Avi Das

Home for my work, ideas and else.

Nodeconf 2015: Unconf With the Right Intentions

Conferences can be a great way to get the creative juices flowing, meet people in the community and share stories and problems. They offer great opportunities to learn from core developers building the frameworks that your software depends on.

Nodeconf managed to achieve all this, in the rather unusual form of an unconference. An unconference meant that the structure and events/presentations and talks at the conference were left to be decided by the community rather than a committee. That does make Nodeconf a conference not for everyone. Understanding the format and structure of Nodeconf is important before you make the hike to Walnut Creek Ranch next year.

I thought to distill down the reasons why you might or might not be interested in attending Nodeconf as well as get the most out of it. You might be interested in Nodeconf if you

  1. Build for the web: For a lot of attendees, Nodeconf would feel like living in the future as a lot of attendees are very involved in making the decisions and tradeoff that would shape the future of the web. Specially discussions around packaging and parceling front end assets in npm (Modular UI) was really interesting as was Isomorphic JS, which covered the challenges involved in writing identical client and server side code. The JavaScript landscape is a fast evolving one and Nodeconf offers fantastic perspective on how the decision making can work.

  2. Publish on npm/github: As someone who maintains projects on npm and github, the discussions around distributing node modules were very insightful. Issues such as broadening adoption, getting contributors for github modules and standards for publishing on npm came up and maintainers of hugely popular modules shared their experiences. Picking a good module scope, having really good examples for beginners to start with and publishing with concise yet searchable package descriptions were all emphasized.

  1. Foster community growth: The node community is certainly dealing with the growing pains that comes with success. Having a well defined process for integrating new members is really important for large codebases. Broadening mentorship was considered as a possibility for guiding new members through the steep learning curve.

  2. Want to get a deeper understanding of Node Core and APIs: There was unparalleled opportunity to discuss Node core/API and critical libraries such as libuv with the core developers. This was also true for external node libraries, and it can be certainly valuable to take a set of well defined problems that you have on your Node codebases as you are bound to make progress in such an environment.

You might not be interested in Nodeconf if

  1. You expect Nodeconf to be a 3 day training session on Node: While Nodeconf was full of illuminating discussions and presentations, it was certainly not a series of tutorials on Node.

  2. You expect a traditional conference structure: It did not take place on a hotel, rather a ranch and certainly does not have some of the glamour associated with WWDC or Google I/O.