Gilt Goes to Nodeland: A Recap of

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More than 150 Node.js aficionados on the grounds of a 15th-century castle, on an island resort in County Waterford, Ireland. Throw in two Node.js neophytes from Gilt’s engineering team in Dublin (my colleague, Nick Rogers, and myself), and what do you get? You get NodeConfEU: A lively conference for developers, spread over five days, featuring fun, sun, some great talks and interesting workshops.


Check out the ultra-modern conference venue!

There were too many talks to describe each of them, so we’ve picked out a few that particularly resonated with us:

  • Alex Liu from Netflix gave insights into how his team manages templates and assets across large sites. Netflix is doing some very cool stuff around producing conditional bundles of assets based on the A/B tests a user is in. Netflix can generate a possible 2.5 million asset bundles based on their A/B testing matrix. Hey Netflix: it might be a good idea to open source this (hint, hint!).

  • Fred George, father of the post-agile process termed “Programmer Anarchy,” spoke about the battle between asynchronous and synchronous microservices and some of the challenges going forward. Conclusion: synchronous isn’t so great. At a Node conference, that position wasn’t too controversial.

  • Jeff Harrell from PayPal gave an engaging talk on transitioning a large engineering department from Java to Node (a move that LinkedIn made in 2013). He wrote about nine node anti-patterns here.

  • StrongLoop co-founder Bert Belder gave a call to arms to the community around resolving the next stage of development for the Node core. He also expressed some opinions about promises which were present in Node in 2009. I think he might want them back!

  • And speaking of geeky, University of Wisconsin grad student Mikola Lysenko demonstrated how special relativity theory might apply to synchronization in online games by using Cauchy surfaces to prevent causality anomalies.

  • Raquel Vélez from npm gave a talk on robotics and Node that involved the creation of some *cough* beautiful art.


As for the workshops: Other than for the session on robotics–which involved getting to work/play with lots of LittleBits, some nodecopters and a few Tessels (how could anyone not love it?)—the highlight was Ben Acker’s boundless enthusiasm and help teaching us how to be hapi.

As for what else we learned:

  • Baseball skills seem to be fairly readily transferable to hurling, as we discovered when the “magical mystery tour” on Tuesday night included a trip to a local Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club.

  • Make sure that the person who calls you a taxi knows whether they are calling it for 6am or 6pm.

  • If you ever need directions to a GAA club in Waterford, we can help. We’ve been to them all. 

Thanks so much to Cian, Richard, Agata and all the folks at NearForm for organising such an enjoyable conference!

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