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UIKonf 2013

I attended UIKonf last week, a new international iOS developer conference in Berlin. This post is here to give you an idea what it was like. It is also my reminder of cool stuff to check out.


It was really nice talking to all you fine ladies and gentlemen. I had a lot of fun hacking and drinking with you. Everybody should be back next year and to those who didn't attend: WTF is wrong with you?

Lightning talks and drinks

The event was kicked off with a pre-registration at Supermarkt where everyone could pick up her badge and some nicely done paper (!) notebooks.

There were six lightning talks:

  • Lisa Lang talked about "hacking the system".
  • Marin Todorov talked about JSONModel. I will definetely look at that for my next project involving JSON.
  • Miriam talked about teaching students mobile development on Android.
  • Niels van Hoorn talked about the math behind Bitcoin. His main point was that you should go read the paper, it is only nine pages long!
  • Felix Geisendörfer talked about tus, a project for bringing resumable file uploads to the world. Something to check out, but Felix bended the lightning talks concept a bit by talking on 3x the whole time :).
  • Alper Çuğun talked about a game he did for exploring a museum in the Netherlands.

I went for food with some people afterwards, if you like burgers, you should check Volta out.

Main event

The main event was hosted at Heimathafen, a really cute theatrish place. I arrived at like 9am, which was way too early, but the great coffee by Companion Coffee kept me alive for the day. Just some short notes on some of the talks, the full list and bios of the speakers are up on the UIKonf page.

  • Daniel Eggert told us to not use NSIncrementalStore.
  • Robert Böhnke made a convincing argument for ReactiveCocoa, with the best slide design of the conference. And minimize your state even if you don't use it.
  • Tim Brückmann told us about unit testing.
  • Florian Kugler did a really vivid walkthrough of Instruments. Personally, I was kinda zoned out at the point, so I am hoping for the videos to check back if I missed something. He was also using AppCode, wonder how he copes with its uglyness :).
  • Poetica was shown as a part of James Weiner's talk on the familiarity of user interfaces. It is a collaborative writing tool with some nice visual design and a powerful way to visualize changes between document revisions. It definetely is a service to watch.
  • Cesare Rocchi was getting the most laughs with his really enjoyable talk on auto layout. Funniest moment was when he commented on a layout gone haywire: "We could call it an Android app and ship it!"
  • Peter Steinberger gave an amazing talk on using private API. He used Hopper for one of his demos, a disassembler which looked very useful. Nice tidbit: apparently you can pass nil as the first argument of addObserverForName:object:queue:usingBlock: to get notified of all notifications flowing through the system.

Overall, having a bunch of in-depth non-technical sessions emphasized the tagline "for serious iOS developers". If you are a serious iOS developer (or any serious developer for that matter) you do have to care about design. Just getting stuff to work might have been enough in the eighties, but these days, it's about getting it to work well to let people get on with their lifes. Louisa Heinrich really hit the nail by asking: "how much frustration can people cope with?" (kudos for giving a great talk without slides, BTW). And even in the most technical session by Peter Steinberger, he was swizzling dealloc not to be cool, but to improve the experience for his users.

I gave a talk as well, on the basics of the Objective-C runtime and what you can do with it. I think it was a bit dry because I shied away from doing any demos in the 30 minute timeframe. If you have any more criticism, I would appreciate if you shared it with me.


The fine folks from Readmill hosted the hackday at their office in Kulturbrauerei. It is a really nice space and there was a great atmosphere for hacking away for nine hours - it is amazing what you can accomplish in a day if you've got a deadline.

My project was Lyricsify, an app where to type in some lyrics snippet and it tries to figure out what song it is and if it did, you play it using Spotify. As I was scratching my own itch, I will probably iterate some more on it and ship it in a couple of weeks.

Everyone presented her project for two minutes in the evening, accompanied by Ullrich Schäfer as a DJ. Many cool hacks, my favourite two were:

  • An app for Rubber Duck debugging by Alexander Sparkowsky, Carola Nitz and Oliver Michalak. It allows you to talk about your programming problems with a virtual duck. The cool thing about it is that they used the accelorometer to detect when you are hitting the table and are also doing speech recognition and synthesis - great use of the iPhone's abilities. Some screenshots:

Thanks a lot to the fine folks from Nxtbgthng and Readmill for having us!

Some thoughts on improvements

  • Don't sell yourself short, the conference was more three days than one.
  • The main event could have been an hour shorter - maybe start an hour later and move two talks to the day before and make it "official".
  • Sell some T-shirts.
  • Next year, I will probably be paying and at 300€ I feel like ripping you off. Charge more!

Keep the hackday, the mix of tech/non-tech and, most important, the coffee :).

The end

The whole vibe at the conference was very inviting and I have got a million things I'd like to hack on now, talking to everyone was quite inspirational. I am already looking forward to being back next year.

Thanks to Chris, Matt, Max and Peter - it was awesome! Thanks to the speakers, I was humbled to be on the same stage as you. And finally, thanks to everyone else I talked to and hacked with.

Oh and if you like meat, go to Chicago Williams, it's great!