(Or, my impressions of JSConf US 2010)
I wrote a very ambitious (and partially successful) post last year attempting to recap the first JSConf. I can’t even pretend to repeat that feat this year: track B was so good that I spent half my time in it, and I couldn’t get to everything I wanted to see or everyone I wanted to meet. Kevin Dangoor has good summaries of the talks he attended. And… There Will Be Videos. But there are themes I observed.
- Harder: Billy Hoffman‘s high-octane security / hacking talk exposed the need to harden your JS as much as possible. For just a taste of “You should be paranoid” stew, go look at Panopticlick as soon as you finish reading this post (or sentence). You are probably uniquely identifiable by the info your browser publicly shares. Then do some reading about timing attacks, especially those by Nate Lawson. Jed Schmidt‘s (fab) talk was so hard-core some Tweeters thought its content level was equal to an entire average tech conference. It takes composability and functional programming to the extreme. The confused guy next to me asked, “What would you use this for?” and all I could sputter back was, “anything.” Also, Douglas Crockford supplemented his well-known “good parts” argument by laying down some serious challenges: fix XSS now, and throw away HTML5 and start over.
While the ECMA effort’s watchword is “fortitude,” a lot of JSConf’s revelations fall under the heading Don’t wait. People like Tobias Schneider and Dmitry Baranovskiy have taken action to make web browsing better today, by implementing a Flash runtime in JS or writing a JS SVG/VML drawing and animation library.
- Faster: Faster belongs to Ryan Dahl. Not only is node.js a fearsomely fast server-side JS framework, and not only was Ryan’s talk about making it even faster: the most telling moment of the conference was his comment, during a CommonJS panel, that there was no need for a detailed standard for server-side JS because it hadn’t matured past “toy programs” yet. That turned a few heads. But his comment points out that fifteen years after its creation, JS’s development is accelerating. There were a lot more server-side applications this year, and work on this area is speeding up. Ryan’s bluntness also suggests a dawning period of bare-knuckled competition and invention between server-side inventors that mirrors the red-hot competition between JS engines. Brendan was asked about how ECMA would deal with server-side engines that were turning their backs on standards, and he basically responded that it would take time. When things shake out, he’ll be waiting to help consolidate the best things from the expansion.
How crazy is it that I just spent a paragraph on “faster” without mentioning Steve Souders? Oh yeah, he was there too, recapping tools and techniques for making your pages load faster. Please go check out webpagetest.org and use Google Page Speed as well as yslow.
Last but absolutely not least, thank you thank you thank you, Chris and Laura Williams for making this happen again. I was blown away by the talent that showed, but it wouldn’t have been the conference to be at without the atmosphere that Chris and Laura worked so hard to make feel so easy and fun. From the Friday night party to the boat cruise, the great food, and the game room, it was so easy to meet people, to connect. For Pete’s sake, my wife and I had dinner with Brendan Eich. On a boat. I don’t know how to top that.
JSConf Europe is coming up in September, though. 400% awesome?