Software Development, Web Design, Training

Apr-13-2019

ColdFusion Summit East 2019 Recap

I walked in the front door at about 2am on Thursday morning and am not moving at the fastest pace today, but that’s because the ColdFusion Summit East 2019 was a big success! (Other than one of my thumb drives walking off anyway. :) )

This year’s Summit East was similar to previous events — one day of preconference workshops and one day of regular sessions.  Pete Freitag (with help from Charlie Arehart, I believe) ran a class on security and related topics; I wasn’t there but, c’mon, it’s Pete, I’m certain it was outstanding. (I’m scheduled to take his workshop next month at Into The Box).

I ran an updated version of the “Angular + ColdFusion” workshop that Carl Von Stetten and I taught in Las Vegas last year.  This session included most of the same code demos, but with more in depth info about TypeScript, the difference in Single Page Applications and traditional in-line JavaScript, and a few other concepts for folks brand new to this style of development.  I also increased the info about CommandBox and how we were using that for the API server portion of the lab.

The entire prerequisites was also revamped, throwing everything into a preconfigured VirtualBox VM.  This was a big improvement over previous classes and made the setup process much more efficient! Fixing issues during the labs was also greatly improved. A few Windows laptops needed to have the “Hyper V” settings adjusted, and that was about it.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was how many students in the room were completely unfamiliar with Single Page Applications.  We had several questions throughout the day explaining how the CFML and JavaScript code are entirely separate applications now. Clearly there is still a broader level of experience in the tech space than we’re often aware of. These were paying students, taking time out of their week to attend a conference (and all-day workshop); we’re not talking about a complete “9 to 5” developer as these folks were making an attempt to learn. But it was still surprising to me. There were several questions about how the ColdFusion code fits into Angular, even toward the end of the day, even after demoing various API code examples.  Related and equally surprising, we had several students ask “what is JSON?”. Often when putting together content at a conference, the CAB will dismiss topics as “everyone already knows that” and only go for new, cutting edge, info. After the Angular workshop, I think there is space for various cram sessions to catch developers up and review some beginner topics that are obviously falling thru the cracks.

Wednesday started off the the Adobe Keynote.  It began as they usually do, with Elishia giving a few bits of info about the state of ColdFusion, etc. Most of the Adobe-centric info came from Ashish Garg, during which he mostly talked about other Adobe products he’s responsible for, not ColdFusion; I’m still unclear why that info was delivered at the ColdFusion Summit Keynote, it seemed out of context to me.  The rest of the session included what were essentially case studies from Dan Fredericks of ICF and Chason Hecht from Retensa to talk about their TalentPluse app and how quickly they are able to add features thanks to the ColdFusion platform.

(I didn’t take notes during the keynote, but had there been more of a “state of ColdFusion” portion, I suspect the content would be very similar to that discussed at the ColdFusion Roadshow a couple months back; you can read my notes from the San Francisco meeting here.)

The rest of Wednesday was the traditional 1-hour sessions, and every one I attended was well worth the trip!

Eric Cobb’s talk on writing faster queries in SQL Server was excellent. I’ve never been able to attend his entire session before, always having to duck in and out for something. Very glad I was finally able to catch the whole thing — you can read my notes from his preso here.

Giancarlo Gomez gave his talk on using WebSockets, which I’ve watched 2 or 3 times now. He’s always my favorite speaker for this talk. The info is clear, the demos are fun to watch, the code samples are easy to follow, and he includes info for several versions of ColdFusion, not just the most recent (and explains how they’re different).  Giancarlo’s talk also covers bugs in different versions of CF, what to watch out for, when things broke, which ones have been fixed, and so on. If you need a crash course in using CF WebSockets, I highly recommend watching his presentation. You can read my notes from the session here.

Minh Vo gave his “CF+ReactJS” presentation, the same one he gave at the Las Vegas Summit in late 2018. I met Minh at one of the speaker events in Vegas but wasn’t able to attend his session (tho he kindly showed me his code demos beforehand). Minh is one of the cheeriest, friendliest, speakers you’ll ever see give a talk.   His demo of ReactJS was stellar! Minh built a prototype of a side-scroller video game entirely in React with CSS for the graphics and effects. It was just “real world” enough to show the kinds of things that can be done with React, and he did a great job of showing off places where the syntax is very similar to CF Custom Tags.  The game also used a CFML back-end to handle a few server-side features.  I’ve never had a favorite JavaScript framework, they all have pros and cons; typically at South of Shasta we use whatever the client requests (if they have a preference).  After seeing Minh’s talk I think React makes the most sense for video game style JavaScript projects, will need to research that more for an upcoming mobile app idea.  My notes from Minh’s talk are available here.

Pete Freitag did what he always does when giving a talk on Security in CFML apps — scared the audience. :) Easily the highest percentage of attendees that were frantically scribbling down notes in any session happened in Pete’s talk. He does such a great job of showing how easy it is to not just inadvertently have a security hole in your code, but also how easy many of them are to fix. You can read my notes from the session here but do yourself a bigger favor: sign up for Pete’s all-day workshop happening next month at Into The Box.

Brian Klaas gave the last session of the day an delivered another excellent presentation on using Amazon Web Services with CFML.  I always make it a point to attend Brian’s sessions and he never disappoints; plus, he’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet at a conference.  His preso includes so many code demos and is so well put together that I got sucked into just watching and didn’t end up taking many notes, but you can download his code demos from GitHub.

Overall a very well put together event! It was a quick trip for me, packed with meetings in every spare moment I had, and not nearly enough time to say hi and properly catch up with everyone.  We’ll all just have to catch up more at Into The Box next month. :)

-nolan