As I expected, it was an adventure to get to the location of this meeting. It wasn’t so hard to get to Apeldoorn (funny thing the customs officer from Schiphol asked where I was going and when I said Loenen he looked at me amazed and he said it is pretty far :D). Once I arrived in Apeldoorn it started to rain (of course no umbrella) and I walked to the bus station. After waiting and waiting and no bus in sight, I went back to the train station to ask for directions. And I found out that the bus drivers are on strike: “don’t worry they will come to an agreement today”, he said to me :D. So back on the road to find a taxi. Found it, showed him the address and with the help of GPS we found the location (I was lucky to have enough cash because I couldn’t pay the taxi with a credit card).
But I immediately forgot all these challenges when I saw this:
It seems that the owners don’t have the money to run their property and thus they have rented to some software company some of the buildings (the building on left from the first picture). I was told that Dutch people thought that a small canal around your house will keep away the enemies. No crocodiles, though :D
The meeting took place in a small building on the left side of the “castle”, in a building that was probably a barn years ago. It looked kinda cool :)
But enough about the places because what really impressed me was the people. There is some cliche saying that Latin people (Italian, French, Spanish, Romanian…) are more open and willing to share and discuss with new people than the others. I found the Dutch people at least at the same level if not even warmer. It all started with Mr. Gerdt Brouwer the Holland Flex User Group Manager and it continued with all the people I got a chance to talk with.
Gerdt was kind enough to keep me company until the people started to show up and at the end of the day he gave me some nice gifts: a lion T-shirt to encourage Holland Football team (no way Mr. Brouwer, I mean no offense but I am Romanian and we are playing against your team next week), some sweets and a 5-liter keg of beer (I turned down the beer as it was too sad to go back to Amsterdam in my hotel room and stay and drink so much beer by myself). I promised him that I will send him the first Romanian book on Flex.
There were four presentations, the first three in Dutch and the last one in English (mine). In the first hour I didn’t get too much from the speakers even though the slides were in English. But then my ear started to get used to the language and I started to recognize some words similar to English and so I was able to look a little bit smarter and not like a man from moon. There were about 35 people; since there were football matches that day, one of them Holland against France, it was a good show.
The first presentation was a use case on Parlays.com presented by Stephan Janssen. This is a platform for e-learning. It has a Java server and the clients are implemented in AJAX, Flex/AIR, Silverlight, GWT and JavaFX. The funniest slide of the day (this is RIA: a nice frontend on top of a ugly server side):
He thinks the Flex/AIR and JavaFX have the advantages right now. He pointed out some things that can be improved in Flex/AIR (multi-threading, server sockets to have peer to peer direct from clients to clients, Selenium for Flex, better tools for static analysis):
The second presentation was held by Nicolas Lierman aka Nico (remember the AIR frontend for Google Analytics? he is the one who did it). He presented some of the challenges he faced (reverse engineer of the Google API; he made an interesting point; because Google Analytics is an Ajax app, you can easily sniff the communication between the browser and server). After this he presented some of the reporting/charts he used to create the UI.
If you think the first two were great, then here comes the third one: Prana presented by Christophe Henneman an Inversion of Control framework for Flex inspired by Spring. It supports Cairngorn and PureMVC.
I presented the fourth one. I talked about some tips and tricks in Flex Builder 3: libs folder, Combined Flex and Java projects with or without LCDS/BlazeDS why you should use them , Flex PHP projects and how to debug both Flex and PHP code, how to work with CVS/SVN and Flex projects, Data wizards and WebServices wizards. When I was putting together the presentation, I thought the people would know some of this. But it turns out, for example that of the 15 guys who work on Java Flex projects only one knew that you can create a Java Flex project.
After the presentations were finished the people stayed for some more chatting, beer and delicious little sandwiches. As I was too tired and Richard Willems was giving me a lift to Amsterdam so I couldn’t stay :( Richard Willems, I owe you at least one beer and you see I was right that Holland would beat France.
The only thing that could’ve been better on this trip was if I knew Dutch or Flamand :D. I would love to go back for more meetings and some coding. A perfect day at work I might say!
PS. And if you ask me, no, I didn’t go to any coffee shops! :)