Nodevember 2015

Last weekend I had the privilege of being able to attend Nodevember 2015 with several of my fellow team members. It was a great experience overall and I’m grateful that I went. Since I’ve been wanting to be better with writing on my blog, I decided to take this opportunity to type up my thoughts and share them.

One big thing that stands out is how well organized Nodevember was. Registration was simple and the signage was perfect. I never felt lost (except when trying to remember where the car was parked—but that’s my fault).

The conference swag, both from the organizers and the sponsors, was awesome. I was very pleased with the stickers, tee shirts, and socks that I picked up. And there was a ton of other cool stuff that I didn’t get.

The food was unbelievable. Instead of the usual conference fare we were treated to high-quality meals that represented some of Nashville’s food culture. (Hot chicken? Heck yes!)

There were also a lot of great things about the format. The low ticket price and weekend schedule make it very accessible. The 30-minute sessions felt just right to me—long enough to get at least a few nuggets but short enough to keep everything moving at a good clip throughout the day. The breaks in between were perfect for getting to the next session and even networking a little in between, although the lunch break felt just a tad too long to me.

It is, of course, the content that really makes or breaks a conference. And with two days and multiple tracks there was plenty of it.

To be honest, the opening keynote by Yehuda Katz was a huge disappointment. What started out as an interesting discussion of the merit of frameworks turned into an extended sales pitch for Ember. The “live-coding” video that made up most of the talk was almost impossible to read from where I was sitting. I really wish he had spent more time talking about frameworks as empowerment and skipped the Ember demo. It felt less like a keynote and more like what should have just been an Ember session at the conference.

There were a couple of other “sour notes” as well. Some of the speakers badly ended what was otherwise a good session by continuing to take questions after their allotted times instead of dismissing the group and sticking around to answer questions one-on-one. Another speaker changed his topic but didn’t tell anyone until his time began, which was too late to make it to another talk.

Fortunately, those (mostly) minor annoyances were more than made up for by the rest of the content. Here are a few of my highlights:

  • Rey Bango’s openness and vulnerability about struggling to learn Node.js were very encouraging and engaging.
  • Robert DeLuca’s concept of “accessibility debt” was brilliant.
  • Soledad Penadés’s second-day keynote about “Healthy Egotism” was a much-needed reminder for everyone about the importance of taking care of yourself.
  • Kyle Simpson’s talk about async programming and specifically CSP was mind-bending. I was excited to hear him speak in person.
  • Aimee Knight’s talk about lessons learned since graduating from NSS was awesome and plenty useful for all skill levels.
  • Laurie Voss from npm gave an excellent overview of SOA that was useful whether you’re working with Node or not.

This has been an interesting year for conferences in Middle Tennessee. With the demise of both DevLink and Coderfaire (at least for now) and the start of Music City Code, the landscape has really shifted. Fortunately, Music City Code came out of the gate strong—in fact, it was so polished that it didn’t really feel like a first-year conference to me. And this year’s Nodevember was truly impressive, both compared to what they did last year and to what anyone would have reasonably expected for a second year. I think we’re very fortunate here in Nashville and I’m excited to see how our community continues to grow.