JSConf2009 in review

By Zach Dennis on 27 04 2009

I just got back from JSConf2009 and it was absolutely amazing. If I hadn’t known it was the first JavaScript conference I probably would not have guessed it. The conference’s agenda, venue, and food were very well put together. Though I did not attend the after parties, I heard they were great as well. It’s hard to think about after parties when you’ve just sat through a day of amazing presentations and conversation. The inspiration meter was off the charts, rendering nightly coding irresistible and unavoidable. At the end of it all, three technologies really got my blood pumping: CouchDB, PhoneGap, and Joyent’s JavaScript Platform as a Service (PaaS).

CouchDB is a distributed, fault-tolerant, and schema-free document-oriented database accessible via a RESTful HTTP/JSON API. It is a fresh perspective with amazing capabilities for storing, replicating, and retrieving information. It’s not intended to replace traditional relational databases, but it gives you a new way to think about how you store and access your information. CouchDB seems to fill the perfect niche for running a public continuous integration service in which users could donate their CPU to running software test suites in an anonymous manner. It could be entirely distributed, fast, efficient, and it would most likely provide better platform, versioning, etc. suite coverage than what is available on a single development team today.

PhoneGap is an open source development tool for building mobile web apps with JavaScript. Given the number of mobile devices out there, why fork your application’s codebase for each target system if you don’t have to? Why sacrifice the native application look and feel? PhoneGap allows you to avoid these problems. For example, on the iPhone, it integrates WebKit and the native iPhone SDK so you can utilize HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript to build native applications—that come with offline access. When given the choice between Objective-C and JavaScript, I’ll take JavaScript any day.

Joyent’s JavaScript PaaS has not yet been released, but according to James Duncan, who spoke about the service at JSConf, they are close to launching a beta. Joyent is going to provide a full-stack PaaS utilizing JavaScript. Although JavaScript is typically thought of as a browser-only scripting language it’s actually a full fledged language with server-side capabilities. The JavaScript interpreters embedded in the browsers are held back via browser security restrictions and a lack of a standard library for things like file and process access. Joyent’s goal is to provide a complete stack to build full-fledged web applications in JavaScript. This includes JavaScript adapters for databases like MySQL, SQLite, PostgreSQL and more. I wouldn’t doubt if there’s even a CouchDB adapter.

I’m definitely looking forward to JSConf 2010. Here’s to writing more innovative web and mobile applications faster and with better tools.