It’s been a while since I’ve given you guys an update on what I’ve been up to (Left Foot Right M is still forthcoming) but in the meantime, I figured I’d post this weekend report on a programming conference I was at recently.
When I arrived in Minneapolis early Tuesday morning, I realized that I hadn’t actually printed out any maps for how to get to my Airbnb. Without access to Wi-fi or data (as I was roaming), I decided to just take the train into the city and wander around until I found my way. For the uninitiated, Minneapolis is widely known as part of the Twin Cities (the other being Saint Paul). It’s also home to the Mall of America which is the largest mall in the U.S. (you probably could have guessed that) which is also home to the magical land known as Nickelodeon Universe. I didn’t end up going to either, but that was only because I spent most of my time at the conference itself.
When I finally did find my Airbnb (through some maneuvering with offline GPS), I sat down to figure out what my schedule for the next few days would be. Going into the conference, I was already pretty well versed in Meteor, and didn’t really have much interest in spending a lot of time with Angular (ever since they announced that the 2nd iteration would break all of the older projects and that there was no migration plan). Since I had really only dabbled in React.js, I decided that that would be my focus for the next few days.
CONFERENCE DAY 1: Workshop day with React.js
One of the better ideas to come out of a conference, that I found here, was that they had a central Github repo for all of the presentations and materials. So if you, dear reader, have already decided that you’re bored and simply can’t take any more of this, you could skip ahead to this link and essentially get everything I’m about to talk about. But that’s no fun, now is it?
Disclaimer though: React.js has a fairly steep learning curve, at least for anyone who has spent a significant amount of time on the front-end of web applications. With React, you really aren’t doing a lot of the UI work in HTML files anymore. Rather, you’re writing all of the components in “jsx” files which are then compiled into HTML files.
The entire workshop consisted of creating a fully-built employee timesheet form in React (and by fully built, I mean with testing implemented, running Gulp tasks etc). Needless to say, I did not finish the workshop, along with many of my colleagues, but React was less of a mystery at the end of the day anyways. If you want to try out the workshop yourself, you can check out the Git Repo here.
I didn’t really have a grand plan going into the second day of the conference, mainly that I would continue to give Angular the cold shoulder and try to learn more about testing methodologies in general.
The main keynote for the day was given by Venkat Subramaniam who is already super popular on the Interwebs for delivering presentations that are more fun and not overly technical (though not lacking in the technical aspect so much that you wouldn’t get anything out of it). The talk was called “The Art of Simplicity” and was basically about how pointless it is to rewrite and over complicate code that works and reads fine on its own just for the sake of doing it. A lot of developers tend to take blocks of code and refactor them until they are basically incomprehensible to the human eye. Said developers call it efficiency, but everyone else calls it a subtle way of obtaining job insurance.
By the time the second day had ended, we were all ready for a drink (or two). Happy hour! This was the part of the conference where I went up and down the exhibitor booths and essentially refreshed 1/10th of my wardrobe with the sheer about of free conference t-shirts I picked up. The also raffled away a seemingly endless number of tablets but alas, I was unlucky.