My First Tech Conference

March 31, 2022

Tags: Elixir, LiveView, The Big Elixir

Last week I went to The Big Elixir in New Orleans, which was my very first tech conference. One of NewAperio’s core values is Learning & Mentorship along with Continuing Education. As such, NewAperio covered all of my expenses as well as that of the other developers that build projects with Elixir, which happens to be the entire dev team. This sort of investment in our team is well worth it since life-long learning is essential for any developer. Attending conferences such as The Big Elixir benefits our clients too, as it helps us to stay up to date on our chosen tech stack to ensure we are delivering products built with best practices while leveraging the latest technology.

This year’s theme was LiveView, which I was very excited about since I have spent the last 11 months primarily working on projects that use the PETAL (Phoenix, Elixir, TailwindCSS, AlpineJS, and LiveView) stack. As a first-time conference attendee, I really didn’t know what to expect. While every presentation incorporated LiveView in some way, the actual topics were very diverse.

There were multiple presentations on applications developers built this year including a project with live audience participation. We were able to connect with our laptops to a music app and play music together using our devices! There were developers that were new to the Elixir language and Phoenix framework that really dove into the LiveView technology this past year. These Phoenix newbies presented a note-taking app and an announcement platform for conference attendees that were all capable of real-time updates. Since I also learned Phoenix and LiveView this past year, I found it very interesting to see what other new developers were creating.

The conference was also valuable as it started multiple conversations amongst my co-workers on how we could use what we learned. Our Slack channels would often bustle with activity as we had ideas. Multiple presentations on Surface got us planning on how to implement it in an upcoming project that seems like a rather perfect use case. LiveView's recent updates made us rethink an app feature we built. We discovered that we can take advantage of the integration of custom JavaScript via JS bindings and recovery of an application’s state if the LiveView were to unexpectedly disconnect. A presentation on Wallaby made us realize that we could make our browser integration testing practices more thorough, which will help us during active development and while shipping new features.

Learning about the latest tech wasn’t the only important part of the conference. Meeting other Elixir developers outside of my team was valuable. During the Big Elixir Happy Hour I had a conversation with a veteran LiveView developer about the project they presented, and I learned more about their process and goals for the project. On the other end of the spectrum I got to meet one of the recipients of the tickets that NewAperio sponsored for the conference. This recipient is just starting her career and is interested in Elixir, and I have hopes that our small but mighty Elixir community has gained another enthusiast.

Overall, I think this experience has set a high standard for tech conferences. Quality presentations from a very diverse group of people; a firehose of information on new tech; fun and creative projects; and a friendly community: this is what you can expect from The Big Elixir!

Meks McClure

Junior Developer

Meks is a former biologist and philosopher turned developer. They enjoy a plethera of activities including yoga practice, ridiculously long walks with their dog, and reading sci-fi and high fantasy novels. they/them

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