A Web-Framework Weekend: LinuxFest Northwest 2010 Preview
by Eric Promislow

Eric Promislow, April 20, 2010

One of my favorite local conferences is coming up this weekend, namely LinuxFest NorthWest in Bellingham, Washington. The range of sessions has always been somewhat unpredictable, but this year features a healthy number of talks dedicated to developing web applications with the main open source frameworks. I figure it will be a good chance for me to get up to speed on any new developments I missed out on, as well as meeting people who are working in the area locally.

The sessions include a couple of talks each on PHP, Django and Drupal, as well as what amounts to a track on Rails. Considering that I'm the "Rails guy" on Komodo, this looks like a good chance for me to pick up on the new developments in Rails 3, and find out what else has been happening with the framework.

There's another session on streaming your media to the Netflix Player. It looks interesting, but I know there's a good chance I'll find the talk irrelevant. For one thing, we don't have Netflix in Canada, and I didn't even know they had their own players. For another, the scripting language they use, BrightScript, is VB-based. I anticipate the attendees will be asking if there are alternatives. On the other hand, it looks like there's a lot of potential to build a cheap, open home media system with this platform, and that interests me, even if we in Canada either have to wait another two years, or smuggle the parts in and cobble it together ourselves.

One of the highlights of last year's LFNW was the "Ask Monty" session, an hour drinking Black Vodka with Monty Widenius, as he discussed a bit of MySQL past, but mostly the future of MariaDB, his new database project. This year I'm looking forward to hearing Brian Aker talk about Drizzle, a MySQL-compatible, non-GPL alternative, which, as of this writing, is still not controlled by any proprietary interest. I didn't see any other talks on PostgreSQL, nor on any of the NoSQL technologies, which is shaping up to be a flavor of the year. There's also a talk on Android. Given the latest announcements from Apple on which languages can be used to develop on their mobile platforms, the backlash has led to more interest in Android as the only major open mobile alternative. It's another area I've looked at a bit; an hour-long session is a good way to dive in and learn more.

So it looks like I'll be busy this year. No ActiveState booth this year—we've found that the conference attracts more hobbyists than developers, and the hassles getting professional materials through the border were outweighing the benefits—but I'll have my laptop with the latest alpha of Komodo on it. If anyone wants a demo, or wants to discuss anything about ActiveState, Komodo, or where to get the best sushi in Vancouver, I'm easy to find.

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Eric Promislow is a senior developer who's worked on Komodo since the very beginning. He has a M.Sc. in Computing Science from Queen's University and a B.Sc. in Biophysics from the University of Ontario. Before joining ActiveState, he helped create the OmniMark text-processing language.