Event Roundup - NodeConf EU 2017
By Leanne Vaughey

November 5th saw us host our sixth annual NodeConf EU conference in the beautiful 5 Star Lyrath Estate in Kilkenny, Ireland.

We decided to run it a little later this year to ensure attendees and speakers had enough time between events - it has been a very busy year on the event trail for everyone and a conference full of burned out attendees and speakers is not a fun conference for anyone!

NodeConf EU packed a lot of content this year; let’s take a closer look at some of the highlights.

Hello World!

No doubt the talking point of the conference was our Espruino-powered hackable badge.

Brainstorming for the badge started back in March, with a few of us searching for something different to add to the conference this year. A hardware element was definitely top of the list (JavaScript :heart: Hardware). Conor O’Neill (nearForm Head of Product) sought out Gordon Williams, creator of Espruino - JavaScript on microcontrollers. After several discussions we concluded it was possible to build an awesome, hackable badge, based on a custom designed Puck.js.

But there was a catch! It couldn’t just be any badge, we had a laundry list! Some of the features we wanted were - low power consumption, NFC and a gamepad on board, just to name a few. Our key feature was the circuitry must be housed on a hexagonal shape to symbolise Node.js.

Gordon did a fantastic job in providing a genuinely fun piece of kit to play with. It is JavaScript-native and very easy to program. All of the designs are open source and backed up with formidable documentation. Conor put a lot of work into badge specific documentation and Gordon’s Espruino reference site is a joy to use. You can also read Conor’s blog post here.

On the opening night of NodeConf EU as people registered and received their badge the reaction was exactly what we hoped for. People loved it and it was a major talking point. The badge managed to bring attendees together to chat, compare, and hack their badges together with new friends. The badge became a great ice-breaker, amongst the chatter; it soon became apparent why our first talk of the conference was by Gordon himself! Somebody had to share the Konami Code.

Gordon also hosted a workshop on Monday afternoon to a packed room where hardware stations were set up with soldering irons, LEDs, buttons, piezo’s, wire, solder; everything you needed to customise your badge. Some attendees even hung around to help others solder!

A hardware lounge was set up following the workshop, this area was available for everyone to use. We also ran a competition for the most imaginative hacking of the badge, the lucky winner Marco Pegoraro was announced at the Gala Dinner on Wednesday night.

Some cool entries included a temperature gauge, a party parrot who moved quicker when there were more badges in proximity, and the overall winner who added the conference agenda to the badge - Why didn’t we think of that?!

Speaking of speakers

Feedback from last year’s conference was pretty resounding - “please provide a more diverse range of speakers and topics”. And so we did.

We approached our community members and asked them if they would like to help us select our speaker list this year providing more diversity. The community members did a stellar job helping us review all the entries and we want to thank them warmly for all their help and advice. The Call for Papers (CFP) for 2017 was the biggest we ever received and the quality of entries was extremely high. We ended up with a fabulous selection of amazing talks. Some from well known faces, some from up and coming stars, and one last minute change that knocked the roof off the place!

We split up our talks roughly into the following categories:

Mad Science

Everything’s better with Bluetooth - Gordon Williams

The big reveal where Gordon explained the hackable badge and what it can do.

An LED matrix powered by an RPi running Node? Oh yes! Rachel had all the deets.

Cryptominoes. Secure P2P dominoes game - Eduardo Sorribas Canela

Eduardo showed how to build a fully P2P, secure dominoes game in JavaScript.

Look Mum - no hands! - Charlie Gerard

Charlie delivered a sleek presentation on how to use a brain scanner and some JavaScript to control things with the power of your mind! Charlie also explained how she used Node to interface with the scanner’s native C++ API.

After After Dark: Building Strange Screen Savers with JavaScript - Rachel Weil

The wonderful world of screensavers from Rachel, including a custom one for the NES.

Building a radio data network with Node.js - Thomas Watson

Thomas dropped to the level of individual bits as he dug into SDR.

NodeCore | V8 | NPM

N-API - next gen Node API for native modules - Michael Dawson & Arunesh Chandra

Michael and Arunesh explained how you can support a variety of Node.js releases in your modules without needing recompilation.

Back pressure, or, how to not accept it if you can’t handle it right now - Sam Roberts

Sam showed how streams support back pressure and how you can take advantage of it in your applications.

Node.js: What’s Next? - James Snell

James pulled back the curtain and gave a peak into what’s coming.

Grokking Asynchronous Work in Node.js - Thorsten Lorenz

Thorsten revealed how the new Async Hooks API can give us a deeper insight into Node’s asynchronous magic.

High performance JS in V8 - Peter Marshall

Peter explained how to write high performance code for the new V8 pipeline.

npm; paster, presenter, futurer - Rebecca Turner

Rebecca spoke about what led to npm version 5 and what to expect from npm v6 and beyond.

WebAssembly and Node.js - Ben Smith

Ben explained how WebAssembly has the potential to unlock a class of applications that run at near native speeds.

In-production

The memory footprint of node modules - David Martin

David gave lots of tips on how to identify the memory footprint of node modules and then reduce them.

Continuous deployment in a heavily regulated environment - Lisa Gagarina

Lisa talked about how her team is the first in JPMorgan Chase to get Node.js applications continuously deployed to Production.

Yes you site can (and should be!) accessible - Laura Carvajal

An important session from Laura about making accessibility a core part of your processes.

Sharing is caring…at scale - Sarah Saltrick Meyer

BuzzFeed has built a library of shared components and Sarah explained the details of how that works in practice.

Hop on the Serverless adventure with Node.js - Simona Cotin

Simona dug into the benefits of Serverless and how it lets you focus on building and scaling applications.

JS Everywhere

Node.js = Machine Learning - Nikhila Rhavi

Nikhila showed us various ways in which Node and ML can work together.

Our M.C Bryan Hughes

To all our speakers, thank you for being amazing!

Learning something new

We wanted everyone who attended the workshops this year to leave with at least 1 new skill, therefore we ran the following workshops:

JS all the things - Gordon Williams

This workshop gave an insight into our hackable badge; providing an overview on the documentation and GitHub repo and he explained how to customise a badge at the hardware station.

We actually split this workshop in two so people who weren’t interested in hardware could get ‘Just The Facts’. Those who attended the second session got a bit more of a deep dive into what the badge was capable of and how to hack it! JavaScript on hardware is a real thing! If even one attendee gets into JavaScript hardware from this, we feel our mission has been accomplished.

Code & Learn - Rich Trott, Anna Henningson, James Snell, Matteo Collina & others

Attendees were helped through specific areas of Node.js core source code. They were also shown how to make a commit to to Node.js core itself. We hoped attendee’s learned that big projects like Node.js itself don’t have to be scary! All help is welcome at all levels.

The Streams workshop - Matteo Collina & David Mark Clements

Matteo and Dave showed their audience how to process extreme amounts of data with a tiny fraction of memory. Attendees learned about readable, writable, duplex and a transform,; along with details on how to compose them in pipelines to process the data as it is available.

Learn to Crypto - Emil Bay & Mathias Buus

Cryptography is not a very simple topic. Luckily Mathias and Emil just so happened to have an extremely impressive workshop that teaches attendees how to use crypto techniques that are simple to pick up and genuinely useful to know.

An Intro into VR for JavaScript developers - Rebecca Poulson

VR… let’s say it again V…R. If you apply to any conference with a workshop that includes VR there is a very high probability you are going to get selected. Rebecca showed her audience how to begin VR projects with HTML and JavaScript using A-Frame. After all, what’s NodeConf EU without some mad science?

Taming Unicorns with Technology - Katie Roberts & Neil Vass

When Katie and Neil submitted this workshop it generated a lot of discussion internally. A workshop on how to handle Unicorn Projects - the sort of projects that have unrealistic time demands or requirements. This is exactly the sort of content we were aiming for, to give people really valuable skills.

The Millennial’s cook book to application development - Irina Shestack & Yoshua Wuyts

Irina & Yosh ran through building applications using all the “new hotness” in the Node.js community. The resultant applications are feature rich, come with a great developer experience, and are really performant.

Kubernetes workshop - Robert Kubis

Kubernetes is all the rage in enterprise development, so we felt some sort of beginners workshop was needed. Robert’s workshop hit all the right notes; focusing on basic concepts and functionalities of Kubernetes in the context of node.js.

Having the craic!

For entertainment this year we moved it to after dark. This allowed attendees to go to the workshops and avail of the entertainment. Each evening we brought attendees to a different location where they could relax and unwind and ponder on the day’s events.

One activity we couldn’t hold in the evening was our Hurling experience workshop. For those looking to escape the conference for a while they learned a bit about the fastest field sport in the world!

Our first night at Billy Byrne’s Bar was very kindly sponsored by Netflix. After some delicious hot food and an impromptu pub quiz for some Netflix swag, local music act Jeremy Hicks wowed the crowd with an awesome drumming performance. We capped off the night in the chilled out lounge which provided a way for smaller groups to break off finishing off a great first day of NodeConf EU.

Tuesday night brought us for a surprise visit to SOUNDOME. Created by Kilkenny native Tom Watts, we were treated to a live demo of the dome which hosts a mind-blowing array of 46 speakers - delivering the ultimate listening experience! Ending the night we enjoyed some live music by Hack the Bone and local food supplier Adare Farm provided a Hog Roast feast for our, by now, very hungry attendees.

Closing Dinner

Another small tweak made to this year’s conference was the Gala Dinner hosted in the Lyrath Hotel restaurant. The aim was to end the event with good food and good conversation (and NodeConf hats!). After dinner we were then given a surprise talk by Issac Schlueter of npm, who gave an entertaining insight into the history of the npm business. Finally, our badge winners announced (we gave everyone a prize in the end, every single entry was a winner in our eyes) and our evening was ended with some closing words by Cian O’Maidin; dancing and banter carried on into the early hours.

We would like to thank everyone who came along to NodeConf EU this year and especially to our sponsors Netflix, DAZN & Holiday Extras.

What’s in store for next year? We’re already planning!!

TL;DA (Too Long, Didn’t Attend)

Couldn’t make it to NodeConf EU this year? This year we worked with Flux Broadcast to deliver extremely high quality videos of each talk. Each video was published on the same day for your consumption. If you missed the conference this year, please check them out!

Also check out our Flickr album for photos too!

Acknowledgements & thank yous

This is a never ending list but we absolutely have to acknowledge the following people:

To everyone who we missed, thank you from the bottom of our heart for making NodeConf EU magical, see you all next year!


Some tweets!

Twitter was pretty busy - here’s just a few tweets that caught our eye!



New Call-to-action
join the discussion