JS Kongress 2017 Roundup

A little while ago on the 13th and 14th of November I attended the JS Kongress themed The Future of JavaScript here in Munich. It has been my first time being to this conference - and up forefront: it has been a great and very pleasant experience. Thanks a lot to all the organizers for making this possible! But let's get into some more details...

Overview

The venue for this year has been the Alte Kongresshalle which is very easy to reach. There were 21 speakers from all around the world with a very wide range of topics for talks. Quite a few sponsors supported the conference but it was good that they were not pushed in any sorts onto us attendees. Most interesting definitely was the existence of another track besides the regular talks - the so-called In-Deep track. There, e.g. members of TC39 (like Brian Terlson), npm (Ashley Williams), or the V8 team (like Benedikt Meurer), (and lots more) hosted discussion rounds and provided deep insights into various topics - the best part of it really being the familiar and close atmosphere.

Highlights

I just want to share some of my personal highlights - of course based on my personal interests - of the two conference days, my top 3 of each. Have a look at the whole schedule to see which topics were covered during the regular talks. Best thing ever: the talks were recorded and uploaded to YouTube - so go watch them!

Day 1

Reactive Brain Waves - Uri Shaked

Uri Shaked held a cool talk featuring an EEG headset (yes, fancy brain reading at work!). He demonstrated a simple Angular app which used the Web Bluetooth API to connect to the EEG headset. The API he adapted himself streamed the received data using RxJS and provided a great example to demonstrate the use of operators. The final result was an eye icon opening and closing when Uri blinked. Overall the talk was a great walkthrough as what is already possible with external devices and tools at hand. Uri also made a writeup and follow-along Gist with more details - check it out.

Watch on YouTube

A Tale of TurboFan: Four years that changed V8 forever - Benedikt Meurer

As a member of Google working on the V8 Engine, Benedikt showed to what lengths the team goes in order to continuously make V8 the fastest JavaScript engine out there - check out his slides online. By showing some examples of JavaScript and how it translates to later machine code he elegantly and understandably explained common patterns in engines to run code as fast as possible. Benedikt also detailed the architectural structure of V8 and its TurboFan optimizing compiler. For me this definitely helped to get a deeper understanding of how my (maybe not so performant) code gets executed - and to loosely quote Benedikt: "The JavaScript code is written for developers, not for machines."

Watch on YouTube

Building a radio data network with Node.js - Thomas Watson

Probably my favorite talk of the day where Thomas demonstrated how to use a Node.js application to send and receive data via radio waves. He used a HackRF One for transmission - due to its wide frequency range he also showed how to remotely control a kids RC car. His talk also included background information explaining the theory of radio waves and how data can be transported using them. During one of the coffee breaks I also had the chance to have a nice chat with Thomas, very friendly and interesting sport!

Watch on YouTube

Day 2

Tomorrow’s JavaScript debugger - Amit Zur

In my view the best talk of the conference in which Amit showed the new Mozilla Developer Tools and what he has already contributed during their complete rewrite. For me it was a pleasant surprise to see how far the tools have been developed and great to hear that they are based on standard and modern web technologies. Amit also made sure to underline the importance and simplicity of contributing to open source projects - like the debugger.html project. I also spoke with Amit about his next ideas of features for the debugger - Debug Trails and potential ways of supporting some kind of reverse engineering or debugging without proper source maps...

Watch on YouTube

OUTBREAK: index-sw-9a4c43b4b4778e7d1ca619eaaf5ac1db.js - Alexander Pope

Cryptic title but a haunting and entertaining story-telling talk by Alexander showing the (potential) dangers of Service Workers. It was filled with valuable tips and tricks on how to properly use them - and especially avoid common mistakes. Otherwise you might be haunted by those errors for a very long time... The talk helped me to get some overview of an API I have never used so far.

Watch on YouTube

The parallel future of the browser - Lin Clark

The closing keynote on day 2 was given by Lin and held what the title promised. Slides filled with self-drawn illustrations outlined the path of the - at this day - released Firefox Quantum and its huge technical changes in its core. The new Firefox is able to process even single tabs in multiple parallel tasks and Lin presented the challenges the team had to face in order to reach this goal (shaving some Yaks here and there...). For me the talk was really revealing in terms of how browsers need to continuously evolve and invent to keep up with the ever changing demands (from us developers, too).

Watch on YouTube

In-Deep Track & Office hours

Every day at 10:40am the organizers invited everyone to come and hand in their topics to make the schedule for the parallel In-Deep track. It comprised a very broad selection of topics ranging from discussion rounds to presentations of certain technologies. To be honest, the quality did vary in the ones I attended but nevertheless it is great to have people come up and present - there is always room for improvement. Moreover, besides the In-Deep track there were also so-called Office Hours, where the speakers or other community members were available for questions or discussions so one could just grab the expert he needed.

Overall Impression

To sum up it has been a very good conference from my point of view. There were awesome talks, great people, and all this in a really friendly atmosphere. I met new faces and made interesting contacts - apart from learning new things! I can only recommend paying close attention and getting a ticket to JS Kongress 2018 when they will announce it since I will definitely be looking forward to it :)