Erik Straub

Nodevember 2015 - Nashville, TN

GreenHouse Nashville

I wasn’t sure what to expect out of Nashville, but when we arrived we were almost immediately greeted with a buffet of the finest BBQ I’ve ever had. Our hosts at Overdog, who we have worked closely with over the past two years, brought us in to talk shop and meet the team face-to-face (some for the first time). We love collaborating with their team and I enjoyed getting to see how they work and hang out around town.

Nodevember’s format seems to be of the “go big or go home” sort. There was a lot of variety in the talks and speakers and it was a bit overwhelming to choose where to go next with four tracks. The talks were all a half hour long, so there wasn’t really too much time to dig deep, but there seemed to be a good balance between intro-level and higher-level content, which is always great. I love going into a talk and having the feeling like the concepts are way over my head. I like knowing what I don’t know.

I also liked the venue, Libscomb University. All of the facilities seemed new and it was refreshing to be able to walk outside between talks. We stayed in a nice Airbnb about a mile from the campus, which was itself only about 5 miles to downtown Nashville, so everything was a short drive away.

The Talks

Some of the standouts from day one, for me, were David Neal showing everyone how to get started writing “Cross-Platform Desktop Apps with Electron”, Ben Ilegbodu priming us on the new hotness with “Sugar and Spice and everything nice about ES6”, and Wyatt Preul giving an overview of how easy it can be to start building microservices with “The proof is in the pudding - seneca+hapi”.

I had already started using some of the new ES6 features with a React app I built recently, but I’m especially excited about some of the things Ben shared about destructuring, rest/spread parameters, function defaults, and using for…of to iterate over iterable objects. This will definitely help with removing a lot of cruft from future code.

It was also great to meet Wyatt after his talk about seneca and hapi. We just so happen to use seneca at Odd Networks and one of the very best things about going to industry conferences is being able to connect with the folks that collaborate and work on some of the everyday tech that you use. We’re pretty excited for the future of seneca and can’t wait to help contribute.

The closing keynote from Day 1 was a talk by Ed Finkler regarding “Open Sourcing Mental Illness”. I really admire Ed for getting in front of a room of his peers to tackle a tough subject and share his own personal struggles. His call to action was that we should all be working toward being open and accepting of the issues that affect more people than we probably realize (1 in 5 Americans, according to Ed) and making sure our employers do the same. I hope others will consider making a donation to Ed’s Indiegogo campaign to bring awareness to the mental health issues in our industry and what we can do about it. He’s doing great work!

After Hours

After filling our brains with much needed sustinence, it was time to see what else Nashville had to offer. The nightlife downtown was electric with a seemingly endless array of bars with a large crowd and a live band. A quick bite and a walkabout was it for me, though.

Day 2

The final day of Nodevember had an equally packed schedule and I really enjoyed the five talks I went to.

Things got kicked off for me listening to Kyle Simpson introduce everyone to “Blocking Across The Wire”. He explained CSP (Communicating Sequential Processes) and his experiments essentially using a websocket channel to coordinate blocking between the browser and server. This talk was refreshing and challenging and opened my eyes to a new approach to async programming. I suggest you check out Kyle’s A Tale Of Three Lists if you’re interested in seeing a comparison of async patterns.

Next up was Mike Glukhovsky with a whirlwind demo titled “RRR - React, RethinkDB, Raspberry Pi”. I’ve been interested in RethinkDB for some time and it was cool to see how changefeeds were used to display and tweet the photos taken by the hardware Mike had whipped up for Rethink HQ using a Raspberry Pi and a webcam. He gave everyone a broad overview of the three title technologies and I’m pretty sure I heard quite a few people in the audience get psyched about RethinkDB and the possibilities of being able to react to the way your data changes in real-time.

Another interesting talk, albiet a bit unexpected, was “Reactive Composition: TodoMVC Tutorial/Lab” from Scott Southworth. I have to admit that I totally thought this talk would be about RxJS and ReactiveX. Instead, Scott walked everyone through a history of the many tools of web development past and posited that maybe we should be doing more visual programming. He also demoed a very interesting real-time data analysis tool that he and his team built for monitoring an enterprise health network’s data flow. Definitely inspiring and worth a thought.

Laurie Voss’ talk, “npm and SOA: how we use SOA, and why node is good at SOA”, reinforced a lot of the ideas that the Odd Networks team has in regards to our microservice architecture. It was especially funny to see the “less simple version” of npm’s architecture, entitled “shitshow”. We’ve already begun simplifying our architecure diagrams for new hires and interviewees because of this reminder of just how crazy things can be.

The final talk I was able to attend was “React Native in Production” from Adam Miskiewicz. His talk and also getting the chance to pick the brains of a few of his coworkers at Chalk + Chisel after his talk gave us some great insight into the state of React Native for both iOS and Android. I definitely left feeling more optimistic about React Native than I had been.

Closing Thoughts

I had a lot of fun and feel like what I learned and who I got to meet was well worth the trip. I would definitely go back to Nodevember again and highly recommend it for anyone using Node.js or even looking to get a feel for the language and the thriving community around it.

You can catch all videos of the talks as the Nodevember YouTube playlist gets updated.

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