Tag Archives: Javascript

Winter Tech Forum 2016: A different kind of conference

Nine years ago, the Java Posse and Bruce Eckel teamed up to create a conference devoted to the listeners of the Java Posse podcast. Because of Bruce’s experimentation with Open Spaces conferences, he convinced these accomplished speakers to give a wacky idea a try — let the attendees of the conference create the schedule and participate in the conversation. This format’s success surprised many, and the longevity of the conference, held in the middle of the winter in Crested Butte, Colorado, surprised many more.

Last year, the conference evolved in part because the Java Posse’s technical interests diverged and in part because a weekly podcast was a bit too much of a burden on this group of friends, who had spent a decade volunteering their time to provide content to Java developers. But the conference went on, newly dubbed the “Winter Tech Forum” (yes, we know the acronym) and the dedicated folks who had traveled to Crested Butte for many years … showed up with that same enthusiasm for creating a conference and for sharing ideas.

And it keeps on going. This year, the Winter Tech Forum will be from February 29 – March 4, 2016. But if you’re going, do yourself a favor and travel in the previous weekend if you can. Not only can travel be challenging (it’s really best to drive from Denver, given that flights into Gunnison are often canceled due to snow), but also because there will be a warm welcome party at Bruce’s house on Sunday night. It’s a great way to meet your fellow attendees!

If you have heard about the Java Posse Roundup or the Winter Tech Forum, you may know that attendees often get together to rent houses in town. This conference can be an immersive experience, but many attendees also choose to stay at the hotels or B&Bs in town.  Once you register, you will gain access to a group where discussions about rental housing, gatherings, etc. take place.

Wait — I forgot to mention the schedule! Sessions are scheduled for each morning, and then there’s a break for lunch. Here’s the overall theme and some ideas that may be discussed, copied from the WTF information page.

Theme: Creating Adaptware in the Information Continuum
From Big Data to Responsive Systems

  • Reactive Programming
  • The Enterprise as a Scriptable Large-Scale Computation Engine
  • Tradeoffs in Software
  • The Internet of Things
  • Libraries vs. Frameworks
  • Front End to REST Endpoints to Library APIs
  • Java 8 vs. The Next Big JVM Language
  • Distributed Big Data Systems
  • Platforms for Big Data
  • The JVM in the DevOps World
  • Commit To Production, Without Human Intervention
  • Erlang for Building Servers
  • And lots more
  • Plus anything else anyone wants to talk about, of course
  • And our business track

Although the theme sets the general tone of the conference, it doesn’t preclude session topics that might be considered “off theme.” The goal of the theme is to stimulate ideas, not to prevent discussion.

But what about the snow?

Many people trek to Crested Butte for the conference because they also enjoy wintertime activities, like downhill skiing, cross country skiing, or snowshoeing. There’s time each afternoon for those activities, if you care to do so. But if you’re not into winter sports, you will find that a large number of the attendees spend that time hacking on projects, individually or in groups, or preparing for the evening lightning talks. Attendees tend to get back together for dinner and then meet up for lightning talks each evening.

If you’re intrigued, I definitely recommend checking out the information page. And maybe I’ll see you in Crested Butte!

Adventures with Single Page Apps

Single page gurus Brian Genisio and Dennis Burton teamed up with SRT’s creative staff John Lucas and Anthony Williamson to build Choose Your Own Application as a fun and engaging way to investigate single page applications. You can choose from several popular Javascript libraries, web frameworks, and cloud platforms to build a single page app in many different ways. There are currently 22 paths through the system, and you will earn badges for completing the various paths, as well as for other achievements.

Gamifying learning — why not?

UI Smackdown: Session 4

Combining Flex with other technologies

Is it possible to combine Flex with other technologies?  We saw James Ward build a Flex front end for a TurboGears app at CodeMash.  What else makes sense? Those are the questions that we tried to answer in the last session that I attended at the UI Smackdown.

Flex runs on the Flash VM, which has a small memory footprint. It's possible to build a GWT programming model for Flash.  This would generate ActionScript instead of Javascript. That's interesting.  The goals of such would be to reuse components so that you don't have to learn a new interface, leveraging the Flex framework (e.g., tab navigation, etc.).  You would want to use the GWT Compiler, which is written in C/C++.

This would provide good discipline in Javascript, in terms of using libraries and namespaces.  It would improve searchability.  This would be heavy on HTML, rather than AJAX.  One downside of AJAX is that it's not spiderable, hence the reduced searchability.

This is an interesting area which certainly requires more thought. It sounds like James Ward IS thinking in that direction and it will be interesting to see what Adobe comes up with.

UI Smackdown: Session 1

Web App Limits: Real World Experiences

A group convened a session to talk about web applications, and where they break down with real world experience.  The limitations were noted as:
1. Javascript requires testing in many different browsers, but the GWT strives to solve this problem
2. May experience CSS challenges with GWT
3. Limited browser support for multi-media and vector graphics (resulting from lawsuits between Apple and Microsoft?)
4. Drag and Drop onto a scrollable pane generated some headaches for those who had used GWT

The recommendations and observations included:
1. Use Javascript for fast prototyping and then build in GWT once the interactions are discovered
2. Flex can talk to AJAX apps
3. Controls in Flex are builg using vector bitmaps.
4. WPF and Flash allow designer to build whatever they want and the programmer can use it
5. Can encrypt Flex and send over SSL.
6. Can unitttest classes using Flex
7. Javascript, Flex, and WPF build on strengths of the designers
8. Innovation in the browser has stagnated.  By adding in elements other than pure Javascript, Microsoft and Adobe (and others) are able to innovate more freely.

Google Web Toolkit Designer
A great tool for building apps using GWT

My Reading List

My Reading List

I thought I would share what I’m reading now, and what I’ve been reading recently. And I added some podcasts, for good measure, and even a link to a cool development tool that I learned about at the Java Posse Roundup.


Read today: article on JavaScript libraries



Blogs that I read regularly:

Bruce Eckel: http://www.artima.com/weblogs/index.jsp?blogger=beckel

Kathy Sierra: http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/

Joel Spolsky: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/

Bill Wagner: http://www.srtsolutions.com/blogs/BillWagner/default.aspx

And, of course my own: http://www.srtsolutions.com/blogs/DianneMarsh/default.aspx

Here are some blogs from the Java Posse Roundup, which are sure to become regulars for me:

Josh Marinacci’s blog: http://weblogs.java.net/blog/joshy/

Michael Levin: Swampcast and also Michael Levin's Weblog

James Ward: www.jamesward.org

Others that I used to read have become somewhat inactive. You know who you are …


In progress:

Implementing Lean Software Development, Mary and Tom Poppendieck, 2007.

Comments: good source for lean software, but also draws a lot from lean manufacturing. Recommending to people in other disciplines as well. I’ll post a more complete review when I finish the book.

On my desk, in hopes of reading soon:

Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art, by Steve McConnell, 2006.


Most recent podcasts:

  • DotNetRocks, from 2/19.  Guest: Steve McConnell
  • Java Posse #107, Special from Crested Butte
  • Java Posse #106, News from 3/7
  • Ruby on Rails: Camping, Episode II
  • Several episodes of “60 Second Science”, from Scientific American


Podcasts I follow regularly:

  • JavaPosse – great podcast for keeping current on Java
  • DotNetNukes – entertaining podcast for .NET world


Podcasts in my queue:

  • TedTalks podcasts

Development tool that I’m going to try next


Thursday in Crested Butte

Web Frameworks Jam, continued

The TurboGears team finally is all working with the 0.9 release, and we made a lot of progress today. I was able to get the things working that didn’t work yesterday (i.e., the JSON support), and we moved forward, exploring the TurboTunes tutorial and more of the supporting code.

The TurboTunes tutorial is a lot of Javascript, so not as much in terms of kid and pure TurboGears, but it’s a nice looking demo. Here are some of our notes about that tutorial:

TurboTunes Tutorial Feedback

1.tutorial refers to prod.cfg, which doesn’t exist. Assuming should copy sampleprod.cfg to prod.cfg. No big deal, since we were in development mode anyhow (using dev.cfg)
2.In 0.9.a7, sqlite is assumed in dev.cfg … needs to be commented out. This is kind of annoying.
3.Tutorial uses old start command: python turboTunes-start.py, while new version uses start-turboTunes.py
4.Use tg-admin toolbox to start toolbox to access Catwalk. We were able to leave out all mounting of CatWalk, but still need to import model.

The Google Web Toolkit team seems to be doing well with their exploration, and the Spring team is making progress too. During the hiking breaks (and at dinner), we all discuss what people are doing. Ah, it would have been nice to have had more time, so that each group could have looked at another framework as well. Ah, sigh, but realistically, we likely would have just gone into more depth with what we were doing.

This afternoon, we all took a hike to Copper Creek. It’s up by Gothic, which is an old town now used by biologists. The waterfalls were gorgeous and the hike had more elevation (and length) than the previous days.

In the evening, a few of us went to see “An Inconvenient Truth”, which was (IMO) both fascinating and disturbing. In any case, it was great to see someone handing out flyers about how to convert to using wind power in Colorado after the movie.

Ah, tomorrow is our last day here, and I’m hoping that we can look at some more TurboGears in detail.

Copper Creek Hike