Portrait of Edd Dumbill, taken by Giles Turnbull

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What I make

expectnation
a conference management web application


XTech Conference
a European web technology conference

Live from XTech

Well, it's finally arrived and here I am in the middle of it all.

Rails fun

The week kicked off with Matt and I teaching our tutorial on Ruby on Rails. It was the first time we've taught on that topic, so we were interested to hear the opinions of the attendees. We embarked on a fast-paced day-long tour of Rails features, with a large amount of live coding on screen.

The aim was to give attendees an understanding of Rails as an environment for developing web applications, to let them see how fun it was to code (especially tests) and provide a bucket full of jumping off points for them to pursue their own investigations. With six or seven deployed Rails applications between us, we're in a good position to talk as real-world developers.

I think we pretty much succeeded. During the day we saw many places to improve the material and the flow, but the concept was sound. Teaching together meant we gave each other energy, humour and support. From the feedback, everybody was kept entertained and engaged as well as educated.

Folks went away with the slides and the source code for the application we developed over the day. We thought about making our own course notes, but really there's nothing better than the Pragmatic Rails book, so there didn't seem much point in duplicating that effort.

We'd certainly like to do it again, and we're interested in visiting companies interested in Rails to bring their developer teams up to speed: we've already heard from one company attending the conference about that. So do get in touch if that interests you.

Keynotes

Paul Graham kicked off the conference with a provocative keynote comparing the conditions in the EU and US, and their suitability for stimulating startup companies. This has already sparked off a lot of discussion on the web, which is great to see. I'm really grateful to Paul for travelling a long distance to speak to us.

We also heard from Jeffrey McManus of Yahoo! (I can never write "Yahoo!'s Jeffrey McManus" because the consequent train-wreck of punctuation upsets me). He shared the remarkable number of APIs and places where Yahoo! lets developers hook into their data and services. There's so much in there, I resolved to put some serious time aside to investigate what I could make use of.

Coverage

The site I set up for last year's conference, Planet XTech, is doing a great job aggregating blog coverage of XTech again this year. It's a great way for people here, and those following from a distance, to keep up with what's going on. Some folks are blogging really detailed notes, which is fantastic for the talks I've not been able to get to.

Next year

In a couple of weeks' time, I'll start thinking about next year's conference. I'll try to pull together what we've learned this year to make XTech even better. One thing we know already is that this year is our last in Amsterdam. We've been here three years and had a lot of fun. Next year, we're heading to Paris, which will be wonderful.

Please do write to me with any comments and suggestions about XTech. One idea I'm playing with is the idea of a smaller related event later in the year, focused on educating people about web technologies.

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