MLOC.js 2014 recap

mloc.js 2014

Budapest invited JavaScript people from around Europe to meet and talk about their favourite programming language for the web. This gathering is called mloc.js. In a nice courtyard in the center of the city there is Prezi's house of ideas. A nice venue they build to host all kinds of internet/tech/design meetups and conferences for free. In the newly renovated industrial building from times long gone there is a food area where you can get fruits, nuts, snacks, soft drinks, club mate, coffee and a variety of teas. There are some tables where you can sit (or stand) and eat, always a power outlet in reach. The hearth of the lengthy hall is the amphitheatre. A place where you can make entertaining gladiatorial combats or, because it is also equipped with two big projectors, give talks. So there is everything the nerd from today is craving for.

The amphitheatre at Prezi's house of ideas. (The amphitheatre at Prezi's house of ideas. Picture taken from Eventifier)

The conference itself covered a wide range of topics from frontend frameworks and the internals of JavaScript engines over various optimization techniques to JavaScript and the browser as a game platform. At the beginning Jeff Harrell (@juxtajeff) talked about how they at Paypal switched their frontend code from Java to JavaScript. He talked about what challenges they faced and what they gained from switching to JavaScript. After this Daniel Steigerwald (@steida) gave a good overview of the upcoming features in Ecmascript 6 and talked about general best practices. The rest of the day had a focus on the internals of JavaScript. Ben L. Titzer from Google showed the new optimizations in the garbage collector of Google’s V8 engine, Eddy Bruel (@ejpbruel) from Mozilla explained afterwards how objects are implemented in Spidermonkey and what code-patterns to avoid to allow the engine to optimize your code and run it as fast as possible (Hint: Never ever delete a property of an object!) The JavaScript internas was ended by Maxime Chevalier-Boisvert (@Love2Code) who showed us how Higgs, her JIT compiler for Javascript works and how she does lazy incremental compilation. Very interesting to acutally see how JIT compilers process your code.

On the second day Domenic Denicola (@domenic) gave a good overview on what streams are and how they work. He also shared his vision on how a standard for streams on the web could look like. Stoyan Stefanov (@stoyanstefanov) gave an introduction to react.js, what is treated as the next big thing for JavaScript. There were also one or two talks about JavaScript as an intermediate language and transpiling to JavaScript. For me the highlight on day two was David Galeano's (@davidgaleano) presentation of JavaScript and the browser as a platform for game development. He showed us really impressive projects like Polycraft that demonstrated what is possible with pure JavaScript and WebGL. (Nothing is compiled here, this is all written in plain Javascript!)

Domenic Denicola and the extensible web manifesto

All in all the feeling of the conference is, that JavaScript is growing up and that we web developers are becoming real software engineers. :)

One thing I would wish for the next mloc.js is, that the moderators of the Q&A sessions held after each talk try to avoid that members of the audience highjack the Q&A session to spread their view of the topic and also help the speakers if the questions from the audience are not constructive at all but only there to intimidate the speaker. Maybe something like a code of conduct for the conference would be helpful. (see Django's code of conduct)

As always the conference was very motivating. I will as soon as possible check what I can apply from the various optimization patterns I have learned in the last two days to my current project. Also a plan is forming in my head to reorganize and manage my code in the future to improve code quality make the it even more readable and reusable. And as always there are some libraries and frameworks that were mentioned that I definitely have to check out.

The conference was really well done and I enjoyed my stay in Budapest a lot! Also setting the conference on a Thursday and a Friday is a very good choice. You can stay the weekend after the conference in Budapest and spend some time enjoying the city. There is also enough time to reflect on everything you heard and learned at the conference before going back to your normal work routine.

Mloc.js, it was a pleasure! See you next year. I am looking forward to it!