The conference opened with keynotes from Dan Shaw about Node.js and Tomomi Imura about the state of the mobile web. Tomomi’s keynote was particularly interesting, as she went through the evolution of mobile browsers in detail, looking at features and releases of Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, and Internet Explorer, as well as some of the politics behind the modern “browser wars”. I always enjoy a keynote that teaches me something practical I can use as well as providing inspiration, and Tomomi scored on both.
Since this was the first year of the conference, I had signed up long before I knew how the schedule would pan out and as the number of speakers announced continued to grow, I was wondering how they would fit everyone into a one day event. The answer turned out to be three tracks of seven sessions each, which made for a lot of difficult choices. Here’s what I chose to attend:
- Steven Luscher - Decomplexifying UI Code with React. Steven did a great job of explaining the motivations and concepts behind React.js. We’re just starting to use React.js at World Singles, for an internal application, albeit wrapped up in a ClojureScript framework and I haven’t had to suffer through the pain of large-scale JS development, so it was very interesting to hear why this approach helps - declarative and reactive.
- Josh Powell - Unravelling the Knot: Client & Testable Client Side Code. One of the authors of “Single Page Web Applications”, Josh walked us through a relatively simple example that showed how data dependencies quickly build up and can lead to bugs and offered us a design pattern to address this: a central data store that is updated by all components and which shifts dependencies from a web of component-to-component to a hub'n'spoke architecture of component-to-data. For me it was a nice follow-on from Steven’s talk which also dealt with the complexity of dependencies.
- Sarah Groff-Palermo - Art.js: Transfigure Data to Create 21st Century Art. Time for a complete shift of gears with a talk that covered emotion and whimsy and what can be grown out of fragmented data with a variety of JS tools and frameworks and some creativity. It was a very engaging talk and it inspires me to be more experimental with some of the visualization tools that I’d like to play with but have previously been intimidated by.
- Trek Glowacki - Single Page Applications: The Web’s Horseless Carriage. After the break, the conference got back on track with a fascinating look at the evolution of web applications and how we talk about them, positing that “Single Page Web Application” is a term that indicates we don’t really have a handle on what this space is really about - and what it will become.
In addition, Manning set up a comprehensive library of their books in the lobby of the conference and selected various tweets they liked throughout the day to award free books. I picked up “Java 8 in Action” for one of my tweets - and I’d signed up early enough to get “Single Page Web Applications” as well as a registration gift so I was very happy with that.