Notes from Forward JS

AKA baby’s first JavaScript conference

I’m not the hugest fan of JavaScript, so how did I find myself at Forward JS, a JS conference? Well, I’m on a number of email lists,and last week Girl Develop It was offering a great discount for Forward JS – $19 for the one day conference (no workshops), down from the original price of $249. I do love a bargain, and I figured that I would learn something, so I impulsively purchased a ticket.

The event took place at the Regency Ballroom. I think I saw CocoRosie play here a long time ago. One guy I talked to mentioned that he had his high school prom at the Regency. They do everything!

I tried to hit up as many talks as possible, but I got tired as the day wore on, and left before the afterparty.

Here’s what I saw:

How Your Brain is Conspiring Against You Making Good Software

  • Jenna Zeigen, Engineering Manager @ Digital Ocean
  • The keynote was pretty interesting. It was all about cognitive biases and how they affect development – from building teams, to coding to project planning. It pushed for greater diversity and inclusion, which seemed to be a theme of the conference.


Forward themed tampons! Yeah diversity! There were a lot more female attendees than I was expecting, and maybe half of the speakers I saw were women. It felt really good, and positive.

Coffee break – Coffee & Stroopwafels – Apparently last year they promised stroopwafels and there were none? They were delicious. Various tech companies had booths set up in the social hall, and I ended up learning about some cool technologies like IBM’s ez API builder, API Connect.


Bringing Dynamic Back

  • Raymond Camden, Developer Advocate @ IBM
  • This session was all about finding ways to make your static site more dynamic. I gave static a try with Jekyll and didn’t end up sticking with it, but this talk was still pretty helpful.

There’s a Bookmarklet for That!

  • Justine Lam, Web Developer @ ShareProgress
  • This talk was a lot shorter and more straightforward than I was expecting. I think it finished in 20 minutes when there were 40 minutes scheduled. Justine made bookmarklets look easy, so I’m working on my first one. It’s a bookmarklet to replace all images on a webpage with photos of Bill Clinton playing with balloons. I call it “Billoons.”


Lunch Break

React/Omniscient and Immutable – the Gateway Drugs of Functional Programming 

  • Erin Depew, Front End Engineer @
  • This one was incredibly popular, probably because it was about React, but also because it was held in the room where lunch had just ended, and there were so many people already seated that maybe they just decided to stay?
  • I got to see how uses React along with Omniscient and Immutable, and all the challenges they’ve run into along the way. I haven’t used React yet, but the talk was easy to follow. There wasn’t much emphasis on functional programming, which is what I was expecting from the title.


React Native: Learn From My Mistakes

  • Joe Fender, Senior Developer @ Lullabot
  • Another React talk (there were 4 total), things to consider when using React. I had a harder time following this talk. Guess it’s time to learn React!


Practical Performance Tips to Make your Cross Platform Mobile Apps Faster

  • Dr. Doris Chen, Senior Technology Evangelist @ Microsoft
  • I was excited about this one. It was basically tips and tricks for speeding up your apps. She was trying to condense an hour talk into 40 minutes so she didn’t quite make it to the end, but it was still enjoyable. One of the better tips: you don’t have to put event listeners on everything, just set it on the parent, and let bubbling up take care of that for you.

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Coffee Break – Milk & Cookies

By the time it was cookie time, I was exhausted. While I could have checked out another hour or so of lectures, I decided that it was a good time to call it quits. Overall, I’m really happy that I went. I met some interesting people, and the energy was good. Everybody, male/female, young/old was there to learn. Do I like JavaScript any more than before? I don’t know. It’s a useful language, that’s for sure.


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