JSConf: JavaScript, NodeBots & yayQuery

Back in June, I attended JSConf, a three-day JavaScript Conference, where I participated in the Yammer and SpringSource track. JSConf is one of the best JavaScript conferences in the world; every talk was enlightening, every speaker was inspiring, and all the content was exceptional. I can’t even choose a favorite speaker!

Node Bots Team

The highlight of the event was the Bitovi NodeBots event on the second day. The event kicked off at 9:00 AM with an introductory course in NodeBots and how they can help us. Rick Waldron provided examples and connected us to the Johnny-Five Library to get us started.

Even though it was early, and everyone was tired, you could feel the energy and excitement in the room as we all got started. At 9:30, we randomly paired off (I worked with Nina Zakharenko) and began to build our robots. The goal of the session was to build NodeBots that could battle one another in a challenge.

The NodeBots hardware was controlled by JavaScript. Those lacking experience with Arduino or Node were excited – you could see them light up as they learned from their enthused teammates. It’s inspiring to be in a room with experienced, intelligent people who share a common passion. Watching teams morph from tired to energetic, all because of a single collaborative activity, was amazing.

Arduino was interfaced with JavaScript right from Node, which is significant: while it’s not the first time Arduino and JavaScript have been combined, it is the first time they were combined right from Node. Our team’s robot was the first time Rick Waldron has seen the Johnny-Five Library used to interface two Arduino Boards together. We essentially created a patch for Johnny-Five, getting the library to work with two boards.

We spent most of the day getting our boards working. Even though we ran out of time to make a scoop, which would have ¬†picked up enemy bots, we actually ended up placing third! I’m really proud of our placement – I have never worked with Arduino, and we were competing with experienced teams.

The last day was a review of the two earlier days, with some great surprise guests. Brendon Eich, the creator of JavaScript, dropped by, as did Erich Gamma, one of the Internet’s “founding four,” who walked through a demo of TypeScript. Another surprise visitor was Google’s Paul Irish (a huge name in the JavaScript Community), who gave an incredible and hilarious presentation for yayQuery.

paul-irish-and-i-animated

JSConf raised my bar for JavaScript programming. The opportunity to take part in a conference where everyone is sincerely enthused about the topic was phenomenal.¬†While I had to leave early to head to the White House Hackathon, the presentations and the activities I participated in were some of the best I’ve experienced.

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