The post-post about the YAPC::Europe 2013 in Kiev

(Original Russian version of this text is available in the 7th edition of the Pragmatic Perl magazine.)

This august, in the centre of Kiev, there took place an annual international conference YAPC::Europe 2013. I attended almost no talks, thus can only write about the organisational point of view.

We started the preparations in July 2013. It all begun with a simple question of whether we had to make a YAPC in Kiev.


From: Andrew Shitov
Date: 2012/7/10
Subject: yapc?
To: Viacheslav Tykhanovskyi, Yaroslav Korshak

What do you think about YAPC::EU in Kiev?


From: vti
Date: 2012/7/10
Subject: Re: yapc?
To: Andrew Shitov

I only agree! :)

YAPC::Europe moves between European cities. There is a so called Venue Committee, which selects where the next conference takes place. The Committee consists of the organisers of the previous events, and they choose between the proposals submitted by different cities. For the 2013, there were no proposals submitted before the deadline. I did not want to make my second YAPC::Europe, as in that case I would have to make it better than the one in Riga in 2011. But as there are no other proposals, the mission changed. Not only we got the right to host the conference but we also saved the YAPC::Europe and we also saved Perl. (Worth mentioning that there were three proposals for 2014, two of them partially copying the text or the structure of ours.)

There are usually about 300 people coming to YAPC::Europe. We found seven venues in Kiev, which could host them all, having a possibility to make parallel tracks. A few of them were only for an emergency, but two or three were very good, and their price varied substantially. We chose the best one in sense of capacity and location in the very centre of Kiev, thus the following year we spent with communicating to the sponsors :-) Bug having no Ukrainian House, the conference would not be so bright.

The conference itself lasts for three years, although during the last few years the programme tends to be extended up to a week. In our case there were one additional day, Sunday, when we had two events: the Perl 6 hackathon and the pre-conference meeting in a cafe.

The Pre-conference meeting

The pre-conference meeting took place Sunday evening in the local cafe "Katyusha" close to the central street and not far away from the conference venue. When I found this place and made a preliminary order for 100 people, we published a newsletter asking to register online if you were going to come. The first couples of weeks people were registering very slowly and we thought that the order would be too big. But one week before the conference a burst happened, and we had to double the order. Finally there were 155 people in the list (and not everybody who came had put their name there). Not only we occupied the whole first floor of the cafe but also a terrace nearby.

The YAPC::Europe permanent attendees say that it was quite different before. You could meet only 5-10 people on the conference eve. More and more people come early these days and the pre-conference meetings become bigger and bigger.

The Perl 6 hackathon

About 25 people attended the Perl 6 hackathon, including the leading developers (except Patrick Michaud and Damian Conway who did not attend the conference this year) and "stranger" people who wanted to see the Perl 6 development. The event took place in one of the conference rooms of the Dnipro hotel. The room was adjacent to the hotel restaurant so it was quite convenient place to hack-and-eat.

-- My first question is to Karl Mäsak. What did you do there, what did you achieve, did you complete Perl 6?

-- Yes, we completed it, we just didn't tell anyone. It's always nice to see regulars and new people meeting in a room, and it was such a nice room as well. During the day I saw people work on bugs, work on the channel saying: "Oh, this bug can be closed", or work on the implementation, or write the first lines of Perl 6, or simply sit there and talk about the syntax and semantics. It was a full day of that. Having so many people sort of buzz around of Perl 6 is nice. So, yes, everything from actual compiler hacking to module writing. I think I saw two or three people write a module and upload it somewhere. So, a lot of stuff happen.

Despite all the issues with Perl 6, I am continuing gathering hackathons. For me it is interesting to see people working on documentation and finding out the incompatibilities or rough places there. As for the compiler, its speed and development pace let's talk another time.

The Perl Future Versioning Panel

The conference theme was 'Future Perl'. On Wensday, I moderated a 40 minute talk-and-panel about that future. I talked about the flame war about Perl 7 happened earlier this year, about my thought of what we can do with it, demonstrated the video fragment with brian d foy, and then called Larry Wall, Liz Mattijsen and Carl Mäsak to the stage. The complete story was video recorded and is available on YouTube. Larry expressed an idea that modern trend in computer languages it to break backwards compatibility with major version change. The good thing is that there is another hope for the burst in Perl 6 development, although I would escape doing any prognosis. Just see the video and think.


It is a tradition to give a T-shirt to the attendees with the name and place of the conference printed on it. This year we implemented an experimental idea and let the people choose not only T-shirt's size but also a colour and the text on it. Nobody did that before. The front side contained "YAPC::Europe, Kiev, Ukraine, 12-14 August 2013" common text, while the back was one of these:

  • 25 years of Perl
  • use perl or die;
  • Pragmatic Perl
  • Perl 5
  • Perl 6
  • Perl 7
  • Perl?
  • Perl!
  • Modern Perl
  • Rakudo Perl
  • Camelia Perl
  • Future Perl

About 200 people made their choice. The sizes, colours and texts gave more than 120 unique combinations, thus this was not a regular order for the printing company. But they did it on time as promised, and on Friday vti and I filled my hotel room with boxes full of T-shirts, trying to sort them and find a few for the hackathon on Sunday.

perl -MData::Dumper -nE'chomp; $t{$_}++; END{say Dumper \%t}'

The most popular text was a slogan use perl or die; (94 people), the second one was '25 years of Perl' (43). All the rest go after a big gap.

This experiment was very interesting and promising, although it was quite a time and labour consuming. The fast increasing number of attendees did not let us printing enough T-shirts but we published the original vector files online so it is very easy now to print any of them.

The River Cruise

«The second day of YAPC Europe climaxed in the river boat cruise, Kiev's version of the traditional conference dinner. It was a largish boat traveling on the Dnipro river, with food, drinks and lots of Perl folks. Not having fixed tables, and having to get up to fetch food and drinks led to a lot of circulation, and thus meeting many more people than at traditionally dinners. I loved it.». (Moritz Lenz)

We have already tested the smaller version of the river cruise during one of the previous YAPCs::Russia in Kiev and knew that this action would be very pleasant for everybody. For the 2013 conference we rented the three-dock ship, the biggest one of this kind in Kiev and in the whole Ukraine. The story with the pre-conference order repeated, and we had to increase the order, this time three times. There were about 350 people on the boat: 330 conference attendees and their families (quite a few with children).

If you missed the conference or the cruise, see Dmitry Ivanov's video, the bigger part of it (starting from 5:34) is about the river cruise.


Each of the conference evenings was filled with some entertaining programme. The minus first day had a pre-conference meeting, the second one -- the river cruise, and on the first and the third days there were evening parties sponsored by different companies. First, the party in the venue, then the one in a beer restaurant nearby.

I think this might become a new YAPC::Europe tradition. If we had only one evening filled with the attendees dinner before, we now can ask sponsors to fill others. The attendees will gather together in any case, so why not make this official. (I hope there will be no need to make a day off during the future conferences to give the attendees some rest.)

Other ideas

Something of what happened was either tested or invented by us before. Something we did for the first time. For something we simply had no time. For example, the skeleton of the Riga 2011 conference was care about the speakers. There was a free four-hour Speaker Training organised before the conference. There were a couple of Speaker Rooms in the venue where the speakers could prepare their talks in a quiet room, and even tested their laptops with a projector. This year the background idea was to show how beautiful Kiev is. This is why we had the Partners Programme, the River Cruise and the venue in the city centre. We skipped making the group photo in front of the venue. But there was a completed experiment with publishing weekly newsletters during the whole year of preparation.


This year there were seven(!) volunteers helping us. Three of them (Breno Oliveira from Brasil, Amalia Pomian and Diana Donca from Romania) were working at the check-in desk spreading the name badges and the T-shirts. Another four (Evgeniy Patlan, Vyacheslav Sarzhan, Alexander Kubrack and Mykola Marzhan form Ukraine) made the schedule strict, made all the video recordings and helped with the equipment in the talk rooms. It would be much more difficult for us to make a good conference without them. By the way, video recordings are being added to the channel.

YAPC::Europe 2014

The next year's YAPC::Europe conference takes place in Sofia, Bulgaria. Another two proposals from Granada, Spain and Cluj-Napoca, Romania that the Venue Committee received, were also great, and I hope that they will be repeated for the 2015.

The conference in Sofia is being organised by Marian Marinov who has been gathering the Bulgarian Perl Workshop during the last five years (ok, we did the first one in 2009 together with him). I encourage everybody to come to Sofia and not miss the chance to meet all the Perl falks in person. The conference theme will be 'Distributed Perl'.

Personal thanks

Huge thanks to my colleague Viacheslav Tykhanovskyi (vti) with whom we were preparing and leading this conference, were running around Kiev for different conference stuff, meeting the guests in the airport, reading and writing to Twitter and the conference site, thinking about the process flow, were fixing the schedule deep in the night, and even had have the chance to have a dinner couple of times.


Thanks to YouTube user "yapctv" who have been uploading conference videos. I wonder though if there is also a recording of Larry's keynote.

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About Andrew Shitov

user-pic I blog about Perl.