By Tim Ryan

The Hampton Roads DevFest 2024 triumphantly returned to Virginia Beach on May 31st, 2024, after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Held at the esteemed Zeiders American Dream Theater, the event celebrated the vibrant local developer community and showcased the incredible talent and innovation within Hampton Roads.

The Zeiders American Dream Theater, known for its dedication to introducing new works and emerging artists, provided a fitting venue for this year’s DevFest. Its mission to inspire creative growth in the community perfectly aligned with the event’s spirit, creating an atmosphere of excitement and collaboration.

HRDevFest began in 2016 as a hyper-local community event to unite developers across the region. Over the years, it has become a cornerstone of the Hampton Roads tech community, fostering connections and highlighting the area’s burgeoning talent. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the return of HRDevFest in 2024 marks a significant milestone, reigniting the passion and innovation that define the local developer scene.

This year, nearly 200 developers gathered for a day of engaging sessions, workshops, and networking opportunities. The event started with an opening address that set the tone for the day, emphasizing the importance of community, collaboration, and innovation in driving the tech industry forward.

The schedule featured an impressive lineup of speakers, each bringing unique insights and expertise:

Monica Rathbun: In her talk, “You Really Should Look at the Execution Plan,” Monica addressed the common struggles developers face with query performance, offering practical advice for diagnosing and resolving issues.
Travis Webb: His session, “Is Gen Al the Killer App, or the Final Boss?” explored the potential and pitfalls of General AI, questioning whether it will be a revolutionary tool or a complex challenge.
Chazona Baum: In “How Love Lessons Can Land You a Great Job (Even in a Down Tech Market),” Chazona provided a lighthearted yet insightful look at how personal skills and strategies can lead to career success.
Michael Buckbee: “How to Lose an App in 60 Seconds” focused on web application security, sharing survival strategies derived from real-world attack scenarios.
Jenah Parman & Marla Schuchman: Their talk on “Empowering Efficiency at a National Lab through Low Code Solutions” highlighted the benefits of low code/no code solutions in streamlining workflows.
Ken Collins: “The Rise of AI Copilots. A Blueprint to Unlocking AI Agents & Assistants for your Dev & Product Team” offered insights into leveraging AI agents to enhance productivity and innovation within development teams.
Omar McNeil: In “The Day of Learning: Amplifying Learning and Development at Your Org,” Omar discussed the transformative power of learning and development initiatives.
Guillermo Fisher: His session on “Managing On-Call Chaos: Innovative Strategies for Effective On-Call Management” provided valuable strategies for handling on-call responsibilities effectively.

Throughout the day, developers, entrepreneurs, and tech enthusiasts explored cutting-edge technologies, shared their experiences, and gained valuable insights from industry leaders. The workshops covered various topics, including artificial intelligence, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and software development. They provided hands-on learning experiences that enhanced participants’ skills and kept them abreast of the latest industry trends.

The event’s networking sessions were a highlight, offering attendees the chance to connect with like-minded individuals, potential collaborators, and mentors. The sense of camaraderie and mutual support was palpable, reflecting the close-knit nature of the Hampton Roads tech community.

The day concluded with a closing ceremony that celebrated the achievements of the local developer community and recognized standout contributions. It was a moment of reflection on the journey so far and a look ahead to the future, filled with optimism and anticipation for what lies ahead.

Hampton Roads DevFest 2024 was not just an event; it was a testament to the resilience and creativity of the local developer community. As the region continues to grow and innovate, events like DevFest are crucial in fostering a supportive and dynamic ecosystem. The return of HRDevFest has undoubtedly rekindled the flame of innovation in Hampton Roads, promising a bright and exciting future for all.