Although I’ve worked as a developer for more than 10 years, I’d never been to a conference before, and I have to say: I’m a conference convert.
JSConf in Jacksonville
Before I dive into the specifics of the event, I need to apologize quickly to my former coworker Rich, who was always bugging me about going to events in San Francisco or Austin. He would return from his conference journeys with wild ideas and pictures of “So-and-So from the Angular.js team,” and I would roll my eyes at the big waste of time and money.
With heartfelt apologies to Rich, I now see the light. After JSConf outside Jacksonville two weeks ago, it was obvious that people – fresh off road trips of their own – came ready to talk, learn and get to know each other.
The ECMAScript 6 (ES6) standard is still being finalized, but the community is hard at work trying to prepare for its adoption. Compilers, Macros, and Package Managers are all being developed to allow developers to be ready for ES6. The hope is that by the time that ES6 is fully supported by the browsers, developers are already familiar with the syntax and benefits of ES6. The package manager component of ES6 was there in many forms. On the server node.js has NPM and there are many trying to bring that to the client side as well.
Compilers and Macros
Compilers seem to be waning in interest, but they were touched upon for TypeScript and Closure. The overhead of the compiler and restrictions of following someone else’s standard seems to be driving the movement towards Macros. Macros seemed to have a much larger presence, at least in the talks.
The big two that were discussed were SweetJS (sweetjs.org) and Recast (github.com/benjamn/recast). These libraries allow you to write ES6 code or write your own language to then convert to whatever the new standard is at a later time. Code re-use is always in fashion, so the idea of being able to short hand some code and have the macro replace it with a consistent approach is appealing. Being able to change multiple implementations at a later time by changing the macro can really help in refactoring if, for example, a library you are using has become deprecated and replaced with another.
Once again, the learning curve and proper implementation is left up to the development team. This doesn’t absolve the team of following corporate standards, but it might go a long way to making it easier.
I got the opportunity to talk with many people from the industry. I was even able to golf in a scramble with one of the major contributors to Node.JS. Being able to talk shop in a casual manner and take out some frustration out on a little white ball was great. We talked about how Node.JS pushes forward towards the enterprise, private github, private npm, private everything.
So if you’re on the fence about attending a conference, I highly recommend it. Go with a charged battery, a folder for all the new bookmarks you’ll want to follow up on later, and most importantly an open mind. Make contacts, make friends, and find inspiration.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go call and tell Rich how right he was about conferences.