EmberConf 2016 - Bigger and Better
Leading up to this year's EmberConf I wasn't sure I was going to attend. My indecisiveness had nothing to do with concerns about Ember or DockYard's commitment to the framework. It was simply that I personally haven't been writing much Ember over the past six months. Between being a new dad, buying a house, running DockYard, and exploring Elixir I lacked the bandwidth to keep up with what has been happening in Ember.
The deciding factor was to lend moral support for two of our engineers who were speaking: Estelle DeBlois and Lauren Tan. They both gave great talks and if that was the only reason it would have been more than worth the trip. However, like many things, I was thankfully wrong about my concerns attending and would like to share my experience this year.
First, I'd like to point out how great of a job Leah Silber has done building and organizing EmberConf. This year the attendance was just shy of 1,000. That's almost double from last year. I've heard the aim is for 1,500 next year. As someone who has run a few conferences I can say that Leah has been kicking ass.
My time was split about 50/50 between the hallway track and the talks. Tom & Yehuda's keynote was probably my favorite talk as we're very interested in the mobile web becoming more competitive against native. Elements of that keynote should play out over the next year or so to help position Ember as the best choice for Progressive Web Applications.
I was really impressed with how many people were interested in Elixir. Easily a majority of the conversations I had were with people curious about Elixir or actively using it. I don't want to dwell on Elixir too much because this was EmberConf but this reinforced my opinion that Elixir/Phoenix are a natural fit for Ember backends. It seems there are many people out there that have the same idea.
This is now my fourth EmberConf (if I'm counting the original EmberCamp) and catching up with old friends is important but I really enjoyed meeting new people. As always, the regret is not meeting enough people. I wish that future EmberConfs were more days with more down time. I realize this is not realistic as the days really increase the cost to run the conference and more down time creates less incentive for companies to send employees, but I personally find the most value from networking.
I am aware of DockYard's place in the Ember community. Thinking back to the earlier RailsConfs, and companies that were in a similiar position to DockYard, I don't recall the leaders of those companies being very accessible. There were clear social cliques that these people stuck to. I'm trying not to repeat that. At times I found myself gravitating towards friends but after a few minutes I'd excuse myself so I could meet new people.
Tuesday night we hosted an event at Ground Kontrol. For those unfamiliar, Ground Kontrol is a video arcade with a bar. We rented the entire space for three hours and had close to 100 EmberConf attendees through the doors that evening. All the games were free. When I walked in to get the place ready for the event it was like stepping into a time machine. Nearly ever coin-op game from my childhood was there. If I learned anything that evening it is that I vastly over estimated my skills as kid. Or I am just rusty. Or it was the controller... all of the controllers. Also, I am really out of touch with modern arcade games as I was completely unaware of this Killer Queen game.
Killer Queen at Ground Control at 9! Ping us and let us know if you can make it!#EmberConf— Ember Weekend (@emberweekend) March 31, 2016
A good conference leaves you feeling energized and wanting more, EmberConf has done that for me every year. A great conference gives you the opportunity to connect with friends new and old, and it takes a great community to build what Ember has. We hear a lot about Ember vs X. Not often enough do I hear the practitioners of other frameworks bragging about their community the way Ember does. I think there is a good reason for that. Twenty years from now I'm not going to give a shit about which library rendered which obscure demo the fastest. But I will remember...