#DevFestMN 2014

Today I attended the first ever Google Dev Fest in Minnesota. The event was being put on by the Twin Cities Google Developer Group at the University of St Thomas. I wasn’t really sure what to expect while attending the conference.  There were a number of topics that I was interested in attending, and a few that I wasn’t either.  The event was broken down into four different tracks: android, web apps/design, tech talk, and finally cloud. Overall though it was really hard to pass this event up with a price tag of only $22 plus eventbrite fees.

The morning started out with Paul Lundberg from Agosto giving a key note on “Platform Matters: Building scalable products on Google Cloud Platform”. Unfortunately the keynote to me felt more like a sales pitch. Though he did cover how Agosto makes use of Google’s Cloud Platform, it really wasn’t an attention grabber for me. So it goes though. Being a conference organizer I know its hard to make sure your keynote grabs the attention of every person in the room.

The morning session that I decided to attend was “Internationalize your JavaScript Application: Prepare for “the next billion” internet users.” by Kevin Hakanson (@hakason). Working for a company that creates international sites for some our clients I thought it would be a great session to attend.  I really thought that this would be a great session to attend since our company is currently trying to push more onto the client side and less on the server side. Making use of i18n is something that actually really excise me. Kevin was a pretty entertaining speaker who seems to know his stuff.  I actually learned some new things that I didn’t know about i18n and l10n. Did you know there was an ECMAScript api for localization? Nope, neither did I. Though the downside is it only works on the latest IE11, Google Chrome and FireFox 27. Unfortunately if you want to use it in an older version of IE you are either SOL or you will need to use a jQuery Plugin or poly fill. Although he pretty much flew through a lot of information he still provided a lot of great information. If you want to learn more take a look at his slides above or give him a shout out on twitter. Lastly he also provided a demo if you want to play around with internalization, https://jsi18n.azurewebsites.net/demo.html.

I decided to skip the second morning session because there really wasn’t much that interested me. So for me next up was lunch.  During the lunch break they gave away two nexus 5s and one nexus 7. Unfortunately I didn’t win any of them. Oh well. There is always next time.

After lunch I opted to attend the TECHdotMN Developer Panel “How to Succeed as an Independent Developer”. Though I am not an independent developer I do work on some stuff on the side so I thought it might be relevant. It might have also helped that I had lunch with one of the developers that was on the panel, Jenna Pederson. The panel discussion was fantastic.  I don’t think I have attended any panel discussions at past conferences but after this one I may just have to attend more.  They provided a wealth of information and wish I took better notes as to all of the ideas, concepts, and tools they use. All four people (Jenna Pederson, Irv Briscoe, Zachary JohnsonJake Good) in the panel we able to quickly answer everyones questions.  If you have never attended a panel discussion I would highly suggest attending one and participating.

Next up is Marc Gabanski‘s “Whirlwind Tour of Scalable Vector Graphics” talk. I’ve sat through a number of his svg talks in the past and every time I sit through one of his  I seem to always learn something new. I’ve always wanted to make use of an svg graphic but as of right now within my personal or professional work I haven’t had a reason to. Either the graphics that I am working with are designed by someone else or we have an engine that spits out graphics for us.  Once again Marc’s knowledge on the topic is top notch.  If you have never seen one of his talks I would highly suggest it. I would also suggest checking out his Frontend Masters series if you are looking improve your frontend development skills.

The final session I decided to attend was one given by Todd Gardner on “Getting The Most out of Javascript Stack Traces”.  I’ve seen a few of his past presentations on working with errors. This presentation took it a step further. He showed how you should actually handle working with Javascript Error object and how to get the best out of your stack trace.  I was curious when I first sat down to watch his presentation if it would follow suite to his JavaScript talks he gave last year and to my surprise it seemed more of an extension of his previous talks. It seems as though he could almost make a series out of them.  Thought I suppose it does help that he is the co-founder of a company called Track.js which can be used to trap and catch Javascript errors on your own application. Once again with his previous presentations I couldn’t stop taking in all the knowledge that he is dumping onto the attendees.

My overall feeling of DevFestMN is that it was a fantastic event. There are some thing that I think they should change or add. One of them being that your keynote shouldn’t really be one of your sponsors. They tend to turn into a talk more about the company. They might want to consider having a speaker rating not only for the speakers them selves but so that the organizers can get an idea as to what people enjoyed or did not enjoy about each presentation. Most speakers want some type of feed back. They always want to be able to improve their presentation for the next time they want to give it.

Either way once DevFestMN is announced for 2015 I will for sure purchasing a ticket, might even have to think about a talk to submit to the event as well.

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