Known for rigorous exploration of mathematics and science since the Age of Enlightenment, Paris today is thrumming with new tech efforts. It’s where telecom billionaire Xavier Neil launched 42, a free, revolutionary programming school, in 2013. Four years later, he built Station F, the world’s largest startup campus, in a former railway depot. Bringing its own approach to the accelerator idea, Oracle’s Paris Startup Cloud Accelerator announced its 2018 cohort of companies just days before Oracle Code Paris.
“Can you find the bug in this slide?” Jean-Marc Hui Bon Hoa, who heads up Oracle’s Startup Cloud Accelerator in Paris, asked the Oracle Code audience as he showed a snippet of code before presenting an overview of the accelerator program. The first person to call out the bug won a prize.
“Our startup accelerator program is quite different,” he explained. “We don’t take equity or ask for any type of payment. More importantly, we are a technology-driven accelerator, which means that we help young companies industrialize and strengthen their platform so that they can address more demanding customers.”
One example he shared is Dial-Once, which moved its omnichannel customer contact platform from AWS to US- and EU-based Oracle Cloud Infrastructure while leveraging Kubernetes on a highly distributed cluster of bare metal VMs. Another is AOS, which does major construction project management, and “is breaking its monolithic MVP (minimum viable product) into Dockerized microservices running on OCI so that it can regain control over performance and stability.” (The next Code event is Oracle Code One, a four-day developer event in San Francisco, Oct. 22 to 25.)
As with every Oracle Code, presentations gave insight into the leading companies and tools from the region. For example, Gilles Di Guglielmo and Ozan Gunalp from Les Furets (ferret mascots for an insurance brokerage website, similar to Geico’s gecko in the US) demonstrated dOOv, a fluent API for typesafe domain model validation. The coolest part was using country-specific Markdown language to generate domain rule descriptions in French from code in English. Slides from these presentations are available on the Oracle Code Paris site.
Sun Tan, a developer from the Paris Java User Group, described a next-generation IDE called Eclipse Che. Designed to automate many mundane developer tasks with features like one-click workspace setup and programmable DevOps infrastructure, Che also helps cloud natives do things like code in Kubernetes pods. His talk, in French and English, was entitled “The Path to Pair Programming in Che with Atom Teletype” and included an open demo that people in the audience could join via their own computers and follow along in real time.
The Newest Fn Evangelist
David Delabassée recently joined Oracle to preach the gospel of the open source Fn Project and serverless computing to developers around the world.
At Oracle Code Paris, not only did he explain how functions-as-a-service bring the dream of utility computing closer to being a reality, he showed how the Fn project is joining forces with other rising open source projects platforms such as the GraalVM polyglot virtual machine.
“You can use GraalVM to reduce the startup time of Java-based functions—it’s pretty easy to do. Someone else already wrote a tutorialon how to use GraalVM with Fn. That’s the beauty of open source. Everything is out there,” he said.
Comic Strips Come to Life
France is the land of Babar, Blueberry, Valerian, Asterix, Tintin (OK, he’s Belgian), and other beloved characters. Bandes dessinées (comic strips) aren’t just for kids, so it’s fitting that a live drawing of a comic was part of the Oracle Code Paris lineup.
Educated at Beaux-Arts, illustrator Etienne Issartial founded CommitStrip in 2012 with his friend Thomas Guenoux, who is also CEO of the chatbot company Yelda (incubated in 2018 at Station F). Though they had confessed the night before at the speaker dinner to having no idea what to draw at the conference, the next day the two delivered a message of unity.
But they weren’t the only illustrators in the audience. It turns out that Java developer Ellène Siber Dijoux is one, too. Dijoux works with Duchess France, an association founded in 2010 that promotes women in tech. The group is open to men and women, and its goal is to increase women-led presentations and workshops throughout France. “In 2015, we decided to start an ‘Adopt a Duchess’ program. Currently, we have 200 mentees for about 50 mentors, so we’re seeking other mentors,” she said. They’ve found Instagram and Slack to be useful force multipliers, given the demand for career advice.
Women in Tech
Dijoux's efforts to encourage women developers and get women tech leaders on stage fit right in with another theme at Oracle Code events this year—women in tech luncheon panels. While many of the obstacles were similar to those described at other luncheons around the world, several speakers focused on the talent pipeline in Europe and the need to bring more women into tech.
“There are not enough women, even as we want to hire them,” said Annabelle Blangero, Octo senior consultant and cognitive neuroscientist. Blangero said that, beginning in the 1980s, technology started being seen by too many as a male career: “One hypothesis is that it comes from the ‘geek culture’ that we saw in films, and that women didn’t see themselves in this role. So now we need to change this image.” Lonneke Dikmans, an Oracle Developer Champion and head of the center of excellence at eProseed in the Netherlands, agreed: “If you’re recruiting, please recruit for women explicitly, because otherwise you won’t notice them.”
All the panelists agreed that the time for progress is now. Scientist and entrepreneur Aurélie Jean put it succinctly: “For the first time in history, women have the opportunity to create the next generation of technology at equal competence and rights with men.”