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Craft Conference Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Leading Tech Giants

Analysis

The event featured a broad cross-section of speakers.

The 10th anniversary of the Craft Conference, Central Europe’s largest professional IT event, was held at the Hungarian Railway Museum in Budapest on May 30-31. Discussions included the future of artificial intelligence engineering, productivity enhancements through AI tools, and industry trends amidst economic challenges. The Pragmatic Engineer Gergely Orosz headlined the event.

The Craft Conference, which began in 2014, was the brainchild of Medea Baccifava and Gergely Hodicska, intending to create a hub for tech enthusiasts to learn and network. Initially a small local event, it quickly grew into an international symposium, becoming a staple in the tech industry calendar.

The conference’s unique venues, like this year’s Hungarian Railway Museum, offer a blend of historical ambiance and modern innovation. The event stands out for its diverse topics, from foundational software development to cutting-edge AI technologies, ensuring it remains at the forefront of tech innovation.

This year Budapest hosted the 10th anniversary of the summit, which has become Central Europe’s largest IT professional event. Known for its significant contributions to software development discussions, the Craft Conference attracted thousands of professionals from around the world.

The 2024 event featured keynote speakers from major tech companies, including Google, Tesla, Spotify, Microsoft, OpenAI, and eBay. Since its inception in 2014, the conference has welcomed over 15,000 participants, with more than 2,000 attending last year alone.

Many top tech firms had booths at the conference.

Relaxed but Inspiring

The organizers attribute the event’s success to its relaxed yet inspiring atmosphere, offering valuable insights for novice and seasoned developers alike, as well as business leaders and managers.

“We have become the go-to developer event in the region,” said co-founder Médea Baccifava. “The community loves Craft because it showcases the diverse directions the industry is heading. Attendees leave with practical tips and thought-provoking ideas, making it a unique networking opportunity.”

Craft Conference extends far beyond typical conference rooms, resembling a festival where technology, knowledge, networking, and entertainment converge. The unique venue of the Hungarian Railway Museum provides a historical backdrop, with participants navigating through old train carriages and even taking rides on mini trains during breaks.

While the setting is captivating, the focus remains on pivotal trends in software development, especially the role of artificial intelligence. Speakers discussed transforming developer tasks, the potential of AI engineering as a future profession, and enhancing productivity with digital labor. This topic is particularly crucial as many companies face reduced development budgets, making productivity a key factor.

The conference also revisited foundational topics to aid junior and novice professionals in honing their skills. With a new generation of developers often lacking knowledge that was commonplace 10-20 years ago, Craft offered sessions to bridge this gap. The event also covered new industry advancements and their effective integration into existing tech stacks.

Soft skills were emphasized as essential for coders, who need to solve increasingly complex problems daily. Craft provided guidance on embarking on self-improvement to elevate one’s career.

70 Speakers

The 10th Craft Conference featured 70 speakers across seven stages, including Mark Thompson from Google, Kelly Shortridge from Fastly, Randy Shoup from eBay, and Samantha Coffman from Spotify.

However, one of the biggest highlights was Orosz, the author behind the top-rated tech newsletter The Pragmatic Engineer, which he bills as the number one paid-for technology newsletter on Substack. It has more than half a million subscribers, and Orosz has 250,000 followers on one of the major social media platforms.

This year, Orosz offered a unique opportunity for attendees to meet him and get signed copies of his book “The Software Engineer’s Guidebook.”

“From the perspective of the presenters, they return to Craft because the audience is very open, curious, and eager to learn and ask questions. Active discussions take place even between presentations,” said Károly Varga, the head of event organizer CraftHub.

“We aimed to invite inspiring speakers with global experience who can provide a comprehensive overview of current happenings in the IT industry. It’s an interesting time; while the market seems to be in a wait-and-see mode, the field has also split,” Varga explained.

“Despite economic challenges, many companies are prospering and growing, while others face tougher conditions, focusing on retaining their best-performing employees and supporting them with new technologies and training,” he added.

The Craft Conference continues to serve as a vital platform for professional development in the tech industry by emphasizing the importance of foundational knowledge, current trends, and networking opportunities.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of June 14, 2024.

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