Category Archives: DConf

DConf 2020: Submission Deadline, Early-Bird Registration, and Invited Keynote

In early January, I announced that Symmetry Investments is bringing DConf back to London for our 2020 edition. At the same time, I said we’d start taking submissions from anyone who wanted to send them in. In the interim, we’ve fixed our deadlines and prepared to start accepting reservations. There was only one thing remaining before I was ready for the formal call for submissions and opening of early-bird registrations: confirming our invited keynote speaker. Now that he has confirmed, it’s all official!

Invited Keynote

We’re excited to welcome Roberto Ierusalimschy to DConf 2020! You may know him from his work as the leading architect of the Lua programming language. He’s the author of Programming in Lua and an Associate Professor of Computer Science at PUC-Rio (the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro).

We don’t know yet what his talk will about, but it can be about any topic he wants. We’ll have more information on that for you when we publish the schedule of all selected talks after April 19.

Call for Submissions

We are accepting submissions for DConf 2020 until April 12. Authors will be notified of their final status by April 19.

We’re eager to see some new faces on the stage this year. If you’ve never presented at a DConf before, please don’t hesitate to send us one or more submissions. One person has already sent in seven!

Unless you’re Roberto Ierusalimschy, we prefer topics that are directly or indirectly related to D. We aren’t intransigent, though, so we’re willing to consider other topics. If someone sends us a proposal that isn’t about D but piques our collective interest, we’ll certainly give it serious consideration.

Having a talk selected is a great way to get to DConf if you’re on a budget. You’ll pay no registration fee, plus we’ll reimburse your transportation and lodging costs (within reason—five-star hotels and business- or first-class plane tickets aren’t on the menu). That’s a pretty good deal.

You can find instructions for writing and submitting your submissions on the DConf 2020 homepage.

Early-Bird Registration

Early-bird registration is available at $340, which is 15% off the regular $400 rate. Because we’re being sponsored by Symmetry in London once more, we once again must include a 20% VAT. So the total early-bird rate is $408 (similarly, the regular rate with VAT will be $480). We’re required by UK law to show you the basic rate and VAT in GBP based on the current HMRC exchange rate. That changes every month, so you can see the latest GPB rates in the registration section of the DConf 2020 homepage.

There, you’ll find options for Flipcause and PayPal. From our perspective, we prefer you use our Flipcause form. That gives you the option to cover the credit card processing fee for us so that 100% of your payment can be put toward DConf expenses. If you choose to uncheck that option, that’s fine, too! It will still save us from paying other fees. Every penny we can put toward the expenses helps.

If you do choose to go through PayPal, you have an option for USD and one for GBP. Some registrants told me last year that they get a GBP option even when clicking the USD button. And of course, some register with GBP-based credit cards. However, the GBP button on the DConf 2020 homepage is a fixed amount based on the current HMRC exchange rate. It changes, but only once a month. It may turn out to be cheaper for you than the rate you get from PayPal or your credit card provider. Of course, it could turn out to be more expensive, so if you’re looking to save a few pounds, you may want to investigate the different exchange rates if they apply to your situation.

And Now For Something Completely Different

DConf isn’t the only event Symmetry Investments is sponsoring these days. We recently wrapped up the 2019 edition of the Symmetry Autumn of Code.

This year, we started with five participants working on five interesting projects. Each participant was to complete a total of four milestones over four months with guidance from a mentor. At the successful completion of the first three milestones, each participant would receive $1000. At the end of the fourth and final milestone, one participant would be selected to receive one more $1000 payment and an all-expense paid trip to DConf.

As the event played out, we lost one of the participants at the end of Milestone 2. Two more were unable to fully commit to the Milestone 4 deadline (though they promised to continue working on their projects after SAOC). That left two participants for the SAOC review committee to select from. It was a very difficult decision, as both participants did excellent work and received glowing evaluations from their mentors.

Now I can announce that the SAOC 2019 finalist was Roberto Rosmaninho!

Roberto, with his mentor Nicholas Wilson, worked on adding support for Multi-Level Intermediate Representation (MLIR) to LDC, the LLVM-based D compiler. He is currently working on putting together pull requests for LDC and intends to work on optimizations going forward. He has also confirmed that he will take advantage of his reward so that we will have at least two Robertos at DConf this year.

As we did last year with Francesco Gallà, the SAOC 2018 finalist, we’ve asked Roberto to submit a talk this year. He promised to do so. We can’t promise his talk will be selected (though the odds are high out of the gate), but he still gets a free trip if it isn’t! Besides, we’re looking forward to meeting him.

On behalf of the D Language Foundation and Symmetry Investments, I want to thank everyone who participated in SAOC 2019. Keep an eye on this blog for news about future events.

Now go prep your DConf 2020 submissions!

DConf 2020: Double Decker Edition

To kick off the year of double 20’s (or double X’s if you prefer), the D Language Foundation is excited to announce that DConf 2020 will return to 99 City Road for a second round in London! We had such a great time last year that we were over the moon when we heard that our DConf 2019 hosts and sponsors at Symmetry Investments were willing to do it all again in 2020. The venue’s Sinisa Poznanovic will be back live streaming the talks on the D Language Foundation’s YouTube channel, and all of the talks will once again be recorded in HD via the capable hands of the Stage Engage crew.

Since DConf 2013, our annual D gathering has taken place each year in May. This time, we’re breaking tradition by running the conference in the middle of June. Our usual three days of talks will take place June 17th – 19th, followed by our annual DConf Hackathon on the 20th. There’s a reason we picked these dates, but it’s tied to an announcement I hope to make some time in the next few weeks. My fingers are crossed that things work out the way we intend and that I can make that announcement sooner rather than later.

Early-bird registration will open in the near future. From now, we’re accepting submissions. If you’ve got an idea for a talk or a panel, don’t be shy. It doesn’t matter if you’re a D veteran or a D noob, if you’ve spoken at multiple DConfs or spoken at none (or never spoken in public at all). We’re eager to see submissions from any and all, but we’re particularly interested in seeing some new faces at the lectern this year. If your talk gets selected, you can plan your trip to London and, as a speaker, you’ll be eligible for reimbursement for the cost of your transportation and lodgings. If your talk doesn’t make the cut, you lose nothing. So head to the DConf 2020 web site for the details and send us your submission!

Additionally, we’re currently working out the details of a potential event peripheral to the conference itself. If all goes well and the plans come to fruition, I’ll announce it here as soon as I’m able (otherwise, I’ll have just teased you for no reason whatsoever). We’ve also got an eye out for opportunities like the walking tours we organized before the conference last year. I don’t know which ideas or opportunities will materialize this year, but I do want you to know that we’re looking.

So start making your plans, send your thanks to Laeeth and Symmetry Investments (if you’re so inclined) for taking on a second DConf and for everything they’ve done and continue to do for the D community, and send us your submissions!

Goings-on in DLand

The blog has been quiet for the past month, largely because I’ve been busy. I’ve had a couple of articles submitted to me which were a little light on content, so I asked the authors to flesh them out some more. Both are busy at the moment, but I’ll check back in with them in the New Year.

In the interim, I figured I’m due for a new update. I’m also working on the next article in my D and C series, which I hope to publish soon. If you’ve got something you’d like to say, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I can’t promise I’ll publish your article, but if it checks all but a few boxes I’ll be happy to work with you to check off the rest. I’m also open to Project Highlights. If you’ve got a project to show off, let me know and I’ll tell you how to proceed. The D Language Foundation pays a bounty for most guest contributions, so it’s a relatively easy way to make some cash. Speaking of bounties…

Task Bounties

Don’t forget that we’ve got 8 open task bounties awaiting someone to claim them. You can also make a contribution to increase the bounties for the tasks you’re concerned about by clicking on the corresponding card on that page. Click the first card on the page if you’d like to seed a new bounty with a contribution, but be sure to include a note with a Bugzilla issue number or a request that I contact you for details. Once we’ve got it sorted, I’ll create a new card for your task and assign the seeded amount.

I’ll be adding some new tasks to the page in January. We’d all love to see some of the existing tasks closed out before then!

Contract Work

Some readers may be aware that Adam Ruppe is working on contract for the D Language Foundation to take LDC’s Android support to completion. It looks like he’s not too far away from the finish line. You can read about his progress and his JNI module in the latest installment of This Week in D.

Back in October, Sebastiaan Koppe posted a comment in a forum thread where the OP asked what was holding up D support for WebAssembly. Sebastiaan at that point had made a few announcements about his Spasm project and posted some demos, but there was still a lot of work to be done. His response to the question:

The short answer is manpower…With D the main issue is that someone needs to port druntime to wasm. I am working on it in my spare time, but progress is slow.

I wondered if there was a way to speed things along. After securing permission from the people in charge of the Foundation’s purse strings and discussing the details with Sebastiaan, he agreed to make a dedicated effort to get the project done on contract. He needed a few weeks before he could get started. He also wanted to draw up a document detailing his approach and ask for feedback. That resulted in a forum thread, Proposal for porting D runtime to WebAssembly.

I’m happy to report that the contract has since been signed and the work is underway!

The Human Resource Fund and More

Both Adam and Sebastiaan will be paid from our Human Resource Fund, which WekaIO seeded and expanded through two generous donations. We are thankful to everyone who has donated so far, but we need to keep growing it. There’s a good deal of work out there that can improve the ecosystem if we have the money to throw at it. You can donate directly through the Human Resource Fund donation page, where we apply the same rewards as listed on our OpenCollective page, or you can donate $60 through our special donation page and we’ll send you a DConf 2019 t-shirt.

We also welcome direct donations to our General Fund. You can make indirect donations by shopping through AmazonSmile at and selecting the D Language Foundation as your preferred charity. We’ll receive a small percentage of your purchases through that URL (and we’re only available through the .com domain, not .uk, .de, .jp, or any other Amazon domain). There are browser extensions, such as Smile Always for Chrome and Smart Amazon for Firefox, that will automatically send you to the smile subdomain when you visit You can also turn on AmazonSmile in the Amazon Mobile App.

Purchases through the DLang Swag Emporium also send money to the general fund. We get a commission on every item sold, but if you visit through this link (or the one in the sidebar) which contains our referral number, we’ll get referral commissions on any item you buy on your visit to Zazzle, including those in our own store. We’re selling D-themed coffee mugs, stickers, t-shirts, hoodies and now wrapping paper. We’ll be adding more items and more emblems as time goes by. So far, you’ve helped us raise $135.05.

SAOC 2019

SAOC 2019 Milestone 3 wraps up on December 15. The final round kicks off the same day. Out of five who started the event back in September, four remain. The reviewers have largely been pleased with their efforts so far. At the end of Milestone 4 in January, only one of the four remaining participants will be eligible for the final $1000 payment and the award of a free trip to DConf 2020.

The participants are supposed to be posting weekly updates in the General forum, so you can follow their progress there. After the event, I’ll ask those who didn’t get the grand prize to write about their projects and their SAOC experience here on the blog.

The D Language Foundation, the SAOC reviewers, and I wish good luck to all of the participants as they enter the final stretch. They’ve been working hard and picking one “winner” isn’t going to be easy!

DConf 2020

Preparations for DConf 2020 are well underway. At the moment, I’m waiting on the news that the venue contract has been signed and delivered. As soon as I hear that, I’ll come straight to the blog with the announcement. I’m hoping to be able to announce our invited keynote at the same time, but I’ll not delay the main announcement for it.

What I can tell you now is that we’ll have a longer submission period this year. We’ll also keep the registrations open longer. We’re aiming to bring new people in and are currently discussing a special event with that goal in mind. That will require an advertising budget this time around. We did some advertising for DConf 2018 and learned some lessons in the process. We hope to apply them to better effect for 2020. Any donations you can make to the General Fund will help us toward that end.

Keep it Going

Thanks to all who have contributed their time, their energy, and their money to help make the D language and the D community what they are today. We’ve come a long way since the day I first stumbled upon the Digital Mars website in the summer of 2003. But there’s always more work to do. Newcomers to D have no perception of what came before, only of the way things are when they arrive. We need to continually improve the DLang experience, meet the expectations that surround a modern programming language, and live up to the ideal. That means we are always in need of more donations of time, energy, and money. If you have any to spare, we welcome it!

DConf 2019 Recap

In late November of last year, Laeeth Isharc of Symmetry Investments expressed interest in hosting DConf 2019 in London. On a personal note, I had been looking for an excuse to get back to London since my brief visit at the end of the first Berlin DConf in 2016, so as my inbox filled with emails discussing possible venues, my excitement started to build. At one point, the Royal Institution was among the list of candidates.

I couldn’t make an announcement yet as nothing was certain, but I did start teasing it on Twitter and here on the blog. At our first D Language Foundation quarterly meeting on December 1, there was unanimous agreement that London was the place to be. As the days passed and it seemed to be a near certainty, I was eager to make the announcement, but near certainty is not certainty. I had to wait until Symmetry had selected a venue. That news reached my inbox on December 21. I announced it on the blog the next day.

After that, it was time to get into the details.

Planning a DConf

Past editions of DConf were organized either by hosts with employees who regularly organize conferences as part of their job descriptions, or, in the case of DConf 2018, an event planner hired by the host. This year there were no event planners and no dedicated conference organizers. It was a very different experience compared to my first peek behind the DConf curtain last year. Most of the details were hashed out in numerous emails and phone calls with Belinda Liao. Though we can thank Laeeth and Symmetry for making DConf 2019 happen, we owe a big thanks to Belinda for making it work.

I first became acquainted with Belinda–who Laeeth introduced as his “chief of staff in London”, who Symmetry’s tech team affectionately refer to as “the official nag”, and whose official title is Business Manager for Technology at Symmetry–during last year’s Symmetry Autumn of Code. Throughout the planning for DConf, she was the one doing all of the legwork. She also made sure we covered all of the bases, querying me for our requirements, pointing out anything I overlooked, and bringing new ideas.

The venue told us they would handle the live stream, but we also wanted a separate solution for recording and producing the individual talk videos. Belinda hired Stage Engage, who sent a single technician, Rowan While, to get the job done. He set up multiple cameras and sat at his primary camera in a back corner for the entirety of the three days of talks. He and his colleagues did an excellent job and three weeks after DConf the link to download the videos was sitting in my inbox. They’re all available on our YouTube channel and are accessible, along with the slides for each talk, through the DConf 2019 schedule.

During the talk submission period, Ethan Watson reached out to tell us he could submit a talk, help us in reviewing drafts of the speakers’ slides, or volunteer to be the emcee. Andrei suggested he do all three. So he did!

This year was the first time we asked the speakers to submit drafts of their slides. Last year, Andrei participated in a conference where the speakers were required to present their talks via Skype for review prior to the conference. He suggested to me at the end of DConf 2018 that we might want to consider that this year. When Ethan came onboard, he suggested instead simply reviewing drafts of the slides, which is standard procedure at the Game Developer’s Conference where he had previously presented. So we set up a deadline for the speakers to send us their drafts. Ethan reviewed them and provided feedback.

Planning the peripherals

When I first heard we might be going to London, I wanted to find some places to see other than the well-known tourist spots. On my first visit, I’d only had a day to be a tourist. This time, my wife was coming along and we were making a two-week trip out of it. So I hit YouTube to search for some video guides. That’s where I found Joolz Guides.

Julian McDonnell uses the channel to post London history walks and travel films. A filmmaker and actor, he also makes himself available for private guided walks through his web site. The idea came to me later than it should have, but in late February I contacted Julian to see if he would be available for a couple of pre-DConf walks. He doesn’t generally work with large groups, though he told me he had scheduled a pub crawl with 18 employees of a company. So we set 18 as the maximum size of a group, worked out a payment structure based on the total number of people, and I got Andrei’s approval for the foundation to cover the cost.

Around the same time, I got in touch with a pub near the venue. Finding a nightly gathering spot was a concern from the beginning. At past conferences, it was either the “official” hotel or, last year, the venue itself. There were several hotel options around the venue, many of them rather pricey. The budget hotels didn’t strike me as places where we could be holding our nightly “BeerConf”. I wanted to avoid the situation that happened in 2017 in Berlin when the hotel staff kicked us out of the lobby and relegated us to a back room. Belinda offered suggestions and I also sought advice from Russel Winder. Ultimately, I stumbled upon the Prince Arthur Pub while poking around Google Maps one night.

The pub has a second-floor space available for private hire. Getting it booked for three nights was a simple process. It also presented an opportunity for sponsorship. Ali Çehreli had been hoping to get his employer, Mercedes Benz Research and Development North America, to sponsor us in one form or another. We had been looking at potential swag, but now that we had the pub, he got approval for the company to cover the booking fee and a couple of rounds of drinks for each person who joined us each night.

Later on, Symmetry rented a different space nearby for the third night, including beer and food. So we had a cozy neighborhood pub for the first two nights of BeerConf and a more upscale bar for the third. Two different atmospheres that both allowed us all to have a good time.

The tours

The first of the two tours we booked with Julian took place two days before the conference, starting outside the Ritz at Green Park station (which, as it turns out, is right up the street from Symmetry) and ended up at the Strand near Charring Cross. The next day we met at Temple station and went through Temple (the legal district named for Temple Church, which was built by the Knights Templar) and on a winding route through the City of London.

Julian pointed out a number of sites we most likely would not have picked out on our own, giving us little nuggets of history for each. For me, some of the highlights were the building where the Beatles did their famous rooftop concert, the tailor shop that served as a front in the movie Kingsman: The Secret Service, the story of Temple Church (which we decided at the time not to go inside, but which I will visit on my next London trip to see the tomb of William Marshal), St. Etheldreda’s Church in Ely Place (dating back to the reign of Edward I), and the Charterhouse. Oh, and an interesting bit of trivia about the origin of the Japanese word for suit.

Julian is an entertaining guide and I believe everyone enjoyed the tours. If you’re ever in London with time to spare, I recommend you contact him about a private walk or a historical pub crawl.

99 City Road

The conference took place on the second floor of Inmarsat’s Old Street office building. Some of us arrived before 8:00 am on the first day and were directed by the security staff to a cozy little waiting area on the first floor. When the time came, we were guided to a side entrance and issued ID cards that would allow us access through the main entrance through Saturday.

As far as I’m aware, the conference went smoothly for just about everyone on site. There were a few hiccups along the way, most of which were noticed by few, if any, of the attendees. For example, those of us early arrivals on the first day found that the power outlets were located under trapdoors scattered throughout the room, but they were out of range of many of the seats. Before it became an issue, Belinda appeared with two of the venue staff, all bearing power strips. Belinda put out most fires before anyone smelled smoke.

Speaking of fires, we started the third day with a test of the building’s fire alarm system. It wasn’t a drill, just a test, so we didn’t have to go anywhere. All was well. Until Steven Schveighoffer got about 75% through his talk. The Stage Engage team edited it out of their recording, but in the live stream, you can see the point where Steve was interrupted by the fire alarm. This time, it was no test. We had to evacuate the building. Several folks got outside and were told to move down the street before abruptly being called back. Five minutes later, everyone filed back into the conference hall and Steve was able to finish his talk.

The venue staff encountered their own minor issue on the first day. At every DConf, we have mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks, but the coffee is generally available all day. At 99 City Road, they’re used to events with “coffee breaks” in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon, where the coffee is set up and taken down along with the snacks. They soon learned that many DConf attendees are powered by caffeine, so they adapted and left the coffee out all day for the duration of the conference.

The food provided for our lunch each day was fantastic. Speaking for myself, it’s the best food I’ve ever had at a DConf (I did not attend the 2014 and 2015 editions, but I doubt that they compare). It was so good that I went back for seconds each day, which was possible because we had an abundance of food. If we find ourselves at this venue again, the quality of lunch is something we know we don’t have to worry about.

We did encounter one major issue this year, though it did not affect the conference attendees. A number of remote viewers on the first day encountered issues with the live stream, with some unable to see it and others having audio trouble. The venue was using Webex to handle the live stream. Sinisa Poznanovic, the venue’s A/V tech, attempted to switch to YouTube during the lunch break, but the video was oddly being flipped horizontally. He was unable to resolve the issue before the afternoon session, but he promised to stay after we left in the evening until he got it working. When we came in the next morning, the YouTube live stream was set up and working properly. I have to say it was a pleasure working with Sinisa and he has our gratitude for the great work he did throughout the conference.

The Webex issue is something none of us foresaw, but it’s possible we could have. Belinda had sent me a PDF with the links and login information several days before the conference. At the time, I was in Canterbury hanging out with a couple of old friends. I had never heard of Webex, but a cursory search on my phone showed that it’s owned by Cisco. That and the fact that it’s what the venue crew always use were enough to satisfy me, so I searched no further and went back to my vacation. In hindsight, had I dug more deeply into the search results (which I have since done), I would have learned that 64-bit Linux is not officially supported. Had I posted the login details to the forums as soon as I got them from Belinda, those with negative Webex experiences could have spoken up prior to the conference. Such red flags might have motivated us to insist on using YouTube instead.

In the future, we’ll require YouTube for all of our live streaming and, if we encounter anything new, I’ll enlist some help to do more thorough vetting in an effort to uncover potential problems.


One of the proposals that came in during the talk submission period was from Nicholas Wilson outlining an Annual General Meeting. When the selection committee met to select this year’s speakers, we decided it would not be feasible to have an AGM as part of the regular schedule. We agreed instead to hold it before the Hackathon.

Just as the DConf Hackathon isn’t the sort of event most people think of when they hear the term, we didn’t envision the AGM as the sort of meeting corporate shareholders would be familiar with. We wanted to limit it to two hours so that we would have time for people to discuss their Hackathon plans before lunch. Nicholas had the idea and put together the agenda, so he would be the moderator. Ethan and I would roam the room with mics so attendees could ask questions. Initially, we had no plans to live stream the event, but in the end, we decided to do it anyway.

The meeting began with an announcement from Andrei. For those who haven’t heard, he is stepping away from his leadership role in the D Language Foundation. He’s still involved in the D community and still manages the foundation’s finances, but for personal reasons, he can no longer devote the time and attention a leadership role requires. Átila Neves was invited to join the team and take over that role. To what I’m certain will be the benefit of the D community, he accepted. It was made possible because Laeeth, his employer, agreed to allow him to do foundation work on Symmetry time.

One of the benefits of DConf is face-to-face communication. Some of the conversations that take place lead to new ideas, collaborations, and projects, but the majority of them are lost to time and memory. In our first AGM, we have not only the benefit of face-to-face communication but also a video record. We covered a lot of ground in the meeting: DUB, DIP 1000, the PR queue, shared, @property, std.experimental, DMD as a library, the DIP process, and more. The ideas put forward are there on video so they won’t be lost. And, thanks to the note-taking skills of Johannes Loher, we have a nice list of action items to work with.

One direct result of the AGM is that I recently revised the DIP process to address some concerns that have been raised in recent times. More items will be ticked off the action list over time.

The quarterly D Language Foundation meeting

The first two quarterly meetings took place over Skype. This time, we were able to hold it face-to-face. Andrei, Walter, Ali, and I were joined on site by representatives from a handful of D shops. We had scheduled the meeting during one of the talks so that we could ensure we’d have a quiet spot for those who were participating remotely. Unfortunately, we had issues with Google Talk for one remote participant while others who were to participate via Skype were too busy to attend.

Skyping these meetings is better than nothing, but meeting face-to-face was a tremendously more efficient and enjoyable experience. We had productive discussions on several topics that garnered more participation than the Skype meetings do, where the discussions tend to be less animated. The company reps aired their issues, we talked about some future plans, and all went well. Most of the items discussed will benefit the community at large when they are finally realized, e.g. Bugzilla issues and new tooling.

I expect our quarterly meetings will become a regular sideline event at future DConfs.

Until next year…

I thoroughly enjoyed myself at DConf this year. Last year, I was too busy emceeing to have much fun. As Ethan discovered this year, there’s more to the emcee job than one might expect (and I would say he’s much more suited to it than I am). When I did it, I was worried about drinking in the evening and wanted to get in bed early each night, so I only fully participated in BeerConf the final night. This year, I had no such concerns, though I did leave early the second night to surprise my wife for dinner.

I hope that everyone at DConf 2019 enjoyed it as much as I did. I also hope that those who were unable to attend this year, especially those who have never attended a DConf, can make the trip next year no matter where in the world we end up. Just think, it’s only been a few weeks since the conference, but we should be talking about DConf 2020 in just five more months.

The countdown is on!

DConf 2019 London Programme

The DConf 2019 schedule was published on March 17th. This year we’ve got a solid mix of first-time DConf speakers and veterans. If you haven’t visited the site in a while, you’ll surely notice that it’s been redesigned. The old version was not responsive and was quite annoying to manipulate on small screens. That has been rectified. And we’ve also got a new logo appropriate for this year’s venue.

Day One – May 8th

It wouldn’t be DConf without keynotes from Walter and Andrei. Walter’s focus this year is on memory allocation strategies in D, the talk which will kick off Day 1. The video of his talk from last year was one of those we lost to a technical error, but the slides are available for download. Both slides and video are available for his talks from every previous edition: 2017 in Berlin, 2016 in Berlin, 2015 in Utah, 2014 in Menlo Park, and 2013 in Menlo Park.

First-time DConf speaker Jens Mueller follows Walter’s keynote with a talk on the approach Dunhumby (formerly Sociomantic Labs) takes for implementing machine learning. Specifically, he’ll be covering how they integrated a C library, MXNet, into their D applications.

D bug fixing machine Razvan Nitu is back this year, speaking just before lunch on Day 1. He presented half-hour talks at DConf 2017 in Berlin and 2018 in Munich related to his D Language Foundation scholarship at Politehnica University of Bucharest. This year, he’s doing a full hour on the new D Copy Constructor from the recently approved DIP 1018.

Robert Schadek has presented at DConf 2013 in Menlo Park and DConf 2016 in Berlin. This year he’s got the much-coveted post-lunch slot, where he’ll tell us all why spreadsheets must die. What’s the D connection?

After a brief and humorous look into the capabilities and idiosyncrasies of spreadsheet programming, using D as an alternative will be explored.

The next two hours are filled by three first-time DConf speakers: Guillaume Piolat will show off his intel-intrinsics library, Lionello Lunesu will give a 30-minute demonstration on packaging D applications, and prolific D contributor Sebastian Wilzbach will use a half-hour slot to explain how to become a D contributor.

Walter and Andrei will close out Day 1 with our now traditional Ask Us Anything session. They’ll take questions from the conference attendees and the livestream viewers. We’ll try to take as many as we can, but time is limited. Since it’s the last slot of the day, we don’t need to worry about fitting in a 10-minute break, so we can go the full hour, but we can’t go too far over time.

Day Two – May 9th

Our invited keynote speaker this year is Laeeth Isharc of Symmetry Investments. Laeeth has contributed to the D ecosystem in multiple ways, including setting up the 2018 Symmetry Autumn of Code and in bringing DConf to London. His abstract has not yet been published, but it will be available on his talk page once it has been.

Mathis Beer will follow Laeeth with his first DConf talk. His employer, Funkwerk, was profiled here on the D Blog in the past as part of our D in Production Series. He’ll be showing us how Funkwerk combines functional programming and OOP in their application design.

Luís Marques has occupied the pre-lunch slot on Day 1 twice: in 2016 and in 2017. Last year, he was in the post-lunch slot on Day 2. This year, he’s sending us into lunch again, this time on Day 2, with his ideas on how to make D’s compile-time features even easier to use.

Átila Neves has given some DConf lightning talks in recent years, but his last full talk was at DConf 2015, which followed his first one at DConf 2014. He’ll be giving his perspective on what motivates programming language adoption, with a look at how C++ succeeded and how D can emulate its success.

Next up are half-hour presentations from two more Politehnica University of Bucharest students. PhD candidate Eduard Staniloiu, who spoke about his work on D collections in 2017 and in 2018, will this year be telling us about the details of the upcoming ProtoObject, which is intended to become the new root of the D class hierarchy to bridge the gap between the old Object class and features that have been added to the language over time.

He’ll be followed by undergraduate Alexandru Militaru who will present the results of porting a Linux kernel driver to D to put to the test D’s suitability for systems programming and the D motto of fast code, fast.

The last full talk of the day will come from Francesco Galla, the winner of the 2018 Symmetry Autumn of Code. For the SAoC, he worked on adding HTTP/2 support to the vibe-http package. His abstract is not online at the moment, but the subject of his talk will be his SAoC project.

We end Day 2 with our traditional round of Lightning Talks. Anyone in attendance is welcome to come to the lectern and regale the crowd with a 5-minute presentation on your D-related topic of interest (sometimes, we may allow a non-D related topic if the potential presenter has a strong elevator pitch). Sign up beforehand or let us know on site. Either way, it’s first-come, first-serve. We have 10 slots available. And I have a strong suspicion that the emcee this year will ruthlessly hold speakers to their 5-minute limit!

Day Three – May 10th

The bulk of our veteran speakers are lined up on Day 3. Andrei will open this last day of talks with the final keynote of the conference. As tradition dictates, he’s keeping us in suspense as to the topic. Keep an eye on his talk page for the abstract.

At DConf 2017, Bastiaan Veelo gave a talk on using the Pegged parser generator, which we learned his company had employed to develop a transcompiler that would help them convert their Extended Pascal codebase to D. This year, he’ll be presenting a followup to that talk, detailing the challenges they’ve faced and the benefits they’ve seen from some of D’s features.

Steven Schveighoffer has become a familiar face at the DConf lectern, having presented in 2016, in 2017, and in 2018. He’s back again, this time sending us to lunch with a talk focused on generative programming, using serialization as an example of putting D’s powerful compile-time features to work in generating boilerplate code so we programmers don’t have to.

Ethan Watson, also a three-time DConf speaker (in 2016, in 2017, and in 2018),  brings us back from lunch with more compile-time desiderata. He’ll be showing how to push D’s compile-time capabilities to the limits while still keeping the code easy to maintain and highly efficient.

John Colvin has presented at DConf 2015 and DConf 2016. His talk is all about ranges; not just D ranges, but the concept of ranges, particularly as they were applied in production code at Symmetry and the lessons learned from a heavily range-based DSL.

LDC veteran and D book author Kai Nacke is another DConf three-timer: in 2016, in 2017, and in 2018. He’ll explain how his parser generator, LLTool, evolved from its conception to its current state.

Ali Çehreli is, along with Walter and Andrei, an officer of the D Language Foundation and the author of the excellent ‘Programming in D’ book, available for purchase in print and freely online. He’s also a two-time DConf speaker, in 2013 and in 2016. This year he’s bringing us an experience report on how he employed D to develop a tool in his job with Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America.

Day 4 – May 11th – The Hackathon

The DConf Hackathon returns for its third consecutive iteration. It’s not the sort of hackathon most programmers are familiar with, where multiple teams compete to develop a program from scratch, usually over several days. Instead, it’s a single day of collaboration on D and its ecosystem.

Participants are free to work on any project they’d like or none at all. Typically, a few people sit down and catch up on the personal projects they’ve not had time for, some recruiting others to help or provide feedback. Others come together to plan new projects or to work on issues affecting the D ecosystem. Some provide impromptu tutorial sessions on D or specific programming topics. Others take the time to chat.

Each of the two previous Hackathons saw significant work accomplished, including numerous pull requests for outstanding Bugzilla issues in the core D projects and even the implementation of a new D feature (static foreach, as described in DIP 1010, was implemented at the first Hackathon at DConf 2017).

Last year, we started the Hackathon with an extra talk about WekaIO’s open source run-time support library, Mecca. This year we’re opening with an Annual General Meeting (AGM). The goal is to discuss and, hopefully, resolve some of the outstanding issues in the D Community and potentially set the stage for some work during the Hackathon.

The plan is to keep the AGM to under two hours so that we can have time for the morning Hackathon session. This will give folks a chance to get their game plans set so they can jump right into the code at the afternoon session after lunch.

The Bennies

As a reminder, we’ve got the 2nd-floor room at the Prince Arthur pub, not far from the venue, each of the first three evenings of the conference, courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America. We’ll have a couple of free rounds each night for all who show up.

We’ve also tentatively scheduled tours with Julian McDonnel of On May 6th and 7th, he’ll be taking those who have signed up on a walking tour from Temple Station to London Bridge. Details on how to participate are provided to all who register. Slots are limited and it’s first-come, first-serve.

The 15% Early-Bird registration discount has been extended until March 24th. Register before it goes away.

See you in London!

DMD 2.085.0 and DConf 2019 News

Coinciding with news of a new release of DMD is news about DConf 2019 in London. From new GC options in DRuntime to free beers and free tours at DConf, we may as well kill two birds with one blog post!

Compiler news

The 2.085.0 release of DMD, the D reference compiler, is now ready for download. Among other things, this release sees support for 32-bit OS X removed, more support for interfacing with Objective-C, and big news on the garbage collection front. There’s also been some work on compatibility with the standard C++ library. In total, 2.085.0 represents 58 closed Bugzilla issues and the efforts of 49 contributors. See the changelog for the full details.

Interfacing with Objective-C

DMD has had limited support for binding with Objective-C for some time. This release expands that support to include classes, instance variables, and super calls.

Previously, binding with Objective-C classes required using D interfaces. No longer. Now, Objective-C classes can be declared directly as D classes. Decorate an Objective-C class with extern(Objective-C), make use of the @selector attribute on the methods, and away you go.

To better facilitate interaction between the two languages, such classes have slightly modified behavior. Any static and final methods in an extern(Objective-C) class are virtual. However, final methods still are forbidden from being overridden by subclasses. static methods are overridable.

extern (Objective-C)
class NSObject
    static NSObject alloc() @selector("alloc");
    NSObject init() @selector("init");
    void release() @selector("release");

extern (Objective-C)
class Foo : NSObject
    override static Foo alloc() @selector("alloc");
    override Foo init() @selector("init");

    int bar(int a) @selector("bar:")
        return a;

void main()
    auto foo = Foo.alloc.init;
    scope (exit) foo.release();

    assert( == 3);

It’s also now possible to declare instance variables in Objective-C classes and for a method in an Objective-C class to make a super call.

extern (Objective-C)
class NSObject
    void release() @selector("release");

extern (Objective-C)
class Foo : NSObject
    // instance variable
    int bar;

    int foo() @selector("foo")
        return 3;

    int getBar() @selector("getBar")
        return bar;

extern (Objective-C)
class Bar : Foo
    static Bar alloc() @selector("alloc");
    Bar init() @selector("init");

    override int foo() @selector("foo")
        // super call
        return + 1;

New GC stuff

Perhaps the biggest of the GC news items is that DRuntime now ships with a precise garbage collector. This can be enabled on any executable compiled and linked against the latest DRuntime by passing the runtime option --DRT-gcopt=gc:precise. To be clear, this is not a DMD compiler option. Read the documentation on the precise GC for more info.

Another new GC configuration option controls the behavior of the GC at program termination. Currently, the GC runs a collection at termination. This is to present the opportunity to finalize any live objects still holding on to resources that might affect the system state. However, this doesn’t guarantee all objects will be finalized as roots may still exist, nor is the need for it very common, so it’s often just a waste of time. As such, a new cleanup option allows the user of a D program to specify three possible approaches to GC clean up at program termination:

  • collect: the default, current, behavior for backward compatibility
  • none: do no cleanup at all
  • finalize: unconditionally finalize all live objects

This can be passed on the command line of a program compiled and linked against DRuntime as, e.g. --DRT-gcopt=cleanup:finalize.

All DRuntime options, including the two new ones, can be set up in code rather than being passed on the command line by declaring and initializing an array of strings called rt_options. It must be both extern(C) and __gshared:

extern(C) __gshared string[] rt_options = ["gcopt=gc:precise cleanup:none"];

See the documentation on configuring the garbage collector for more GC options.

Additional GC-related enhancements include programmatic access to GC profiling statistics and a new GC registry that allows user-supplied GCs to be linked with the runtime (see the documentation for details).

Standard C++

There are two enhancements to D’s C++ interface in this release. The first is found in the new DRuntime module, core.stdcpp.new_. This provides access to the global C++ new and delete operators so that D programs can allocate from the C++ heap. The second is the new core.stdcpp.allocator module, which exposes the std::allocator<T> class of C++ as a foundation for binding to the STL container types that allocate.

DConf 2019 news

There are two interesting perks for conference goers this year.

The nightly gathering spot

We now have an “official” gathering spot. Usually at DConf, we pick an “official” hotel where the D Language Foundation folks and many attendees stay, but where a number of conference goers gather in the evenings after dinner. This year, a number of factors made it difficult to pick a reasonable spot, so we opted for something different.

There’s a cozy little pub around the corner from the venue, the Prince Arthur, that has a nice room on the second floor available for reservation. There’s a limit on how many bodies we can pack in there at once, but folks generally come and go throughout the evening anyway. Any overflow can head downstairs to the public area. We’ve got the room May 8, 9, and 10.

Additionally, we’ll be offering a couple of free rounds each night courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America. Free drinks in a cozy backstreet London pub sounds like a great way to pass the time!

Check out the DConf venue page for details about the Prince Arthur and how to get there.

A free tour by Joolz Guides

Julian McDonnell of Joolz Guides will be taking some DConf registrants on a guided walk May 6 and 7. If you’ve never seen his YouTube channel, we recommend it. His video guides are quirky, informative, and fun.

This is available for free to all registrants, but space is limited! When you register for DConf, you’ll receive information on how to reserve your spot. We’ve arranged to have the tours in the mid-afternoon on both days so that folks arriving in the morning will have a chance to participate. This is a walking tour that will last somewhere between 3 – 4 hours, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

The current plan is to start at Temple Station and end at London Bridge. We hope you join us!


The DConf submission deadline of March 10 is just around the corner. Now’s the time to send in your proposal for a talk, demo, panel or research report. See the DConf 2019 homepage for submission guidelines and selection criteria. And remember, speakers are eligible for reimbursement of travel and accommodation expenses.

The early-bird registration deadline of March 17 is fast approaching. Register now to take advantage of the 15% discount!

DConf 2019 Early-Bird Registration Opens (and Other News)

I’ve got a few big news items for you today, the biggest being one I’ve been eagerly awaiting: early-bird registration for DConf 2019 London is now open!

Early-bird Registrations…

are now open!

We’re very fortunate, thanks to the generosity of Symmetry Investments, to be able to keep the normal registration fee to our standard $400 this year. Like last year, the early-bird discount is once again 15%, so register before March 17, 24:00 AOE, and you’ll only pay $340. Unfortunately, unlike past editions of DConf, we’re required to charge a VAT of 20% this year, so the early-bird rate with tax is $408 and the regular registration will be $480 with tax. The GBP value of the VAT is listed alongside the price on the registration page and will be updated when the average monthly exchange rate changes.

Currently, you’ll find two options for payment on the registration page: Flipcause and PayPal. Those of you who have been following the latest goings on will know that we’re using Flipcause to create donation campaigns. They also provide support to configure campaigns for events like DConf, allowing us to keep as much as possible coming into one place. In the long run, this will be more efficient for us than accepting money through other services, so if you aren’t paying with a PayPal balance for your DConf registration, we ask that you please choose the Flipcause option.

You’ll also find the DConf campaign listed in our Campaign Menu, which is accessible from the big Donate Now button in this blog’s sidebar as well as from the D Language Foundation’s donation page. In the past, we have supported Eventbrite as a payment option, but have not yet decided if we will do so this year.

Invited Keynote Speaker

I’m also happy to announce that Laeeth Isharc has accepted our invitation to be a keynote speaker at DConf 2019.

Every year, Walter and Andrei are joined by an invited keynote speaker to open each of the three presentation days of the conference. Sometimes, the speaker is from outside of the D community for a different perspective (Scott Meyers was the invited keynote speaker at DConfs 2014 and 2017, and Martin Odersky was the invited keynote speaker last year). This year, offering the invitation to Laeeth was a no-brainer.

Not only is Laeeth responsible for bringing DConf 2019 to London under the sponsorship of Symmetry Investments, he’s also an enthusiastic supporter of the D programming language. He hires D programmers, sponsors open-source D projects, initiated the Symmetry Autumn of Code (SAoC), and can be found in various forums around the internet answering questions about D. Despite all of that, he’s never spoken at a DConf. We can’t wait to hear what he has to say!

The SAoC Finalist

Three programmers started the Symmetry Autumn of Code. Each participant was to complete three milestones, each of one-month duration, and would receive $1000 upon the successful completion of each. After a final month of clean-up work (whatever was required by each project), one participant was to be selected for a final $1000 payment and a free pass to DConf 2019, including travel and lodging.

One participant was unable to continue after the first milestone. The other two—Francesco Mecca, whose project was porting Leandro Lucarella’s old D1 forking GC to DRuntime, and Francesco Galla, whose project was adding HTTP/2 support to vibe-http—were able to see the event through to the end. Both did some excellent work on their chosen projects, but only one would be selected for the final prize.

I can now announce that congratulations are in order for Francesco Galla! He’ll be receiving the final payment and the trip to DConf 2019. As it turns out, he and the other Francesco happen to be friends. They had an agreement beforehand that the finalist would use the extra $1000 to pay for the other to attend DConf. And we’ve been informed that we’ll be fortunate enough to meet both of them in London!

We’ll also be hearing from Francesco Mecca before then, as he has agreed to write about his project for this blog. Francesco Galla will either write a blog post or, depending on how the conference schedule comes together, give a presentation about his project at DConf (possibly both!). Keep an ear open for the announcements.

The New Fundraiser

The PR Manager Campaign was a tremendous success. Not only did we meet our goal well before the deadline, but Nicholas Wilson has done a great job cleaning up the pull request queues. We will continue that campaign for another quarter, starting next month.

In the meantime, we’re raising $2000 for a new server for the D Forums. There are two reasons we’ve selected this as our next target.

First, Vladimir Panteleev has been paying for the server for the D Forums (and his other D services) out of his pocket for years. It’s time we put a stop to that. The forums are a crucial part of the D programming language community and it shouldn’t be up to one person to pay the bills.

Second, the forums have been experiencing performance issues at an increasing frequency over the past several months. Among the possible solutions that Vladimir has identified to improve this state of things, moving to better hardware is a big one. If ever there was a time for the community to take over the server bills, it’s now.

So we encourage you to donate to the cause! Helping us meet our $2000 goal will cover a new server for the forums and provide a cushion for any incidental expenses. Vladimir has graciously declined to accept any money from the D Language Foundation for the work he does in actually maintaining and improving the forums, so we’d like to draw your attention to his Patreon account, where you can more broadly support the open-source work he does.

We thank Vladimir for all the time and money he’s put into this over the years, and thank you in advance for your donations!

DConf 2019: Shepherd’s Pie Edition

On behalf of the D Language Foundation and Symmetry Investments, I’m excited to announce that we’re heading to London for DConf 2019!

From May 8 – 11, 2019, we’ll be hosting our traditional three days of talks, capped off with the 3rd annual DConf Hackathon, in an area packed full with tech companies, known as East London Tech City. We’ve secured facilities at 99 City Road, a conference space owned and operated by Inmarsat, a global satellite communications firm. They’ve got a great setup, with equipment geared specifically toward tech conferences. Anyone sitting in the back of the room shouldn’t need to worry about reading code samples on the screen!

Image by Jack Torcello, CC BY 3.0, Link

The venue is located in a convenient spot, right on the “Silicon Roundabout” outside the Old Street tube station. For those who intend to schedule some time for sightseeing before or after the conference, the area is a nice walk or a short tube ride from some iconic London attractions, like the Museum of London, the Tower of London (in this handy PDF showing walking times between tube stations, it’s roughly a 30 minute walk from Old Street to Tower Hill), and just a handful of stops away from all the famous places in the City of Westminster (the Transport For London tube page has several useful maps and guides).

Several hotels are located within walking distance, some of which offer discounts for conference attendees (details will be provided to registrants). Prices vary, of course, but there are some budget hotels nearby for the price conscious (like me!). We’ll update the conference venue page in the coming days with some suggestions. We have yet to select an “official” hotel for post-conference gathering, but I hope to post that on the venue page soon.

Some details remain to be worked out as we’re still deep in the planning stage. Will the Hackathon be open to the public? Will we kick it off with a talk like last time? It’s still too early to say. It’s also too soon to announce any deadlines or registration fees. I’ve been chomping at the bit just to make the announcement that we’re going to London, but I wanted to wait until we had a venue confirmed. Now that we have, and with Christmas just a few days away, I couldn’t contain myself any longer! We’ll update the conference page and make announcements in the forums as we finalize the details. Keep an eye on @D_Programming and #dconf for real-time news.

A special thanks to Laeeth Isharc and our friends at Symmetry Investments for offering to sponsor and host DConf 2019. They’re doing all the leg work to put it together and we wouldn’t be going to London without them. And to everyone in the D community, please have very safe and Happy Holidays!

Updates in D Land

As we encroach upon the end of 2018, a recent Reddit thread wishing D a happy 17th birthday reminded me how far the language has come since I first stumbled upon it in 2003. Many of the steps along the way were powered by the energy of users who had little incentive to contribute beyond personal interest. And here we are, all these years later, still moving forward.

There are a number of current and upcoming happenings that will play a role in keeping that progress going. In this post, I’d like to remind you, update you, or inform you about some of them.

The Pull Request Manager Campaign

If you haven’t heard, the D Language Foundation has hired a pull request manager, to be paid out of a pool of donations. This is our first major fundraising campaign through Flipcause. I’m happy to report that it’s going well. As I write, we’ve raised $1,864 of our $3,000 target in 66 days thanks to the kindness of 30 supporters. If you’d like to support us in this cause, click on the campaign card.

You can access our full campaign menu at any time via the “Donate Now” button in the sidebar here on the blog. A pull request has also been submitted to integrate the menu into’s donation page. Currently, we only have two campaigns (this one and the General Fund) but any future campaigns will be accessible through those menus.

Symmetry Autumn of Code

Earlier this year, Symmetry Investments partnered with the D Language Foundation to sponsor the Symmetry Autumn of Code (SAoC). Three participants were selected to work on D-related projects over the course of four months, with milestones to mark their progress. If you haven’t heard of it or had forgotten, you can read the details on the SAoC page here at the blog.

Unfortunately, one participant was unable to continue after the first milestone. The other two, whom we have come to refer to as the two Francescos, have each successfully completed three milestones and are in the home stretch, aiming for that final payment and free trip to DConf 2019.

Francesco Mecca is working on porting an old D1 GC to modern D, and Francesco Galla’ is busy adding HTTP/2 support the vibe-http library. Both have made significant progress and are on track to a successful SAoC. Read more about their projects in my previous SAoC update.

DIP Updates

I’ve received partial feedback on a decision regarding DIP 1013 (The Deprecation Process) and expect to hear the final verdict soon. As soon as I do, I’ll move Manu’s DIP 1016 (ref T accepts r-values) into the Formal Assessment stage for Walter and Andrei to consider.

I had intended to move Razvan’s Copy Constructor DIP into Community Review by now, as that is a high priority for Walter and Andrei. However, he’s been working out some more details so it’s not quite yet ready. So as not to hold up the process any longer, I’ll be starting Community Review for one of the other DIPs in the PR queue at the end of this week. When the Copy Constructor DIP is ready, I’ll run its review in parallel.

Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2019

At the end of last month, I announced in the forums that we’re ramping up for GSoC 2019. I seeded our Wiki page with two potential project ideas to get us started. So far, only one additional idea has been added and no one has contacted me about participating as a student or a mentor.

It’s been a while since we were last accepted into GSoC and we’d very much like to get into it this time. To do so, we need more project ideas, students to execute them, and mentors to provide guidance to the students. If you’re looking for another way to contribute to the D community, this is a great way to do so. Adding project ideas costs little beyond the time it takes to add the details to the Wiki and, if you are lacking in ideas already dying to escape the confines of your neurocranium, the time it takes to brainstorm something. Student and mentor participation is a more significant commitment, but it’s also a lot more rewarding. If you’re interested, tell me at

DConf 2019

Finally, I’m happy to announce… Just kidding. I can’t announce anything yet about DConf 2019, but I hope to be able to soon. What I can say with certainty is that in 2019, DConf will be where DConf has never gone before. We’re currently working out some details with an eye toward making 2019 a big year for DConf.

I’m really excited about it and eager to let everyone know. I’ll do so as soon as I’m able. Watch this space!

DConf 2018 Ex Post Facto

When I was ten years old, I broke a small hand mirror. For some years after, my moderately superstitious grandmother would remind me of it any time I suffered a bit of misfortune, providing me with periodic updates on how many of my seven years of bad luck I had yet to face. Two days before DConf 2018, I couldn’t help but think of her when my wife and I, having encountered a black cat the evening before, found ourselves in the wrong train car at Frankfurt station.

The train

It was an easy mistake to make. We were supposed to be in car 28, so we boarded at a door that was branded “38/28”. Inside, 2nd class was to the right and 1st class to the left. Our reservation was for the latter. We found our seats, stowed our luggage, and settled in for our trip to Munich and DConf. It was a few minutes before I noticed the big “38” on the screen of the monitor hanging from the ceiling.

I asked the first uniformed person I could find, “Are we in the right place?”. Of course, we weren’t. He informed me we couldn’t just cut through the cars to get to the correct place — we had to disembark and get back on at the other end of the train. Only, there was no time to do so, as the train was leaving in a few seconds.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “It happens.”

When the conductor came around, he assured us that all was well. The seats weren’t reserved and the whole train was going to Munich anyway. I laughed, thinking the last bit was a joke. I later learned that two trains are sometimes linked to share part of a journey and will split somewhere along the way to head to different final destinations. He was being serious!

The pre-conf jitters

A Toastmasters class I won in an essay contest after high school cured me of my fear of public speaking (prior to that, I couldn’t say two words in front of five people without going into convulsions), and after 24 years of teaching in Korea I’m perfectly comfortable speaking to groups of a few people in a small class or a few hundred at an assembly. I always know what I want to say and I’m confident in my ability to read the crowd. So when I accepted the offer to be the DConf emcee this year, I wasn’t concerned at all. Short bursts of speaking in front of 80 people? I could do that in my sleep.

But the train incident was the first in a series of unfortunate events that continued right up until a few minutes before the conference, including two embarrassing instances of my mishearing introductions and thinking a person I’d just met was someone else. By the time I had the mic in my hand, I could hear my grandmother’s voice in my head, reiterating every bit of “bad luck” I’d had since that cat had crossed my path in Frankfurt (it was actually a kitten, not entirely black, and my wife had found it adorable enough that she briefly entertained ideas on how to take it with us to Korea).

Of course, I’m not superstitious. At all. But apparently my lizard brain felt these were extraordinary circumstances. As Walter and I were chatting while we waited for the clock to countdown, I was attacked by the worst case of jitters I’ve had since high school.

It was going to be the worst DConf ever.

The conference

After the first few words were out of my mouth, the jitters evaporated. My grandmother left me alone for the rest of the conference. Barring a few minor glitches and one rather severe one, it all went rather well, though I couldn’t really tell from my perspective.

This was my first time being on the other side. Everything went by in a blur. During the talks, there were emails and Facebook messages to respond to, IRC & the livestream feed to check in on (though Sebastian Wilzbach kept a fulltime eye on them), tweets to write, and the constant concern about how to politely keep speakers in their time budget. Without the Foundation’s intern, Maria Marginean, running the mic to audience members with questions, I would have been frazzled.

Between talks, there were problems getting speakers’ laptops to display properly, questions about things I didn’t immediately have an answer for, and people to track down to resolve one issue or another. Then there were the numerous things I had planned to say each time I got up in front of everyone, only to realize after I sat back down that I had completely forgotten.

In all, I had a great time. I had less time to mingle this year, but I still caught up with some familiar folks and met several new ones. That’s always the best part of DConf for me, and that held true this year, even though many of the conversations I had were brief.

The display issues turned out not to be as troublesome as they threatened to be on the first day. The A/V team was using a bluetooth device. Plug it in to a USB port, install a driver, press the big button on the device, and you’re projecting. But a few speakers had no USB ports, some were using Linux (for which there was no driver), and some struggled to get the proper desktop to display. On the second day, the A/V guys were prepared with every adapter imaginable and, where those failed, they simply unplugged the HDMI cable from the bluetooth receiver and plugged it directly into the laptops. We still had problems sometimes with the wrong desktop showing, but in the end it all worked out.

The biggest glitch, the one we regret most of all, was the loss of the video of the first three talks. It’s something that could have been prevented with a bit of forethought. The best thing I can say about it is that it taught a valuable lesson that will be applied at future DConfs. No matter who is organizing or who is managing the A/V, the Foundation will ensure steps are taken to minimize the chance of this happening again.

In the periods that I was able to pay attention to the talks, there was a lot to enjoy.

Vang Le presented on D in genomic bioinformatics.

We’ve heard in the forums about D being used in bioinformatics, but this year was the first time we’ve witnessed a DConf talk about it. The talk sparked enough interest in the subject that Vang Le was able to get some collaboration at the Hackathon that will hopefully continue beyond as he works to expand D in the field. I look forward to seeing more talks related to this industry at future conferences.

In contrast, the topic of game development is a DConf staple (DConf 2015 was the only edition without a gamedev talk). But this year was the first time someone from Ubisoft presented (Igor Česi), and the first we’ve learned about a project some folks from the company took on as a proof-of-concept, porting D to a platform Igor wasn’t allowed to name just yet. I’ve been interested in game development as a hobby for over a couple of decades now and I don’t get to meet too many game developers in my normal line of work (the first time I met Ethan Watson in Berlin I grilled him mercilessly about his job throughout dinner), so the conversation the trio from Ubisoft had with Andrei and me (mostly Andrei) about the company and their interest in D was one of the highlights of the conference for me.

Another highlight for me was meeting Martin Odersky, our invited keynote speaker this year. I’ve followed Scala from a distance for some time; it was the first place I turned when I needed to correct my lack of experience with functional programming after std.algorithm and friends came along. Our introduction was a bit rushed, though. Five minutes before he was supposed to speak, he wasn’t anywhere in or around the conference room. Walter hadn’t seen him. Andrei hadn’t seen him. Someone reported seeing him in the restaurant. That’s where I found him, banging away at the keys on his laptop. He had realized at breakfast that his talk about abstracting over context needed a bit more context to make it more understandable, given how most of us wouldn’t have the Scala background he referenced. He was just finishing his edits as I arrived, and we got him set up right on time. I ignored my emails and FB messages for most of that talk (and actually understood quite a lot of it).

Martin Odersky was the invited keynote speaker on Day 3.

Some DConf veterans talked about work they’ve been doing, like Jonathan Davis’s dxml library, Ethan Watson’s progress on Binderoo, Dimitry Olshansky’s report on his attempt to create a unified concurrent D runtime, and Steven Schveighoffer’s experience porting a LAMP application to vibe.d. Johan Engelen expanded on a blog post he wrote earlier this year, presenting a talk on some LLVM-backed goodies in LDC that people might not be aware of.

Kai Nacke talked about using D for the blockchain.

Kai Nacke presented another first for DConf, a talk about D for the blockchain, where he did a great job simplifying a complex topic. Luís Marques’s talk on breaking away from OOP orthodoxy was immediately followed by first-time DConf speaker Jean-Louis Leroy’s related talk on open methods. And, the subject of Stefan Dilly’s presentation on scalable webapp development in D with Angular and vibe.d, was actually put to use during the conference — it became our primary source for taking questions online, particularly during Walter and Andrei’s Ask Us Anything session at the end of Day One.

The D Language Foundation’s scholarship recipients (a.k.a. Andrei’s Students, a.k.a. The Romanian Crew) were back to present updates on their work. We heard from Razvan Nitu on the trials and tribulations of contributing to DMD, Eduard Staniloiu on a new approach to generic collections in D, and Alexandru Jercaianu on Project Blizzard, a means of performing safe memory allocation and deallocation in D. The first two of those talks came on Day Two, which was opened by Andrei’s keynote. He had been scheduled to present on static introspection, but changed his mind and instead did a deep dive on things that are vital to D’s future in a talk titled, “Up and Coming”.

Of the three talks for which we have no video, a version of Walter’s keynote on using D in existing C codebases will be available eventually – he gave the same talk at Code Europe Kraków not long after DConf. The picture is not as rosy for the other two talks. Mario Kröplin and Stefan Rohe presented an entertaining report on their experience using D for 10 years at Funkwerk and Jon Degenhardt used his first DConf talk to update us on the performance of eBay’s TSV utilities, following up on a blog post he wrote for the D Blog on the same topic. Sadly, the videos for those talks are forever lost.

Evidence that Jon Degenhardt really did give a talk about eBay’s TSV utilities.

We did another round of lightning talks this year. It was organized as the conference progressed, and given that everyone was using their own laptops, I was sure that trying to get them shifted on and off the lectern and properly configured would be a disaster. In the end, it all came off successfully. A couple of presenters went over their five-minute time budget and two were unable to get their displays configured, but we had just enough time to get everyone in and the display-less folks improvised and presented without their slides anyway.

Liran Zvibel (whose name I can now absolutely properly pronounce) wrapped up the last full day of talks with a closing keynote. He regaled us with a report on Weka.IO’s experience with D in the development of their storage system. It was followed the next day by Shachar Shemesh’s announcement of Mecca, Weka.IO’s container/reactor library, to kick off the Hackathon. Actually, after Shachar saw that a significant number of the audience didn’t raise their hands when I asked how many would be sticking around for the Hackathon, he requested a slot in the lightning talks for an early, abbreviated announcement.

At the Hackathon, we had audio in the room for Shachar’s talk but no video, so I set up a livestream from my MacBook (though it has poor audio quality). Ali Çehreli made sure it kept rolling and he repositioned it as needed. After the talk and the group photo (which Andrei missed!), I saw a lot of folks with their heads together, but I only know of what a couple of them were doing (maybe we’ll hear more about that in future blog posts).

The big announcement at the Hackathon was that the D Language Foundation will now start funding projects via targeted donations. The VS Code plugin code-d (and its companion, serve-d) is the first project selected. Once we achieve $3000 in donations, the project maintainer will be eligible to get that money as he meets specific milestones. Unfortunately, the new goals system at Open Collective isn’t what we expected it to be. We’ll make do with it for now, but we’ll likely be moving to an approach that allows us to set up multiple fundraising targets and count donations through Open Collective, PayPal, and elsewhere. Until then, if you’re a code-d user (or just want to support the project), head to our Open Collective page to show your appreciation and make a financial contribution to its development.

Videos of the talks are starting to appear on HLMC’s YouTube channel. Once they’re all online, we’ll set up a playlist on the D Language Foundation’s channel (you can find playlists of all the previous conferences there now).

Until next year…

Thanks to everyone who attended DConf 2018 in Munich, to everyone who supported it with time or money, and to QA Systems and HLMC Events for putting it all together.

Some of the DConf 2018 crew.

It’s too early to say where DConf 2019 will be hosted, but plans regarding some of the generic organization details are already in the works. I expect some announcements will start coming out a little bit earlier than in the past. Stay tuned!