NodeConf EU 2015
By Orla Shanaghy

NodeConf EU 2015 attendee Robert Schultz has written a great blog post about his experience at the conference, complete with some pretty impressive photos. Here is his post in full below. 

Thanks to Robert for letting us re-blog it!

NodeConf EU

“Find an island in Ireland, take it over for four days, bring all the top Node.js people in the world, have an amazing party.” — Cian Ó Maidín, CEO nearForm

I just got back from having an opportunity to attend one of Europe’s largest Node.js conferences, NodeConf EU, which takes place in Ireland hosted by nearForm and I wanted to share my experience. This was my first NodeConf EU conference and I first wanted to thank nearForm for an amazing conference to bring together a huge part of the Node.js community across the world. Having a chance to join this group was a really amazing experience for me and I got to meet some really talented and passionate people. My hope is to highlight some of the experiences I had and hope that you will attend next year (I know I will).


First off, the location of the conference was in Waterford, Ireland. At a castle. Yes, I said that right — at a castle! Arriving was a very surreal experience and the scenery was remarkable.

You have to arrive on the island by a ferry. I think I had not slept in 2 days by this point.

You have to arrive on the island by a ferry. I think I had not slept in two days by this point.

This is Waterford castle, the place where event loop dreams are made.

This is Waterford castle, the place where event loop dreams are made.


Most of the conference talks occurred in a very hipster tent in the back of the castle called the Spiegeltent. It looks a lot smaller than it is but we were fitting a couple of hundred people in here with a stage.

Spiegeltent NodeConf EU


After some other talks and socializing, we headed back to our room. I really wish I got more pictures than I did but oh well — that must say you’re having too much fun. We had an awesome lodge to stay in. Some spectacular views of the Ireland skyline.

This was the view from our room in the lodge.

We had a really awesome neighbor in our lodge, Marc who was from Switzerland. We also had another neighbor that we never saw the entire time there. We referred to him as neighbor xyz.


I have to say I had my annual share of meat, potatoes and bread. I can’t say I disliked it because it was delicious! There is also a local bread from Waterford called Blaa which we ate a few times. The one thing I did not try was the “black pudding”.

BBQ burger, potatoes on Blaa bread. Oh and some wine.

BBQ burger, potatoes on Blaa bread. Oh and some wine.

It wouldn’t be right to not kick off the week without a nice glass of Napa, CA wine.

It wouldn’t be right to not kick off the week without a nice glass of Napa, CA wine.

Whiskey tasting

You can’t visit Ireland and think we’d get away without some whiskey tasting now would you? You’re right, we did. And by a local expert who knows his stuff. We went through four rounds of excellent and potent Irish whiskey with some contextual history of each one.

NodeConf EU

Node 4.0.0

One of the most exciting parts of the conference was the core team completed the convergence of the Node.js and IO.j fork back together as Node.js 4.0.0! This was a long time in the making and it was really awesome to see the community work together to make this happen. A lot of people worked their ass off and we owe them a lot of respect. Look forward to the LTS releases and everything coming soon.

IBM and Strongloop

This was unexpected, especially as I was sitting with the IBM folks, but IBM acquired StrongLoop. I didn’t see this one coming. I like what StrongLoop does and they are talented guys but I haven’t had much interest into what they’re offering around enterprise services. As an enterprise size company ourselves I have not felt the need to want to utilize some of the libraries or frameworks they’ve built — but maybe that’s just me. Hopefully with the acquisition of IBM this will give them more leverage (and money) to push their services farther.

Oh yeah, and this also means IBM now sponsors Express.js.

Automated bartender

Matteo Collina and team from nearForm built a robotic bartender which makes mixed drinks for attendees. I think the count I heard was 125 drinks total. Impressive. This was pretty damn awesome and I saw it in action.



I wanted to quickly recap some of my favorite talks during the three days below although I can’t get to all of them since there were so many.

Note: I did not attend every session, so I’m not covering everything, just some interesting conversations and experiences I had. My memory is also fuzzy so I apologize if I messed up any of the talks.

Open source

One of the drivers of the success of the new Node.js Foundation is the open source community. This was emphasized by Danese Cooper who kicked things off and is now the chairman of the board for the foundation. The open source community has been pushing hard for ensuring a success of the platform and the convergence of the fork. She gave a very good perspective of why a passionate open source community will ultimately make individuals and companies to be successful which I agree with 100%. Open source is something everyone can connect with as well as be a part of.

“Open source developers are not fungible.”

Node.js and digital transformation: made for each other

I’ve seen this talk before but it’s always a good talk to give. nearForm CTO Richard Rodger discussed how Node.js is a well suited platform to build rapid, small microservice architectures. He went into how single purpose microservices enable companies to scale much more quickly and be able to build highly scalable and distributed systems with such a light platform such as Node.js.

If you can catch one of Richard’s talks in the future I suggest you do as he has a very engaging presentation style.

Distributed docker volumes fun

A fun little talk and demo on Docker and a killer sync tool called dat by Taron Foxworth at Modulus. He gave a great demonstration on using Docker and synchronization of volumes for MongoDB. We had some connectivity issues and Taron gave a great demo from “behind the curtain” which went well. I give him big props for that.

Workshop: Microservices

We had a packed room for the first afternoon workshop where I attended the Microservices group with both Peter Elger and Matteo Collina. Both Peter and Matteo are awesome guys and if you don’t know them then shame on you and you should.

Anyway, this was a multipart workshop. The first part was a bit slow as we had some connectivity issues but overall a lot of good material was covered around different aspects of microservice architectures.

Dig deep (V8 profiling)

Mike Tunnicliffe from IBM gave a really good demonstration of building a native module in Node.js, exposing it via the Node.js bindings to capture low level debugging needs. This talk inspired me to go hack on a native module later on.

Hacking the chipson

This was a fun talk! Suz Hinton showed how easy and cheap it is to hack on microcontrollers in your spare time. Very interactive, short and to the point. I wanted to get a chance to stop by and say hi but I didn’t. Maybe next time! But it did inspire me to go buy some $2 chips to hack on.

Reverse engineering airplay

If you have every wanted to reverse engineer the Apple Airplay spec, this guy showed how to do it. Thomas Watson gave a really thorough overview of the Airplay specification and provided a lot of details on how it’s been reverse engineered. He developed a few nice tools such as aircat and photodrop. He has more open source repos you can check out here.

Observable Node.js applications

Yunong Xiao from Netflix talked about techniques on how to effectively debug and extract metrics from your Node.js applications. I’ve seen a couple similar talks on this before from the guys at Netflix but it’s always good to hear.

Nodebots, community and lights

This was an interesting talk because I don’t think it’s what some people expected, including myself. Kassandra Perch (aka nodebotonist) gave a very eye opening perspective on how diversity and the code of conduct are very important aspects of the community that we surround ourselves in. Everyone comes from all walks of life and Kassandra emphasized how this is not always respected or acknowledged. I love Node.js as a platform and love working with JavaScript, but I really love the Node.js community. It’s one of the most passionate, friendly, supportive group of people I have ever met. This was my favorite talk.

Migrating from legacy platforms to node

This was a talk that was supposed to happen on Monday but got moved. It was given by Katie Stockton Roberts who works for the BBC and talked about the process of how to move towards a Node.js platform. We’ve experienced some of the same concerns at Ancestry so a lot of her talk hit home.

Node Foundation panel

Want to know everything about the Node.js foundation? Well here you go, everyone at your disposal. Mikael Rogers (Linux Foundation), Danese Cooper (PayPal), Todd Moore (IBM), Brian McCalister (Groupon) and Gianugo Rabellino (Microsoft).


My last takeaway from this week are the friends I made. This community is such an awesome group that I will always remember and looking to continue to meet along the way. The list is too long to list here but you all know who you are. I truly appreciate everything.


I wanted to wrap up my awesome week in Ireland with a few other photos of my experience. Overall, I’m already looking forward to the next one. Until next time Ireland!

Ben who was part of the music performances during the conference. Cool guys. They were our neighbors.

Ben who was part of the music performances during the conference. Cool guys. They were our neighbors.

Another shot of the back tent area during dinner.

Another shot of the back tent area during dinner.

Fire performers.

Fire performers.

1920s flappers.

1920s flappers.

Goodbye Waterford!

Goodbye Waterford!

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