Review: HTML5 Conference in Austin, TX

I didn’t realize this when I signed up, but the DevCon5 Html5 Summit was a conference within a conference. The larger conference was an ITEXPO. The ITEXPO conference was focused more on infrastructure than development—in fact as far as I could tell, HTML5 was the only developer-centric conference at the entire event. This did not turn out to be a good thing for me. I noticed maybe 20 or 25 developers for the HTMl5 portion of the event.

The Negative

The sessions themselves had a few problems. First, the focus was almost all on mobile and app development. I realize that the world is changing and that more and more people are developing for the mobile platforms, but there are an awful lot of us that are building applications for the business we are trying to support. It would be nice if someone would discuss benefits to the business of the new HTML5 goodies. There was a little of that in the sessions, but it wasn’t very meaty. Yes, it’s great that you can make images float across the page, but my business users don’t really care about that.

The second problem, which perhaps isn’t the speaker’s fault, is that no one was really super-excited about HTML5. Since the focus was on apps for the mobile platforms, most speakers spent time acknowledging that the write-one-run-anywhere promise of HTML5 isn’t a reality, and likely wont’ be for a long time (but it’s getting better!).

Another issue with some of the speakers is that they did not seem to know very much about HTML5. If I had to reverse-engineer their talk, I would say that there was something they wanted to learn about, they learned just enough about it to fill up an hour of speaking, and then stopped. They were unable to answer questions about possible uses for the bits they were covering beyond their demo. Several speakers also did not have working demos.

The Positive

The best part of the sessions is that I got a lot of tools and references to other sessions that might fill out some of what’s missing. Here are some of the things that were referenced:

There were a very few principles and practices discussed. They are:

  • Get familiar with messaging in javascript.
  • If you’re going to support mobile, develop for mobile first—then the desktop.
  • 1 class per js file.
    • I especially like this one because it implies that you should still be writing classes in javascript.

Presenters I’d Like to See Again

Instead of picking on the presenters I thought were less than spectacular, I thought it would be better to shout the names of those who were particularly good. These are people that I’d enjoy talking to about web development again.

  • Jonathon Morgan – His talk on HTML5 vs. Native apps was well-reasoned and balanced. His enthusiasm for development was refreshing.
  • Tom Shafron – He is the current CEO of Viewbiquity. His session was on machine-to-machine communication in javascript. It was in his talk that we got into javascript best practices and patterns.
  • Jesse Cravens – His session on node.js was substantive and interesting. Most of the libraries mentioned above came from his presentation.

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