ConFoo Vancouver 2017: A Review

ConFoo Vancouver 2017: A Review

I recently had the chance to attend ConFoo Vancouver 2017, a self-described "multi-technology conference for web developers". Founded 15 years ago by Yann Larrivée, it started out as a PHP Québec user group conference held in Montreal every year. It has since expanded to include all things web development, and for a second year, it was also held in Vancouver. This is where I had the pleasure to attend for the first time.

Never heard of ConFoo? You're probably not the only one. I had never heard of it either, before a few months ago, when I decided to look for a decent web development conference in Canada. While it might not yet have the profile and exposure of some of the large corporate-sponsored events, with the steady growth it has been experiencing it's sure to start getting noticed.

Conference specifics

Speakers were brought in from all over Canada and the United States, as well as Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom for the 3-day conference held December 4-6, 2017. The variety and quality of the presenters was excellent. With 85 or so 45-minute sessions spread over those 3 days, in 17 time slots comprised of 5 tracks, and spanning a wide range of subjects such as Accessibility, Databases, DevOps, JavaScript, Performance, PHP, and Security just to name a few, there were plenty of choices to appeal to everyone's interests. The schedule also included two keynotes and a lightning talks session.

The venue, Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre, was perfect for the event, and the awesome crew of volunteers worked hard to make sure everything ran smoothly.

Training workshops

Additionally, a couple of two-day training courses were available to round up the rest of the week after the conference. The topics offered, "Angular/TypeScript" and "Practical Symfony 4", were quite current and timely, as both technologies had a major release in the few weeks before the conference. Being more interested in front-end, I opted for the Angular training. The bootcamp style workshop was delivered expertly by Laurent Duveau, founder of the Angular Academy and self-proclaimed most prolific Angular workshop trainer worldwide. Over the course of two days, the technical course covered all the core concepts and guided the participants to build end-to-end Angular applications. I found it quite enjoyable and useful, a perfect mix of theory and hands-on coding of a real application.

Participants at the Angular workshop

What I learned

When attending a conference, I always realize that I forgot how little I know. There is so much out there, and we have to accept that it's ok to not know about everything. I find it a constant struggle to balance developing and maintaining expertise in my main skillset, and figuring out how much I should know about the all rest. It is with that in mind that I chose sessions to attend that seemed to be on a subject both within my interests and the most likely to be useful for the types of projects I work on.

A few of the sessions I attended ended up being mostly a reminder of things that I already knew, but also a confirmation that we (at zu) are doings things right. The remainder of the sessions were mostly an introduction to ideas or technology that are out there and could be helpful. Some of the key words from the sessions I attended were: debounce, TypeScript, gradual engagement, ES6, rage clicks/reloads, Content Security Policy, RUM, Web Components, Demo Driven Development, shadow DOM, DREAD (Damage, Reproducibility, Exploitability, Affected Users, Discoverability).

Finally, I also want to mention a couple of the sessions (Andrew Burke's "4 Weird Things About Time" and Antoine Meunier's "Tales of the #remoteworking #millenial #vanlifer"), that were not specifically about web development or technology, but I found highly interesting and entertaining . I always find that these kinds of sessions are greatly useful in providing perspective and food for thought in our professional life that isn't only about coding 100% of the time.

Now It's Your Turn!

If you're looking for a fun, high-quality web development conference to attend this year, I would recommend checking out the next ConFoo event, Montreal 2018!