EECI2009 Round Up

Oct 28
EECI2009 Round Up

Just got back from an amazing few days in Leiden, Holland at the (hopefully) annual EECI Conference ‘EECI2009‘.

Thought I’d give my thoughts and feedback on the whole event in general with any comments.

Unfortunately, due to flight delays I didn’t make it to the pre-conference drinks, but have heard that it was a very good evening.

Day 1 started with a welcome and introduction from Robert Eerhart, from whoooz! webmedia – the company who arranged the conference. We then went into a keynote speech from Leslie Camacho, President of Ellis Labs.

First up was Simon Collison with a speech entitled ‘five years of revolution’. His inspiring talk was about Expression Engine and how its shaped their development cycle at Erskine gave me some real pause for thought. Both funny and entertaining, Simon engaged the crowd and seemed to bounce off the audience with very good flair.

Next after the break, was Derek Allard, Technology Architect at Ellis Labs. His very interesting talk entitled ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ was again both inspiring and captivating to listen. He gave a potted history of pMachine and ExpressionEngine and talked about how it was the community that has really given Expression Engine the momentum it has achieved. He went through a typical development cycle for the EE2.0 File Manager which was simply awesome. It was then that they announced that Expression Engine 2.0 will be released on 1st Dec 2009, to much applause.

Immediately after that was a great talk from Veerle Pieters from Duoh, the designer who came up with the UI design for Expression Engine 2.0. Hearing how she approached the design concept and usability of the Control Panel gave me a lot of feedback as to the thought process that goes into designing something like this. I have to say, I even liked the Hot Pink! I do, at this point need to offer a public apology to Veerle for the rather awkward question about degradation of the Control Panel. Due to its excessive use of CSS3 and transparencies, it does not support IE6.

After lunch, we then went into two tracks. Expression Engine and Code Igniter. I tried to vary my tracks as much as possible to get as much as I could out of them.

Track 1 : Brandon Kelly, The whys and hows of selling Addons

A good talk and very useful on how he approaches addons and the fact that he isn’t worried anymore about asking for money for his work. Understanding a pricing model is very difficult, but the cost should be related to the amount of work involved in the addon. We also found out that his favourite number is 69!

Track 2 : Jamie Rumbelow, Reigniting the Kindling

At first it was very hard to sit and concentrate on a talk being given by a 14 year old. Soon after he started however, it was clear that he was both knowledgeable and passionate about what he does. Difficult to follow and very sporadic of ‘actual’ information – Jamie did his best to keep the audience engaged, but at times came across as a bit of a Ruby fanboy. Credit where due however, he has done very well for himself and is quite clearly successful at what he does (even if it wasn’t clear in the talk).

Track 3 : Leevi Graham, How to start developing your own addons

Probably one of the best talks I’d been to at this point – a very good insight into how to create addons and again monetising them once created. A very different concept from Leevi on a pricing model, but good nonetheless.

Track 4 : Ryan Irelan, 10 Ways to Super Charge Your EE Development

As a self-confessed Ryan Fanboy (Ryans screencasts are the reason for our total EE adoption), it was great to hear some of his hints and tips to supercharge your EE development. It was great to hear that at least 6 of the suggestions I’m already doing, but equally important to understand some new ideas and his talk was great to listen to. Asking a question to Ryan regarding Expression Engines rather difficult deployment process, we both agreed at that Capistrano was a potential answer, but neither of us were able to successfully make it work – something I hope to work with him on in the near future. Oh yes, and Ryan – Thanks for the T-Shirt!

And so ended day 1!

Back to the hotel for a quick freshen up and then straight back to the venue for the evening buffet meal and party! It was during the evening meal, sitting on a table with a South African, Dutch, Swedish, British and Greek – we talked EE, Technology, Clients and general geek-stuff… It was a complete geek-overload and simply amazing!

Day 2 began with a talk from John Henry Donovan titled ‘Building Better Galleries’. The talk itself on this was extremely motivational and demonstrated to me the true power of what Expression Engine can do. Unfortunately, Johns demonstrations and ‘live’ coding was somewhat marred by a room with too much light and the inability to actually see anything on the projector. That said, I have seen that his slides are available for download, so I fully intend on grabbing them. Once John had completed his talk, the floor was opened to question/answer and it was great to collaborate ideas/problems with other members of the room. I asked a few questions and got various different replies – I even managed to help a fellow attendee with an image problem!

The next workshop was Jamie Pittock from Erskine Design – ‘The Art of Proactive Parenting’. An interesting talk about as developers, being the parents of a website and as parents, it is our responsibility to direct our clients in the correct way of doing things, while not giving too much away so that they get an illusion of control without actually getting it. I have to be honest, I wasn’t bought in by this methodology. His examples left me thinking more on the ‘redevelopment cost’ of having to change things when the client decides they want to add something versus giving them a system they can do it all in to begin. Maybe I missed the point of it, and he did make some valid points – but points that I’ve been trying to implement for years, without success (Clients *still* want to *see* their formatting changes in an article).

Last workshop of the day was Leslie Flinger ably assisted by Paul Burdick due to a bout of laryngitis – titled ’10 powerful ways to optimize your EE site’. A very interesting talk and covered *a lot* of things that I didn’t know about Expression Engine, that I used to take for granted. It was during this talk that I had my ‘Eureka’ moment about a number of problems that I’ve come across with Expression Engine. I also, during this time got a one to one chat with Leslie Camacho and his wife discussing some of the more pressing problems that I face with the sites that I build. We also discussed ‘enterprise’ Expression Engine – an idea to produce something of a higher level for very high traffic sites – something that interests me deeply. I look forward to chatting with Leslie about this in more detail over the coming weeks/months. I also got a promise of a BETA 2.0 invite ahead of the Dec 1st Lauch – so it’d be great to take Leslie and Ellis Labs up on that offer!

Then on to the next meal and party and so concluded the conference/workshops.

Saturday, after a brief visit to Amsterdam, I had a ‘hack day’ with a couple of the attending members of the conference writing pseudo code and imaging all the possibilities and extensibility of the system.

The whole experience has left me even more confident that I made the right choice in adopting an Expression Engine development cycle and I have even more passion and enthusiasm for the product after last weeks conference. I have even started writing about 5 addons with another 4 in the pipeline! Watch out Brandon and Leevi :-)

Robert, Adriaan and the team at Whoooz! did an amazing job at the conference and I would like to commend them for a great event well executed. The Wireless Internet Problems aside (Robert – if you read this, take a look at my other post here), the word that I would use to best describe the experience would be ‘Inspiring‘.

I have met designers and developers from all over the world – Sweden, France, Holland, South Africa, UK, America, Canada, Australia and even a fellow Welshman – all with one thing in common – Expression Engine.

One last thought was, unlike many other conferences and exhibitions I have attended, there was no elitism from the speakers. From the President of Ellis Labs to a web designer turning over €800 websites – we were all equal at the end of the day. Whether it was catching up with Leevi as he gave me some quite in depth advise on how to hook into Expression Engine for my latest addon idea, to Derek Allard and Leslie Camacho on bending their ear about the lack of ‘enterprise’ level integration and user abstraction of the system – they were all very open, friendly and extremely forthcoming with as much information as they could which was very refreshing.

I look forward to EECI2010 where we build on what was an excellent inaugural annual event.

Heck, I’d even consider doing a talk if they’d have me!

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8 Responses to “EECI2009 Round Up”

  1. wez says:

    Check out @cwcrawley’s round up of #eeci2009 conference in Leiden, bit about @collylogic & @dallard in there too.

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  2. collylogic says:

    Good review of #EECI2009 from @cwcrawley –

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  3. Tim Print says:

    Really good write up Carl, I think you summed it up really well. Laid back but exciting and engergising. It was good to meet you last week over buffet and beer.

  4. Jamie Rumbelow says:

    Great roundup, and thanks for the kind words.

    I’m always looking to improve and become a better speaker/developer/person, so what could I have done to improve my talk? Was it just that it was a bit out of focus, or would you rather change the content? What could I have done to make it easier to follow?


  5. ee_hub says:

    yes I know a link would be useful #eeci2009

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  6. Erwin Heiser says:

    Looks like we were in a lot of the same workshops :)
    We’ll have to meet up next time, thanks for a very complete round-up of the conference.

  7. Carl Crawley says:

    @Tim – Cheers mate, was good to meet up and know that we’re all in the same boat when it comes to clients and their quirks ;-)

    @Jamie – The main thing for me was the focus of the talk. You discussed quite a number of things, EE’s lack of Rake:Migration (comparing it to Rails) – what would have been good is if you’d have spent a little more time going into some of the technical detail of this. You came across as a very knowledgeable speaker (at least to me), however without the focus to discuss each subject matter in more depth, you came across as more of a ‘fan-boy’. I hope you don’t mind the comments, and if you’d like to discuss presentation techniques in a bit more detail – feel free to grab me by email etc – I’ve done plenty of talks before in front of 10-500 people, so can certainly help if you want.

    @Erwin – Yes, I recall seeing your face / nametag… we should meet up at EECI2010 :-) Thanks for the kind words.

  8. Derek Allard says:

    Great summary! It was such a pleasure meeting the wide variety of users, both EE and CI. I’m completely impressed by the passion you find at events like this. EE nerds are awesome.

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