Web technologies news straight from Fluent 2016

Thousands of JavaScript developers, web developers, mobile app developers, software engineers, and a wide range of other people who work with Web Platform technologies come together at Fluent. So did I! What is my impression?

If you are:

  1. software engineer – doesn’t matter: back-end or front end, java, php, javascript, python, “type here you favorite programming language”,
  2. wannabe software engineer
  3. interested in software development
  4. friend of someone who belongs to the one of the groups listed above

then there is 98% chance that you have read (a,b,c) or seen (d) book published by O’Reilly.

Why O’Reilly Fluent Conference?

O’Reilly is one of the biggest and well known publishing companies focusing solely on the IT industry. But O’reilly is not only about books, it’s also about conferences. I trust O’reilly when it comes to books and I decided to give my faith in their conferences too.

This article (and the next that will appear in the days that follows) treats about the third conference I went to working with Schibsted Tech Polska. After Big Data conferences: Strata EU Conference 2013 (London) and Strata EU 2014 (Barcelona) it was about time to finally participate in a conference focused on the technologies closest to my heart – javascript, HTML5 and generally: web development. The choice was: O’Reilly Fluent Conference. Since 2012 it’s been organized in US. This year, same as last, the conference takes place in San Francisco, California, USA.

At this point I want to clear one thing: I don’t write this article to brag about me going to USA for a fancy conference. This is Schibsted Tech Polska´s policy – if you are going for a fancy conference it is nice if you can share your opinion with colleagues in and outside the company. So… you know… 😉

The Fluent Experience

Getting back to the topic. The Fluent conference is advertised as:

  • “one of the best informational and networking events in technology”
  • “a conference that is a difference maker / eye-opener”
  • “awesome experience, learn so much from all the great speakers”
  • and more

When you buy tickets there are some options from which you can chose:

  • two days training + two days conference
  • one day training + two days conference
  • two days conference

I went for option in the middle – workshops and conference access.

Geeky, technical jibber jabber: the workshops

I write this article after the first day – workshops session. Both workshops (each took 3 hours) were good, but it was, to quote my non-technical friends: “geeky, technical jibber jabber”. It will not bring light and wellbeing to your life when I write a detailed, “minute by minute” relation of both workshops. Instead of that I will focus on the conference itself – how it is prepared, organised and what features it introduces to the participants.

The apps and conference solutions

Let’s start from the fact that you need to register on O’reillys site to purchase tickets to the conference. When you do that you get access to a bunch of features. My two favorites are:

  • attendee directory – it gives you access to the list of all participants of the conference. You can search for colleagues from your own company, e.g. Schibsted Media Group is a big company and it is unlikely you will find out (by internal communication channels) that someone from Spanish branch will take part in the same conference as you
  • schedule – detailed, session by session schedule. You may say – “captain obvious! It is a must!”. I agree. What I find especially useful is the fact you can save talks that you are interested in. That is very handy with the next features….

I haven’t mentioned that earlier but you need to remember that at any time of day between 11:15 and 17:45 there are six presentations happening at the same time, in six different rooms scattered across 3 floors. It’s easy to lose track of your favorite, not to mention how to find a way to the next presentation. This is where mobile app and RIFD badges comes in handy.

O’reilly provides a mobile app. You can use your account to sign in and you get access to your own schedule based on choices you took earlier. Of course you can add and remove positions that you are interested in. From the schedule you can go to the details of the presentation you chose. There you will find all necessary information – description, map with the room in which it takes place. You can also add notes, send feedback and see the list of attendees interested in this topic.

My badge from the Fluent Conference

My badge from the Fluent Conference

You get your own badge on the reception desk the first day you register to the conference. The badge has a passive RFID tag. Data gathered by the badge is then used to:

  • get accurate session counts – simply to monitor each session’s popularity
  • get more feedback – if you spend more than 5 minutes in a given session and have the mobile app installed, it will prompt you to rate the session.

The thing that surprised me most is Fluent Slack channel.  The day after I purchased tickets to the conference I got invitation to a dedicated slack channel where anyone can find all participants, interesting groups, ask questions, look for help or additional informations. The fact that O’reilly provides it shows two things:

  1. fluent conf is not only about presentations and “the show”, it’s equally important to give all participants a way to communicate, network and exchange ideas and thoughts
  2. slack is very popular

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