When we first got the idea to organize a LaunchDarkly user conference, we weren’t exactly sure about the entire premise. We knew customers wanted more tips and tricks about our platform, but could we float an entire conference off that notion?

Whatever we initially thought Galaxy was going to be, the reality totally surpassed our expectations. Gathering virtually with the goal of improving our communal knowledge and skills around feature management while connecting with each other was an experience we can’t wait to do again. 

If you missed Galaxy, you can watch all the presentations from our first-ever user conference now.

To get a sense of our gratitude for all those who presented and attended, we asked folks from across our organization to write up some of their favorite moments from Galaxy. You’ll find their responses below, but be sure to check out all the videos, as there was a ton of incredible knowledge shared throughout the conference and way more highlights than we could pack into a single post. We plan on spotlighting various talks in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned.

At Galaxy, Vivian Taylor, Release Manager at iCIMS, and James Da Costa, Director of Engineering at Brandwatch, participated in a discussion with Karishma Irani, Product Management Lead at LaunchDarkly, entitled, "Panel: Release Management at Scale."

Sharing of Ideas

I really enjoyed watching LaunchDarkly customers discuss amongst themselves how they use our software. The conversation in the chat during the Hulu, iPipeline, and Pearson Q&A panel was particularly insightful. The panelists discussed how "users" doesn't have to mean "humans," it can also mean "contexts." This broader definition, encompassing things like account ID, device, region, customer tier, etc., opens up a wealth of use cases. Passing in other things besides humans allows for more granular targeting, and opens up the utility of LaunchDarkly to non-technical roles. This sharing of ideas is what makes Galaxy so important for LaunchDarkly, and so fun for me.

- John Kodumal

LaunchDarkly's CTO & Co-Founder, John Kodumal, gave the closing keynote at Galaxy, "The Magic Behind Feature Management."

Coaching Fresh Voices

Curating a speaker lineup is a difficult task. For Galaxy, our goal was to include a mix of talks from people just beginning their journey with feature management and those who are long-time users. To mirror this, we also looked to include novice and veteran speakers. 

If you have an interest in giving a talk, it isn’t always easy to get the first pitch accepted. Many conferences look for veteran speakers to try and ensure quality talks for their attendees. This often means newer voices aren’t heard. For Galaxy, we took a different approach and offered coaching to accepted speakers, regardless of their experience level for presenting. 

As part of our speaker coaching, we reviewed the outlines of talks, helped refine the story and key points (15 minutes goes by very quickly), provided guidance on slide creation, listened to a dry-run of the talk, and were present when the speakers recorded their talk. Helping provide a platform for new speakers was my favorite part of Galaxy. I loved seeing the talks go from an idea to a finished product. 

- Dawn Parzych

Sapriya Balasubramanian, Assistant Director, Test Engineering, at Northwestern Mutual, gave a talk presentation, "Integrating Flags: Test Automation Journey."

Running Space Camp

Compared to most other software development tools, feature flags are simple. Many consider flags to be so simple, in fact, that they miss the benefits. In our experience, those benefits are far easier to demonstrate than explain. But even when a developer or product manager sees the potential, they still may feel hesitant to incorporate flags into their existing processes. That’s why we created the Space Camp workshop, in which we lead attendees through creating their own flags and incorporating them into an existing code project.

For Galaxy, we tried something a little different: providing each attendee with their own small LaunchDarkly project and a Replit workspace. Through a series of half-hour lessons, the attendees extended a small web-based game with new features managed by flags, then controlled the rollout of those features to selected users by adding targeting rules.

We ran the two-hour workshop twice in one day, with over a hundred participants. We’re proud to say that the overwhelming majority of those who gave feedback said they’d recommend the workshop to a friend or colleague! Some even asked us to run the workshop for their own organization. If that interests you, let us know‚ we’d love to get more developers into the swing of feature flagging.

- Yoz Grahame 

Galaxy's MC, Heidi Waterhouse (top left), lead a live Q&A session with panelists (clockwise, from left to right) Dan O'Brien, Senior Solutions Engineer at LaunchDarkly, Karishma Irani, Product Management Lead at LaunchDarkly, and Rick Riensche, Senior Software Engineer at Autodesk.

If you couldn’t join us live for Galaxy, we’re happy to share the videos of the talks here. Choose from real customers in industries just like yours, or from people solving problems that are still in your #goals.