My First Time (At JSConf)

I'd heard of JSConf many times through friends that had gone and from online video of presentations from the event. I was instantly a fan. Developer conferences are a big deal as they make us socially inept basement dwellers talk about the awesome software we've be hacking away on (that might not otherwise see the light of day). For instance, node.js is super popular in the JavaScript community right now because of its launch at JSConf EU 09.

A month or two before the conference, I heard that there might be an opportunity for me to go present there, on behalf of Yahoo!, because my project, Yahoo! Media Player, definitely fits the JavaScript bill. So the stars aligned, and in a couple days, with the help of YDN, I had a plane and conference ticket, a speaker slot, and a hotel room. I'm not sure that [m]any other companies would be willing or able to make this happen, but Yahoo! did. This was probably the proudest I'd ever been of being a Yahoo.

After much preparation and countless hours refining the talk (and hours of searching Flickr for lolcats and pictures of David Hasslehoff), my presentation was ready and I landed in Portland. I presented at 6pm the first day, unfortunately a bit too late for some attendees that had gone to Pirate Beer Tasting the night before. Nonetheless, 40-50 people that were interested showed up.

I had never really given a presentation before, so starting at one of the world's most renowned JavaScript conferences was daunting, but the audience was quite receptive and I felt the presentation went smoothly. I didn't get any questions after the presentation was done (which means you either smashed it or nobody cares), but was put at ease later, when people approached a while afterward. They'd ask for a few clarifications on what the player did or what media types it supported or simply tell me, “Good job” or “That was cool.” This helped validate my presence at the conference and boost my self-confidence for future presentations.

After that, I was able to relax and enjoy presentations. I thought a majority of the talks were quite good.

I found the presentations on low-level parsing and JavaScript engine performance from the Chakra team quite awesome. They talked about all the optimizations they made (for IE9) or are planning for the upcoming IE10. Both presenters were quite rehearsed and their content was quite brilliant. I have quite a bit of faith in IE9 and IE10 now (and saying this is heresy among web developers).

An interesting note: the conference wifi (typically a very hard problem to solve) was implemented in JavaScript using Node.js. It was done by two gentleman in their spare time as a challenge (it seemed). One of which now works at Google. I was very skeptical that this solution made by 2 developers in their spare time would scale better than something by likes of Cisco (a large company with many developers), but the wifi their service provided was impeccable. l will say that their security wasn't quite impenetrable, but they had patched it by the end of the conference. (I was able to use Internet without having to authenticate for a majority of the conference).

Lastly, I want to mention the node.js speakers interested in scaling node.js, using it in production, making it more performant, or creating real time applications. This is an ever-growing field, and there's really no telling how big it will get.

I also felt great to be mingling with others in the JavaScript community. While there I met:

- the founders of a NYC startup named Nodejitsu (@indexzero and @hij1nx)
- a security expert (@adam_baldwin)
- the creator of a popular server-side DOM implementation jsdom (@tmpvar)
- the organizer of the conference (@voodootikigod)
- Yahoo!'s representative to the W3C (@therazorblade)
- an ex-Yahoo! fellow from Tripit (@haroldliss)
- a Chrome developer advocate and creator of Modernizr (@paul_irish)
- the creator of a fork of JSLint named JSHint (@antonkovalyov)
- a co-creator of jsperf.com (@jdalton)

...and many others.

I felt these were all valuable connections for both myself and Yahoo!, as developer support makes or breaks products and projects, and these guys will be instrumental in feedback or advocacy for our product. I also met people who will able to help me with technical queries (or vice versa), increasing Yahoo!'s overall influence and good will in the community.

I had high hopes for JSConf and they were met in pretty much every sense. Thanks to YDN for helping me live this dream. I'd go back in a heartbeat.