OSS Bar Camp, Dublin, 2009 - Review

OSS Bar Camp, Dublin, 2009 - Review I have just spent the day at the thoroughly enjoyable OSS Bar Camp in Dublin. It was a much needed dose of geeky goodness that I haven't done for a while, so well worth the effort.

I haven't been to a bar camp before, so wasn't totally sure what to expect, but the presenters were entertaining and I came out this evening knowing a few things that I didn't know this morning.

Luis de Bethencourt - Ubuntu

Luis is a core developer for Ubuntu, based in Dublin. I use Linux for my servers but haven't really used it for a desktop OS, though I did have a play with an Ubuntu boot CD and was suitably impressed. Luis stressed that Ubuntu is not so much a technology as it is a community, and that it's the quality of the people that make Ubuntu special. His keynote speech was a nice reminder of why open source is cool.

Jaime Hemmett - Git

I have had the pleasure of meeting Jaime at the 2 PHP meetups I have attended since being here, and since she is Australian, we have something in common (that is, everyone in Ireland thinks I'm Australian). Git, a version control system written by Linus Torvalds is something I had heard of but hadn't really had the time to investigate further. The room was basically filled with SVN users (myself included) and Jaime's objective was to get people to give Git a try, nothing more. SVN has been a godsend for the work I do, but it does tend to be a bit slow and unreliable. As I write this, I haven't been able to do a proper checkout of Jojo CMS because the JS Min SVN repository (which we link to) seems to be down. I'm not totally sure that Git is a better option for my purposes, but I'll be giving it a try.

David Coallier - Get Ready for web 3.0

Shit, I thought web 2.0 was all about buzzwords for the sake of buzzwords and AJAX for the sake of AJAX. I didn't know there was a web 3.0 until this morning, but I guess it makes sense.
Adccording to David, web 3.0 is all about standardising web APIs. David has contributed to the PHP core and is a developer for Echo Libre who where sponsoring the event (thanks for a great day team).

The whole discussion of APIs is really interesting. I use APIs on a daily basis, and understand the frustrations of having to learn something new every time I want to connect to a different web service.

Web 3.0 is apparantly all about standardising how we connect to web APIs, but I'm still having trouble visualising how this might work. The issue in my mind is this - how do you standardise data formats when the data is completely different across each industry? I have spent the last week or so connecting to different Bible APIs in order to display the bible on a website, and it's not trivial. Aside from any technical considerations, the solution we eventually chose has a number of legal restrictions on it, so I'm not sure how this might be standardised.

Stuart Langridge - Advanced Javascript

This talk was pure comedy. We looked at some new whizz-bang javascript features, things that make our lives easier and make our javascript faster. We were told that this was available NOW. Some of the developers in the audience were concerned about browser compatibility, but this isn't something that bothered Stuart - most of the features he showed us worked fine in Safari, Firefox, Opera, and all good modern browsers.

This is all well-and-good, but there is that small percentage of the market (80%) using Internet Explorer which doesn't support any of the new features he showed us. Hmmm. However, the good news is that a lot of the functionality can be replicated using a javascript library like jQuery.

The take-home information from this presentation: Keep using jQuery, it's bad-ass.

Paul Biggar - Optimizing PHP with phc

PHC, or phpcompiler is a compiler for PHP (yep). Paul is a developer for this project, and has a passion for compilers. He discussed some of the challenges in optimising PHP code, and left the audience feeling that PHP was actually a bit of a lost cause. "real" programmers often give PHP grief for being an untyped language, and say that it encourages sloppy coding, which I do agree with. But it's also simple enough to get something running quickly, and powerful enough to do whatever you need it to do, so PHP does deserve a bit of credit.

I enjoyed this talk, which was coming from a unique angle.

Alan Burke - Drupal

Drupal is similar in soooo many ways to Jojo CMS. Obviously Drupal has a much much larger community / budget, but the concepts behind the products are similar.
Personally, I have struggled with Drupal being a bit limited out of the box - if you want Drupal to be 'just how you like it', you need to install the right modules or do lots of customisation, which can be a bit daunting. However, there is no question that it's a powerful platform, and I guess it would have been nice to see some example Drupal sites in detail. There is a 2 day Drupal geek-fest in Galway next weekend, so I'll be attending this, and are looking forward to it.

The pub

And then we all headed off to the pub for a thoroughly enjoyable discussion of all things geek. I stayed a bit longer than I intended, and ended up missing my bus and having to faff around in Dublin for an hour before heading home. Wouldn't be the first time I have gotten lost in Dublin.

I'd like to extend a big thanks to Laura Czajkowski and Jaime Hemmett for organising the event, which was by all accounts a success. Open source is alive and well in Ireland.
Digg StumbleUpon del.icio.us technorati blinklist furl reddit sphinn