London Perl Workshop Review

(Photo by Mark Keating)

Last Saturday was the annual London Perl Workshop. And, as always, it was a great opportunity to soak up the generosity, good humour and all-round-awesomeness of the European Perl community. I say “European” as the LPW doesn’t just get visitors from London or the UK. There are many people who attend regularly from all over Europe. And, actually, from further afield – there are usually two or three Americans there.

I arrived at about twenty to nine, which gave me just enough time to register and say hello to a couple of people before heading to the main room for Mark Keating’s welcome. Mark hinted that with next year’s workshop being the tenth that he will have organised, he is starting to wonder if it’s time for someone else to take over. More on that later.

I then had a quick dash back down to the basement where I was running a course on Modern Web Development with Perl. It seemed to go well, people seemed engaged and asked some interesting questions. Oh, and my timing was spot on to let my class out two minutes early so that they were at the front of the queue for the free cakes (courtesy of Exonetric). That’s just my little trick for getting slightly higher marks in the feedback survey.

After the coffee break I was in the smaller lecture theatre for three interesting talks – Neil Bowers on Boosting community engagement with CPAN‎ (and, yes, I’ve finally got round to signing up for the CPAN Pull Request Challenge), Smylers on Code Interface Mistakes to Avoid‎ and Neil Bowers (again) on ‎Dependencies and the River of CPAN‎ which was an interesting discussion on how the way you maintain a CPAN module should change as it becomes more important to more people.

Then it was lunch, which I spent in the University cafeteria catching up with friends.

After lunch, I saw Léon Brocard on Making your website seem faster, followed by Steve’s Man Publishing Pint, which turned out to be about publishing ebooks to Amazon easily – something which I’ve been very interested in recently.

The schedule was in a bit of a state of flux, so I missed Andrew Solomon’s talk on How to grow a Perl team‎ and instead saw Steve Mynott talking about Perl 6 Grammars. Following that, I gave my talk on Conference Driven Publishing (which is part apology for not writing the book I promised to write at the last LPW and part attempt to get more people writing and publishing ebooks about Perl).

Then there was another coffee break which I spent getting all the latest gossip from some former colleagues. We got so caught up in it that I was slightly late for Theo van Hoesel’s talk Dancer2 REST assured. I like Theo’s ideas but (as I’ve told him face to face) I would like to see a far simpler interface.

Next up was the keynote. Liz Mattijsen stood in for Jonathan Worthington (who had to cancel at the last minute) and she explained the history of her involvement in Perl and how she was drawn to working on Perl 6. She finished with a brief overview of some interesting Perl 6 features.

Then there were the lightning talks which were their usual mixture of useful, thought-provoking and insane.

Mark Keating closed the conference by thanking everyone for their work, their sponsorship and their attendance. He returned to the theme of perhaps passing on the organisation of the workshop to someone new. No-one, I think, can fail to be incredibly grateful for the effort that Mark has put into organising the last nine workshops and it makes complete sense to me that he can’t maintain that level of effort forever. So it makes sense to start looking for someone else to take over organising the workshop in the future. And, given the complexity of the task, it would be sensible if that person got involved as soon as possible so that we could have a smooth transition during the organisation of next year’s event.

If you’re interested in becoming a major hero to the European Perl community, then please get in touch with Mark.

There was no planned post-workshop event this year. So we broke up into smaller groups and probably colonised most of central London. Personally, I gathered a few friends and wandered off to my favourite restaurant in Chinatown.

I can only repeat what Mark said as he closed the workshop and give my thanks to all of the organisers, volunteers, speakers, sponsors and attendees. There’s little doubt in my mind that the LPW is, year after year, one of the best grass-roots-organised events in the European geek calendar. And this year’s was as good as any.

YAPC Europe Approaches

This time next week YAPC Europe will have started and many of us will be enjoying ourselves in Kiev. The organisers published the schedule over the weekend and it looks like it’s going to be a great conference.

I spent some time trying to work out which talks I want to see and I’ve written some suggestions in an article over at Josetteorama. Let me know if I’ve missed something that you’re planning to see.

Speaking at the LPW

I gave three talks at the London Perl Workshop yesterday[1]. That wasn’t the original plan, but I kept coming up with talks that seemed to be good ideas.

The last one was on 25 Years of Perl was a bit of a failure as I broke the second rule of presenting (always plug in your laptop) and the battery died just as I got to 2012. Which meant that no-one saw my big finish where I pulled out to give an overview of all 25 years and thanked everyone who had ever been involved with Perl.

I’ve put the slides to all three talks on my (new, very much “work in progress”) talks page. It includes a link to all of the 25 years talk.

Thanks (as ever) to all of the organisers, volunteers and speakers at the LPW. The workshop just gets better and better each year.

See you in 2013 – which will be the 10th LPW!

[1] And also spoke on a panel about the state of the jobs market.

LPW Schedule

(You wait weeks for a blog post and then two come along practically together. But this is just another short one.)

It’s the London Perl Workshop on Saturday. The schedule for the day was published some time ago and it’s as diverse and interesting as it always is.

If you look closely at the schedule, each talk has a mysterious-looking number at the end of its description. That’s the number of people who have said they are interested in seeing that talk.

Currently, the highest number I can see on the schedule is 26. There are just under 300 people registered for the workshop. That means that a lot of people haven’t marked the talks that they are interested in.

Marking the talks that you’re interested is useful for a few reasons. Firstly, there’s a page on the site which will show you your personalised schedule which just includes the talks you’ve said you want to see. You could print it out and bring it with you on Saturday (or have that page open on your tablet).

Secondly, it’s useful for the organisers. They have a rough idea of which talks are going to be well-attended, but they can occasionally misjudge it. If they find out that 150 people want to see a talk that they have put in a tiny classroom then they can take appropriate measures (like moving the talk).

And finally, it’s useful for the speakers to have an idea of how many people are interested in their talk.

It’s not hard to register your interest in a talk. Just log in to the workshop web site and go to the schedule page. Every talk will have a star in the top left corner. Clicking that star will register your interest. You’re not actually registering for the talk. No-one is going to do anything if you change your mind on the day and go to a different talk on that day. It’s just so we can all get an idea of the approximate levels of interest in the various talks.

Why not pop over to the schedule page and mark some talks now?

See you on Saturday.

London Perl Workshop

Today, the initial list of talks for this year’s London Perl Workshop was announced. Looks like I’ll be giving three talks of various lengths. And of various levels of seriousness.

The rest of the announced talks sounds far more useful. Looks like the workshop will be as good as it always is. If you want to come along (and I highly recommend it), you can register on the web site.

 

A Brief History of the LPW

In his opening remarks on Saturday, Mark Keating suggested that we might be at the tenth London Perl Workshop. That seemed unlikely to me, so I’ve done a little research.

And it seems that I was right. The first LPW was in 2004, which makes this year’s the eighth. In a way, I’m happy that it wasn’t the tenth, as we now have two years to ensure that the tenth LPW is celebrated appropriately.

Here’s a list of the LPWs so far. I’ve also included details of the talks I gave at each workshop – mainly so that I can disprove Mark when he claims that I always show up and run training.

It seems that the web sites for some of the earlier workshops have fallen off the internet. This makes me a little sad. If I’m wrong and it’s just that Google can’t find them, then please let me know.

1st LPW – 11 Dec 2004
Lanyrd link
At Imperial College. I gave a 20 minute talk about OO Perl.

2nd LPW – 26 Nov 2005
Lanyrd link
At City University. I gave a 20 minute talk on Databases and Perl.

3rd LPW – 9 Dec 2006
Lanyrd link
I think this was the first LPW at its current home of the University of Westminster. I can’t be sure as I wasn’t there. I have a good excuse though – I was on holiday celebrating my tenth wedding anniversary.

4th LPW – 1 Dec 2007
Lanyrd link
At the University of Westminster. I gave a training course on Beginning Perl.

5th LPW – 29 Nov 2008
Lanyrd link
At the University of Westminster. I gave the keynote (a history of london.pm as it was our tenth anniversary) and a training course on Web Programming.

6th LPW – 5 Dec 2009
Lanyrd link
At the University of Westminster. I gave the keynote (about marketing Perl) and a training course called “The Professional Programmer“.

7th LPW – 4th Dec 2010
Lanyrd link
At the University of Westminster (although not in the usual building). I gave a training course on Modern Web programming (i.e. Plack) and a talk on Roles and Traits in Moose.

8th LPW – 12 Nov 2011
Lanyrd link
At the University of Westminster. I gave a training course on Modern Core Perl.

YAPC::Europe Report

It’s nearly three weeks since I got back from Riga. I should probably tell you a bit about what I did.

I flew over on Saturday and on Sunday I gave my “Introduction to Modern Perl” talk. There were nine people on the course and they all seemed to find it useful.

The conference itself started on Monday with a welcome from Andrew Shitov followed by the announcement that next year’s YAPC will be in Frankfurt. Then Larry gave his keynote where he compared Perl to musical styles (and architecture). He was followed by Matt Trout talking about the various philosophical styles required in good documentation. I then stayed in the main hall to see Mallory van Achterberg describing HTML5 and Zefram talking about his latest experiments in bending Perl syntax using some of the new features in Perl 5.14.

I think I spent the first session after lunch talking to various people in hallways and then I went back to the main hall to see Chisel Wright talking about mostly lazy DBIx::Class testing followed by Zefram describing (in great detail) why time is so hard. After a coffee break Book introduced his modules for controlling git from Perl.

Then we had the lightning talks (including my talk which suggested that the Perl community should become a secret society) and the auction – unusually on the first day rather than the last one.

The second day started with Damian Conway explaining how he has converted some of his CPAN modules to Perl 6 and how much simpler a lot of the code got in the process. I then watched Aaron Crane explain why monkey-patching is a problem and how subclassing is often no better. I then saw Max Maischein introducing Flottr and Andrew Solomon running a beginners tutorial about Dancer.

After lunch I went to see Peter Rabbitson talking about DBIx::Class internals followed by Karen Pauley talking about The Perl Foundation. I was happy to she that she took my lightning talk’s “going underground” theme and used it as an excuse to include a picture of the wombles.

One of the highlights of the conference for me was Tara Andrews talking about how she uses Perl in her work on Medieval manuscripts. That was followed by Mark Keating talking about marketing (Mark Keating/marketing – geddit?). Then there was the second lot of lightning talks followed by the attendees dinner where we all ate too much from the buffet and drank too much beer.

Wednesday began with Jesse Vincent’s vision of what Perl might be like moving forward from 5.16. He’s got some great ideas. And somehow he and Leon Brocard persuaded me to volunteer to put out a Perl release next April. That’ll be interesting. Following that I went briefly into Ingy’s talk on post-modern packaging but I wasn’t wasn’t really concentrating as I was getting ready for my talk on Perl Training which was next. I talked about my experiences of ten years running Perl training courses. After that I relaxed by listening to Matt Trout talking about Data::Query.

After lunch I saw Mark Keating talking about the Perl community (and why he loves it so much). I followed that by sitting in Patrick Michaud and Leon Timmermann’s talks, but I confess I was really catching up on email and not really concentrating. Then there was Matt Trout’s State of the Velociraptor, the final set of lightning talks and the Frankfurt.pm team talking about their plans for next year.

And then it was over. Another great YAPC::Europe conference which seemed far too short. Many thanks to all of the organisers for doing such a great .job.

YAPC::Europe Preview

Earlier this year I met Josette Garcia at OpenTech and she told me about her new blog Josetteorama. She asked me if I’d like to contribute a few articles about Perl to the site. I agreed and then promptly forgot about it for a couple of months.

But I remembered my promise a week or so ago and realised that this would be a great opportunity to promote YAPC::Europe outside of the Perl community.

So I wrote an article called YAPC::Europe Preview. And she published it today. Hope you find it interesting.

Training in Riga

YAPC Europe is getting closer. We’ll all be heading off to Riga in about six weeks.

As has become traditional, there are a number of training courses being held both before and after the conference. This includes my Introduction to Modern Perl course on Sunday 15th August.

The course is a one-day overview of many of the major modules that make up the modern Perl toolset. If you feel that you need a quick refresher on things like Template Toolkit, Moose, DBIx::Class, Catalyst and Plack before diving into the conference proper, then this might well be just what you are after.

The cost is 180 € and you can buy a ticket when paying for the main conference.

There are many other course available too – from well-known Perl trainers like Damian Conway, brian d foy and Gabor Szabo. All of the courses are priced well below our usual rates.

I look forward to seeing you in Riga.

Modern Perl at OpenTech

I mentioned a few months ago that I’d be running an “Introduction to Modern Perl” training course at YAPC::Europe this year. But in the interests of speaking outside of the Perl community as much as possible, I’m also going to be giving a slightly different version of that course at the OpenTech conference in London in September.

I say “slightly different”, but that’s a bit of an understatement. The original training course runs for six hours. The OpenTech talk is twenty minutes. But hopefully that will be long enough to introduce some people to many of the interesting things that are going on in the Perl world.
It you’re going to be in London in September, then the OpenTech conference is always a lot of fun. I highly recommend that you come along. It’s cheap too – just a fiver on the door.