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NG-Conf 2015 – Angular Present and Future

Ng-Conf is the premier annual conference for the open source Angular project, 2 entire days devoted to the state of AngularJS. Angular is a JavaScript development platform for creating applications using modern web standards. The 2015 ng-conf schedule was packed, with lightning talks and open spaces sessions on the night before the conference started, to an amazing party and a game night for those that were around after the conference.

It was a lot of fun, and Kim Maida and I were able to meet and network with quite a few fellow developers. Kim, along with the other women at the conference, even got to have lunch with the Angular Core team! Even so, the information presented at the conference itself was still the highlight of the trip.

Angular 2.0

On the night before the conference, during the last open session I attended, there was an intense discussion about the future of Angular, particularly as to what Angular 2.0 means for the Angular community. Some people were worried that, due to the changes required with a rewrite of Angular 2.0, devs would abandon Angular for another framework. Others speculated about the potential migration paths. Thankfully, the presenters answered the questions about migrating to Angular 2.0 early and often. In a nutshell, the Angular 1.x and 2.0 code bases will be interoperable, and so developers can start with an Angular 1.x base and replace components one at a time. Or developers can start with an Angular 2.0 base, but continue to use components from their 1.x code base until there is time or scope to rewrite them. The Angular team referred to this as, “migrating inside-out or outside-in.”
 
There were numerous references to the benefits devs will see by using Angular 2.0. It’s going to be screaming fast, proving in a demo to be even faster than React, the framework that Facebook created. Rather than a digest cycle, Angular 2.0 will work from a top-down, tree-like parsing algorithm, which should increase performance by more than 30%. There were a few different demos, including a comparison of Angular and React working together, although with the speed increases in Angular 2.0, there may be no need to add React for performance reasons.

Collaboration and Takeaways

Working together was another big theme. Angular has been very active with other open-source projects, emphasizing that cooperation is better than competition in their eyes. The Angular team has been working with the Microsoft Typescript team, and even integrated a bit of Ember into the new router.

Another big take-away was that using a transpiler will make writing Angular simpler and faster. And there is no need to learn a new syntax, as AtScript was no more. The benefits AtScript was providing will now be available in the next version of TypeScript. However, Typescript isn’t a requirement, so devs can continue to write ES5 and ES6 JavaScript.
There were 2 specific talks that stood out on Day 2; a talk by Lukas Ruebbelke, Author of AngularJS in Action, and Geoff Goodman, creator of plnkr.co, as well as the closing talk by Igor Minar, one of the lead developers on AngularJS.
Lukas and Geoff talked about how developers don’t need anyone’s permission to be awesome, or to build awesome things. Their message was to just go make stuff, don’t wait until you “know enough”. Geoff related his experience building Plnkr, a tool for creating, collaborating on and sharing web development ideas, starting with no knowledge of programming. Igor shared a real personal talk about mental awareness, meditation and taking care of your mind. He spoke about being mindful and some of the things he does to start mentally strong and avoid burnout while being one of the lead developers for a project like Angular.

Extracurricular

If these sessions were the meat though, the related events were the toppings. The events where very cognizant of their audience, and were conducive to networking. The party had an improv group, a pair of illusionists and the musician Kawahi, who had an amazing voice and talent. On Friday night, those who stayed in town after the conference were treated to viewing two professional StarCraft players while the match was game casted by Geoff “iNcontroL” Robinson so those that don’t play StarCraft could follow along. And on Saturday, those who were interested got to spend a beautiful day on the mountainous slopes of Snowbird.

 

Summary

Overall, I felt it was a great conference to attend, and struck a really good balance between having fun and learning about how to effectively work with Angular, both today and going forward. While some of the information could be absorbed by watching the live stream, there was really no comparison to attending in person. Between being in the audience for things like the ng-wat talk or being able to network with other developers between sessions, it was an experience that will stay with me and motivate me going forward. Thanks go out to the Angular Team and the organizers of ng-conf for a very informative and enjoyable conference!

 

To find out more about ng-conf, visit ng-conf.org. Images courtesy of ng-conf and Joe Eames, bit.ly/ng-conf-2015-images. For more information about Angular, visit angularjs.org and for information about Angular v2.0, visit angular.io.

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