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try! Swift Tokyo: Want to Visit Charming / Quirky Japan? 

 March 28, 2017

by  Jon Reid

If you’re interested in Swift development and want to visit Japan, start making plans to go to the next try! Swift conference in Tokyo. It was my privilege to be a speaker earlier this month.

Let me share my impressions of the conference, and why you might consider making the trip there.

Should you go to try! Swift Tokyo? See this conference review

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Table of Contents

Logo

Riko

"Riko", the official logo of try! Swift Tokyo

First, let me point out the conference’s logo/mascot. The Swift bird has never been so adorable! Without a doubt, this is the cutest tech conference logo I’ve ever seen.

Talks

Jon Reid speaking at try! Swift Tokyo 2017

DSC_8958 by tryswift, used under CC BY 2.0

The conference spans 2 days, in a single-track format. Talks are limited to 20 minutes, so things keep moving along quickly. (As a speaker, it was a nice challenge to have to condense my thoughts into a 20-minute talk.)

Almost all talks were in English, but I expect the number of Japanese presenters will increase. Simultaneous translation is provided through earpieces by a rock star team of tech-savvy interpreters.

If you plan to present in English: Slow. It. Down.

Then slow it down even further. I sometimes listened to the interpreters, who were often racing in Japanese to keep up with the speakers. Speak slowly, enunciate clearly, and use pauses. The interpreters will thank you, and several hundred Japanese listeners will be able to follow what you’re saying.

Oh, my talk? It was “Making Mock Objects More Powerful”.

Community

Jon Reid and Matsudate Daiki

Me and Matsudate Daiki, one of my new friends

With over 700 attendees, this was the largest conference at which I’ve spoken so far. I’m quiet and introverted, and Japanese people tend to be quiet. Would I get lost in the crowd?

No! I came away having made many new friends. Every time lunch was provided (delicious bento, yum!), I met new people. This allowed me to dig out my rusty Japanese, which improved each day.

Don’t be afraid if you don’t speak any Japanese. The conference is bilingual, with bilingual volunteers scattered throughout. As long as you approach communication as a fun challenge for both sides, it’s all good.

There was also a corresponding Slack group with many channels. And most of the people who had traveled far extended their visits to see more of Japan. If the thought of language/food/culture barriers worries you, listen to Soroush Khanlou’s podcast about his experience with try! Swift as a first-time visitor to Japan.

For non-Japanese speakers, Japan is a lot easier to get around these days than it was when I grew up there. Arm yourself with a pocket wi-fi device, and you’ll have translation & navigation available. Consider giving try! Swift Tokyo a try.

Besides, that logo!

What were your impressions of try! Swift Tokyo? Or questions for those who went? Please share in the comments below.

Jon Reid

About the author

Programming was fun when I was a kid. But working in Silicon Valley, I saw poor code lead to fear, with real human costs. Looking for ways to make my life better, I learned about Extreme Programming, including unit testing, test-driven development (TDD), and refactoring. Programming became fun again! I've now been doing TDD in Apple environments for 19 years. I'm committed to software crafting as a discipline, hoping we can all reach greater effectiveness and joy.

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