Okay so I’m a couple of days late on this one, however taking 3 days out of work takes it’s toll on the remaining 2 days of the week when you get back.

We got to the hotel on Sunday morning with the best intentions of spending the day doing touristy things, unfortunately because of our flight timings we basically traveled throughout the night and just got the hotel and crashed for a few hours. First thing I did after I’d caught up on sleep was sort out wifi access, not good. Best part of £70 for 3 days wifi is ridiculous… and it was slooooow. This was definitely an issue for a hotel full of geeks and would suggest anyone organising a conference takes internet access into serious consideration when finding a venue.

We later went down to the speaker dinner which was a relatively quiet affair but was great to meet new people and the dinner was pretty decent. At this point to be honest I didn’t have particularly high hopes for the conference because of the low number of attendees. Fortunately however my initial concerns were not upheld.

The first day of the conference for me went something like this:

Keynote: nothing new for me here but good to see Adobe having a presence.

Michael Labriola: Dense and Hot – An Introduction to Your Application’s Start Up
Michael has a great presentation style, he was relaxed and managed to get through quite a lot of very useful information in a relatively short space of time. I think conferences could do with more of these sorts of sessions as many seem to have a lot more introductory level sessions. I learnt a lot from Michael in the session and throughout the rest of the conference. He’s also a very smart and funny guy.

Marco Cassario: Better Flex and AIR Applications Using AJAX
Marco gave an interesting presentation on using AJAX in AIR but he also covered some general good practices for Flex development. I learned a few things AJAX related that I didn’t already know but I think generally AJAX just doesn’t get Flex developers very excited. Marco presented his session well and got through a lot of material but I would definitely like to see him present on some more advanced Flex stuff in the future.

Luca Mezzalira: Flex Bitmap Effects!
Luca gave a fun presentation on Bitmap effects and had some good samples to share. I’ve not really done anything with bitmap effects before and definitely now have the required knowledge to do so.

Piergiorgio Niero: 3D Render Engines in the Flash Platform
Piergiorgio gave a great presentation starting with some of the basics of 3D in flash then running through to demonstrate the build up of some very impressive Papervision3D demonstrations and Papervision in Flex. He wasn’t too confident in his English but certainly got everything he needed to across and the examples and sample code provided are great.

Sakri Rosenstrom:Invalidation Routines, Pounded into Your Cranium Once and for All!
Unfortunately I had to deal with some work issues during Sakri’s presentation which was really annoying as I wasn’t able to concentrate on it fully and it was a pretty technical session. What I did manage to keep up with was very useful and well presented and Sakri managed to deal with some unexpected technical issues very well. I hope to catch his session again some time.

Neil Webb: Cairngorm for Beginners
Neil’s a good friend of mine and I’d seen parts of his presentation beforehand but was looking forward to seeing the whole show. He was a little nervous at first and perhaps spoke a little quietly to begin with considering he wasn’t using a mic. However, once he settled into things the presentation went very well. He has some VERY funny slides and if you’re going to scotch on the rocks and/or 360 Flex San Jose definitely check out his session. Even if you know Cairngorm go see it for the Phat controller, Sexed up Flex Frameworks and Sexyometer! If you aren’t familiar with Cairngorm then Neil breaks it down into a very digestible manner and uses great metaphors to explain what’s going on.

Borre Wessel: Cairngorm Deepdive
Borre presented a good session on Cairngorm and other useful good development practices. He covered some topics that I’ve been looking into lately such as view patterns and did a good job of explaining the Presentation Model pattern which is a very nice approach. He seems a pretty laid back guy which made him approachable for questions but perhaps could do with a little more enthusiasm and volume to maintain the audiences interest. Nevertheless another useful session for me :).

Finally it was my turn to do my presentation on Developer Best Practices. I was a little worried as I hadn’t prepared quite as much as I’d have hoped to (being ‘dragged’ out for pizza and 1 litre beers the night before didn’t help :P). I was more concerned however by the fact that almost everyone I’d met was a very talented and skilled Flex developer who more than likely didn’t need to be told the best practices I was there to present.
This concern was re-affirmed as I kicked things off by asking the group “Who uses source control?” as the preamble to my 10 minutes I’d planned explaining source control… to which all but one of the attendees already did! After struggling preaching to the choir for a few minutes, I decided to scrap that and adopt my reserve tactic of opening the topics in the session up for debate.

This was also a concern of mine as in many of the sessions the audience tended to stay pretty much silent. Fortunately for me I had Michael, Sam, Neil, Robin, Sakri and various others in the session who really came into their own and spoke out. We discussed various OOP practices, design patterns, unit testing and a great debate on pair programming (always a good one to throw in if you want some audience participation!).

I enjoyed the session in the end and definitely would like to try the discussion approach in the future as I managed to learn a few things from the guys I was supposed to be presenting to and I’ve had some good feedback about it (despite the ropey start).

Overall, despite initial concerns 360 Flex Europe turned out to be a great conference and I’ve very glad to have attended. Thanks to the 360 guys for arranging it and thanks to everyone I met there.