On Development Day, Thursday the 16th, once again I missed the first two talks, "State of Plone" by Alan Runyan and Alexander Limi and "Subversion and Plone" by Kapil. I think this was mostly because of my extreme hangover, but I'd like to continue to attempt to convince myself that it was due to some other desperately important reason.
Kapil is a guy who has the capacity to really make a difference in the Zope and Plone communities. He is extremely driven. You can tell he enjoys these conferences tremendously, and gets rewards out of coming to them. He is also a fellow smoker, so that gives me a soft spot for him as well.
I was able to talk to Alex Limi, whom I had never met, during breaks between presenters. He has the characteristics of a good leader: decisive, opinionated, sometimes self-deprecating, and very smart. OK, I'm a little jealous, but I'll get over it. ;-)
Alan Runyan, who with the help of his girlfriend Alma really put this conference together. Alan was really the heart of what made this whole thing work. He is a very good coordinator and was really giving his all to attempt to make connections between the folks at the conference. Since I came to the conference basically to meet people, I owe him an extreme debt of gratitude. Alan was pretty wrapped up in making logistics work, so I didn't have too much time to talk to him about tehcnical stuff, but he's clearly got his head on his shoulders in this respect.
The presentation afterwards I did make, "Innovation in User Interfaces" by Lon Boonen of Q42. Lon is a character. I have been tracking Q42 for a little while. They have an excellent WYSIWYG XML editing tool named Xopus that we considered using for several projects at ZC but were never able to get the ball rolling (instead we used things like RealObjects edit-On Pro and some other one that I can't remember). Lon's presentation was pretty spectacular, showing off an framework that he calls "SPIF" (single page interface framework). He showed us what looked like a bog-stock Plone site, but instead of redrawing the entire page when a dynamic element was invoked, the SPIF framework caused the UI to change in place. He had sliding toolbars (optionally get rid of those useless CMF sidebars, whoo hoo!), wipes and fades, real-time page snippet updates (demos included polls and messenging), and many other spiffy things. Everyone salivated and ooohed and ahhhed, and then they tried to scam him into giving it away. He wasn't buying it. I don't blame him.
Evan Simpson, my favorite person on the face of the planet hands down, talked about Page Templates. His mike gave out about halfway but he screamed his way through the rest and signed for the folks looking at the webcast.
I missed Joel Burton's talk on Relational Databases, unfortunately. I was probably smoking. Joel rocks. He has an exceeding rare combination of lucidity, charm, business acumen, ideological integrity, and intelligence. Joel had to have been voted "most likely to succeed" at some point somewhere by someone. If he hasn't, I'll stick out my neck and nominate him on behalf of the Zope community.
Geoff Davis then presented "Creating and Editing Objects in Plone", which was an example-driven talk mainly covering his solution to the "CMF wants to create objects before their metadata is filled in" problem. I had never met Geoff before, but I had a chance to hang out with him at the bar after the conference. He is funny and disarming and is a very no-nonsense kind of guy when it comes to development. He just wants to get stuff done.
Paul Everitt masterfully presented his "Enriching Plone UIs With XML" talk, which he later characterized as the only "non-content-free" presentation he has given. Gotta love Paul. Using WebDAV to serve up client-side-XSL-rendered XML. This looks like it is a reasonable strategy for some data-driven UI designs. Of course, it really isn't Zope-dependent, which can be another plus.
Laura Trippi presented "Code Layers In Plone: A Framework for Human Augmentation". This was easily the most original presentation at the conference. It dealt very little with the technology that underlies Zope and Plone, but she talked a lot about some of the social implications of the man-machine interface represented by systems like Plone. A lot of it went over my head, because let's face it, I'm just a programmer, but I was interested nonetheless. Thanks Laura!
We wound up the day at the Maple Leaf bar somewhere near Tulane. Free beer! Whoo hoo! We were supposed to have a "boat race" drinking contest with the two teams being "ZCers and ex-ZCers" (me, Paul, Penney Simpson, and Jens Vagelpohl) vs. "Plone Folks" (Limi, Andy, Alan, and an undisclosed fourth), but my team bailed out on me and Andy was attempting to postpone it like the big baby girl he is (I'll never admit that I was going along with this idea, Andy, you can't prove anything ;-) The winning team lead was to be awarded the title of CEO of the evil and subversive "Plope Corporation", a fictional company for which the idea of conspiracy theory was created. Since we didn't do this, we never did find out who the real CEO of Plope Corporation is. Maybe next year.