QCON – Conference Recap – Wednesday

Wednesday, 11/18/2009

My intent was to take the entire architecture tract. But, that didn’t work out.

Keynote Speakers – Salil Deshpande and Kevin Ufrusy

These guys are venture capitalists. They’ve invested in a lot of technologies that I heard of at the time of the key not, or heard of by the time the conference concluded.

“Patterns in Architecture” – Joseph Yoder

This started off very interesting. Joseph is a great speaker. But, the room was too crowded. I had my back against the coffee table, and was surrounded on all sides. They brought in a few more chairs, but it didn’t help my plight. I left after 10 minutes. I wandered around to see what else was going on, but all of the doors were closed and I didn’t want to disrupt anything. So, I spent the remainder of the hour reading my shiny new .NET REST book

“Google Chrome Frame” – Alex Russell, Google

Fortunately, this was supposed to be the first session of the BROWSER AS A PLATFORM track, but was switched due to some type of conflict. I wasn’t interested in the talk that was supposed to happen at this time, but was later told that it too was excellent.

This was a great overview of a thing called “Google Chrome Frame”.

IE6 is currently the browser that everyone wants to go away. It represents an old generation of browsers. But, the fear is that its not going anywhere any time soon.

GCF is meant to bridge the gap between the old generations of browsers and the new ones. For GCF enabled sites, the IE rendering engine is bypassed, and the chrome engine is used instead. This gives you the benefit of coding using modern standards while using an old browser (although the old browser becomes nothing more than a shell for a new competing browser, oddly enough).

Alex reiterated that their preferences it that you not use GCF; the preferred plan is that you upgrade your browser. But, if you can’t, then GCF will help prolong IE6 life.

GCF is currently enabled through a meta tag in the page being served. By the time it ships, a header can be used instead. The meta tag must be in the first k of data.

There’s a javascript file, CFInstall, that you can reference on Google. The javascript will run the user through the GCF install. It provides some options to tailor the look and feel.

This is a neat product, although I personally won’t ever need it.

“Adventures of an Agile Architect” – Dan North

Dan is a funny speaker. I really enjoyed this session.

The big take-away from this was that you need a shaman. Much like ancient cultures, the history of a product or technology is best told through stories. “Why was this done this way?”  “Gather around, gather around… let me tell you the story of…. blah blah blah”. It probably doesn’t translate into text very well, but was funny in person.

HTML5 WebSockets – John Fallows, Kaazing

This was great.

HTML5 introduces a full duplex websocket between the browser and the server. That’s huge. Now, your web browser can connect to the server and stay connected. It won’t have to send requests to get updated information; when there’s update information, the server will just send it to you. No more polling.

This is part of the HTML5 spec. Of course, for it to be useful, the browsers and servers have to support it. They don’t yet. That’s where KAAZING jumps in. They provide a javascript client, and a server gateway to give you this capability now.

CHROME 4 BETA, released last week, has it built in. They gave a demo in CHROME 4 showing multiple parts of the page being continuously updated.

WebSockets, in my opinion, is a huge advance. Once all of the clients and servers have it build in, though, what is KAAZING going to do?

Evolving the key/value Programming Model to a higher level – Billy Newport

I was 2 minutes late for this (unusual for me), but felt like I missed an hour. He was really into it.

I found this talk particularly interesting because its directly related to some tuff going on at work. I really doubt they would ever go this route, but it is relevant info.

Personally, I’ve burned absurd amounts of calories pondering and playing with meta driven solutions to a problem that I may or may not have. When I first saw the API in this demo, my first ignorant impression was “no big deal”. But, then I came to realizes that the API, though simple, is spreading the work across a grid of machines. That makes it a huge deal.

Billy mentioned REDIS more than once. I didn’t know what that was, but now I have an idea of it. If I heard the talk again, it would probably be more enlightening.

This is part of the “get rid of databases” family of things to do. Rather than store relational data, you store all data as name value pairs. You can also build up memory lists of things that you need. IE: Last 10 users to sign up. Then, when you create a new user, you push it onto the stack and the other one falls off.

This is an exciting topic that I need to learn more about.

Keynote: The State and Future of Javascript – Douglas Crawford

Hands down, the best key note of the conferences.

Douglas Crawford knows a thing or two about javascript.

Javascript has been stagnant since about 1999. This is because the body of organizations responsible for improving it developed some internal strife. When Douglas joined the group, he didn’t agree with the direction version 4 was going, and he objected. He met with other companies behind closed doors and found that they objected as well, but were to shy (or concerned about anti-trust lawsuits) to object. So, they backed him from the shadows.

Over time, it became two distinct groups in the same body. The initial group wanted to release version 4. Douglas proposed that they scale it back to just the things that make sense, and call it 3.1.

Douglas describes all of the key events in vivid entertaining detail. As geeky as it sounds, I think it would make a great movie. Heck, if a documentary on Donkey Kong can be succesfull, why not one on Javascript? (Incidentally, its really called ECMA script, not javascript).

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