Thu Feb 02 2012

Node.js darkI guess I will start with a confession. I have never been to "silicone valley" aka "the valley". I can't say it has ever really bothered me either. To be to be honest, I don't know if I ever knew what I was "missing", or if I was even really missing something. If you know me, I am a Carhart hoody, baggy pants wearing Midwestern. I have more tools than most geeks. I can weld, I've built multiple motors ( of the auto kind ) and love my racing. But, I love my tech and just as much as the dude or chick from the valley.

Oh yea, #NodeSummit was in the valley in case you didn't catch the hyperbole, and this was my first trip there.

Heading out there, I felt like a fish out of water, maybe a Northern Pike? Too much? It's not like SFO did anything to "make" me feel that way but hell it's the valley right? It's where things like node.js or "node" were born. It's the "only place tech happens", or as some people would like to think. I find it funny that in this ever increasing connected world we live, some people in the United States feel as if you have to be in "the valley" to be successful in technology.

---- that! <- yep another Midwestern thing! But this is about node right? Yes, and I will eventually get there.

I have been a node fan since the day I saw it. Not because of anyone person or any particular thing, I just do. People ask me why? They want to get in these damn religious debates, tell me I'm wrong, whatever. It really doesn't matter, I like it. So what? Node for me, struck the right chord. I can't tell you why, I can't yet articulate it yet and I don't even know if I care too. Oh yea, I suck at it too, but every day I try to get one step better.

"Squirrel!" <- Movie Reference

I joined Microsoft almost 7 years ago. I joined the a financial consulting division in hope to change the world and make Microsoft and it's customers better. Back then, I loved the financial services work ( not so much anymore ). In financial services, there is no "one" solution ever - PERIOD. We used everything, yes even the Microsoft guy. Ruby, Java, Magic, rs232, whatever. You used the right tool for the job, regardless. I wake up everyday feeling empowered enough to state my belief's and opinions such that if I yell loud enough, Microsoft leaders will either listen to me or just fire me. I have been yelling about node since I saw it.

FWIW, after "Project X" I stopped yelling quite a bit.

The first time I saw Ryan Dahl talk about node, I saw something. It reminded me of the first time I saw Bill Gates speak. He might not like this, but I saw greatness, humbleness, conviction with credibility and someone who made me feel stupid. As it turns out, I like people that make me feel stupid, but in the right way. It pushes me to learn. Now Ryan didn't do that intentionally, but his badassery just made me feel such. I had a great manager back in the day that always told me: "Surround yourself around greatness and it will make you better. Surround yourself around negative and dumb shit and you will end up a negative dumb ass." Ryan doesn't know me, I can't claim to be "surrounded" by him, but like the other geeks around, I twitter stalk, watch videos, and was one of the few at NodeSummit. I still suck at node or the larger JavaScript EcmaScript for that matter. Maybe one day I will be fortunate enough to have a beer with the guy and see him in a different lens than I do now. Ryan's humbleness is inspiring. Ryan at NodeSummit, spoke and then turned around and sat down in the audience. That IS -- AWESOME!

Chris Clark, your post was titled, your trip to the #NodeSummit and I haven't heard shit about node yet. Thanks for reading this far then....

As someone planning a conference, and one that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, the conference experience is just as important as the content. I figured coming to the valley, node would be clouded by business pitches and marketing. No pun intended, although that's a damn good inside #NodeSummit joke. I heard plenty about PAAS or "Platform as a Service" from everyone there. Yea yea yea, everyone has a "cloud", we get it, node enables cloud very easily.

"To the cloud!" The mainframe for the next generation of programmers.

Node was born in the valley. It has funding, and I am sure a lot of it. It may be open source but people are banking big BIG business on this baby. So much so, they threw from what I know to be the first very well organized conference called "Node Summit". Unfortunately for me, the VC goo showed through a bit too much. At this point in the game, I came to see Ryan and hear about node, and what's surrounding it. I came with the intention to meet new people in the community and hear about the long term vision of node.

NodeSummit ( as I was told to talk about it ) ( and oh the irony you have to tell people from the valley to use a #hashtag to talk about you ) was VERY well organized. Top Notch! Well executed, and just awesome. First class, intimate event, different than anything I have ever been to in the past. Roughly 400 people ( I didn't count ) attended from all around the world were there in a very nice facility. As a person planning a big ole conference, I took a few notes.

There were a few high rollers there, and that was pretty epic to be honest. Ryan Dahl, Brendan Eich, Scott Guthrie, Stephen O'Grady, Erik Meijer, Oren Teich, Chito Manansala ( oh yea I had lunch with him, awesome dude ), and more. SOOOO why were all these people there? Hell node is only .6.7. I mean you have to wonder right? Did they get paid to be there? I'm planning a conference, I get it. I am sure some money exchanged hands at least for some.

Regardless, I didn't care. To see a panel with Erik Meijer, Brian Beckman, Brendan Eich, Ryan Dahl, and Jonathan Gay talk about the state of things was pretty epic. Hearing Eich, say I spent the majority of 10 days writing JavaScript so we could beat VBScript is pretty damn honest.

Seriously 10 Days huh? Oh, I feel stupid. Back to node.

So, #NodeSummit was cool, really cool. It wasn't just because I got to be surrounded by people who made me feel stupid, but rather I got to hear from some real companies about their experience with node. What they were doing and WHY they decided to go in that direction. This wasn't a hands on conference, this wasn't about the how it was about the WHY. GENIUS. Turns out VC's have a lot of money cause they know WTF their doing. So I have to just quote Jay-Z here,

"Whats 50k to a mfer like me, can you please remind me?" - Ni**as in ParisGet it? The 50k is Joyent, El Dorado Ventures and EMC Ventures money spent on the conference, that's not what they care about. Just saying, there's always motive.

Business cases were being built right in front of me. Companies, Leaders, Geeks, Visionaries were talking about why this was awesome for them. I never once saw a terminal or a node repl. Hell to be honest, I don't even think I saw more than hello world in node displayed and shit, Scott Guthrie was the one who wrote that one, and on a MacBook nonetheless. ( FWIW, there were some side sessions where people dove deeper into things but I was referring to the main conference. )

OMG, WTF just happened, Seriously?!?!? Microsoft Geek Cred? Hipsters pants toooo tight? Technical conference right? Well, maybe? Remember motive...

I have been doing node since about .3/.4 but really serious as of .5. To hear others talk about their struggles was comforting. Debugger sucks.!.!.!. Did he just say that? I thought it was just me. Thank the good lord, I am not alone!!!

BUT, wait what!?!?!?!

That debugger sucking major ass has lead to everyone finding a better solution to dealing with suckage since there we're no other choices. Developers are creative people, we created polyfills after all. We can adapt.

But seriously, choice is bad. Yes! WTF?!?!? The lack of choice has lead you to build something better? Ok. I get that...

I have a "little" project on the side built on the backs of node. We got to the point were the thing we were building spiking was turning into reality. Reality was getting very ugly and then something happened to us.

OMG, WTF have we done?!?! Scrap this shit, it is really sucking!

I just hit DELETE! That moment for us happened just at the right time. Start over and let's start with some damn tests. So we busted out, jasmine, node, blaa blaa and started to re-architect and rebuild. Now I "grew up" ( although still a child ) doing *DD ( mostly TDD ), I don't need to be sold the craftsmanship love, I get it, but...

This all felt somehow different. It felt wrong but so right.

This was some of my #NodeSummit enlightenment!!! Oh yea, everyone's doing it... WTF, seriously? In talking with a few node peeps, "Oh yea, well what did you think you were going to do?", "I don't know, I just thought I was doing it wrong." Bleeding edge geek problems right? OR.. Opportunities? For me, #NodeSummit turned into about the "why node" and validation of what I was already doing. The first day I heard Ryan talking about the importance of node on Windows. He clearly doesn't want to work on a Windows machine but that is cool, but he does want node to not only run cross platform but to run really REALLY well on all platforms especially Windows.

Oh snap <- whoaa, WHAT???

Ryan then dropped the big bomb on us. He followed up by saying Rails ---- up big time by not supporting Windows. WHOAAA, oh no you didn't Ryan. Rails is the Christ child, didn't you get the gmail on that????

That day I tweeted this: "I love the fact the #NodeSummit panel is talking about cross platform and equality amongst all. That makes for a solid and open community."

One of my better tweets right? Make sure you follow me then at But srsly it's about the bigger vision of node and the ecosystem it plays in. NOOOOW before you go sending me some hate mail about platforms and telling me I don't know what I am talking about. For node it's about the bigger ecosystem. That to me is very exciting. After all that cloud thing, turns out it serves all too.

But in all seriousness, Node Summit was a great time. I meet some great people, saw some kick ass startup's while validating a few questions I had about things. Overall it was here were some of my thoughts:

  • Small and intimate. I honestly think this was on purpose, after all there is plenty of space but there were only a couple hundred people here. Very well organized. DAMN these guys are good. This was no slap it together conference, but really well organized.  Friendly. Everyone was very friendly. I meet a number of great and very passionate node people here. People also traveled very far to be part of this. Very HIGH profile industry people were here, i.e. People like the creator of JavaScript. ALL of them did there deal on stage and then came and sat down in the audience. All were part of the conference. Microsoft got some geek street cred that they deserved.  They announced the Azure support in Cloud 9 and Scott was writing node code from a MacBook. Not a lot of how but a lot of why. I was really shocked. Business and industry leaders were explaining why they choose things like node. They were basically educating everyone in the audience on how to build a business case to justify node. Some some great startups using node in some very creative ways.
  • The Polygot Programmer is here. You better recognize it baby.

{ Rant:

Startups are awesome and the VC that support that eco system are a big deal but for - sake can you step out of your own reality distortion field already????? Good ideas happen everywhere. I meet awesome people everyday looking to do something. You know what they need? Exposure! Where to start? What to do? 

It's funny you make fun at Windows, like it somehow sucks. Oh yea, 1.2 billion pc's out there. Oh yea, it was just running that machine you bought your latte from. Just saying. Think a bit bigger. As someone who works for Microsoft we get told all the time we work in our own bubble. I laugh when I get told that, as I work in the field and my job is exactly not that, but I get the larger sediment.

Teach! Expose! Be a leader and not a hoarder.


In all seriousness, node.js is huge. It's a really big deal. Mark my words in 5 years it will be a household tech name. Thanks to Eldardo Ventures for creating #NodeSummit and sponsors like Joyent, Microsoft and many others for making it possible. I give the VC's a hard time but it's only cause I want to see my city grow too. If it wasn't for them, we might not even have a node, although I am pretty sure Ryan would have done it anyways.

It wouldn't be right if I didn't give some major props to Microsoft. Not because I work there but because they did awesome. Say what you will, but their involvement with node is incredible. I would like to think I had something to do with it, but I didn't.

Node Summit was all around good. I sincerely hope it happens again, and I hope to come back. To the conference organizers, thank you for putting in the hard work to create a classy event. Next time give Ryan some more time.

p.s. in the time writing this Ryan decided to step down from the core team of node. Well that sucks, or does it? Any technology isn't shouldn't be based just on one person. That is a recipe for disaster and it just doesn't scale. I look forward to what Ryan does next as well as what the guys on the node team dream up.

Not sure what node.js is, why not?

If you made it this far - thank you!