Technology and innovation don’t stand still, so exchange about these things shouldn’t stand still either. Quite a number of conferences changed their format already or even have been cancelled – which is absolutely understandable given the unpredictable situation in times of Corona pandemic.
Nevertheless, we are happy and thankful that Software & Support Media decided to actually make the API Conference happen in The Hague. For that, the concept changed a bit, though. For the first time, the conference took place as a hybrid event. Attendees had the opportunity to join via provided live streams or be directly on site. Also as a speaker, you were free to have your talk via video conference. This was a huge advantage for everyone who is still impacted by travel restrictions or quarantine regulations that prevent them from coming.
For the first time, we had the chance to give our own talk at the conference. So we decided not to wait for the live experience any longer. We wanted to be on-site to present the topic “Service Mesh meets API Management – Services & APIs well under control”.
Despite the face masks we had to wear during the entire flight, everything seemed normal. We felt like the flight was fully booked and every seat was taken. We were lucky enough to get window seats on the exactly right side of the plane: perfect view of the evening sun and the thunderstorm front that we had to fly around.
With almost 800 kmph we arrived above the Netherlands. There was almost no time remaining to count cows and windmills before touch down in Amsterdam. The actually large airport was a ghost town. Nonetheless, we wore our “mondkapjes” on our way to the airport’s train station, and we waited with a distance of “5 tegels” between each other for our train to The Hague. There was enough space to keep our distance as also the station was pretty empty.
Location & Atmosphere
The screams of seagulls woke us up in the morning. Oh right, of course, the beach is just about 4 kilometers away from the hotel. Nevertheless, it had to wait. Breakfast was coming up before the conference was about to start with the first keynote. Full and satisfied, we headed to the large conference room. Don’t forget the “mondkapje”/face mask on the way!
Before entering the conference room, we could disinfect. In front of the stage, tables were lined up in multiple rows, each table with just a single chair and lots of distance in between. Hygiene and physical distance were valued a lot. In his opening speech, Sebastian Meyen emphasized how happy the organizers were to finally make a conference happen. The most important goal was to create a safe environment for everyone to enjoy the event. Part of that also was that only people for whom it was safe and appropriate, and who didn’t have to fear complications and quarantine on their return, travelled to The Hague. If this was the case, however, you were advised to stay home, and, especially, don’t go on long-distance flights. Keeping distance was particularly important in that regard. Hence, the conference was taking place as a hybrid event which appeared as sort of a watch party.
Usually, between a hand full and two dozens of participants joined one of the three conference rooms to follow the presentations. In the beginning, this seemed a bit lonely and lost, almost sad. Where are the networking opportunities if there are only a few people to meet at the conference and the remote participants remain completely invisible?
After getting used to the special situation, we noticed the circumstances were indeed very special. We were not lonely at all, we found ourselves in a familiar surrounding. Of course, we could connect and discuss, drink one or the other beer or glass of wine together. Where else do you have the opportunity to get in touch with almost every participant in a conference without feeling stressed?
Everything was a bit smaller and quieter. Cozy, pleasant, safe. During lunch or coffee breaks it was perfectly fine to arrive a little later if you had a chat or discussion after a session. There literally was no queuing at this conference, just like there also were not any buffets where you had to wait for them to be refilled.
The event was hybrid in multiple regards: The API Conference took place as a joint event with the Serverless Architecture Conference, a huge benefit for us. Although we rarely deal with the topic “serverless” at the moment, but with our focus on APIs and architecture we are exactly at the interface of the represented subject areas. Also, our topic “Service Mesh meets API Management – Services & APIs well under control” was a perfect fit. We felt in good hands, both atmospherically and content-wise. Overall, the conference program was very round and the talks complemented each other perfectly. For us, there were numerous new insights and inspirations, e.g., regarding the topics API and ecosystems, asynchronous API, or message-driven architectures.
Under normal circumstances we are travelling at least for two or three days every second week. Since March, this was not the case at all. Being en route again after all these weeks and months, was pretty special – in particular when the trip takes you abroad right away. By plane! This is no matter of course at all right now. We appreciated a lot having got this opportunity while also feeling so safe thanks to all the efforts of the organizers.
Another part of the special experience was the event taking place in The Hague, close to the sea and with a lot of rental bikes right in front of the conference hotel, and with perfect infrastructure for cycling. This called for a detour to the beach. Let’s get on the holland bikes, ride across nice houses, through dune scenery, right into the sunset … What a great compensation, nice diversion to all the time without travel. Work and education are a lot of fun this way!
Thanks a lot to the organizers, all speakers, and attendees – either remote or on-site! The API Con provided us a great conference experience, and we are looking forward to the next time! See you soon already in October in Berlin.