Calling All Brandwatch Customers: Want to Try the Latest Product Features Before Anyone Else?
By Mercedes Lois BullJun 16
Published September 19th 2014
Editor’s note: Interested in the Engineering team and what they get up to? They’ve got their own blog over at engineering.brandwatch.com. Head over there for insights into what makes them tick, what they’re working on and other developments behind the scenes.
Monday afternoon. I’m exhausted. Tired to my bones, I’m clumsy in my sleepiness and put salt in my tea earlier. My brain is like a telephone box in a Guinness World Records attempt, crammed with a thousand writhing ideas fighting for position.
Where am I? What happened to me? And was it worth it?
The answers, respectively: I’m in Berlin, it was JSConf EU this weekend, and hells yeah – with bells on.
Fast forward to the present day, and Node has seen a meteoric rise, handling with graceful ease the phenomenal amount of traffic to the Walmart site during the last Black Friday.
So would we see a similar ground-breaking announcement at this year’s JSConf EU?
It’s too early to tell, but regardless, I feel like I got a glimpse of the future for the internet experience of billions of people – and it’s going to be fantastisch!
After a delicious breakfast (setting the trend for food throughout the weekend), the conference was kicked off in considerable style with an amazing audio-visual display featuring live musicians piped through the Web Audio API, tweaked in realtime.
It also gave me somewhat of a thrill to see Brandwatch’s name projected to hundreds of members of the elite tech illuminati in gigantic letters when it appeared amongst the sponsors.
The first talk of the conference was also one of the best – Jake Archibald‘s introduction to Service Workers was mind-blowing and hilarious in roughly equal measures.
For the uninitiated, Service Workers will aim to close the gap between native and web apps by allowing such functionality as (proper) offline access, background sync and push notifications. Jake believes this could be the biggest change to the web since XHR ten years ago, and I think he’s spot on.
The first day progressed with some great talks on subjects such as:
There were also two talks in a more functional vein, James Coglan’s talk was a breakneck tour of thought-provoking and mind-bending ideas which left the audience shell-shocked and the poor stenographer approaching cardiac arrest.
Building on his viral blog post from last year, James showed us that functional programming can indeed be practical.
Matthew Podwysocki then illustrated why functional reactive programming and streams will have a big role to play in our future coding style.
It wasn’t all hardcore JS on the first day though; the evening party was kicked off by the effervescent Tim Pietrusky showing how to build various LED dance floor displays, and also how to convert the demo gremlins into added entertainment for the audience.
Day 2 kicked off with an intense adventure guided by Vyacheslav Egorov as he showed how to bend the JS Virtual Machine to run Smalltalk. If we weren’t awake before, we certainly were after!
Mathias expertly demonstrated the power of BitTorrent, and his ingenious node library to stream videos instantly, even allowing you to scan through as it’s still downloading. Things took a turn for the crazy when he booted up Linux from an ISO using VirtualBox whilst the ISO was still downloading.
Not a new idea, but would be fun to do it in JS!
The rest of the second day was choc-a-bloc with high-calibre talks from people working hard to solve some of the biggest gripes in modern JS (Mark Knickel on how to refactor a dynamically typed language, and has Dan Mané finally nailed charting?).
The conference closed out with a captivating look back at the history of the tech scene, and a call to arms for Berlin not to model itself on Silicon Valley but to forge its own path. Lindsay Eyink kept the audience spell-bound throughout her well researched history, a perfect rounding off of a truly enlightening weekend jam.
So what were my take-homes from the conference?
I can’t wait to explore the creation of some internal tools using Web Components, and I’m already thinking of some code I’ve written which would be nice to rewrite using some functional ideas.
What is most important for us is to keep an open mind, keep questioning paradigms, and keep rethinking best-practices. Be it a new language, the hot new package manager, or an overlooked feature, these events should make you wonder: ‘Are we using our tools in the best way we can?’ – and there is no better place than JSConf EU to find the answers.
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