JSConf 2012: Bull Rides & Bacon in Scottsdale

Every year around January it starts.  A tweet gets sent, a rough landing page is set-up and the drum beat to JSConf begins.  JSConf is special: it is curated with love by Chris and Laura Williams, it welcomes families and significant others and it keeps itself small in order to provide an intimate environment for everyone to get to know one another and build durable connections. Oh, and there are lots of presentations about Javascript and bacon.

45 pans of bacon were consumed, a Kimpton record

Javascript is Rolling

Javascript has been on a tear lately.  Browser makers have been improving the web platform by leaps and bounds, OS vendors are increasingly making JS and HTML5 the bedrock of their next generation operating systems, Node.js has exploded in popularity and mobile toolkits like PhoneGap and Titanium have empowered millions of web developers to build mobile applications.  Mozilla made headlines by giving every attendee a brand-new smartphone powered by their open web operating system Boot2Gecko.  Microsoft and Bocoup announced the launch of BuildNewGames, a site devoted to building games using Javascript.

As Javascript becomes more powerful and shows up in more and more places, Javascript developers are now capable of doing more things, including integrating with REST services like Twilio.  JSConf was the perfect opportunity to showcase two technologies that Javascript developers can use to do that today: Node.js and Windows 8.

Node.js

In partnership with the conference, Twilio sponsored an airport shuttle to pick-up attendees from the airport and bring them to the venue.  I thought it would be cool to have a number that attendees could text to get information on how to hop on the Twilio Bus, so I set one up.  Over the course of the event the JSConf Hotline app received 479 text messages, not bad for an event with only 250 attendees.

This application was built in a couple of days prior to the conference using Node.js and CouchDB technology with hosting provided by the good people at Nodejitsu and IrisCouch.  The Twilio integration was powered by Telenode, a Node.js module authored by Paolo Fragomeni.  In true JSConf fashion, I felt compelled to include this easter egg:

Windows 8

While Node.js is revolutionizing Javascript on the server side, Windows 8 is making it incredibly powerful on the client side. I had a chance demo some work I’ve been doing on building Twilio apps on Windows 8.  The code above makes use of a simple Twilio Windows 8 helper library to get a list of SMS messages and  then initiate an outbound call to those people which will play one a several awesome audio snippets from the film Tombstone.

2012: Year of Javascript?

The Twilio Phone - Most Popular Kid at JSConf

I had a great time at JSConf and it was really energizing to see how fast Javascript and the open web platform is evolving.  There was a ton of energy and optimism at JSConf this year and already people are looking ahead to JSConf EU, JSConf Australia and JSConf Argentina.  The only bad thing about JSConf? That it has to end.  See everyone next year!