On Senchacon

Oct 27, 2011 | 4 minutes read

Tags: blog

Austin, Texas. What an odd location, one might think, for a tech conference. But what a great choice – the food, the music, and the sheer strangeness of it all.
This was my third trip to the US this year, and having previously visited San Francisco and Seattle, the city had a lot to live up to.
The first thing that strikes is the heat. #protip – 30 degrees Celsius is warm, and quite a struggle for my pasty Irish skin!
Austin’s 6th street is a hub of eccentric bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants, and on any one night I counted over 10 live music acts performing – all free. Over-rated? Not at all!
Whole Foods is an amazing organic food store way over on Lamar, about a 30 minute walk from Congress – but well worthwhile. I left with a huge selection of beer & BBQ goods!

The haul from Whole Foods

Lastly, and most weird of all – I went to see the bats on congress bridge. All 1.3 million of them – an absolute swarm, and an incredible sight!

But enough about Austin – what about #Senchacon?
Sencha produce a range of Javascript User Interface frameworks. I just so happen to be an avid fan of one of these, Sencha Touch – their mobile product. I was lucky to have the opportunity to attend their 2011 conference, #Senchacon, and what a conference it was!

Two days of in-depth highly informative sessions were provided. In the keynote, we learned where Sencha see the future of mobile – in-car, and on-TV apps. Sounds awesome, can’t wait! We learned about Sencha’s new cloud service, Sencha.io, which seems like a nice, lightweight way to sync a simple app’s data to the cloud.

We also saw the launch of Sencha Designer 2, their drag-drop UI Builder for Desktop and Mobile. At first glance, some might worry this takes away the need for frontenders like myself, but the reality is there’s always going to need to be an engineer there to wire a UI together!

The conference was a great opportunity to meet up with Sencha developers from blue chips, government, and startups alike. I met people from Holland, Germany, Canada, Dallas, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Austin, Boston, …, …, and even an Irish couple living in California livin’ the dream! I’ve lost count of how many people I met over the four days!

Lastly, there was the hackathon. Attendees were invited up onstage to pitch their idea – uptake was remarkably timid at first, me and one other.
Never did I think, walking boldly up on stage & proposing my Sencha-Presentation based idea that I’d end up with a team of 6 more joining me!
We hacked throughout the day, dividing based on experience. We had a bunch of PHP developers did the backend – splitting a PDF up into a bunch of images. Our Sencha.IO expert used the messaging capabilities to broadcast the ‘change slide’ message to all the viewers, which got us a round of applause in demo! We had a Photoshop wiz for UI, and our remaining two Sencha Touch developers (myself & Drew) built the mobile & desktop client. Progress was frantic, with git checkins every few minutes, and up to fifteen minutes prior to demo nothing worked! But, it all came together at the last minute and all the bugs were ironed out.
We went on to win the final prize, for the mobile category: $500, and an iPad 2. We hope to progress the development of #Presencha further over the coming days – follow us on Github to make sure we do!

Only rain of the trip at ORD
I’m now sitting at Chicago O’Hare, and the monitor tells me it’s 7 degrees Celsius back home. Still, sure will be good to be away from US public transport and back to 342bhp of Bavaria’s finest! :-)

A million thanks go out to the @Sencha team for all their hard work shipping Touch 2.0, all the #Presencha gang, and my awesome employer @Feedhenry without whom I wouldn’t have the chance to attend!

//p.s. we’re hiring