A Programmer Walks Into a Bar…

Conference season is upon us. Sessions, hands-on labs, round table debates, so many opportunities for learning! Of course what they don’t admit on the conference websites and brochures is that all the important business at a conference takes place not in the sessions, but at the many impromptu social events, usually at a local ale house.

As you enter the bar, your ears will be pinned back by the riotous volume of noise. In your enthusiasm to partake of beer and lively technical debate, you dash to join the crowd at the nearest table…but wait! Is it a wise choice? Developers of such a wide variety of interest and backgrounds attend these conferences: how do you know you’re not joining a group with interests completely disparate from your own?

I recall with a shiver one event where I ended up on a table of front-end developers who used mainly Java and “Oracle Forms”. Oh, the horror. That was a long night. Of course, having made my ill-fated choice, and being English, I simply had to bear it stoically, and smile politely whenever it seemed appropriate. Adding insult to injury were the insipid jugs of Budweiser beer being shared around.

To help you avoid such calamity at conference social events, and to ensure you enjoy your beer with kindred spirits, here is the handy Simple-Talk guide to determining what sort of developers you are likely to be talking to, based on what they are drinking:

  • Java developers stick to beers like Budweiser – it’s not very good but it doesn’t change much, and you can get it anywhere
  • Perl developers drink cider – it tastes sweet, is easy to drink, but it gives you a terrible hangover and the following day you wonder what possessed you to drink it.
  • R programmers insist that alcopops taste good – proving that they are at variance to the normal population
  • Extreme programmers won’t be drinking – they will be so busy discussing the sort of beer they want and how they would test its quality that they never get around to ordering any
  • JavaScript programmers tend to drink non-alcoholic lager – and are very quick to tell everyone else that it is just like real beer
  • Assembly Language programmers drink malt whiskey – it always tastes slightly odd to many people and they take a long time to make it

Me? I’ll be looking for the group enjoying a few rounds of Double Barrel Ale, on the assumption I’ll get to talk databases. It will also be one of the quieter groups, since SQL Programmers tend to spend time staring moodily at tables.

OK, join in the fun. Best suggestion for identifying programmers by their choice of beer will win the usual prize.