View Source 2015: A Recap
This conference recap comes to you from Luna Alvarez, one of Apptentive’s Associate Engineers and our resident software development conference critic. For all who attended and for those who missed the show, please enjoy!
November 2nd-4th, View Source Conference was held in Portland Oregon at the Gerding Theatre at The Armory. View Source is a single track conference for front-end web developers. The goal is to provide an in-depth, practical look at current and on-the-horizon technologies, with plenty of opportunities for conversation. The event was sponsored most notably by Mozilla and GitHub.
On Monday, there were somewhere around seven lightning talks. The speakers had no control over when their slides changed, and had exactly five minutes to utilize. They covered a range of topics, my favorite being Sarah Schacht’s talk about preventing food borne illness outbreaks with open-source government API’s that offer information about a company’s current grade status.
Where I grew up in California, restaurants were required to place up-to-date placards in a highly visible location reflecting their score at the business’s most recent inspection. Since leaving my hometown, it’s been a tough transition. I appreciated this talk, because she was able to speak on an important issue and provide a solution feasible to the developer community.
Tuesday started off with the keynote by Paul Ford, who is a presumed genius. I read his article that got worldwide attention, What Is Code?, and found myself very well refreshed, even learned a few things that might have slipped through the cracks otherwise. His talk was on “The Web Today,” specifically focusing on statistics on, you guessed it, the web today. He also spent some time speaking on the size of the web, and the kind of technologies that could help the bigger conversation about diversity in the tech industry.
During the afternoon intermission, I participated in a few of the moderated discussions, including “Unconscious Bias In The Workplace” and “What are Companies Looking for When Hiring Developers?” These were both great, interactive group discussions where I walked away with some interesting things to consider. I think it’s appropriate to note here, that there were some incredibly bright and inspiring people who showed up for View Source. There were experts from W3C, Mozilla, GitHub, and so many others that gave some advice or helpful tips. I specifically appreciated Michelle Maravich’s advice she gave after I asked her about how to get the mentor/developer attention needed to switch from the client-end stack to the server. Simply put, she said something along the lines of, “Go outside the workplace. Don’t depend entirely on your co-workers, find the intelligent female engineers that attend events, find and make relationships with them. Make the opportunities yourself, ask inquisitive questions that prompt a decent response with educational potential.”
The final day held so many great talks for me, I won’t be able to pick a favorite from the list. However, notable mentions go to Myles Borins for continuously blowing my mind over perceptual audio. His talk, titled “Signal Processing, Perceptual Audio, and the Web Audio API” gave a fresh perspective on the potential of audio in the realm of software development. Having met Myles at CascadiaFest a few months back, I have grown to love the way he gives talks. I know almost nothing about Signal Processing but, with his talk style, I gained perspective in an interesting and attention-seeking manner.
Another fun talk of the day was from Josh Carpenter speaking about Mozilla’s new library for VR technology, WebVR. WebVR makes it easy to quickly get started developing virtual realities, while still making it an interesting experience for the more experienced developer. Working with the Oculus Rift and really any virtual reality software has been a historically painful experience, so with the release of WebVR I’m really excited to get my feet wet.
Overall, this conference was a great time. I appreciated the diversity of the speakers and the focus on making the web a better place for everyone. Inclusivity was a recurring, overhead theme. I learned more about accessibility in code, how to be confident in my diverse, unique background (thanks Shweta Panditrao!) and tons about how the client-side can be better utilized.
I want to give a special thank you to View Source, Women Who Code, and Ali Slovak for providing me with a ticket to attend. I’d also like to thank my company, Apptentive, for making it possible for me to travel down to Portland for the week to attend. If you’d like to watch any of the talks, they are readily available.
Can’t wait for the next View Source!