OSCON06 recap

August 20, 2006

[I wrote this July 25th 2006, but didn’t remember to post till today.] Last year the big story at OSCON was enterprise software (yawn), but this year to my joy it looks like the story is going to be a renaissance of webdev tools. For a long time there was very little innovative new web development happening, thus there was little demand for new tools… but beginning around 18 months ago, it seems like there’s been an explosion of energy going into cool testing ideas.

I’ve been focusing on testing tools this year, because I’m desperately concerned with how to test a site with a DHTML frontend and a PHP backend. I’ve already seen two awesome tutorials about Apache-Test (now with more PHP love!) and Selenium. I’m so in love with both of them, even though in some ways they don’t quite fit my needs yet. Apache-Test is very “Perl”, and maybe more concerned with making things easy for the tool-maker rather than the actual site-developer. Selenium IDE, through no fault of its own, is incompatible with a major Dojo trope called dojo.event.connect(). Frustrating!

They say there’s going to be 3000 people at OSCON this year, up from 2000 last year. A lot of the juice of the conference seems to be coming from the JavaScript and Ruby tracks… in contrast, the Perl and Python crowd seems bogged down in their everlasting Parrot issues. Generally the sessions seem very practical to normal professional engineers (and engineering managers!), with much less of the “Now we’re going to make a helicopter with nothing but a GPS unit, some duct tape, and Perl!” vibe.

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