Finally after more than a year of waiting and nagging, the second 2GX conference was held in New Orleans last week. It was almost as good as the first one. Well, in some ways it was better but in other ways... well, we'll get to that in a bit. But first, I wanted to say how great it was to see so many people from the Groovy community. It is so cool to be able to put real faces to so many on-line friends. I know conference people always say that "the attendees are what really makes the conference great", but as a speaker and part-time staff member at this conference, I can say that it's really true. The questions during the sessions and the discussions between sessions and at meals were the best part of the whole thing. Even better than the Rod Johnson bobble-head dolls. :-)
Speaking of staff, I also want to tip my hat (if I had one) to the guys that pulled it all off. Jay Zimmerman did as good of a job with the 500+ person event as he does with the NoFluffJustStuff conferences and his two volunteers (and one sales guy :), and my co-workers, Erik Weibust, Todd Crone, and Paul Luttrell were tireless in their efforts to keep things running smoothly. It was great working with you guys!
One thing I want to highlight here was how excited I was to see some relative new comers speaking at 2GX. These guys aren't new to Groovy or Grails, but I think this was the first conference appearance for each of them and they were awesome! Matt Taylor, Hamlet D'arcy, Scott Vlaminck (the 'n' is silent), and Burt Beckwith (actually I'm not sure if Burt has spoken at other conferences, so forgive me if I'm wrong)
Matt spoke on Grails UI, the YUI based Grails plugin that he developed and maintains as well as his experiences using Grails "in the wild". I caught his GrailsUI talk and was very impressed, along with the rest of the room who all gave him the coveted "green cards".
I didn't catch any of Hamlet's sessions but from what I heard from other attendees and on Twitter, he was a hit! He gave four presentations altogether: OSGi and Groovy, Functional Groovy, Compiler Metaprogramming with AST transformations, and Legacy Code and Groovy. Rumor has it that he even had Venkat Subramaniam impressed.
Scott Vlaminck, from Refactr, gave talks on Metaprogramming in Groovy and Grails, and AOP in Grails. Again, I wasn't able to catch any of these talks in person, but the feedback was quite good and in fact I happened to be in the room next to one of Scott's talks and the speaker was almost drowned out by the applause!
Burt also gave four presentations. He spoke on Spring Security in Grails, GORM performance, UI performance, and Clustering Grails apps. I only caught the GORM performance talk, but it was one of my favorites. I am already putting things I learned there to use in my day job.
Of course the usual awesome Groovy/Grails/Griffon speakers were there and they were terrific as usual, but you've already heard about them and many others have or will blog about the cool Griffon sessions, or the Grails internals, or the power of Grails plugins, or the DSLs and Groovy testing magic, etc. So I wanted to take a moment to congratulate these guys on a job well done. I look forward to seeing them present at future events.
Now, as to why I don't think this 2GX was quite as good as the first one. The full name of the conference is a clue: SpringOne 2GX. SpringOne is a good conference, but 2GX is a great conference! (or a GR8 conference :) So, when combined we ended up with a more than good but not quite great conference. Spring technology is cool. Much of it (though not all) is behind some of the power of Grails. And I do very much appreciate the support that SpringSource is giving to Groovy and Grails, but I think they just gave a bit of a "corporate feel" to the conference.
I don't want to end on a downer though. There were some distinct benefits of having the two events combined. One was that SpringOne had some very good content and some exceptional speakers to add to the mix. Another is that more than a few Spring users got to glimpse the goodness of Groovy, Grails and Griffon for the first time. The oohs and ahhs were music to my ears! It serves as a reminder to just be patient and hang in there... it's only a matter of time until they'll be holding the Groovy, Grails, Griffon and Spring conference!