Journeying Through Google DevFest 2023 - The first chapter: A Montreal Adventure

Journeying Through Google DevFest 2023 - The first chapter: A Montreal Adventure

It's Google DevFest Season 2023! After a refreshing and incredible experience at the Google DevFest Bootcamp in Silicon Valley, we, the Developer Experts gained insights and training to then head on to speak and train the different communities around the world about the different Google products and services.

I just came from the Google DevFest 2023 in Montreal, which was an unforgettable experience and wanted to share how it went. As I departed from San José, Costa Rica, on a Friday the 13th during a Lunar Eclipse (what an intriguing date!), little did I know that this event would prove to be a perfect start of the DevFest speaking season for me, which already has some incredible events lined up!

With a direct flight from SJO to YUL - Montreal, lasting approximately five and a half hours, I had the luck of an entire row to myself on the plane, making it a comfortable journey.

If you are more of a video person, here's one! but I encourage you to keep reading the article!

Arriving in Montreal, a city that holds a special place in my heart, I couldn't help but don my warmest sweater to combat the chilly weather. I hopped onto the 747 bus line from the airport to the heart of the city, my old stomping grounds, where I worked and lived for a while. The hotel I stayed at was conveniently close to the event venue.

The evening before the event, I enjoyed a delightful dinner(poutine, just because you are in Canada!) while putting the finishing touches on my presentation. The next day, I rose early, took a refreshing shower, and embarked on a walk to McGill University, the prestigious institution that sponsored the venue.

Amazing McGill Campus

The morning air was crisp, and as I arrived, the event was just beginning to fill up. The excitement was palpable, with all tickets for this DevFest sold out. Breakfast was an ideal time for networking, a chance to put faces to the names of people I had only met on LinkedIn like Jhin Lee, the Flutter Montreal Organizer. It was also a great opportunity to reconnect with fellow community contributors I had met at the DevFest Bootcamp in Silicon Valley like Nav Singh from the Android Montreal Community --watch this video about that amazing event:

The event kicked off with Laurence de Villers, one of the community organizers, providing an overview of the community, event details, and the organizing team. The anticipation built as the event got underway.

Google DevFest 2023 was divided into three tracks/rooms: one focused on Google Cloud and its services (my track), another on AI and Machine Learning, and the third dedicated to Android/Flutter. I predominantly attended sessions in the Cloud and AI/ML tracks.

The first session by Stacey Véronneau, a Cloud Solutions Advisory, Cloud Architect, and Cloud Montreal chapter organizer, delved deep into the technical aspects of securing GCP workloads. He also highlighted Google's remarkable feat of preventing the largest DDoS attack ever recorded.

Next, I attended Stefania Pecore's session, a Senior Data Scientist and NLP Subject Matter Expert. Her session provided an invaluable guide on getting started with Natural Language Processing, offering different paths and recommendations tailored to various audience backgrounds.

Lunch was a mouthwatering affair, with Onnivore catering serving up delicious wraps and a delectable variety of salads.

After lunch, I was treated to "PostgreSQL the Google Way: A Deep Dive into AlloyDB" by Gleb Otochkin, a Cloud Advocate and Databases expert at Google. As an active PostgreSQL user who typically employs Cloud SQL, I was delighted to learn about ways to enhance my PostgreSQL experience.

With a coffee in hand, I gave my presentation at 3:45 pm. The room wasn't as full as I had hoped, but this was understandable, given the parallel session by JL Marechaux in the AI/ML room on Leveraging BigQuery and Python Notebooks to Power AI/ML Projects, a topic I personally wanted to explore.

Nonetheless, I presented "Going from Concept to App using No-Code, Low-Code, and AI on Google Cloud." The hands-on presentation covered setting up Vertex AI, ingesting real data into ML algorithms, creating a conversational workflow, developing a full app with Google Appsheet, and integrating a complete Appsmith app with Google services on Google Cloud. The attendees found the session enjoyable, and I received positive feedback.

The event concluded with closing remarks and prize giveaways, leaving all of us with a sense of satisfaction and inspiration.

I must congratulate and thank the event organizers for their exceptional planning and execution. Also, thanks to Google's sponsorship of my participation in this event.

The day after, I had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, followed by a visit to Place des Arts, where I explored the Museum of Fine Arts, then Notre Dame Basilica, and strolled along the Old Port of Montreal.


Finally, I boarded a 5-hour flight back home, rejuvenated and ready to get back to work on Monday. The icing on the cake was the confirmation that I'll be speaking at the DevFest in Calgary on November 17th and 18th, an event set to host more than 1,000 attendees.

I will be presenting not one, but two sessions, one with technical depth and the other, an inspirational discussion about my career and life as a developer advocate and private pilot.

Thank you for joining me on this exciting journey through Google DevFest 2023 Montreal, and I look forward to seeing you at the next ones!