On Saturday 25 November 2017 the London Perl Workshop was held at the University of Westminster and to summarise… it was great!
Working in the same office as one of the organisers, I know how much effort went into the day. The new organising team of Katherine, Lee, Neil, Pete and Rick had huge shoes to fill with Mark Keating (the solo organiser for ten years!!) stepping away. I had a great experience, the talks were really interesting, things ran smooth as silk… so a giant thank you and congratulations to the amazing organisers!!
I would also like to thank the sponsors: http://www.eligo.co.uk/, http://www.perl.careers/, http://www.cv-library.co.uk/, http://www.wcn.uk/, http://www.adzuna.co.uk/, http://www.bytemark.co.uk/, http://www.opusvl.com/, http://www.booking.com/, https://www.surevoip.co.uk/, http://www.sciencephoto.com/, https://mag-sol.com/, https://perl6.org/, https://www.westminster.ac.uk/about-us/faculties/science-and-technology/departments/computer-science, https://geekuni.com/, https://ww2.enlightenedperl.org/, https://www.oreilly.com/, https://www.evozon.com/, https://www.cogendo.com/.
The workshop spun out of having given two talks at the Perl Conference in Amsterdam earlier in the year. I’d attended some talks while there on Perl6 and my excitement for this new perl6 programming language was (and remains) high. But as a Perl5 Programming Language developer I had only tinkered with Perl6.
So I decided to apply “Conference Driven Development” and put in to talk/teach about Perl6 at #LPW2017. It evolved into a 90 minute tutorial, which was a new challenge I wanted to take on. A practical tutorial I hope/hoped would mean that people would getting playing with Perl6. The more you touch Perl6 the more you love it and appreciate the 20 years of development it went through before being released to the world two years or so ago.
I develop websites for a living, so a tutorial that was in that area made sense; and I had played with the Bailador framework a little. So the plan was made to give the tutorial. Between August and November I have quietly in evening been building http://myjudo.net using Bailador and Perl6. I kept notes on the steps I took and these notes became the skeleton for the tutorial. myJudo.net is my proof that Perl6 is already out there, that it can be used online right now… and it’s easy.
For me the tutorial did not go very smoothly, a tutorial has a bucket load more complications to overcome than a talk. But (having slept on it overnight) I feel that the goal of the session was acheived… people were, by the end, running a Perl6-Bailador driven web site and exploring things beyond “Hello World” busy making ideas of their own come to life in the browser using Perl6. It was a bumpy 90 minutes… but people got there.
And again I need to thank some people; specifically my colleagues from CV-Library. It was awesome to have so many of us there and to have such a good day together was really really great. It’s a great tech team to be part of and Saturday really highlighted that for me. They also helped out as volunteers (official and otherwise), and for me really supported me with the tutorial especially when things were going wrong! THANKS EVERYONE!!!
Giving a 90 minute talk and helping man the CV-Library “booth” I missed some great talks, but am super happy that they are appearing online already! So I intend to update this post with thoughts on the ones I missed later. Two talks that I wake up thinking about were by Sue Spence and Ann Barcomb.
Sue Spence’s (@virtualsue) “Spiders, Gophers & Butterflies“. This was a really interesting talk on concurrency (with the example being writing a web scraper/spider) comparing GoLang and Perl6. It was a great balanced comparison by someone who had actually written code to do the same task in both languages and was able to compares the pros and cons of both tools.
The live action portrayal of different locking (Deadlock, Livelock, etc) situations was great fun, but more importantly probably the most understandable explanation of the terms I’ve seen.
The tl,dr; I guess is that both GoLang and Perl6 have concurrency built in, GoLang has the advantage in terms of raw speed. Perl6 the advantage being easier to implement in fewer lines of code.
Ann Barcomb’s (@AE3nn) talk on her research into open source was really interesting for me. I am one of those casual… should I say episodic contributors. The CPAN Pull Request Challenge that I have participated in for 3 years and now the tech team I am part of at CV-Library also participates in develops episodic contributions. And in many ways I see our dev team itself as a group of developers who make episodic contributions to our codebase, tools and culture.
As a Judo guy, I could also see how the ideas she presented applied there. Both in terms of the club side (people attend episodically and the reasons for attending match pretty well to the reasons for contributing to opne source). And in terms of Judo event in terms of volunteering etc.
The Lightning Talks
As ever at LPW, these were really good. Unlike some times, these talks were actual talks. I am not a huge fan of the comedy talks; I really like the short talks as a way of getting an idea or a project or an experience out of one mind and into mine/many. Humour is appreciated, don’t get me wrong, but not as the aim. Next year I think I will give a lightning talk; I think I will find it more stressful than a longer talk as that 5 minute time limit is pretty intimidating.
More so than ever, I appreciate the people in Perl. As someone who has become more active in the Perl community over recent years I have to say I love it.
I recall attending my first LPW some years ago and although the talks were informative and people friendly I found it an intimidating and uncomfortable day and I don’t thing I attended again for quite a few years till my reserves of courage refilled.
But over the past few years I really feel like the community has opened and is really easy to become engaged with. #LPW2017 was really busy and I really enjoyed talking to people who I had not met before. Some I knew by GitHub idea or CPAN profile picture/name only. I was really happy that a computer science student attended my tutorial. He was a non-perl person who just attended because he had seen something online and thought he’d come to the tutorial to “see” how a web app in Perl6 could be written.
I spoke to people like Mohammed Anwar (@cpan_author), who recently made some pull requests on my Scientist module. We were sharing how much we both enjoyed and got energised by the simple act of module authors saying “thank you” when you make a pull request to change something in their modules. I get excited everytime someone raises a bug or a PR on anything I have shared. It’s a real “WOW, someone likes the thing I did” sensation… something that Ann Barcomb’s research highlihghts.
I chatted with developers who have heard of the little things we do as a team at CV-Library which is so amazing. I chatted and hung out with my colleagues (about a dozen of us) from CV-Library… which was really cool. So many people who gave up part of their weekend to hangout together.
I listened to talks and conversations and you have that “hey we had that problem” moment or the “LOL… we tried that once too” shared joke. You see how people have found the same solution to similar problems, or different solutions to the same challenges.
You get to geek out over people’s operating system choices, their window managers, programming tools, etc.
It was just so darn friendly, and the whole darn Perl community is so darn friendly.
So a huge thank you and congratulations to the organisers! You did amazing and I really appreciate the effort put in to making it look like it ran like clockwork. I know from first hand experience what it feels like to be part of a big event team and the emotional highs and lows… so I hope you enjoy the high and appreciate the low that tells you it’s over, that the magic spell is broken and the wonderful “thing” that was #lpw2017 is over. Sad is not bad, it’s a sign that what you did was worth it.
And I hope that once the low has passed and the little voice in your heads start to whisper “#lpw2018… #lpw2018…. #lpw2018” you will feel that buzz of excitement and step once more into the breech and again create an amazing day for us all.