Aaron Sumner

Fluent Conference video compilation: A book report

I've spent time this year revisiting JavaScript. To be honest, I'm one of those old school web guys who played around with it when it was a brand new offering from Netscape, found it a cute but unreliable way to do cute but unnecessary things in the browser, and moved on. Its resurgence admittedly caught me off guard, and I found myself playing catch-up with a lot of great developers who are doing interesting things with the language.

So, in addition to a number of books and other video resources, I recently checked out some of the talks from the 2012 Fluent Conference, available in a massive, 55-hour video compilation from O'Reilly. The offerings in this collection are vast and varied. Three days' worth of talks are included, ranging from 20-minute big picture talks geared more toward managers to more lengthy sessions on the nitty-gritty of software and library development. Use of JavaScript for frontend and backend, desktop and mobile are all covered. As can be expected, some talks are better than others: My favorite of the ones I've watched so far is from Nicholas Zakas on writing clean, maintainable JavaScript code. When browsing the offerings I found it handy to refer to the original conference schedule. Not only can you read a more complete description of any given talk, you can also see how conference attendees rated the original talk.

Video and audio quality are excellent. My only knock here is that at times I felt like I was missing something being referred to in a slide, but this may just be a perception thing on my end. Otherwise I think I prefer the videographers' focus on the speaker as opposed to a picture-in-picture or dual screen format.

Some might wince at the $399 price tag, but keep in mind that a plane ticket to San Francisco to attend in person may well have cost that much (never mind hotel, conference registration, etc.). That said, JavaScript is a fast-moving beast–so the further removed you are from the original conference date (May 2012), the more likely you may be to find that portions of this collection are no longer relevant. Just something to keep in mind before taking the plunge–at some point these videos will be more time capsule material than useful references for developers.

All in all, the Fluent Conference video compilation is a solid alternative for those who couldn't attend in person, who want a broad overview of the state of JavaScript (as it was in mid-2012), and/or old developers like me who are still learning the many ways bright minds are putting the language to work.

Note: I wrote this review for O'Reilly's Blogger Review Program. It's a pretty nice deal: Get a free e-book to read, share a review in your blog, get another free book to read. Sign up for yourself to take advantage of this deal, and watch for more book reports in my blog.

. Questions or comments? Let me know what you think.