For the first time in a decade, the O’Reilly Perl and Open Source Conference (OSCON) was held San Jose again for 2009.
(I have heard that the City of San Jose Business Development office is very, very accommodating towards conferences these days.)
There was great attendance, and plenty to see with about 15 simultaneous tracks, lots of BoFs, and an active exhibits area.
One of the changes this year was more OS talks, including some for linux and FreeBSD. This is a welcome change, though many kernel hackers won’t travel to the USA, for various legal issues.
My favorites were:
- talk – YAML by Ingy. YAML is a serialization standard for all programming languages and is a superset of JSON, in that YAML supports types and references. The Perl module is YAML.pm. Although it is a “serialization standard”, best results are obtained when both sides of the exchange are controlled by the programmer (ie. different word sizes or floating point standards will likely cause issues.)
- Perl lightning talk – Esthetic Randomness by Joseph Brenner. Joseph likes to post-process random output before display to get a more desirable appearance. He’s kind of goth-looking, so the overall subject and delivery made it an interesting 5 minutes.
- BoF – MySQL social with Monty, Percona (now 25 employees!) and Mark C.
- exhibit – Haiku OS (the Open Source BeOS clone) demo. 2 developers, now at Google, reimplemented BFS from the textbook. Haiku can run with 64 MB RAM. Posix compatible, so the gcc toolchain works. The ARM port is a GSoC project. The video support comes from from ffmpeg, xiph, etc.
Regarding the MySQL BoFs, I think they can be summarized like this: the community is not going to wait for MySQL AB/Sun/Oracle to dick around any further.
Typo3 CMS also had a community booth. They are the #1 European CMS with support for 38 languages.
I didn’t see much use for the “OSCamp” attendee-organized tracks personally. Whereas at the MySQL Conference the Percona Performance Conference was necessary to fix the broken speaker selection process that was weighed towards MySQL/Sun staff instead of productive community contributors, that wasn’t an issue this time around.
The talk on Perl and Unicode was pedantic (focusing on UTF-8 bit patterns, presumably for those needing to detect and fix corruption) but comprehensive, as Tom Christiansen was in attendance to provide up-to-the-minute comments and tips. perluniintro is very helpful.
The PHP Best Practices talk was informative, as the 2 presenters have worked as PHP programming consultants and seen how projects go wrong. They tend to use whatever PHP framework the client is using, and have nothing glowing to say about any particular one.
I’d say that the world of PHP frameworks (dozens) is even more fragmented than Perl (Catalyst, Mason, embperl, CGI::Application are the major ones), which is indeed astonishing. And ironic – since PHP is itself a templating language.
Stonehenge Consulting threw another of their famous drunkfests at a local bar for those wearing their neon yellow t-shirts. If you want to get hammered for free, this is always the spot. 🙂
I talked to Randy Ray a little about what can be done with svlug.pm considering that the South Bay is suburban and thus less centralized than a dense city. Stay tuned.
Other Perl lightning talks included:
- Larry Wall’s son talking about black holes
- Scott Smith talking about Getopt::Complete, which can do svn command-line style nested args
- connie willis bellwether talked about Flocks and the hive mind as defined by 3 rules.
- Don’t Blame Perl – It’s the programmer’s problem if they don’t use modules, scoping, comments, brevity, objects.
- Cool Perl6 – hyperoperators (work on arrays) with a card game sample using extended-ASCII symbols.
- svn is not totally useless – it pointed the world towards git.
The closing talk on linux economics seemed to be an eye-opener for the audience. Most cell carriers and OEMs are at a severe disadvantage to Apple in the apps market, so they may need linux (or Haiku) to mount any kind of response that makes financial sense.
In the conference wrap-up segment, Allison Randal and an O’Reilly rep fielded questions from the audience and answered in “Twitter mode” – single sentences less than 140 characters in length.