After a great first edition, dotJS came back this year, leveling up its venue to become "The largest JavaScript conference in Europe".

dotJS logo

For starters, a few words about the organisation of the conference : The first talks started at 10:30, which is quite late, and finished at around 19:15. The hour of the end of the conference was not stated clearly, which was a bit problematic for some expecting it'd end earlier (checking my mails, I realize though that they did announce that the after-party would start at 19:30), and a lot of time during the conference was given to participants for networking (two 45 minutes breaks and a two hour lunch break). It's not my first dotConference so I expected it, but I still feel those breaks are too long, and would like to have more (or longer) talks instead.

I have no complains, however, on the absence of explicit schedule for the talks, as I feel it's nice to not know what's coming next... even if it was quite obvious that Brendan Eich was going to end the day!

As for the venue, the Théâtre de Paris was bigger than last years' Théâtre des Variétés, but... there is still not a lot of space for legs when sitting on the seats of those Paris theaters, so even though the venue's bigger, you couldn't feel it that much.

Quick summary of the speakers and the talks (each talk being 20 minutes long) :

  • Addy Osmani talked about Polymer, and about tools to work efficiently like Yeoman
  • John K. Paul talked about code quality (syntax errors, linting, beautification) then proceeded to introduce TypeScript
  • Remy Sharp, creator of jsbin, talked about... iframes black magic. I have no better words to sum it up.
  • 5 lightning talks (4 minutes each):
    • Nuria Rui talked about hybrid (native & web) apps
    • Matt Schneider talked about integration testing and proposed a solution https://github.com/MattiSG/wertai
    • David Bruant talked about tools to test the memory use
    • Tim Petruesky talked about syncing JavaScript and HTML5 audio
    • Hongli Lai talked about how to make node.js deployment enjoyable and presented the tool his team is developing, Phusion Passenger
  • Nicolas Belmonte talked about "growing a language for graphics", in a quite complicated talk about operator overloading
  • Dave Methvin, lead of the jQuery Core team, talked about JavaScript performance
  • Guillermo Rauch talked about "the need for speed" and the importance of reactive to user inputs in optimistic ways (changing the layout in the style of the next page even before getting data, like what Google does when we start typing a request)
  • James Burke talked about EcmaScript 6 modules. The most complicated talk of the day.
  • Nicolas Geoffray talked about Dart. He was replacing Lars Bak and his talk was, after a nice but lengthy anecdote, mostly a standard introduction of the language
  • Alex Sexton talked about "practicing safe script". Favorite quote of the day about security : "You have no hope, you should give up!". Special mention for Evercookie and "don't mess with XSS".
  • Pamela Fox talked about making JS more learnable. While it was a nice presentation, I do regret that what was said was not specific to JavaScript, but more about the hardships of learning how to code
  • Brendan Eich, finally, closed the conference talking about Mozilla, the Web, JavaScript performances and future (ES7), GPU programming beyond WebGL, the Extensible Web Manifesto, and of course, told everyone's favorite anectode about how JavaScript was designed in 10 days and suddenly became a product.

That sums it up!

I actually have mixed feelings about dotJS this year.

I liked it. I liked being there, the speakers were all interesting people and most of them gave good presentations. Having Brendan Eich present was amazing for the second edition of the conference.

but...

This dotJS was in my opinion inferior to the first one, despite the more technical focus.

The lack of a technical focus was one of the main problems last year, and dotJS clearly aimed at fixing that problem. Yes, but a lot of the time was used to talk about technical stuff around JavaScript (TypeScript, Dart, WebGL), not about JavaScript. In that regard, I feel that last year had at least two good sessions (unicode in JS and WTFJS) which made us dive into the code. I missed the live coding.

At the other end of the spectrum, I also kind of missed the TED-like talks of last year. Yes, I know that dotJS 2012 was light on the JS side, but it was what made it special. If dotJS continues with the same focus, I don't think there'll be again a talk like last year's What's the open source and why do I feel so guilty about it, and that's a shame because it was great.

I realize there's a contradiction in what I'm saying. I don't know, maybe what I want is some kind of magical unicorn riding on a rainbow, but I hope for another conference, a generic "dotWeb", in which, like in dotJS 2012, awesome people could come on stage to talk about what they're passionate about, even if it's not what they are known for. Talks like Pamela Fox's (interesting, but not specific to JavaScript) probably could fit better in that magical conference. And conferences like dotJS and dotGo could focus on their languages.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is this : In my opinion, dotJS 2012 was a better conference, even if dotJS 2013 was perhaps a better JavaScript conference.

Anyway, practice makes perfect, so I guess dotConferences will strive to organize an even better dotJS next year. Even if it's a conference which has its flaws, I wouldn't want to miss it.