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Almost a month ago, Devoxx Belgium was organized. For those who don't know, Devoxx is a yearly conference organized all around the world. The Belgium-edition usually takes place in the second week of November, and brings the entire Java community together to explore what happened over the year.

Me and my colleagues at Optis had the chance to be there (tickets were sold out very quickly), and here's my personal recap of Devoxx 2019.

Deep dive talks

The first two days are filled with very detailed, in-depth talks that take up to 3 hours. Sometimes I find it a bit difficult to listen to the same topic for 3 hours, but this year featured some of the best deep dive talks I've seen so far at Devoxx.

Reactive Revolution

If you like the Spring ecosystem, and the energy and enthusiasm Josh Long has when he starts talking, reactive revolution is a talk worth watching.

Within 3 hours, he talks about the Project Reactor, RSocket, R2DBC, Spring Cloud Gateway and much more.

Clean Code — The Next Chapter

Last year at Devoxx, I followed a talk given by Victor Rentea, and was immediately sold. His talks are always very engaging, with lots of knowledge combined with a few jokes.

This year, he came back with three more talks to give, and each of those are a must-see for anyone trying to write clean code.

His first talk of the week was a three hour talk about clean code, during which he shared some useful steps to refactor your code. Later, we got to see these steps being practiced during a live demo, in which he transforms an existing codebase to a clean codebase.

The slides of this talk are also available on SlideShare.

Victor also gave two conference talks afterwards, one about Evolving a Pragmatic, Clean Architecture and another one about Unit Testing like a Pro which are also worth checking out.

A Deep Dive into Apache Kafka — This is Event-Streaming, Not Just Messaging

One of the talks I followed on Youtube afterwards, was the deep dive talk about Kafka. During the week, Katherine Stanley from IBM gave a few excellent talks about Apache Kafka, and this deep dive talk she gave with Andrew Dunnings is worth watching.

If you can't sit still for 3 hours, she also gave an introduction to Kafka quickie talk later, which was also really great.

Conference talks

After these two great days, it was time for the conference days to kick-off with a few great keynotes. I listed a few conference talks I followed that were really awesome.

Top Tips for Terrible Tech Talks

Each year at Devoxx, I try to pick up at least one non-technical talk, and this year, I enjoyed following Chet Haase's talk about Top Tips for Terrible Tech Talks. Within his talk, he first demonstrates what a bad tech talk looks like, and then points out what exactly is bad about it and how to improve it, slide-by-slide. At the end, he also gives some additional tips, which can be helpful if you ever want to give a talk for an audience.

The Cloud Native Diabolical Developer

A bit later during the week, it was time for Martijn Verburg's alter ego, the diabolical developer, to talk about the cloud native diabolical developer. His talks are usually full with jokes, and (controversial) ideas that make you think about the choices you make when developing applications.

If you're interested in a bit of a retrospective, this talk is worth it to watch.

An introduction to Web Assembly

While many talks are Java-oriented, there are also several web-related talks, and one of them was an introduction to Web Assembly given by Guy Royse.

If you want to find out what exactly Web Assembly is about, and see an example with Web Assembly and Rust being live coded, then you could watch this talk.

Best Practices to Spring to Kubernetes Easier and Faster

Ray Tsang, developer advocate for the Google Cloud Platform gave a conference talk about running your Spring boot application with Kubernetes, and provided an introduction to several tools within the Kubernetes ecosystem.

The presentation is also available on SlideShare.

How to get properly hacked!

Friday is the closing day of Devoxx, and this year it contained a few security-related talks that are interesting to watch. The first one of these talks was How to get properly hacked by Julien Topçu. Within his talk, he demonstrates what could go wrong within your typical Java application such as injection attacks, vulnerabilities within libraries and so on.

He also provided some interesting tools to help you with creating more secure Java applications.

The slides for the presentation are available at Slides.

10 Excellent Ways to Secure Your Spring Boot Application

Matt Raible and Brian Vermeer, both working in the application security industry (for Okta and Snyk respectively), joined together to bring an awesome presentation about securing your Spring boot application.

As usual, they combine it with many jokes, and in this case, we also got to learn some life hacks.

If you prefer reading, the tips were also published in a blogpost on the Okta blog.

Brian Vermeer also gave another talk about breaking into your Java application at Devoxx, which was also interesting to watch (but slightly overlaps with the previous two talks).


Devoxx 2019 was the year of micro-frameworks, with talks about Micronaut, Quarkus and Microprofile. Additionally, it's becoming clear that Kubernetes is a very popular choice as a platform for container orchestration.

See you next year!

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