Ext Conference, Day 2

After the 100mph pace yesterday, day two of the conference settled in to a comfortable 55mph. The big news of the day was during the keynote, when they released RC1 of ExtJS 3.0. Jack was the scheduled keynote speaker, but I get the impression he doesn’t like speaking in front of large groups. His keynote lasted all of five minutes. He covered the history of ExtJS in two minutes and said ExtJS 3.0 is here. And that was it. Abe was left scrambling to fill a rather large hole in the schedule, and he called up Darrell of the GXT (Ext GWT) team to talk about their v2.0 release.

Darrell is a nice guy, but I was ready to pull my hair out listening to him. I had lunch with him yesterday and to say he is excited about GWT is a major understatement. In spite of being a Java guy, I don’t like the idea of writing my web UI in Java. It’s like the Hibernate mafia who think you can write a database application without knowing SQL. Each of the tiers has a best-in-breed language for addressing that tier’s problems. An enterprise developer better know SQL for talking to databases, Java/C# for the middle tier and HTML, CSS and JavaScript for the front end.

After the keynote, we had another smoothie break. The smoothies were good, but the general consensus would have preferred coffee in the morning and smoothies in the afternoon.

Aaron kicked off the regular sessions with a breakdown of the signature demo in ExtJS 3.0 — Image Organizer. This is the meatiest demo so far, and was interesting to see how they structured the code and where they subclassed. The application uses Ext.Direct, but the backend was only PHP. One of the first questions Aaron got asked was when they would release other backends. He really danced around the question without giving a true answer, saying that maybe there would be something released in the next week or so. Ext.Direct is starting to sound like a lot of vaporware. They talk a good game of how it will be able to use annotations/attributes server side for exporting objects and other cool stuff, but no one is producing any code. Ext.Direct is the new Duke Nukem Forever.

The next session I attended was one of the funniest. Glen Liptka talked about user experience design with ExtJS. He is at Marketo, which has done the most incredible theming of ExtJS I have ever seen. He started the talk covering general usability and then demonstrated their application. The point he made that stuck with me is that your UI should have low WTF/min. Everyone got a kick out of that.

Next up was JC Bize talking about theming ExtJS. JC is the author of the Slate theme, one of the most popular third-party themes used in ExtJS. He is now an employee of Ext, LLC, so hopefully we’ll see some more cool themes in the pipeline. He showed off a couple cool themes and then got in to a basic example of how to change the theme of a panel. When playing with themes, Firebug is your friend. Unfortunately, he got sidetracked trying to answer an audience question and the presentation fizzled out.

I couldn’t catch the last session, as I had to make a phone call, but came back for the day-ending Ask the Ext Team. Nothing major came up. I tried to ask the question of why they didn’t use Sizzle for Ext Core, but my question didn’t get voted up and they ended the session before they got to it.

The day wrapped up with a social down by the pool with a cash bar. I really started to hate the Ritz after paying $8 for a beer. They definitely need to move the conference to someplace that understands Happy Hour. I managed to corner Aaron at the social and got my Sizzle question answered. He said they didn’t use Sizzle because it was too big and too slow. He did say the DOJO guys were working on a very cool new engine called Acme that looks promising. DOJO makes me nauseous just looking at it, so I won’t be investigating it.

The day ended for me again at the bar. I had dinner with another attendee who works at the DIA. Since I have a similar background, we had a lot to talk about. $35 for two margaritas and a plate of chicken quesadillas — ouch!

Day three is only a half day, but there are still two sessions I’m interested in, so it should be fruitful.

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