EmberATX June Meetup

Last night I travelled up to Austin to attend the EmberATX meetup happening at The Front Side. While the traffic leaving SA wasn’t fun, and finding the location proved a little tricky, I’m definitely happy I made the drive up.

After introductions, I learned that I was sitting next to a retiree who spends some of his time doing reviews of technical books. It was an interesting chat, since I have recently been asked to review a book. I learned about his process and received some good tips, and when I mentioned something about meteorology, he told me about his time as a trained storm spotter up in Denton, Tx.

It always fun to meet someone who is interested in weather, how it works, and just loves to be outside when it comes rolling in. He mentioned that in his time spotting, he saw one twister on the ground and several funnel clouds. Suffice to say, I’m most certainly interested in becoming a trained spotter myself.

The next great thing about the meetup was the delicious pizza and tasty beer. I can’t recall what brewery the suds came from, but there was a Hefeweizen available that reminded me of the week I spent downing Hefe’s in Deutschland. I do miss the awesome food and drinks available in Austin. Speaking of, my wife is up there right now telling me all about her wonderful Thundercloud sub…

I obviously made the drive up for the talks, so I should probably talk about them. The first one was presented by Ryan Rauh, whose format I really liked and will be stealing in the future. Instead of doing the same old “Intro to Ember” that has been done already, he went with a different approach: “How can I break the Ember rules?”

Basically, there’s something in the Ember documentation about not being allowed to run two apps on a single page. So he decided to see if he could get around that rule. This required a lot of digging into the Ember source code, which you normally wouldn’t get with a basic ‘intro’ talk. It also added some humor to the talk, basically a “I’ll do what I want, go fuck off” kind of thing.

As I mentioned, I want to steal this tactic for the future. As someone who hasn’t quite mastered a topic, it’s a really neat way to present something new/interesting on that topic. Most intro presentations won’t be showing off any of the code Ember code.

The second presentation was given by Jeffrey Biles, a rubyist who presented on why the term MVC is overused. I especially enjoyed the start of his presentation, where he found the most oversimplified graph of what an MVC framework does, and treated it like literal truth. Again, another tactic that I want to use in a future presentation.

Oversimplified graph with three circles (labelled model, view, and controller) shaped in a triangle with arrows pointing meaningly from circle to circle.

As explained by Jeffrey, the Model goes at the top of your code (b/c it’s at the top of the diagram). Then you put the code for the controller and the view side-by-side so you can have a complete working system. It’s easier to format this using presentation software like Keynote than it is to do in an IDE, but I don’t think I want to do my programming in Keynote. It’s also very tongue-in-cheek and worked well for the audience.

I’ve had reservations about meetups in the past because, for one, I’m very introverted and motivated not to go outside of my shell. But also because I wondered how useful they really are when there are plenty of presentations online.

Well, one thing those presentations don’t allow for (recorded or live at a full blown conference) is audience feedback during the presentation. And I don’t mean asking the audience questions, but the audience asking a question about a specific subject matter in the middle of the presentation (or just making a comment on something). With meetups, the group is small enough to allow for this type of interaction without it overwhelming the presentation.

After the presentations, I hung around for a little while and got to meet some more great folks. We had a little bit of discussion on how most JS folks these days either come from the design side of things, or are Ruby devs who use JS to make their apps rich. That’s not to say that there aren’t any .Net or Java devs out there (or PHP folks), but from who I’ve met recently, those are the two predominant paths. And there’s nothing wrong with any of that, it was just a funny observation.

Anyway, I need to decide if I can make the drive up every month. It’s 90 minutes away when traffic is light, so it’s a bit of a haul, but it’s likely worth it.

I’m hoping to start a JS meetup in SA sometime in the near future, but nothing for Ember, so I’ll probably be trekking up north once again a month from now.