Nordcloudians at NodeConf EU 2019

NodeConf EU is Europe’s biggest conference in the Node.js community. Nordcloud visited the 2019 edition in Kilkenny, the old capital of Ireland, with a team of four. Here’s a summary of the conference trip and the talks that impressed us.

Kilkenny is a nice small town with very friendly people with a nice accent. There are plenty of old buildings like castles and cathedrals to explore, not to mention all the nice pubs that are easy to find at every corner of the town.

One of the nice pubs: Kyteler’s Inn
Exploring Kilkenny (From the left: Henri, Viljami, Olli, Perttu)
Skycatch Drone Demo at the parking lot of the Lyrath Estate

Talks

The talks ranged from low level memory management in V8 to creating graph representations of cloud architectures and all the way to showcasing the open-source smart watch which were handed to each conference participant. The theme of the 2019 conference seemed to be open source software, which could be seen in a couple of presentations that shared the theme. Even the opening talk was about open source being art.

The talks were mostly well presented and the content was interesting and educational. It was nice to hear about the upcoming progression like the QUIC protocol, Node certifications, and what’s happening with the module ecosystem. All talks can be found from NodeConf YouTube channel.

These are the three presentations that you should definitely check out:

Workshops

There were several workshops with very different topics to choose from. We were able to build personalized schedules based on our interests, which was something that we liked. Arranging workshops is always challenging and getting it right for massive audiences is not easy. Unfortunately some of the workshops in the conference didn’t manage to meet our expectations. A few of the workshops got sidetracked and did not focus on the topic at hand. Nevertheless we learned something from every workshop and didn’t leave empty handed. The workshop that stood out the most was  “Error handling: doing it right!” which was professionally presented and provided good concepts. 

Venue and afternoon activities

We would be lying if we said we didn’t like the venue, in fact we absolutely loved it! Lyrath Estate was fantastic and the conference’s facilities were top notch. The food was good, the snacks were tasty, the tea was refreshing, and not to forget the service which was the most excellent.

We stayed in the center of Kilkenny and enjoyed the well organized bus transportation to and from Lyrath Estate, and to all the activities. There were plenty of afternoon activities to keep us busy, and we especially liked the game night in which we got to participate in various circus party games. For the whole time of the conference there were two arcade machines available: Pacman and Space Invaders, which were a nice addition. The icing on the cake was the final evening gala dinner and its three course menu.

Sum up

NodeConf EU is a conference with competent speakers, great content, in a world class venue. The conference has been a yearly attraction at Lyrath Estate in Kilkenny Ireland for some time, and it can be seen in how well it has been organized. It is suited for pretty much everyone interested in Node, and there certainly is something for people with varying skill sets. You get a chance to meet and discuss with some of the Node Core developers and hear the latests news on what’s going on in Node and the community. The atmosphere is friendly and everyone is welcomed no matter the background one comes from.

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    What We Learned at Full Stack Fest 2019

    Full Stack Fest is a 3-day single track conference that focuses on the future of the web. This year, five Nordcloudians attended this event to gain knowledge about new trends, the best software development practices and get the energy and vibrance of the tech community in one of the most beautiful cities in the world – Barcelona.  The topics of the conference ranged from GraphQL, WebAssembly, JAMStack to Automation Testing, Serverless and P2P web. There was a wide choice of different subjects so everyone was able to find something interesting and familiarize themselves with the technologies they had never had the opportunity to touch before. You can find the full list of the videos here. In this article, we will highlight the most interesting and intriguing topics from our point of view. Perhaps, this is not something that you can apply to your current project right now, but it definitely shapes the future of web development.

    WebAssembly and Serverless

    Two talks were dedicated to increasingly popular WebAssembly. Lin Clark presented WASI – WebAssembly system interface. Wasmtime allows to run wasm programs outside the web browsers and make them interact with the OS interfaces in a safe way. Currently, it’s possible to write projects for WASI in C/C++ and Rust. The project is under active development and not production-ready yet. But as Solomon Hykes, co-founder of Docker, said,

    If WASM+WASI existed in 2008, we wouldn’t have needed to create Docker. That’s how important it is. WebAssembly on the server is the future of computing.

    Evolving the idea of WebAssembly on the server, Steve Klabnik announced the services that already support serverless environments for wasm-files execution: CloudFlare and Fastly. WebAssembly claims to serve as an abstraction which allows users to run any program language with wasm-compiler in an environment that has WebAssembly runtime. An example of a use case would be to improve the performance of calculation-heavy applications including graphics and real-time streaming. At the moment, only strongly typed languages can be compiled into WebAssembly. But it’s not required for JS developers to know C/C++ or Rust to use all the power of this technology. A simpler option could be AssemblyScript that compiles TypeScript into WebAssembly.

    The Future of Web Animation and CSS

    In her talk, Sarah Drasner pointed out a next type of responsiveness which could be called 3D-responsiveness. It provides 3D in-browser experience that can be especially interesting for the VR-set owners. VR and 3D, in general, are becoming more and more popular in browsers thanks to the open-source projects such as Three.js and A-Frame. One other popular trend nowadays is a full page transition that is made possible by combining CSS3 and the JS libraries so they produce compelling visual effects.

    One more exciting technology that was highlighted at the conference is CSS Houdini which is a new collection of browser APIsthat allow developers to access a browser’s CSS engine and create custom styles or implement polyfills for the CSS-features that are not yet supported by the browsers. But at the moment, Houdini is by itself still in an early stage of development and it is not supported by a majority of the browsers. CSS Houdini is probably not something that you will work with on a daily basis, but it certainly can be useful for library developers in the future.

    And as a bonus, we would like to share a link to the amazing video that Sara Soueidan used in her presentation about Applied Accessibility. This video, in a gamified and very friendly manner, reminds us how important it is to think about the accessibility ofthe web applications:

     

    We are sure you will find other interesting topics among all the other Full Stack Fest 2019 talks that were not highlighted in this post. Thanks for reading 🙂

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