Posts From November 2009 - Musing, Rants & Jumbled Thoughts

Header Photo Credit: Lorenzo Cafaro (Creative Commons Zero License)

(Each month I plan to attend technical user groups in the Chicago area to (re-)learn from peers experiences with new and existing technologies and to network with like-minded techies. This blog is one in a series of recaps of some of the more interesting aspects of the meetings for my own purposes (this is a “web log” afterall) and for others to get a general taste of what’s available in the Chicago user group scene.)

UserGroup: JavaScript Chicago (JS.Chi)
twitter: @chicagojs

Meeting Date: Thursday, November 19, 2009

This is one of the larger group meetings I’ve attended, with around 40 – 50 attendees. There were two primary speakers, both presenting remotely using video conferencing. Given the number of attendees, the layout of the conference room and the remoteness of the presenters, it was necessary to use a sound system for the presentations; however there were significant audio issues which forced a late start and a less than ideal experience. I’m hopeful this is not typical (and given the number of attendees, I can’t image it is – otherwise people would stop coming). All-in-all, it was worth going to future meetings.

  • Wolfram Kriesing (Developer at Uxebu) [twitter: @wolframkriesing] presented an introduction to the Dojo framework ( Dojo is a JavaScript framework in the class of jQuery or MooTools. From the presentation, it seems Dojo’s main call-to-fame is it’s UI effects library and its support for namespaces:
    • dojo.* - core library
    • digits.* - UI widgets
    • dojox.* - eXtentions / eXperimental (such as data storage access from the js layer using things like flicr, Amazon S3, etc).
Dojo has very similar functionality to jQuery (the framework which I am most familiar with – albeit not that familiar). Dojo has a team of full time support and development personel (~10 people) supported by corporate sponsers, plus many official contributors. To contribute to Dojo, you must go through an application process, including some legal documentation to ensure the intellectual property stays with Dojo. It wasn’t clear to me what this extra level of red tape brought to the table that wasn’t provided by using an appropriate open source-style license.

Ultimately, given that my primary web development environment is ASP.NET, much of what this library provides is either better done (in my opinion) on the server side or is fully supported by the jQuery framework, which is being integrated into the ASP.NET framework – so I’ll likely be sticking to jQuery. But for folks who aren’t using .Net (aka: all you Ruby, PHP, TCL developers out there), this is another alternative which may be more appropriate for dramatic UI effects.

  • Aaron Newton (Creator MooTools) [twitter @anutron] presented “Programming to Patterns”, which basically described applying object-oriented programming (mainly Inheritance) in JavaScript, with examples in MooTools. MooTools, as a framework, provides a class structure for JavaScript, which makes some O/O principles easier to apply.

Other odds and ends:
After the main presentations, there were some “Lightning Talks”:
  • Jake Lumetta (, twitter: @jakelumetta) presented his website (twitter: @chitechcal) which is an aggregate calendar of Chicago-area technical user groups. I’ve already found this to be a great resource!!
  • A few guys are creating as a roll-up of existing javascript user groups, planning to launch v1.0 in January.
  • There was also another recommendation for use of Closure Compiler for JavaScript minimization. This appears to be a good, new tool. Part of the Google Closure suite