This weekend was the inaugural BarCamp Grand Rapids. I was only able to make it for the day on Saturday, missing the previous evening’s introductions, talks, and trip to Grand Rapids Brewing Company, but it was good to be able to attend, and even better to have it just a short bike ride away.
It was a fairly small group that was gathered, so almost all of the sessions ran in a single room. Java developers were in the majority—probably not a surprise given that it was the local Java Users’ Group that put the event together—but those of us working with dynamic languages made sure that those languages got their share of mentions.
If anyone was hoping for a serious conflict in the ‘web frameworks smackdown’ they will have been disappointed, as we quickly seemed to come to an agreement that most of the time maintainability and scalability are down to the quality of the code as much as the choice of language/framework, and moved on to a quick demonstration of the building of a Rails app, and a discussion of the potential of JRuby.
Having never really worked with java, I enjoyed Kyle‘s demonstration of the DWR ‘Easy Ajax for Java’ library which I’d read about but not seen in action. It still seemed like more work than RJS, but for those with an existing commitment to java it seems like a great help.
I had various ideas I’d contemplated presenting on, including ActiveResource, my Collage project and its use of Atom, and microformats. But time didn’t allow me to prepare the former two, and Andy had microformats pretty well covered in his (very interesting) ‘geo’ session, so I ended up running a quick demo of the Smart Pill Filemaker/PHP plugin, that seemed to be well received.
Overall, it was good to find some other people around Grand Rapids who have a good grasp of what’s happening in web development at the moment. Not being in a big city or getting to conferences, it can sometimes seem like all the innovation is going on elsewhere. Most of it is, but at least a few people around here are involved in working out where the web is going next.