Iowa Code Camp in Review
This past weekend I attended the Iowa Code Camp for the first time. ICC is a semiannual tech conference that’s open to everyone and free to attend. This one was held in Des Moines on Saturday; last spring it was in Cedar Rapids. About 200 people from Iowa and beyond attended.
The event was at the DMACC campus in West Des Moines. It’s a really nice building, with a large atrium, wifi, large whiteboards, cool science exhibits in the hallways, and each room features a large mural and bio of a famous scientist or industrialist.
Because of the variety of topics, and no pressure to stick to a specific “track”, I took the opportunity to expand my horizons and check out stuff that piqued my interest.
- Next, I attended Lee Brandt’s talk about building a single-page web application using KnockoutJS. I had heard of KnockoutJS, and played around with backbone.js without great success, so I was interested in seeing more MVC / MVVM frameworks. Lee’s example app included other useful JS libraries I hadn’t heard of (SammyJS, MomentJS). The bulk of the talk was about the front-end implementation (JS) of the app.
- After lunch, I went outside my knowledge bubble to hear Mitchel Sellers talk about .NET Gadgeteer. Small electronic projects are another thing that I’ve never had the time to pursue, so it was nice to learn one way to get started in this hobby. Mitchel introduced the toolkit, which is based on the .NET Micro Framework (also compatible with Arduino!) and readily-available hardware, and showed the design view in Visual Studio for quick assembly on the software side. He walked through a mini arcade cabinet project that he built, showing off some of the code behind a falling block game, and a bluetooth-enabled motorized rover.
- Finally, I saw Cory House’s talk on writing clean code. I’m already an avid fan of Code Complete by Steve McConnell, but I was interested in brushing up on my knowledge. The biggest thing I learned from the talk was the Clean Code-style of programming, which seems to emphasize the reduction of vertical length by breaking up code and moving it into functions — almost to the extreme. It’s something I’ll have to think about some more, and maybe pick up the book.
There were many other talks that I would have liked to see, but that’s the way it goes. One day is good; multi-day conferences tend to wear me out. Each talk lasted for about an hour, which gives speakers enough time to include meaty substance.
All in all, the speakers were great. Many came from the experience angle: “Let me some you what I learned recently”. There was a wealth of technical and personal experience available to learn from. It was also nice to see some “graybeards” giving another angle instead of just young startup folks.
ICC offers a good package, and it’s hard to beat the price. If you’re in the area, it’s a great way to spend a day learning something cool and meeting other techies. Or you could give a talk — it would be great to hear from more Scala, Ruby, Python, and PHP developers.