Architecture Award.

We also have an excellent group of invited speakers. Kurt Stam will be talking about continuous deployment of microservices to be run on Docker and Kubernetes. Joe Yoder will talk about delivering fast with confidence while keeping your architecture clean. DDD expert Paul Rayner will tell us about EventStorming and how it can be used to map out an event-based story of how a software system behaves.

Beyond the keynotes and invited speakers, we have more than 50 peer-reviewed talks, plus training courses and the ever-popular Software Architecture Boot Camp sessions presented by SEI staff members.

These conference sessions explore a wide range of topics relevant to practicing architects, including DevOps, microservices, containers, serverless architectures, legacy systems, agility and architecture, cloud computing, continuous delivery, refactoring, technical debt, architecture evaluation, and technical leadership. All of the sessions have been carefully evaluated by our program committee and will provide practical, timely information to take back to work and apply immediately on your projects and across your organization.

We're very excited about the quality of the SATURN 2017 program, and we'd like to thank our program committee for their careful evaluation of the submissions and also to thank those who submitted session proposals, whether they were accepted for the final program or not.

We're looking forward to being part of this terrific event and of course gathering with our peer group of leading architecture practitioners in Colorado in May. We hope you can join us!

Jørn Ølmheim, Paulo Merson, and Eoin Woods
SATURN 2017 Technical Co-Chairs

You submitted a proposal to SATURN 2017, and it got accepted. Congratulations! When conference participants step into the room to attend your talk, they will come with the highest of expectations--after all, they chose your talk over the others happening in parallel. The people who click on the YouTube video of your talk in the future will also have high expectations. So we want to help you deliver a great talk.

Not everybody was born a great speaker, but those who weren't can easily apply a few tips that will get them closer to a (conference) rock-star performance. Here are 15 tips for creating and giving a great presentation at SATURN:

Preparation

  1. Provide value. Prepare a presentation that will allow attendees to successfully apply your ideas and experiences to their organizations.
  2. Avoid bloated slides. Audiences like illustrated slides better than text-heavy slides. Bulleted points should be no longer than two lines. Break long sentences into two bullets. If a slide has more than 5 or 6 bullets, consider splitting it into two slides.
  3. Enhance your presentation. Sensibly use pictures, graphs, tables, videos, callouts, animations, diagrams, and quotes to make your presentation more interesting. Imagery will improve attendees' retention and enjoyment.
  4. Create readable slides. A common complaint from SATURN evaluation forms is that slides were not readable, especially text in diagrams. For a simple way to check that all text is readable, print your presentation in 2 slides-per-page format. If you can easily read the printouts, the slides should be readable when projected.
  5. Manage time. Participants have also complained that presenters didn't cover all their slides or rushed through the final slides. If your session allows interaction throughout, be careful to cut short lengthy discussions. And above all, follow the tip below.
  6. Rehearse. The secret to a great presentation is practice, practice, practice. Rehearse your presentation at least a few times to train yourself on the flow of ideas. If you practice in front of the mirror, you can see what you look like when talking. You can also present to colleagues and get their feedback before heading to the conference. Don't forget to time yourself when rehearsing, and fine-tune the amount of material you can cover.

Delivery

  1. Be natural. Your audience will be made up of your peers, and they will help you do a great job. Relax and be yourself, as in a conversation by the water cooler. Do not switch to "presentation mode" and speak in a monotonic way like the Terminator (it's ok to dress up and look cool like him, though).
  2. Be engaging. It's your job to keep everyone awake and engaged, and that's not easy, especially after lunch. Be dynamic and energetic. Show that you're passionate about the topic. To establish a rapport with the audience, tell a relevant story or simply smile. Avoid reading notes or your slides. Make eye contact to random people in the room.
  3. In 1 minute, give attendees a reason to stay for the next 30 minutes. Often people are not sure that they have chosen the right session. The first minute of your talk will help them decide, and you don't want to see them sneaking out to the talk next door. State your goals up front. Tell attendees what they will learn. You should also have an initial slide, a quotation, or a story that grabs their attention.
  4. Pace yourself. Some people naturally talk fast; others talk fast when nervous. At a conference, especially one with an international audience like SATURN's, you should speak just fast enough to cover all the content, and slow enough to be understood by all. Be sure to enunciate and speak clearly.
  5. Avoid filler words. Um, well, if you have, like, a pre-teen and a teenager at home like I do, then you're kinda familiar with, like, filler words, sounds, and whatever. Filler words make your communication less effective. You only have so many minutes to cover the slides, so train yourself to avoid them. Instead of filler words, you can ... pause.
  6. Pause. At specific points in your presentation, be silent for a few seconds. Pause right after you make an important remark to let people absorb it or right before making an important point to emphasize it. You can also combine the pause with the next tip.
  7. Modulate your voice. Use inflection and vary the pitch of your voice to avoid a monotonic, boring speech. Throughout your presentation you should speak loudly enough to be heard by everybody in the room. You can lower your voice for emphasis--if you whisper a sentence on the microphone, your audience will listen attentively, but you should do it sparingly.
  8. Look at the audience. Presenters often turn to the screen to look at the slides. Some keep on talking to the screen. Do not turn sideways or turn your back to the audience. If you need to look at the slide, look at the laptop screen on the podium or table in front of you. You may need to turn to the screen to use a laser pointer, but do it sparingly. People who like the pointer sometimes unintentionally overuse it by pointing it at every sentence and every figure on the slides.
  9. Move purposefully. Standing still behind the podium for your entire presentation is not ideal. Move closer to the audience, for example, to tell a story or answer a question. Move toward the screen to emphasize the importance of the information on the slide. But don't meander around the stage as if you were thinking about why the sky is blue. Also avoid pacing from side to side--some people do that when nervous, and it is distracting. Mind your posture: stand balanced when you aren't moving, without rocking back and forth, and keep your hands naturally at your sides or use them in meaningful ways in your communication.