Technical Architect & Developer (UI + UX)

DotJS 2014

Posted on 2014-11-19

dotJS 2014 - Théâtre de Paris panorama

It has been a while since I last wrote a post, hasn't it? I thought of writing a summary of my awesome experience at Resonate 2014 last spring, however I ended up traveling afterwards. As time went by, it felt a bit ridiculous to go back to an event onto which everybody already had commented. I wanted to write about the live video editing console I built in Max for video projections for the band Appalaches, but I haven't. I may yet come back to this.

For the last year, I have been working remotely with an american client. With that in mind, I chose to become a digital nomad. I recently relocated in Paris temporarily where I currently share a coworking space at 39.io. The organizers of the dotConferences also work in these locals, and so thanks to them, I attended the dotJS conference earlier this week. I saw and heard cool talks, made some new contacts and overall had a nice time. Here are some of my take aways from this day.

Even though I did not grasp all the technical subtleties underlying his talk, watching James Halliday explain immutable offline webapps, a complex yet elegant concept, was great. He explained how we could use the browser cache more efficiently when building our apps to not depend so much on requests from the backend. Even though I understand much of his reasoning (ie: make web apps available regardless of connectivity, keep much of the personal data of the user only on the user's computer rather than on a remote location/server), I wonder how much of that conceptual thinking is practically applicable to commercial apps developed by businesses.

He touched on a great API that I did not know about, the window.crypto.subtle API. Combining this API, his concept of immutable offline web apps, and the concept of key pairs, he described an interesting authentication system that would allow the user to be authenticated without the use of storing any password or data on a server. His work is currently available on his Keyboot project Github repo.

He also provided us with an interesting nugget of wisdom:

Another speaker caught my attention: Angus Croll. This dev has an interesting perspective about the freedom that JavaScript allows. Coming from Processing, ActionScript and Objective C, his position on the looseness of JavaScript kind of jarred with my habits of coding, but he did make a great comparison.

He explained that the strict world of Java (and the likes) is to the world of JavaScript what the Tour de Montparnasse is to the Eiffel Tower. The former is completely functional, efficient, and a horrible bore, whereas the latter is complete nonsensical, crazy and more expressive.

DotJS - Angus Croll on Paris towers

It was interesting to see him use code as material to write a literary book. He wrote "If Hemingway wrote JavaScript", which is about how would different authors of different periods approach some code problems in JavaScript. It's funny because I always thought myself that writing code is just like writing a book or an essay: we (mostly) all can write, we know a language, the code to write, yet each of us would approach this in our own personal way, making it very complicated to pick up someone else's work (writing?) where that person left it.

For her presentation, Soledad Penadés passionately spoke about her experimentation with the Web Audio API. If you either read my previous blog posts or my tweets, you probably know by now that music and sound are high on my list of interests. Last I heard from sounds and music in browsers, well it was pretty much crap. To be honest, I started messing seriously with sounds some ten years in Max/MSP (which I mentioned above in this post), I had people around me creating pretty interesting stuff with it or with SuperCollider. Looking at web audio, whether in Flash (back in dem days) or in JavaScript never really felt powerful. Going through her talk blazingly fast (I must admit I was happy I knew most of the terms and concepts she tackled), she showed how to create some simple wave generators all the way to modifying sound on a video at runtime! I remember attempting to do this on the adidas Women's Lookbook a couple years back (I wanted to add a low pass filter to the sound), but the CPU demand at the time was way to high. Her presentation hints that a quality API may finally be there and worth exploring. She concluded by mentioning the OpenMusic project in which she participates. I haven't had time to look into it, but she explained this was a project in which people built open source audio modules and components.

Some speakers also had this high and mighty attitude that we find in every tech event, I guess I wasn't the only one that noticed it:

I was surprised by how much focus there was on the dev-ops and almost back-end side of the talks. Although these subjects may indeed be important, especially in a world in which JavaScript is used in many more contexts than ever before, yet I still was drifting away a bit when the focus was less about actual user interaction.

There were obviously more speakers than those I mention here, check the conference's dotJS and Twitter account for more info. Overall I am happy that I was offered to attend the conference.

One response to “DotJS 2014”

  1. […] In Paris, I worked at Le 39 in the 2e arrondissement, right next to Porte Saint-Denis. This space was my first contact with coworking spaces. Many startups and some freelancers work there, mostly around the theme of tech startups. The DotConferences organizers also worked in that space, which was my contact point to discover and attend DotJS. […]

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