JSConf 2009 post-conference wrap-up

April 29, 2009 - by joyentjames

As I mentioned last week, Joyent and Sun Startup Essentials teamed-up to sponsor the JSConf in Arlington, VA last week. I got back from the conference on Sunday, happy to be home, but full of energy from the conference. It was a great two days – lots of interesting people and lots of interesting talks. Chris and Laura Williams did an amazing job of putting on such a great event – the quality of the conference everything surrounding the conference would suggest that they were old hands at arranging things like this – apparently not the case however! Thanks, and well done, again.

The talk about the Smart platform seemed to be well received – it seems that people everywhere are starting to wake up to the fact that JavaScript is not just for browsers anymore, and certainly the people best placed to take advantage of that fact are the people who were at JSConf, the people who already know JavaScript is for more than just rollover images and popups!

Francisco Tomalsky, of 280north, said something during his talk that struck a bit of a chord with me. What he said, roughly, was this: JavaScript is different from the other popular scripting languages, because we don’t control the language itself. We sit and we wait for the language designers – Mozilla, Microsoft, the ECMA and others to fix things that we/they think are broken.

This is all very true, and Francisco & his company’s solution was to implement a fix on top of this with technology. They invented Objective-J and it is quite an amazing piece of tech.

I like technology solutions – I’m a programmer and a bit of a geek, so they come naturally. But before I’m a geek I’m a person (really!), and tend to think that there are problems that need solving that are people problems. The people problem I think that has needed solving is this: who is the “we” in JavaScript.

There hasn’t been, until now, a community of developers, showing off their work, asking for things to be solved or demanding change. It’s been impossible to speak with a single voice, or even just a few voices that represented the user base.

I think that what I found out at JSConf was this: there are a lot of smart people working with JavaScript.

Not particularly surprising I know – there are a lot of smart people all over the place, but at a conference that is for a language that is often stigmatized and mis-labeled I was pleased to see that no-one – not a single solitary person – that I spoke to was out-of-touch, less able, or less willing than at any of the people I’ve met at other language specific conferences.

JavaScript deserves a community of people who know, appreciate, and even like one-another, and that’s hard to foster without personal, face-to-face meetings. Those of us who write stuff in JavaScript – server side, client side, or from the command line – have lots to learn, and lots to share with one-another. A community of people can help solve Francisco’s problem as well.

JSConf represented the first steps of a fledgling community, and some really great first steps at that. I’m proud that myself, and Joyent were a part of it.


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