Codemash 2008 has commenced and I'm proud to be a part of it! The day began with a keynote from Neal Ford who spoke about polyglot programming, and how the future holds much potential for dynamic languages on managed runtimes with testing as the driving factor. He used the concept of software engineering being similar to civil engineering and how the art of developing an app is like designing a bridge. He told an interesting story about the gentlemen who realized reinforced concrete was the wave of the future for bridge building, but the math didn't support his theories and he had many critics (including the one engineer who designed the famous "swinging bridge" that twisted in the wind (and eventually collapsed). To prove his point, he used testing. And sure enough, now we use reinforced concrete in almost every bridge that is made. Like the FUD that said "you can't build a bridge using reinforced concrete", it's FUD to say "you can't build an enterprise app with dynamically typed languages." It's the testing that will prove the critics wrong.
However, I was disappointed to not hear PHP's name mentioned in the keynote, and in fact there is scarce presence of PHP at all here. There is only one talk that deals with PHP - a talk on the Zend Framework that will he going on tomorrow. But while that bothers me, this conf is also a great venue for learning about other technologies all in one shot.
I attended a fabulous intro to Groovy talk (which I really didn't have much knowledge of beforehand), a great intro to Python where we got a look at Visual Python, and a Groovy/Grails talk. Some great info for a lowly PHP developer such as myself :).
Of course, there are also a few x-boxes set up with Rock Band and Guitar Hero going in full swing. As well, the vendors got a chance to host informative talks, which I'm sure is good PR for them, but also offered some good info for the attendees. I attended a talk on Consulting in the IT business, which was interesting although we ran out of time before we got to the stuff I wanted to hear about.
They also have a few other unique things going on:
- Expert Areas - where the speakers hang out in a designated room at a designated time and answer any questions from anybody who happens to come in
- Open Spaces - similar to the lightning talks given at other conferences, but even less formal than that. Basically you put a sticky note on the schedule board and start a discussion with whoever happens to walk in
- Kidz Mash - a track coinciding with the conference that is for kids, with lego robotics and other fun stuff (this actually only runs tomorrow)
The Open Spaces was interesting - I joined one where the topic was "Joomla! Pros/cons" to see what other PHPers were around. Unfortunately for me there were only 2 guys in there, and one was actually a dot net guy. :) But in the course of our conversation, my buddy Michael Kimsal happened to pass by and requested that we all be interviewed for his webdevradio podcast (thanks a lot, Michael! ;) ) You can probably hear that sometime next week, but I was representin' the PHP posse.
I also got to hook up with my good friend Cal Evans and I finally had the pleasure of meeting Jason Gilmore who I'd not met before but of course I knew the name. As he was one of the organizers, I asked him about the lack of PHP and he said they'd only received one PHP related talk submission (the ZF talk). Come on PHPers, we need to be represented! :)
Because the venue (the Kalahari Resort) is simply amazing, I brought the hubby and kids along for the ride. The Kalahari boasts the world's largest indoor water park, and it sure did keep them busy all day while I was geeking out. There is a wave pool, many water tubes and slides, a lazy river, a water basketball section, and a body surfing simulation just to name a few of the attractions. After dinner we also enjoyed a round of mini-golf (also in the resort) where I proudly nailed 2 holes-in-one. The wi-fi here is fantabulous... well, at least in the conference area - the hotel rooms are touch and go. But I'm willing to forego room wi-fi for great connections during the conf.
All in all, it has been a very interesting and informative conference, and I'm very glad to be a part of it.