We wanted DevX to ground people in engineering. “People” here refers both to ourselves in Softcom Engineering and any interested candidate of software engineering.

How do you do that?

From the onset, we used such idiom as “deep-dive” to describe what sort of “in-depth coverage of a topic or area of a topic” a speaker was required to deliver. The objective was to be able to expose to us “the basis for why things are the way they are or become the way they’re intended” in the specialist’s chosen discipline.

While this is still the case, it makes better sense to introduce structure and convention to the session so that every specialist knows what expectations we have of them, which is high, and delivers on those.

Colloquium et onon

No, that isn’t some fancy Latin phrase to make this fun session too serious. It is serious. But only to a degree of enhancing meaningful innovations, no more - serious fun! Colloquium and onon are the two words to guide us to the best of DevX anytime.

Colloquium as defined by my favorite dictionary is:

“a usually academic meeting at which specialists deliver addresses on a topic or on related topics and then answer questions relating to them”. - Merriam-Webster

Before I define onon, which complements colloquium and set the content and editorial standards to our DevX, let’s look at the keywords from colloquium that we should take seriously.

Keywords from colloquium

  1. Academic meeting
  2. Specialists
  3. Addresses
  4. Topics
  5. Questions

Academic meeting

DevX is where we come to learn, first and foremost. Thus, whatever we publish here is for edification. Entertainment is only thrown in for good measure - snacks, food, drinks, banters. To lighten things up, even as we expect our specialists to artfully weave their “science” about personal stories, making the learning fun.

Specialists

This is how we must think of ourselves, each of us, as a specialist in our chosen field. Think about it - if you had a choice between an Inland Hospital and Inland Specialist Hospital, which would you opt for? How about a third - Inland Specialists Hospital? As in, more than one? People need to trust that she who has specialized knows better and would do better. A mindset of a specialist will help us deliver our best DevX. And people will traffic our blog here if they know we’re specialists, best at what we do.

Addresses

How do you react when you hear “the president will address the nation by …” Not “talk to”, “chat with” or “tweet at”, but “address” the nation? You take him and it seriously, no? Of course, you do. So, think of your DevX in the same manner - as a formal speech, to be taken seriously. Yes, lighten it up here and there but know it’s got to be taken seriously by and large.

Topics

Being a specialist in this academic meeting to deliver an address, you sure can’t afford to ramble. You must have at least one subject. Really, one subject alone is more than enough if you’re serious with it. And to really nail your point, keep it fewer than three topics. When I give a DevX, my goal is to nail just one thing - yes, just one. This particular session is just to teach us how to do DevX, that’s all, and it’s very straightforward. I’m certain that the points I make here will stick with us for life.

Questions

Expecting as well as answering questions after a session is more about us the audience. Sure, we encourage comments from visitors to the blog when a session is published. However, the quality of questions that each presenter gets may often depend on how seriously they go about their session, what topic or set of topics they set out to address, and their manner of delivery, which onon would help us tackle.

Introducing onon - the standard for DevX

Onon stands for

  1. Original
  2. Novel
  3. Opinionated, and
  4. Nifty

Believe me, I only noticed I’d coined a word when I took another look at the list for acrostic. So, onon becomes the standard for which a session of DevX is either a “digg” or a “bury”. Do we know or still remember Digg? But I digress.

And if you’re not already guessing where this is going, I’ll tell us. For your presentation or article to make DevX, it must hit at least one of those 4 criteria. See it in typical dev-speak,

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    if (original) { 
        DevX digg 
    } else if (novel) { 
        DevX digg
    } else if (opinionated) {
        DevX digg
    } else if (nifty) {
        DevX digg
    } else {
        DevX bury
    }

But let’s define each of these 4 words and paint a little picture each for each what we mean.

Original

May “original” not frighten the DevX out of you, please! Nothing is original, agreed. But everything is original, no? Yes. Nobody does it like

In your own work, is there something you have discovered? Maybe someone out there on Antarctica has the same discovery too. But until we find that one out, you are the original. Bring that originality, fearless, here to DevX.

Else if?

Novel

About the same as original but in this context we mean, yeah, it’s been done before, but you came to it in your own way, and it made all the difference. Classic example? It’s cliche - the iPod. But do we still have any?

Let your DevX share your novel approach to solving a problem, to creating meaning, even to practice software engineering. Heck, it could be as little as approaching naming in CSS. You never know which life out there you just saved.

Or?

Opinionated

By far the most used JavaScript library in the history of the language, jQuery, was born from some smart guy’s opinion of how some other smart guy’s opinionated creation should be written and how all browsers can support the latter to better the former. Today, jQuery is still used by roughly 90% of the web - and it was just someone’s opinion.

Really, every JavaScript framework today is someone’s opinion. Your non-stick pot, to veer off to the far side, is someone’s opinion. Down to the vitamins we take - someone’s opinion. So, opinion may sound like opposing facts and reality, but when it brings great value?

Thus, your DevX may not be original or novel. But it’s got to be opinionated. It’s got to take a stand. It’s got to bleed, in a good way.

Or else?

Nifty

Your DevX got to be nifty. What’s that mean? It’s like novel, except it’s not. You’ve just got a more clever, neater solution or way to a solution than the rest of us. Bring it to DevX!

* * *

It gets simpler when you try to hit at least one of these 4 criteria holding in your working memory the other 5 from our dear word colloquium that this is an academic meeting of specialists giving addresses on topics and answering intelligent questions afterward.

But how do you write your DevX?

I advise that you write your address first (like an essay) before you make it into a slide. Of course, after you present and have gotten questions and feedback, you’ll come back to polish your writing before publishing. But how do you start?

  1. Think of and through your subject and possible manner(s) of delivery.
  2. Try to filter your thinking through the onon - do you have on your hands something original, novel, opinionated, or nifty?
  3. Then outline every part of your thinking of how best to present your subject.
  4. Visit your outline after a break and test that its entirety reflects your thinking in full. Will the entire outline help you communicate your topic(s) in full, within the allotted time?
  5. 4 said, would you need to chunk your address into a series of 2, 3, or more?
  6. Then start writing. Just write. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. Just write. It’s why you got an editor in me.
  7. Stop when you’ve exhausted your outline and attempt to edit. To tighten things up, to try to be more concise in your explanations.
  8. Hit publish.
* * *

I believe if we take this colloquium seriously for what it is, holding ever on to its onon creed, we shall have succeeded in creating a plaza where great engineering prowess can be birthed. We shall have grounded people in engineering.

Now, it’s your turn - go bring in the next DevX, the greatest.