AgentConf 2017

On the 20th and 21st of January the beautiful town of Dornbirn, Austria hosted one of the most exciting web technology conferences of 2017. The organizers of AgentConf managed to assemble a strong lineup of speakers from all over the world with presentation topics focusing around the latest tools and technologies. 

AgentConf 2017

I had the pleasure of being invited to contribute 2 presentations and co-present about WebVR and GraphQL together with my dear friend and colleague Nik Graf.

After arriving at the venue on Thursday evening the majority of the speakers gathered at a local bar for some food and drinks. Speaker dinners are always a great platform to meet some of the brightest engineers of the community, form new friendships, share experiences and discuss crazy ideas. As the evening progressed, inspiring conversations about Elixir, React, Virtual Reality and API Design evolved at our table.

Day 1

The first day of the conference began with the a great keynote about “Building high-quality JavaScript Tools” by Christoph Pojer of Facebook. I’ve seen Christoph speak at various other occasions and have always been impressed by the constant quality of his slides and presentation skills.

Christoph Pojer

For the second last presentation before lunch, Patrick Stapfer hit the stage (Patrick is currently working with Amazee Labs and AmazeeIO) to speak about “Flowtype and The Wonders of Statically Typed JavaScript”. We are using Flowtype in our current JavaScript based projects and are drawing from Patrick’s experience regularly. Patrick delivered a great presentation with beautiful hand-drawn slides that nicely illustrated the many benefits of statically typing your code base. By the way: Patrick repeated this presentation at our last React Meetup here in Zurich.

Right before queueing up for lunch, Max Stoiber, yet another offspring of the vibrant React Vienna Community, took over the microphone from Patrick to speak about “Styling React Applications”. Max is one of the co-authors of Styled Components which has recently gained huge acclaim within the React and broader JavaScript community. Styled Components uses tagged template literals to enable component based styling within JavaScript. We are using this approach for our new projects and we’re very happy with it thus far.

The rest of the day was filled with great talks by Jan Monschke & Svanlaug Ingólfsdóttir of SoundCloud (“How React Native Changed Prototyping at SoundCloud”), Mike North (“Anatomy of a Progressive Web App”), Balint Erdi (“Robust, Ergonomic, Batteries Included: Why you should consider Ember.js for your next project”) and Tereza Sokol (“Why you should care about Elm”).

In addition to the high quality schedule of the conference, which included a series of interesting and funny lightning talks, the organizers also took great care in planning incredible leisure activities and social events. After wrapping up, we took the gondola to the top of the Karren to enjoy a fabulous dinner with a great view.

Day 2

On the second day, both Nik and I did some final rehearsals of our 2 presentations before hitting the stage for “GraphQL in production within Minutes with Serverless” right before the lunch break. After I did a short introduction to React, Nik spoke about Serverless and demoed how to set up scalable GraphQL service on Serverless.

Nik and I used the following lunch break to do some additional fine tuning of our slides before we made our reappearance on the stage. This time for speaking about WebVR.

Again, I took over the introduction by quickly laying out some fundamentals for Virtual Reality in general and going into some detail about the optical properties of Virtual Reality devices as well as the underlying APIs for enabling Virtual Reality in the Browser. Nik then took over once more to demo some of the his experiments with ReactVR. Bottom-line: It’s not hard to get started and incredibly rewarding to literally stand in the middle of your own Virtual Reality world once done. Nik also provided some resources for beginners and also shared his own experiments which are hosted on GitHub for anyone to try out.

After answering some questions, we cleared the stage for David Khourshid’s presentation about “Web Animation Redefined: Reactive Animations with RxJS and CSS Variables”. I have to admit that I’m not too interested in CSS or Web Animations. However, David absolutely delivered the most entertaining and educational talk of the whole conference. He carries with him the astonishing ability to bend the boundaries of what’s possible with CSS and nicely illustrates this in his outright crazy and infamous Codepens. Go and check them out. In summary: David, you nailed it.

The official part of the conference was then followed by a two day skiing trip to Lech with the majority of the speakers and organizers and a few attendees who were willing to pay extra for 2 perfect days in the mountains. Those undaunted by death and experienced enough and well equipped for the adventure also had the chance to do some heli skiing and freeriding.

Skiing at Lech

Skiing at Lech

Altogether, the whole conference was an amazing experience and I will definitely be back for AgentConf 2018. Early bird tickets are already on sale.

January 31, 2017
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