Tracy Hinds is the education and community manager for the Node.js Foundation. The educational aspect of her job means she oversees training, onboarding, certification, and other educational programs — with a major focus on providing educational resources that help new Node.js users more readily access the platform. The community aspect means she helps plan, organize and produce events where the Node.js crowd gathers to encounter the foundation’s educational initiatives hands-on and in person.
The foundation’s annual conference, Node Interactive North America 2017, is this week in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Hinds is — naturally — one of the organizers. The New Stack caught up with Hinds to hear all about new tracks and offerings, speakers she is particularly excited to encounter, and what we are pretty sure must be the Node.js community’s first ever 5K Fun Run.
What’s new or different about Node Interactive this year?
To start with, we will all be in one place! Last year we had two different events, in two different locations at two different times of the year. Node Interactive North America, in Austin, and Node Interactive EU, in Amsterdam. This reflected our truly global community and we liked being able to have that split, but we also really like the idea of having everyone from everywhere all in one place. We thought Vancouver was good middle ground for everyone, in terms of travel. We are expecting around 800 attendees.
This year we will also be kicking off the conference with a fun run/walk 5K. It’s both to start things off in a great energetic way, and also a way for people to meet each other and bond in a completely different way. It’s non-competitive, just show up and have fun! And anyone who shows up gets a chance to win a free pass to a Node.js Foundation event in 2018.
We are also going to be taking advantage of this wonderful meeting space to introduce some games, like a giant Jenga tower, as part of the hallways tracking. To keep people in the space and not wandering out of the conference, having fun mixing it up a little bit more and engaging with each other.
You are actually in charge of curating events — what are some that you are especially excited about?
Oh, wow. It’s like picking your favorite children — how can you possibly say any are better than the others, there’s just a lot of really good ones. But there are a few I’m especially excited about.
Franzi Hinklemann, from Google, is going to be talking about her work on Chrome V8. Every time Franzi gives a talk, you’ll see everyone’s eyes open a little bit wider, she is seriously inspirational. V8 can be much more theoretical than applied, and to be a programmer working on v8, someone who is that level of programmer is so many years away from being a new programmer they often don’t remember how to really talk to people early in their learning curve. Franzi is able to reach everyone, and she will be talking about the work of the V8 team and what they’re doing, to continue to support node.js — since we rely so deeply on V8.
Troy Connor from EmergingTechnologies is speaking about using Kubernetes for local node.js development. K8s has been something that our devs are super stoked about, and we need more people talking about this work, how to do it better. Too many people are trying to figure it out on their own and really floundering. Last year Troy was one of our scholarship attendees, and here he is presenting. His energy is so very good, he is helpful to anyone who asks a question, and genuinely excited about what he’s working on and able to really explain it well. It’s going to be specific to the functionality of what Kubernetes can do with NodeJS. We will show how to scale your application,
I’m looking forward to the combined keynote by James Snell, the former technical steering committee director for the foundation, who is still leading the charge on a number of really important things on the project’s code side. James is kicking off the keynote, then handing off to Myles Borins, the current TSC chair, to talk about how we will continue to move the project forward. Awesome to see two people so integral to the progress we have made this year, representing that together on stage
Tell us about some of the tracks on offer this year.
Our tracks represent what is community in node — we have communities within communities. Node in production is such a massive track, that it could be a conference all by itself. We’ve been around for almost 8 years as a platform, but regardless of how many years we’ve been doing this everyone still hungers for this track. Larger companies want to see how other large companies are addressing issues, and smaller companies want to see how the larger ones scale. It’s a taste of how useful node has been in production, and these talks really dive into it — not just case studies but talking specifics, architecture and tooling — that is why you’re there.
We actually tried to launch a Serverless track last year, but it was really early and we had trouble getting talks set up around it, maybe a lot of people didn’t feel comfortable speaking on stage about it yet. This year we had the opposite problem — so many people volunteering really great topics, how do you choose? Last year there was pretty much only Lambda, but this year Microsoft will be talking about theirs, and Twilio serverless functions pair very well with node, so it’s great we are getting an overview of the emerging technologies from these providers.
Friday, the last day of the conference, is the Code & Learn event. What’s that about?
Code & Learn is mainly aimed at getting new people involved the first time, walk them through their first-ever commit for contributing to the Node.js core. We do this because we have found that code is not the biggest barrier to access — it is the process to how you get started contributing. So we have experienced contributors guiding them through, and also giving insight into specific areas of Node.js core source code.
This is one of my favorite parts of Interactive. For me, the power of becoming a better engineer happens through people. All of us as programmers are absolutely meeting friends and getting help online, which only makes sense because we are distributed throughout the world. But being able to sit side by side, being able to ask questions, really helps propel you forward. If you can see someone’s nonverbal cues that they’re confused, you can reach out and help them instead of maybe losing them. And for projects where people have been able to collaborate remotely, contributors to all be together in the same room to work on things that are maybe too complex to really make progress on remotely — that is huge.
And now a few words from Node.js Foundation’s executive director, Mark Hinkle, about next week’s gathering of the Node community.
Node.js Interactive is the place to hear about the future of Node.js — but it’s also a great time to reflect on the overall growth of this incredible technology. Every day there are over 8.8 million Node instances online and that number has grown by 800,000 in the last nine months alone. Every week there are over 3 billion downloads npm package downloads — three times more than our last conference in December 2016.
Developers love Node.js! The project has 39,000 stars on GitHub, and our contributor base has grown steadily to over 1,500. Node.js is the most heavily used workload when it comes time to go serverless, and is the ideal development framework for microservice-based architectures. Every industry has adopted Node.js, and so many of them they will be in Vancouver next week to collaborate on the future of the technology.
Feature image via Pixabay.