I'll try, as best I can, to give a sampling of the things we learned while bumping around on BART from session to session.
While a good number of our developers didn't attend events on Saturday, our fearless lead developer, Tom, took on the slew of rejected talks with gusto and got to play around with some cool communication projects built on the emerging technology around WebRTC. You may have already read his live blogs on those talks, but I'll try summarize them here for you.
WebRTC, for the uninitiated like me, is a technology focused on direct peer-to-peer communication in the browser, eliminating the need for every drop of data to pass through a central server. A good example of a program that leverages WebRTC is talky. Some of the other cool applications of WebRTC include an emerging project called WebTorrent which allows direct file sharing between users in a browser without any plugins. Another interesting application of WebRTC is a Mozilla project called TogetherJS which allows users to collaboratively browse the internet. We actually got to see a demo of this during the main talks, and it was pretty interesting (although pretty hectic once everyone at the talk got on the same screen). For the interested, there’s a great place to get started with building stuff on WebRTC: SimpleWebRTC.
On the same day, Tom also attended RejectJS which featured talks not quite interesting enough for the main event days (Sunday and Monday). I won't get into all the details of the talks here, but he learned a good deal about how the Node.js community is thinking about databases these days. He heard about node wrappers for MySQL and even some Node databases built around Google's LevelDB (more about that in NodeSchool). Tom, as I take it from the slew of emails he sent to the front-end developers on our team, also heard quite a bit about Browserify, which allows Node’s package manager (npm) to be used for browser-side code as well.
For the last two days of JSFest, Olivia and I attended an event called NodeSchool which was an opportunity to work through some guided, command-line-driven exercises to learn more about Node.js, Streams in Node.js, and LevelUp (the Node.js wrapper for LevelDB). For the two of us, these were some of the most exciting days of the festival because we were able to roll-up our sleeves and really improve our JS chops. Perhaps more importantly, though, was the fact that the workshop environment allowed us to get to know some of the other attendees (not to mention prolific Node.js mentor-developers like substack and maxogden), something you can't always do during a lecture-heavy session. We were so excited by the NodeSchool events that we decided to run NodeSchool ourselves at some point.