Tuesday, August 18, 2009

CFUnited 2009 - Day Four

I'm a bit late with my last day post - the lack of sleep caught up with me and I have a bit of work backlog to deal with.

I didn't get a lot of sleep the last night of the conference, so I struggled to get up and checkout of the hotel. I decided when I got to the conference that I would try to attend the sessions that were put on by the major speakers.

I snuck into Ben Nadel's "Extending Custom Tags" function, and was pleasantly surprised. He's a great presenter, and I love that he talks about solutions that are practical. There aren't many other developers that would base a whole session on Custom Tags, since they are sometimes seen as one of the older features of ColdFusion, but Ben showed reminded us of how much we can actually do with them.

He touched on:
  • Recursion
  • Looping and workflow logic
  • The GetBaseTagData() function
Ben also showed us how we could use Custom Tags to call CFCs, allowing us a little more portability in our code and even how to execute components as Custom Tags. A really interesting presentation.

I also attended Peter Bell's "Estimating Requirements" session. He is also a great presenter, and I was again surprised at the amount of new tips that I took away from his speech.

He focused on three types of projects:
  • Configuration - small, common projects where the price can include the spec
  • Customization - medium sized projects
  • Exploration - larger projects that require some research and often require fairly open specs
Peter suggested that in order to get a handle on projects, we should look at these elements:
  • Business intent - WHY is the project being done
  • Audiences and functional roles
  • Objectives - what does the audience want
  • User stories - "as an X, I want X, so that X"
  • Use cases - screens, actions, steps, and alternate and error paths
Some other highlights of the session:
  • For small projects, sometimes the writing of the spec can be part of the development
  • Capturing requirements using Intent Driven Design
  • Focussing on "why" a project is being done, breaking too many intentions into separate projects
  • Use cases are especially important for "fixed bid" projects
  • How to handle "dark matter" - the unexpected things that come up
  • Ways in which you can ensure that if it is not in the spec it is NOT included
  • Agile approaches like Scrum, Lean, Emergent Design, etc
  • The importance of minimizing 'work in progress' - there is no such thing as 90% done
It was a good session.

No better way to end the morning than with another jQuery session by Ray Camden. I thought I had heard all he had to say about Ajax and JavaScript, but at least I knew it would be interesting. Considering I don't know jQuery that well, it was really quite informative. It was nice starting with the basics (selectors) and moving quicking into chaining, matching and filtering. I enjoyed hearing more about the $(document).ready function and a summary of his favourite jQuery plugins.

In between sessions it was also nice running into Jose in the morning, and getting to thank him again for helping me get to downtown DC. I had lunch with him at a table with a bunch of great presenters (Lisa, Dee, Jason, Ben, Simon and more) so it was nice to be able to say thanks and goodbye to these funny and hardworking folks as I headed off to the airport.

I left a lot of time to get to the airport, and just took the trip home slowly, enjoying as much as I could the downtime. The flights were long, but it was great to get home. It was certainly a great conference and wonderful experience.

(Image from afagen on Flickr)


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