cfdevcon review - the day after the day before

It is now a cold windy Friday Scottish morning and I have time to reflect on the previous days trip down to London to attend the one day conference hosted by Russ Michaels.

cfdevcon, was an attractively priced day, pitching at the point where you didn't really need your company to stump up the ticket, it was worth it to do it yourself.  Very few conferences these days can lay claim to that, instead opting to milk the corporate expense budget for all they can get.

The conference itself was a very simple format; take one big ass hall, erect a stinking big projector screen, and have all the delegates sit through every session.  No parallel tracks, no wireless distractions (whoopie, brave move not to offer that but worth it i think) and no company booths.  It was just pure content, coffee, pure content, lunch, pure content, coffee, and yet more content.  The beauty is in its simplicity.

The first person up, was Ben Forta the public mouth of Adobe CFML.  Ben was going through the new upcoming features of Scorpio (CFMX8) and to be quite honest with you, nothing in there was blowing up my skirt.  The only thing the audience was particularly interested in was the new imaging functionality - all his other 'cool stuff' kinda fell on deaf ears.  He did talk a little about how the PDF format and subsequent player that nearly every one has installed as way more functionality in there than most people realise.  As he said, "20MB of stuff has got to do more than just render a document"!  So expect more to come from Adobe on this front.

Next up was 10 reasons why you should consider using Flex in your Rich Internet Application development.  This was all fairly predictable putting up a strong argument that the browser wasn't terribly useful in its present state. However the first question that was asked was "how do search engines find my content?" which is the age old problem with a site that is exclusively Flash.  He laughed, and said, that they don't recommend using Flex for a whole site; just bits of it!  Fair comment.

There was a presentation on the power of APIs which to be quite frank with you, I didn't attend.  I was instead outside 'networking'. Sorry.

Alex Skinner from Pixl8 was up next, talking about some of the advanced techniques of CFML and how they used them within their product range.  We weren't at all prepared for the amount of BlueDragon functionality he has utilised, including a little known function we added in a long time ago called render(..).  This function takes in a string of CFML code and executes it - it is to CFML what eval() is to JavaScript.  His use of it was inspired.  He also demonstrated a little CFTHREAD usage that he was now utilising to give the user a much faster experience.  One of the interesting take aways, was their use of XML instead of a backend database. Again, this is another reason conferences can sometimes be useful; they challenge your conventional thinking as you look at how others do things.

Kevin Roche was next to be put in front of the hordes to talk about Fusebox. I am not a fan of frameworks largely because I don't see the point of them.  This presentation did little to impress me and actually further supported my anti-framework stance.  One of the attendees asked the question afterwards Isn't it a case of just writing code for the sake of it? which got a laugh.  I know people swear by frameworks, and if they work for you then who am I to stand in your way.

Mark Drew was then up to talk through the wonders of Eclipse and cfEclipse.  He asked the audience various "who has..." type questions and it was interesting to see that not only were there people who hadn't heard of cfEclipse, but had never even heard of Eclipse.  One wonders if they are permitted net access at all!  Mark went through a serious of demo's and I have to say he even showed me a feature of eclipse I hadn't known about.  His talk was very entertaining, and if anything he showed the power of the Apple Mac as he could zoom into parts of his presentation to show us in the back what was going on.

Vince Bonfanti was then up going through the new features of BlueDragon 7.  He demonstrated how with the CFTHREAD tag, you didn't really need the Event Gateway; why force CFML developers to code Java when they have this beautiful language available to them?  Vince showed the DirectoryWatcher implemented purely in CFML and at the same time, showed the benefits of having CFC Interfaces and the null keyword.  Lots of cool stuff coming up in BlueDragon 7.

Charlie Arehart was up next talking about the FusionDebugger.  We didn't stay for this talk as we wanted to hit the road before the London rush hour really got going.  We spoke to him before hand and he excused me from his talk!  Thanks Charlie.

And that was it.  A beautiful line up and lots of good content.  The only downside was the choice of venue, Croydon.  It's in the middle of no where in terms of London's transport system.  Its a pain to drive to, and its a major pain to get there by train.  The conference hotel was the most awful hotel one could imagine.  Oh, and finally, if you want to name drop and get into places, then I have discovered Andy Allan is the name you need to use.  One of the speakers asked if anyone had heard of Ray Camden, and only one person put their hand up.  However, talk with people about Andy, wow, a whole barage of positive nods come back.

On the whole a fantastic day and would definitely go back next year. 


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