Ext Conference, Day 1

The first day of the first-ever Ext Conference wrapped up today. The day actually started last night when I got to the hotel. Jay Garcia and Shea Frederick both got in at about the same time as me. We had an impromptu meet-up at the hotel bar, where we hooked up with a few more conference attendees who were drawn to the geek conversation like moths to a flame.

One of the guys (Jerry), mentioned that Abe (Elias) was still in the big conference room preparing for the keynote. Since it was 12:30am, and tipsy geeks don’t have anything better to do, we paid him a visit. He was extremely cool, and ended up giving us the tour. He took us down to one of the other meeting rooms where a Rick, Aaron, Evan, Tommy and Chris were getting ready for their presentations too. After about a half-hour of the geekfest with them, I went to bed to be ready for the early start today. As a footnote to the evening, be sure to ask Jay how sissy drinks at the Ritz went over with him.

The conference started up at 8:30am this morning. Abe introduced the Ext development team, which was a lot larger than I expected – over a dozen people. He kept the introductions short so that we could get to Douglas Crockford, our keynote speaker. As he is a legend in the JavaScript community, it was exciting to see him talk in person. He covered a little bit of the history of JavaScript, then dived in to the future, including ECMAScript 5 (ES5). ES5 is going to be pretty impressive, but it will be years before we can really count on it being on all the desktops (thanks, Microsoft).

Most all the sessions throughout the day were at a good technical level. No fluff, just stuff. Aaron presented the new features of ExtJS 3.0, which drew almost everyone. They had to move the session back to the keynote ballroom. ExtJS 3.0 is super cool, with one exception, which I’ll discuss below.

Evan was up next, talking about Ext.data. Since there wasn’t a lot new in this space, this was more a rehash of the Ext.data classes. Evan definitely knows his stuff, and had some educational examples.

Chris then talked about Ext.direct. This is the one area of ExtJS 3.0 that I’m still skeptical on. One of the key parts of Ext.direct is the server-side component, yet everyone so far has been light on details for this piece. Chris is a Merb guy, so it didn’t help when he was showing Ruby code trying to explain it. Even listening to Jack discuss it in the hall left me feeling there were still a lot of smoke and mirrors around Ext.direct. In theory, Ext.direct should provide a server-technology agnostic RPC mechanism for talking to objects. I’m not convinced we actually needed this, and since I haven’t seen any real code behind it, I’m not sure what kind of state it is in. Hopefully, when Jack announces the release of ExtJS 3.0 tomorrow morning, I’ll get a chance to look at some code.

My final session for the day was watching Tommy discuss Ext Core. I’ve already covered Ext Core in some prior posts, but still managed to learn some things. Ext Core is going to really shake some things up when folks start to get familiar with it. I plan on wrapping up a post on the cool OO features of Ext Core this weekend.

That was it for the structured presentations. Here are a few other random thoughts and observations on the day:

  • Swag so far has been an Ext spiral notepad, a pen and a nice travel mug. There will probably be a riot if T-shirts don’t appear.
  • The next fool who gets up and asks about testing ExtJS websites with selenium is going to receive my travel mug upside their head. Asking the same question five times is not going to get you a different answer.
  • The meal was excellent. The hotel is nice, but a bit too ostentatious. It’s the Ritz, so you have to expect it, but it would have been more fun to have the conference in a more festive environment. Hint for Abe: Vegas, Baby!
  • Overheard a Salesforce architect talking about them moving to ExtJS. That would really rock if they did it.
  • The average age of the Ext dev team appears to be about 17 🙂 . They have a lot of bright, young talent on their hands. It will be fun to watch what they do with it.
  • Someone actually asked, in the group Q&A, if there were any books on ExtJS. Paying over a thousand dollars for a conference and not doing your homework is just plain dumb. Never ask something in front of a large group that 15 seconds on Google or Amazon could answer for you.
  • All the sessions were taped and Abe said they would be put up on the Ext site. Presentations should show up too.

I’m hoping tomorrow rocks too. We went non-stop from 8:30am to 6:30pm today, and it was a lot of fun. If they can keep up the momentum, this will turn out to be one of the best technology conferences I have ever attended.

6 thoughts on “Ext Conference, Day 1”

  1. Haha, I was also wondering if we should expect more swag tomorrow. I hope so… but the travel mug IS cool 😉

    I’ll keep an eye out for you tomorrow. I’m probably the only person wearing a blazer, so if you see me give don’t be a stranger.

  2. Thanks for the overview and insights, I wish I could have attended.

    I know what you mean about Direct, some poor shlub tried to document those without any examples/explanation.

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