Monday, October 11, 2010

Silicon Valley Code Camp 2010

Back in May 2010 I moved from New York to Silicon Valley to be among the densest population of software developers on Earth. There might be denser one in Alpha Centauri but their light signals haven't reached our telescopes. Yet.

One of the main reasons I wanted to be in California was for the vibrant tech community. They put on some great conferences with amazing frequency. This weekend was a massive free developer conference called Silicon Valley Code Camp.

Several thousand developers signed up for SVCC and almost half of them showed up at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. I ran into a few friends and I met some new people. One thing that really stood out was the unusually high percentage of women at this developer conference.

There were some good talks I went to on developing and testing HTML5 and jQuery, designing user experiences, coding in Scala, and continuous deployment.

That's right, continuous deployment. Not continuous integration. Continuous deployment. Love. It's an awesome practice that Adam Rosien and Eishay Smith at kaChing are following with gusto. Adam admitted they hadn't yet solved the problem of good front-end code coverage with Selenium, mostly because they hadn't yet gotten their Selenium builds sufficiently parallelized. Been there. I suspect they'll end up using Test Swarm or Sauce OnDemand when they get around to it.

I'm getting increasingly interested in Test Swarm and QUnit, since they sound like they maybe, possibly, hopefully, kind of might be able to do what Selenium cannot yet do, which is run quickly and reliably and with minimal maintenance. Don't get me wrong, I have a huge crush on Selenium, but it's very high maintenance and it sometimes forgets my birthday. I can't help but notice QUnit and Test Swarm. After Kevin Nilson's talk it sounds like all three might work together well.

However, what I'm immediately jazzed to start using is the jQuery Templates plugin. I knew it was coming, based on the buzz on the The Official jQuery Podcast and yayQuery Podcast but I didn't realize (a) it's already released, (b) how awesome it is, (c) it was one of Microsoft's contributions. Hey, I'm a regular Java developer who knows Microsoft's reputation, but they did invent Ajax. They're not all bad, especially these days. Microsoft is like Xena and Angel. They used to be the big bad, but they've started to see the light. Will they save us when Google becomes evil? But I digress. Doris Chen showed off some new jQuery features, whetting my appetite to really ajaxify the web app I'm in charge of at Netflix. Doris was an evangelist at Sun before she became an evangelist at Microsoft. This fact caused the audience to make scandalous noises like a shocking soap opera scene was unfolding.

I'll talk about Netflix another time. Or follow me on Twitter if you're curious. I don't blog much. I mostly tweet.

My good friend Dave Briccetti did a talk where he showed the code for his Scala Lift app BirdShow that he made for his mom's web site of gorgeous wildlife photos. This was one of the better Scala talks I've seen, because it focused on clean, practical usages of Scala instead of showing the most advanced features that Scala newbies can barely understand. After Dave's talk I got to hang around with him and work on some JavaScript.

Mark Miller gave a rousing talk on The Science of Great UI. I know some immediate changes I'll be making at work based on Mark's advice and examples. For instance, tables look better in Excel than Word because the lines are less important than the data so they should be lighter. I'm glad I took a lot of photos of slides, since the slides are not so easy to find for most speakers.

What was your favorite tech conference?