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The best software engineering conferences of 2021

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Linda Rosencrance Freelance writer/editor
 

When it came to developer (and other) conferences, 2020 wasn't a very good year. Many were canceled, while others moved online. And much of what's going to happen in 2021 is still unknown. One thing is for sure: As in 2020, some conferences will again be virtual.

However, whether virtual or physical, these developer conferences will present amazing opportunities for you to get some practical, technical content on topics from honing your DevOps skills to the latest on containers and microservices. You'll also have the chance to learn the latest software development and testing technologies and best practices, as well as discover new ways to solve complex development problems.

Here is TechBeacon's shortlist of the most popular software engineering conferences in 2021.

January

CSSER21

Twitter: @RobMoSys, #csser21
Web: robmosys.eu/csser21/
Dates: January 12-13, 2021
Locations: Virtual
Cost: Free

The first international Conference on Software and Systems Engineering for Robotics 2021 (CSSER21) arose as a result of the EU H2020 RobMoSys project, which started in 2017 with the aim of creating a digital industrial platform for Robotics. This conference features case studies from industrial settings, the latest developments in framework-agnostic modeling for robotics,  several demos resulting from the RobMoSys project and ow panel discussions with highly recognized experts.

Who should attend: Robotics experts from indutry and research, Software Architects, Model Driven Community

PyCon

Twitter: @PyCon, #pycon
Web: pycon.org
Dates: January-December
Locations: Multiple; in 2020, some events were canceled and others were held online.
Cost: Varies

The international community for the Python programming language holds more than 50 conferences annually. Many of the conferences change venues every year and rely on volunteers to make them happen. The 2020 US conference was held online in April. As Python becomes more popular in the scientific community and for big data, it may benefit you to learn more about this.

Who should attend: Developers, business leads, and other members of the Python community

February

FOSDEM

Twitter: @FOSDEM, #FOSDEM
Web: fosdem.org/2021
Date: February 6-7
Location: Online
Cost: Free

FOSDEM is a mammoth conference held annually for the global free and open-source software communities. In past years, thousands of developers of free and open-source software from all over the world gathered at the event in Brussels. In 2021, they will gather online. Recent events have featured more than 400 speakers, over 500 events. and numerous tracks.

There are six different categories of sessions and activities: keynotes, main tracks, developer rooms, lightning talks, stands, and certification exams. During the event, the live streaming page is updated every few minutes to show you what is currently scheduled in each room.

Who should attend: Developers, testers, and DevOps engineers

Devnexus

Twitter: @devnexus, #devnexus
Web: devnexus.com
Date: February 17 (10 a.m.-6 p.m. Eastern)
Location: Online
Cost: Free

Conference organizers say Devnexus is the largest Java platform conference in the United States. The conference is geared to professional software developers who want to hear from and interact directly with internationally acclaimed presenters and technologists. Devnexus also aims to connect developers from all over the world and promote open-source values.

The conference focuses on Java, JVM (Java Virtual Machine) languages, cloud, and big data.

Who should attend: Java developers, cloud administrators, security practitioners, network architects, software architects, JavaScript developers, mobile and web developers, and application performance testers

JSConf Hawaii

Twitter: @jsconf / @JSConfHi
Web: jsconf.com / jsconfhi.com
Date (2020): February 5-7
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Cost (2020): $550 to $1,100 (discounts available for native Hawaiians)

JSConfs are staged by a loose federation of developers who share the same general idea about how a technical conference should be held. In addition to the Hawaii event, forums may also be held elsewhere in North America, as well as in South America, Europe, and Asia.

Who should attend: JavaScript developers, general web developers, and testers

DeveloperWeek

Twitter: @DeveloperWeek#DEVWEEK2021
Web: developerweek.com
Date: February 17-19
Location: Virtual
Cost: $325 to $545

DeveloperWeek is a series of conferences typically held in physical locations in the United States for developers and technology managers. This year, the conference will host more than 8,000 virtual attendees for over 250 online keynotes, workshops, and conference sessions, a virtual developer hiring expo, speaker Q&As, and many online networking opportunities.

Who should attend: Developers, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists

ConFoo.CA

Twitter: @confooca#ConFoo
Web: confoo.ca/en/yul2021
Date: February 24-26
Location: Virtual (formerly was Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
Cost: CA$525

ConFoo focuses on pragmatic solutions for web developers. The conference typically features more than 150 presentations.

Who should attend: Developers and data scientists

March

Microsoft Ignite

Twitter: @MS_Ignite / #MSIgnite
Web: microsoft.com/en-us/ignite
Date: March 2-4, 2021
Location: Virtual
Cost: Free with registration

Microsoft Ignite is for IT pros, decision makers, implementers, architects, developers, and data professionals to explore the latest tools, receive deep technical training, and get questions answered by Microsoft experts. Ignite covers architecture, deployment, implementation and migration, development, operations and management, security, access management and compliance, and usage and adoption.

Who should attend: Microsoft developers

April

Data Conference San Francisco

Twitter: @DataCouncilAI
Web: datacouncil.ai/san-francisco
Date (2019): April 7-8; 2020 was virtual, and 2021 is TBD.
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Cost (2019): $499 to $699 (discounts available)

This series of conferences emphasizes networking and interaction by capping attendance at 500 people. The 2019 conference offered six tracks focusing on data platforms and pipelines, machine and deep learning, databases and tools, data analytics, building AI products, and hero engineering.

Who should attend: Software engineers, machine-learning experts, deep-learning researchers, and artificial intelligence buffs

Devoxx

Twitter: @Devoxx#devoxx
Web: devoxx.fr
Date: April 7-9
Location: Paris, France
Cost: TBD

Devoxx France is part of a family of conferences held globally each year. The conferences primarily focus on Java, but cover a few other topics as well. The Paris conference is a large event, attracting some 3,000 participants and more than 300 exhibitors and 240 speakers, with hands-on labs and workshops. A sister conference, Devoxx UK, will run November 1-3.

Who should attend: Developers, software architects, data analysts, system administrators, and DevOps engineers

GOTO Chicago

Twitter: @GOTOcon, @GOTOchgo, @GOTOamst, @GOTOcph
Web: gotochgo.com
Date (2020): Conference, April 27-May 1
Location: Virtual
Cost (2020): $725 each day

GOTO conferences, organized by developers, are highly technical and focus on the latest trends in software engineering. Track topics can vary widely, so check out the GOTO conference nearest you. In addition to Chicago, GOTO conferences in 2021 will be held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Copenhagen, Denmark.

Who should attend: Developers, software architects, project managers, system administrators, and DevOps engineers

May

RailsConf 2020.2

Twitter: @railsconf#RailsConf
Web: railsconf.com
Date (2020): May 5-7
Location: Virtual
Cost (2019): $700 to $1,200; the 2020 virtual event was free.

A conference focused on the Ruby on Rails web framework, RailsConf is organized by Ruby Central, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and advocating for the Ruby community. Event organizers pride themselves on making their events friendly, welcoming, and diverse. They also offer childcare services and a limited number of scholarships for students, women, and minorities.

Who should attend: Ruby developers

QCon Plus

Twitter: @QCon / #QConPlus
Web: plus.qconferences.com
Date: May 17-28, 2021
Location: Virtual
Cost: $450 to $599 (for the three-week conference)

QCon Plus is a virtual conference for senior software engineers, and architects, and covers the trends, best practices, and solutions leveraged by the world's most innovative software organizations. Organizers say attendees will hear technical talks from software leaders pushing the boundaries, and talks driving innovation and change, patterns and practices—not products and pitches—and ideas they can implement.

Who should attend: Senior software engineers, architects, and team leads

PHP[tek]

Twitter: @phparch
Web: tek.phparch.com
Date: 2020 event was canceled; 2021 date is TBD.
Location: TBD
Cost (2019): $795 to $1,095 plus training classes; digital ticket: $175

PHP[tek] is staged by PHP[architect], a creator of magazines, books, conferences, and training dedicated exclusively to the PHP community. The organizers describe their conference as "a professional conference with community flair."

Who should attend: PHP developers, website builders, web application developers, and web content creators

Microsoft Build

Twitter: #MSBuild
Web: microsoft.com/en-us/build
Date (2020): May 19-20; all Microsoft events will be digital only until July 2021.
Location: Virtual
Cost (2019): $2,495; 2020 was free.

Build is a massive conference for developers who are building apps for Windows, Office 365, Edge/IE, SQL Server, Azure, Xbox, and HoloLens. Build is now also relevant for Android, iOS, and open-source developers, thanks to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's push for the company to be more platform-agnostic and distance itself from its old Windows-only strategy. Microsoft uses the conference to make important announcements for its ecosystem.

Who should attend: Windows developers, SQL Server DBAs, Azure admins, and general developers, IT administrators, and managers

GlueCon

Twitter: @gluecon / @defrag / #gluecon
Web: gluecon.com
Date: May 18-19
Location: Broomfield, Colorado, USA
Cost: $995 to $1,295

GlueCon is a developer-oriented conference focused on providing the latest in-depth technical information, presented in a format that fosters community. Topics change from year to year and have included APIs, DevOps, serverless, edge computing, containers, microservices, blockchain-driven applications, and the newest tools and platforms driving technology.

Who should attend: Software architects, developers, mobile developers and architects, DevOps engineers, enterprise and startup executives, and team managers

DockerCon LIVE 2020

Twitter:@DockerCon / #DockerCon
Web: docker.com/dockercon
Date (2020): May 28
Location (2020): Virtual
Cost: Free

This is a multi-track conference sponsored by Docker that focuses on the Docker platform and ecosystem. DockerCon LIVE is a container industry conference for makers and operators of next-generation, distributed applications built with containers. In December 2019 (before the pandemic), Docker announced that it would be continuing its DockerCon tradition virtually.

Who should attend: Developers, DevOps engineers, CxOs, and managers

June

React conferences

Twitter: Varies
Web: reactjs.org/community/conferences / reactnorway.com
Dates: June, September, November
Locations: Larvik, Norway; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Mumbai, India
Cost: Varies

These conferences are staged by the community supporting React, a JavaScript library used for building user interfaces. React conferences and locations vary from year to year.

Who should attend: JavaScript developers

August

Open Source Summit North America

Twitter: @linuxfoundation / @EventsLF / #ossummit
Web: events19.linuxfoundation.org/
Date: August 4-6
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; others on different dates
Cost: TBA

Open Source Summits are a series of conferences sponsored by the Linux Foundation. In addition to the Vancouver forum, the Foundation will hold Open Source Summits in Dublin, Ireland, and Tokyo, Japan.

This vendor-neutral conference in North America enables open-source developers and technologists to collaborate, share information, and learn about the latest technologies and innovations across open source.

Who should attend: Software developers, programmers, open-source maintainers, Linux IT professionals, IT operations professionals, legal counsel, executives, managers, and students

September

ApacheCon @Home

Twitter: @ApacheCon#ACAH2020
Web: apachecon.com/acna2020/
Date (2020): September 29-October 1
Location: Virtual
Cost (2020): Free

ApacheCon @Home 2020 was the first online conference for the ApacheCon series. The conference is aimed at open-source community members, specifically those who are interested in learning more about open-source projects that are managed within the Apache Software Foundation. Popular projects include Kafka, Spark, and Hadoop.

Who should attend: Developers using Apache software and contributing to Apache projects, including Cassandra, Mesos, BigTop, CloudStack, Lucene, and Solr

Oracle CodeOne

Twitter: @OracleCodeOne#CodeOne
Web: oracle.com/code-one/
Date (2019): September 21-24; 2021 TBD
Location (2019): San Francisco, California, USA: the 2020 in-person event was replaced with a series of free virtual events.
Cost (2019): $1,450 to $2,050 (government and time-sensitive discounts available)

First held in 1996 by Sun Microsystems, JavaOne (now organized by Oracle and renamed CodeOne) is billed as the largest conference for Java developers. CodeOne also includes all programming languages. Every year CodeOne is a key opportunity to network with the biggest luminaries and rising stars in Java programming.

Who should attend: Developers (especially Java developers) and business managers

Strange Loop

Twitter: @strangeloop_stl
Web: thestrangeloop.com
Date: September 30-October 2
Location: St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Cost: Conference, $600 to $800

Talks at Strange Loop, created in 2009 by a team of St. Louis-based friends and developers, are code-heavy and avoid process-oriented topics such as agile and testing. The organizers keep marketing to a minimum. Keynotes aren't sold to sponsors, and mailing lists of attendees are never sold or given to sponsors.

Who should attend: Developers, entrepreneurs, system engineers, security professionals, and scientists

October

DotNetOS Conference

Twitter: @dotnetosorg / #dotNetconf
Web: conf.dotnetos.org
Date: October 13-15
Location: Warsaw, Poland
Cost: €179 to €478

This two-day conference is dedicated solely to .NET performance. Although both foreign and native Polish speakers have been invited to present, all sessions are in English. Subjects for 2019—the 2020 conference was canceled—included "Cliff Diving into Async in .NET Core and C# 8," "Writing Allocation Free Code in C#," "Compiling and Running a Dynamic Language—PHP—on .NET Core," and ".NET Intrinsics in CoreCLR 3.0."

Who should attend: Members of the .NET community

DjangoCon US

Twitter: @djangocon#djangocon
Web: 2021.djangocon.us
Date: October 17-22
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Cost (2019): Conference, $495 to $595; corporate, $695 to $795; student/diversity, $295; tutorial, $195 (the 2020 conference was canceled)

DjangoCon US is a six-day conference for users of the Django web framework. The event caters to the entire spectrum of Django users, from those who develop business apps on the framework to those who tinker with it in their spare time. Conference planners are committed to diversity.

Who should attend: Web developers and hobbyists

November

QCon San Francisco

Twitter: @QConSF / #QConSF
Web: https://qconsf.com/
Date: Conference, November 1-3; Workshops, November 4-5
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Cost: $1,815 to $2,780 (for the three-day conference)

QCon San Francisco is the place to get best practices and tech. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn from practitioners driving innovation and change in software, identify best practices from those working on in-production projects, meet software leaders from innovator and early adopter companies, and validate their software development road maps.

Who should attend: Senior software engineers, architects, team leads

GoVirCon

Twitter: @GopherCon / #gophercon
Web: gophercon.com
Date (2020): November 9-13
Location: Virtual
Cost (2020): $100 to $595

GopherCon is an annual conference for the Go programming language community. Originally organized in 2014 by the Gopher Academy, a community-driven group of developers who want to promote the use of Go, the event has steadily grown in size, to over 1,500 attendees. The conference is preceded by two days of workshops.

Who should attend: Go developers and users

.NET Conf

Twitter: @dnetcnf#dotnetconf
Web: dotnetconf.net
Date (2020): November 10-12
Location: Online
Cost: Free

This virtual conference for developers is organized by the .NET community and Microsoft. During the three-day event, developers participate in live streaming sessions where they can learn and ask questions in real time. .NET 5.0 was launched at .NET Conf 2020, when the community celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Some of the presentations originate with Microsoft, but others are created by the community and open-source project members. Videos from previous conferences are available online.

In addition to the main conference, the community organizes several local forums around the world throughout the year.

Who should attend: .NET developers

RubyConf

Twitter: @rubyconf
Web: rubyconf.org
Date (2020): November 17-19
Location: Virtual
Cost (2020): $150 to $500

RubyConf is organized by Ruby Central, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the support and advocacy of the Ruby programming language. Its RubyConf event is designed to allow the full spectrum of Ruby users, from novices to experts, to discuss emerging ideas, collaborate, and socialize.

Who should attend: Ruby developers and hobbyists

December

dotJS

Twitter: @dotJS#dotjs
Web: 2019.dotjs.io
Date (2019): December 5-6
Location: Paris, France
Cost (2019): €199 to €299

Billed as the largest JavaScript conference in Europe—it attracts about 1,400 people—dotJS prides itself on being a developer-organized event. This year, day one of the conference will be about front-end development—UI frameworks, browsers, and so forth. Day two will be focus on back-end development and JavaScript as a language.

Who should attend: Developers, embedded developers, security professionals, and data scientists

React Day Berlin (4th edition 2021)

Twitter: @reactdayberlin / #reactdayberlin
Web: reactday.berlin
Date: December
Location: Berlin, Germany
Cost (2019): €260 to €650

JavaScript engineers working with the React technology stack are the primary target audience for this one-day event. The two-track forum tries to balance the visionary with the practical in its talks. Organizers say the conference is a good place to meet and learn from forward-thinking and international community members.

Who should attend: JavaScript engineers

DevTernity

Twitter: @devternity
Web: devternity.com
Date: December 10-11
Location: Riga, Latvia
Cost: €399 to €798

Rather than focus on a particular framework, technology, or language, DevTernity addresses the fundamental building blocks and practices necessary for building better, modern software systems. The forum covers the latest developments in coding, architecture, operations, security, leadership, and many other IT topics.

Conference organizers take a tough line on their event's content: "No agile bull__ bingo or marketing talks permitted," they promise.

Who should attend: Developers, architects, operations professionals, and DevOps engineers

Mark your calendars and make your choices soon, since prices can vary based on how early you register. Also, remember that hotel and travel costs are almost always separate from the conference pricing.

We've listed them all, although not all dates, locations, and pricing were available at publication time, especially for those events taking place later in the year.

In those cases, we have provided historical information on the event to give you an idea of what to expect, and what you'll get out of attending. Keep checking back: We'll update this guide as more information becomes available.

What are your favorite software engineering conferences and why? Let us know if there are any other great events or conferences we missed.

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