dotJS 2014

It has only been a month since my list visit to Paris but here we go again: This time a couple of friends and I went there for this year’s edition of the dotJS conference series.

All speakers on stage

As the name indicates, dotJS is organised by the same folks as last month’s dotGo. Unlike that event it was focused on JavaScript and took place at the Théâtre de Paris, situated near Gare Saint-Lazare in the north of the city.

Compared to the Théâtre des Variétés the Théâtre de Paris was built to accommodate about twice as many people and that was absolutely necessary with dotJS’s about 900 attendees. It was still packed beyond capacity in my opinion and moving around anywhere during the coffee and lunch breaks was annoying enough that I eventually opted for just staying seated. That being said, it was great to see the sponsors getting much more space than with the Théâtre des Variétés :-)

Let’s talk about the seats, though: Back when it was constructued (in 1891 according to Wikipedia), I guess, there probably weren’t all that many tall people around. That at least would be one explanation for why the seats felt like being designed for children or really small adults. Without having gotten a seat at the aisles I would have had to sit on the floor because the rows were far too close to each other.

According to Sylvain Zimmer of the orga team I might have had more luck with my seat on the balcony:

Silvain's tweet

I had actually tried that at dotGo in the smaller theatre, but there the situation on the balcony was about the same as in the main auditorium here. A big hurray to aisle-seats, though ;-)

About the conference itself: The format was basically the same as dotGo’s with the day being split into multiple sessions with 3-4 talks each. Between the sessions was either a coffee break or a really long lunch break, which made it possible for us to first grab something to eat and then explore the vicinity and even make our way up to the Moulin Rouge. The talks had in my opinion with 20 minutes exactly the right length for a single-track conference. This way the speaker had to focus on one idea and one idea only.

John David-Dalton, for instance, talked about shims and their uses and dangers. Julien Lecomte on the other hand described Yahoo’s migration away from their monolithic YUI towards smaller libraries and frameworks like React and FormatJS. My personal highlight, though, was Angus Croll’s presentation in which he fought the “x considered harmful” trend reminded us to keep an open mind to other ideas, similar to how style and best-practices are treated in literature and arts. He also showed some excerpts of his book “If Hemingway wrote JavaScript” which is pretty high on my “to-read” list right now.

While some of the talks weren’t all that great I was pretty happy with most of them being to some degree more inspirational than technical. As I wrote before, I’m not really the biggest fan of the so-called “key notes” but I still prefer talks that give me new ideas instead of discussing a topic exhaustively.

Will I come back? Perhaps. The talks were mostly good with some real gems in there, but the venue is sadly less than ideal. Paris not being what you would call “affordable” doesn’t help either. In the end, I might make this a conference I’d visit every other year ;-)