Monday, May 16, 2011

Chicago Code Camp 2011

I spent the day at Chicago Code Camp.  It's a good thing because it's a pretty pure conference for programmers. It's all run by volunteers, all free, all in one day, all short talks (1 hour).

CLC had good wifi, plenty of space. Actually, one of the problems we had was finding out where the registration desk and refreshments were "hidden" in the huge Technology Building.  I came in a different door than organizers expected, as did dozens of us who were found wandering the halls.  We like calling that the "mandatory fitness segment."

One of the things that is particularly good is that you can quickly guage where you stand with the community, what people want to hear about, and what people want to talk about.

The first presentation I attended was on refactoring javascript, and programmers were rapt. They wanted to know about testing and test frameworks, how to do the refactoring steps, and how to incorporate the tests in in CI. The introductory topics included refactoring, unit testing, and dealing emotionally with 'tangled code'.  I sometimes felt that the presenter was quoting from things I have written about naming and the like, but I think that mostly he was pulling from the same sources as Jeff and I did with agile in a flash. I picked on the presenter a little, and gave him a deck of Agile In A Flash cards as a kind of apology.  I hope he likes them.

The second talk was on git. I was surprised how few people knew about git and how to use it. There were more microsofters there than I expected, and they were using VSS and the m$ team server stuff, subversion, and cvs.  There were few of us who used git, bzr, hg.  I suppose that means we need to talk and write and present more on agile version control, or it means we're far enough ahead of the parade taht nobody is really interested.  Folks in the group would get confused and walk out.

The third session I had planned to listen to either Michael Norton (@docondev), but against my earlier plans I ended up checking out the talk on WebSockets and Pusher   with Damien Tanner () and Dave Hoover ().  Damien was a surprise guest.  It was handy that the author of the pusher shows up to join Dave's talk. One feature of the talk was the audience's impatience to see code. God bless the Code Camp audience. Questions about performance were not long in coming. 

The latter part of the day was spent in Clojure with Micah Martin (a face from my old Object Mentor days) and Gnu Smalltalk with Steve Kim. Both were enjoyable. I am not a Clojure nor a Smalltalk guy, but I was able to keep up and enjoy both the presentation and the conversation.

A few quick observations:
* People were using vim, textmate, and emacs; they were not using IDEs much
* Macs are platform of choice even though this conference series is known for windows devs.
* The ratio of sexes was far skewed to the male side.
* The age mix was much more even. There were probably as many 50+ as teens, and 40s as 20s.
* Even with a rep for having microsoft developers, there were many platform-agnostic language talks.
* Organizers did a very good job for a free (sponsor-supported) conference.
* CLC in Greyslake, IL has a great facility.