Julian speaking at DevConf 2023

A Blockchain Primer at DevConf 2023

At the end of May 2023, I had the opportunity to speak on blockchain technology in Cape Town and Pretoria at DevConf 2023.  DevConf – the largest and premier developer conference in South Africa – brings together South Africa’s tech community (corporates, startups, consultants etc) to share learnings, network and inspire on all things tech and software development. This year’s edition took place on the 23rd (Cape Town) and 25th (Pretoria) of May 2023, and featured a wide range of talks – on various themes such as performance optimisations, software testing, developer wellbeing and tech leadership – delivered by a diverse range of local and international speakers.

My talk, titled “Building a vaccine register on the Ethereum blockchain” featured a primer on blockchain technology (think intro to blockchain, wallets, accounts, transactions etc) and the Ethereum ecosystem tools (MetaMask, Ganache, Truffle & Solidity), as well as a walkthrough and live demo of a proof-of-concept vaccine register – an Express web app with SQLite database and a solidity smart contract. 

The motivation for my talk was 3-fold: (i) it is the talk I wished I could have seen when I started developing blockchain solutions, (ii) to give a zero-to-hero overview in 45 minutes for any developers that are curious about blockchain technology; and (iii) an attempt to spark a conversation on whether there is utility in using blockchain for record-keeping or we’re better off using a standard database.

Overall, the talk was well received and I fielded some questions at the end of the talk ranging from gas price considerations and optimisations e.g. batching transactions to smart contract version management etc. And most importantly, as someone that errs on the side of caution and usually gives pre-recorded demos instead of live demos, I’m super relieved that the demo gods smiled kindly and live demo was without a glitch! Check out the video below.

Alternatively, you can access the video recording here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzD6uaYEFdM – and be the judge whether there really is utility in using blockchain for record-keeping or as earlier mentioned, we’re better off using a standard database!

Special shout out to Candice Mesk and Robert Maclean for organising the stellar conference, and all the sponsors that made the event happen. 

PS – I have to mention that my 1st talk which was in Cape Town was on the 23rd of May, a day after World Bitcoin Pizza day. So naturally, one of the takeaways from my talk was maybe buying pizza using bitcoin is not such a great idea! But, just so I have said it, this is my personal view and should not be misconstrued as financial advice!