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PerlCon Europe 2019

Last week I was in Riga for this year’s European PerlCon (the conference formerly known as YAPC::Europe). As has become traditional, here’s my report of the conference.

My conference began on Tuesday night at the pre-conference meet-up. Most people get into town on the night before the conference starts and the organisers always designate a local bar as a meeting place. This time, as the conference was being held in a hotel, the meeting place was a room in the hotel just outside the main conference room. It’s always good to meet up with friends who you might not have seen since the previous conference and I spent a pleasant hour or two, chatting to people before wandering back over the river to the hotel where I was staying before the conference started. As I walked back over the bridge, I could hear the dulcet tones of Rammstein playing a gig about 4km downstream.

The first day of the conference proper was slightly complicated by the need to check out of one hotel and into another. Effectively, it meant that I spent a lot of the day without a room – which was slightly annoying.

The first keynote was Sawyer X talking about The past, the present, and one possible future of Perl 5. From talking to other people afterwards, I think most of the audience was as impressed by his vision as I was. I particularly look forward to hearing more about his plans to engage more companies in the development of Perl. I think that is a great idea.

Following a coffee break, I saw Thomas Klausner talking about Deploying Perl Apps using Docker, Gitlab & Kubernetes. This is a particular area of interest to me currently and it was interesting to see his take on it. I followed that by watching Mohammad Anwar encouraging people to start contributing to CPAN.

After lunch, I took a brief break from the conference (I guess that’s a benefit to knowing that the videoing of the talks is in really capable hands!) I returned in time to see Kenichi Ishigaki describing Recent PAUSE Changes. Because the overall UI of the site has barely changed, I had failed to spot the wholesale changes that have been taking place behind the scenes. It was interesting to be brought up to date.

After the coffee break, I saw Curtis Poe’s talk on Testing Lies. The big takeaway from that seems to be to never trust anyone who claims that something is “always true”.

Then came the first set of lightning talks. As usual, it was a wide-ranging selection including me talking about my Apollo 11 Twitterbot. I particularly enjoyed Job’s amusing walk down memory lane.

After the conference ended for the day there was a new (as far as I know) experiment for a Perl conference – a cocktail party for people who had bought specific kinds of tickets. I had been invited and went along, only to be slightly surprised to find that the drinks selection didn’t include cocktails. I was further surprised to bump into someone who I used to work with back in 2004 and we spent most of the evening catching up.

The second day started with Liz Mattijsen’s keynote DeMythifying Perl 6. I was surprised when she stated that “Perl 6 has damaged Perl 5” was not a myth, but a fact and was totally blown away when she followed that up with a proposal to rename Perl 6. I’ve been saying for ten years that the only thing I don’t like about Perl 6 is its name and I’m really excited to see core Perl 6 developers finally agreeing with this. I’ll be following the developments here really closely.

I then watched Hauke Dämpfling’s WebPerl – Run Perl in the Browser! – which was certainly very clever, but I’m not sure how useful it is. Then I gave my first long talk of the conference – Monoliths, Balls of Mud and Silver Bullets. I think it went well. I certainly got some interesting questions after it.

I’m not really sure what happened after lunch. I think I went back to my room for a bit of lie down and the next thing I knew it was time for the second day of lightning talks. Before that, there were presentations by the two teams vying to organise next years conference (in either Amsterdam or Limassol) and then this year’s attendees got to vote to choose the winner (that’s what’s going on in the photo above). The winner (by only seven votes) was Amsterdam.

I was slightly embarrassed when Lee Johnson mentioned in his lightning talk that my amazing(!) SEO work for last year’s conference meant that Google still thinks all Perl conferences take place in Glasgow – I should probably work out how to fix that! Best of this set of lightning talks was Mark Keating’s adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s “The Sneetches”.

That evening, the attendees’ dinner took place. This was at the same beer hall that the same event took place at the last time the conference was in Riga. Much buffet was had and a lot of beer was drunk.

Day three started in a slightly more muted vein (it often does – as the attendees’ dinner is always on the second night). I missed the keynote and only made it in time for Mohammad Anwar’s second talk of the conference. This one was on how to Protect your Perl script from common security issues. I had to skip out before he got to the questions as I needed to set up in another room for my final talk of the conference – Measuring the Quality of your Perl Code. I was rather (pleasantly) surprised to see the room was completely full and people seemed to find it useful and interesting.

I took the afternoon easy again. I saw Robert Acock on Progressive Web Applications (something else, I really want to get to know about – and I have the feeling it’s not as complicated as my brain seems to want to make it) and Mallory on Designing and Coding for Low Vision.

Then it was time for the final set of lightning talks. It was great to see Thomas re-running his Acme::ReturnValues talk from 2008 (in celebration of the fact that this was the 20th European Perl Conference).

And then it was over. Andrew Shitov, the organiser, thanked all the helpers, speakers and sponsors. And then some of us went off on a cruise on the river.

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Perl Conference in Riga

It’s only two weeks until I head to Riga for PerlCon 2019. I thought it was worthwhile posting a quick update confirming that I was going and telling you what I would be doing there.

Firstly, I’ve previously mentioned that I was planning to run my “Modern Web Development with Dancer” workshop on the day before the conference. That’s now not going to happen as we didn’t manage to sell enough tickets to make the workshop economically viable.

But I will be giving two talks at the conference. On day two (Thursday) I’ll be speaking on Monoliths, Balls of Mud and Silver Bullets. That’s at 12:30 in the main room. This is a version of a talk I tried out at a London Perl Mongers technical meeting back in February. It’s a not-entirely-serious look at some of the problems you might encounter when replacing old monolithic code with new, shiny micro-services. Then on day three (Friday) I’ll be giving a longer talk on Measuring the Quality of your Perl Code. That’s, again, at 12:30, but in the second room. This does exactly what its title says. We’ll look at some measurements you can use to determine how good your Perl code is and ways to make those measurements automatic.

I have also submitted a proposal for a lightning talk. It’s about a Twitter bot that I wrote last weekend called Apollo 11 at 50 so, hopefully, you’ll find that interesting if you’re interested in either space or Twitter bots.

I’ll be a tourist in Riga for a few days before the conference. I’m arriving on Saturday 3rd August and leaving a week later on the 10th. Hope to see some of you there.

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Plans for Riga

The European Perl Conference this year is going to be held in Riga in August. That might seem a long way away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about these things. For example the conference web site went live earlier this week, enabling users to register for the conference and buy their tickets.

And people who are planning to speak at the conference or run workshops alongside the conference need to get their act together early so that people who are planning to attend the conference know what is going to be happened. In particular, it’s a good idea to get the workshops organised and announced early so that people booking flights and hotels for the conference know that there are workshops taking place in the days before (and, sometimes, after) the conference and can book travel for the right dates.

So I’ve been thinking about what I want to do in Riga this summer and I think I have a plan.

I’m planning to re-run the “Modern Perl Web Development with Dancer” workshop that I ran in Cluj in 2016. It was easily the most successful YAPC/PerlCon workshops I’ve ever run with a full class of twenty people working through the day to build a simple web application using a number of modern web  development tools. This will be an updated version of the course as things have moved on a bit in the three years since I last ran the workshop.

Nothing is set in stone yet. I’ve submitted a proposal to the organisers and I hope we can get details tied down and tickets on sale as soon as possible. I’ll report on progress as I here what’s going on.

I’ve also come up with a talk that I’ve proposed for the main conference. It’s called “Measuring the Quality of your Perl Code” and it will be a look at was to measure the “quality” of your Perl code – on the basis that only once you start to measure something, can you start to make improvements. Again, it’s currently just a proposal. It hasn’t been accepted (but I’m taking the fact that it’s currently displayed on the front page of the site as a good sign!)

I should come up with a lightning talk too. Currently, I have no idea what that might be.

How about you? Are you planning to come to Riga in August? Will you be giving a talk?

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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.

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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.