An Architect's View

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An Architect's View

CFinNC Rocked!

October 20, 2009 ·

Now that I'm back from CFinNC and (almost) caught up on lost sleep, I wanted to share my thoughts about this event (and the trend it represents). First off, huge kudos and thanx to Dan Wilson, Jim Priest and the entire TACFUG crew who put on this event! It was well organized (especially for a first attempt) and I'd rate the content - and the networking - right up there with some of the best ColdFusion conferences I've attended. The fact that it was free did not mean that quality suffered at all - well done to all those involved! After a smooth and well-staffed registration process, Adam Lehman presented his opening "not a keynote" talk, pointing out that he was technically on vacation and it was a bit odd doing a keynote-style talk now that ColdFusion 9 has actually been released! He covered a lot of ground in a nice, relaxed style that went over well with the crowd (which included quite a few folks for whom this was all news anyway). On day two, Joe Rinehart opened with an "inspirational" keynote-style piece based loosely on his CFUnited keynote. He explained why he'd fallen in love with ColdFusion and then drifted away and how he'd recently fallen in love all over again, this time with the community and what they'd shown ColdFusion is capable of. It was a good, upbeat talk that also went over well with the crowd.Sessions proper started at 10am both days with three different tracks on Saturday (CF / RIA / General) and two CF tracks on Sunday, along with a RIA track. On top of all that, Saturday also saw two full-day hands-on courses on ColdFusion and Flex (run by Josh Adams and Andy Powell respectively). A great idea that added even more value to the conference! I started off with Sam Farmer's "One Liners" talk which showcased the power and expressiveness of CFML (with a number of CF9-specific examples). I'm in two minds about these sort of "tips and tricks" sessions because, by definition, they don't go deep into a topic and they can be a bit of a scatter-gun in terms of learning something new and useful. Next was Bob Silverberg's two-part "CF9 Hibernate (ORM) Integration" session. It was well-paced and showed the convenience of this new feature and, as we progressed into the second hour after lunch, Bob went into a good level of detail about functionality and, more importantly, the traps into which the unwary can fall. Having worked with Hibernate, I knew about the transient-peristent-detached lifecycle of objects but seeing Bob spell this out so clearly, with diagrams and some excellent code examples, really brought home to me how easy it can be to trip over some of these issues. Hibernate is awesome and Adobe have done a great job making it approachable and easy-to-use but it's also a bit of loaded gun so mind your extremities when you're using it! The second hour - the "Advanced Techniques" portion - was one of the highlights of the conference for me, in terms of learning new things. Although I would probably have learned more from either Adrian Pomilio's "Flex & JavaScript" or Shane Trahan's "Managing Large File Transfers" talks, I decided to go with the high entertainment value of Simon Free's "Intro to CF Builder" session. I really can't say enough good things about Simon's style of presenting! His talks are well-structured and his delivery is very engaging and downright laugh-out-loud entertaining at times, especially as he's leaping around in front of the projector screen drawing your attention to specific things on his slides! After the break, I switched to the RIA track for Brian Kotek's "Swiz" talk. I've seen Chris Scott present on this framework a couple of times and I picked up something new each time. Brian's talk was equally illuminating, clearly explaining the benefits of Swiz and showing how productive it can make you. My final Saturday session was Michael Labriola's "Next Generation Testing" which covered Flex Unit 4. I was absolutely blown away by some of what he's doing with this testing framework (with @Theory and @DataPoint annotations driving combinatoric automated testing). It made me even more excited about unit testing and I'd love to see some of this percolate into MXUnit. My "ColdFusion and the Open Source Landscape" presentation was in the first slot on Sunday (PDF 544K) and it seemed to go well, both time-wise and from an audience reception point of view. I'd been a bit nervous about it because (a) I'd been asked to create this talk specifically for CFinNC and (b) I'd struggled to pull it together and actually only finished it at 9:30pm the night before! Thank you to everyone who said nice things about my talk! I ended up in deep hallway conversations about open source software after the talk and then it was lunch time. After lunch, I picked Brian Kotek's "Object-Oriented Design Principles" talk which covered a number of solid guidelines for designing objects and their interactions (Single Responsibility, Don't Repeat Yourself, Open-Closed and so on). Lots of good concepts, presented with good examples. Closing out the conference for me was Paul Cormier's "ExtJS 3" session which opened my eyes as to just how sophisticated that framework is as well as how little server side code is needed for some fairly impressive apps (and just how much client side code is needed!). Paul covered a lot of ground and came up to me afterward and asked for my feedback (I said it was a good preso but suggested breaking up the slides with a few small demos so it wasn't quite so overwhelming). Overall then, extremely high quality content. I learned some new stuff and I was entertained. All for free. Amazing! Here's hoping that Dan and the team can figure out how to do this again next year! In addition to the technical side of things, the social side of CFinNC was also very good. On Friday night I was fortunate enough to have dinner with Joe Rinehart and Liz Frederik (now of Adobe). It was great to catch up with my former Broadchoice colleague and it was also great to hear Liz be so enthusiastic about Adobe and the community - I'm looking forward to seeing what changes and improvements she can effect at Adobe (even though I'm no longer part of the "inner circle" now that I work for Railo). We ate at The Pit which is a fabulous BBQ place with some of my favorite food (my wife jokes I'm a Southern boy at heart because I love sweet potatoes, grits and all sorts of food from the South :) Saturday evening the conference team had organized an event at the much-praised Mosquito club (which I had to skip - I needed to finish my preso!) and it sounded like folks had a lot of fun there. And then there was the Global Toast right next to the Sheraton hotel which became our after hours home with a constant stream of good, cheap beer! I'd love to see more user groups attempt free/cheap weekend conferences like this. It's clear that there's an audience - and it's equally clear there's a pool of speakers who will support events like this too. Take the challenge - see if your user group wants to take it on - and talk to Liz at Adobe because I'm sure she'd love to help you make it a success!

Tags: cfinnc · coldfusion

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