Heading back from the WWX

This morning, as my train was heading out of Paris Est, into grey skies and pouring rain, a few words from the night before rang in my head: The WWX is over.

For me, this was the fifth time (sadly, I wasn’t able to attend the very first conference in Bordeaux) and in many ways, I think it was the best WWX yet. Even the most exciting one, despite the fact that the excitement of experiencing something new has almost completely dissipated for me over the years. Truth be told, after the last conference I wasn’t entirely sure I would really want to attend another one in Paris. But I’m very glad I did, and since out of all people it was I who called for more communication, I feel like I should take a moment to say why — in my eyes — the conference was a big success on many levels:

  • I was truly impressed by the parade of examples showcasing how Haxe is relentlessly spreading its tentacles in every direction (hail your new octopus overlord!), how it’s ecosystem is growing, diversifying and maturing, spawning new workflows, which can compete with — if not even outrival — what “the mainstream” has to offer.
  • We were able to put together an awesome conference, even with Nicolas missing. I would have preferred to have him there, but I think we made the best of it and were able to show that Haxe is everything but a one man show. Simn did a great job underlining that in his talk. And while at the same time, the funding also fell short, we managed to do without the full budget. I think it’s not quite optimal how the conference’s budget is composed, neither for people willing to put money into it, nor for Silex Labs who want to get as much budget as possible, but that’s a subject for another time. What matters is that still, we put together the best program yet. Apart from Nicolas, I think we more less had the whole core team on stage. I think this was the biggest turnout so far. We had an awesome cross-section of subjects. UI, web, games, frameworks … plus me, starring as the black sheep. Yay on that one! But I think it was necessary. That aside, not only did the talk quality improve yet again, but we also managed to make Monday’s and Friday’s program engaging and worthwhile. We had better stuff and we had more of it. I think this is something to be proud of.
  • It was exciting and inspiring to be part of the many discussions around Haxe. I feel like the community manages to grow while still strengthening its innermost bonds. People seem to foster a sincere and deep interest in each other’s work, i.e. over the years we’ve evolved from everyone talking about their awesome project to someone vis-a-vis who was really impressed but actually not that willing to give it more attention after the conversation, to people genuinely trying to engage in debate, to seek out understanding of one another. It’s great to see all the passion, the appreciation, the love. To witness how we all grow together. And to be part of all that. I guess that’s why this year I was sadder than ever to leave.
  • One thing that came somewhat unexpected, is that there was a lot more confidence projected during the conference than ever. Despite Nicolas’ absence. Despite the difficulty to get funding. Despite last year’s predictions of certain doom, Haxe is crossing the threshold to being an established technology. Without a single big bang, but a stream of amazing achievements. Without haste, but in a steady, yet often playful procession. Agreed, this may not be how the world of technology works in general and it’s not even necessarily the best way for us either. But being at the conference one could truly feel that we have made it work for us and that we’re really comfortable with it. Those who prefer following hypes rather than joining us on our quest to innovate, to evolve, to reimagine and to fix all the things that we know deep down are broken about programming and software development in general … well … it’s their loss, really. I do feel sorry for them, but experience has taught me that you can’t help those who don’t want help. And seeing all the job offers, my impression was that Haxe talent is becoming highly sought after. So if you care enough to actually build yours up instead of measuring Haxe by failing to acquire sponsors for a proprietary product competing for the same audience as Facebook’s open source React Native, with a one man team and quite frankly rather meager results, I think you’ll find it’s a rather safe bet. Certainly not any less safe than locking yourself into iNextBigThing or JUniversalSolutionLocatorFramework or GSilverBullet or whatever. Sure, we’re a bunch of nerds who basically just suck at marketing, but that’s because we prefer good code over big talk. We’re in this for the long run, we’re growing persistently. We’ll come out on top. And we’re beginning to grasp that and trust it. The potential we see in Haxe isn’t too good to be true but too good to not be realized.
  • Lastly, I got the impression of noticeably many people have come to see the ultimate unicorny lasershooting 200% pure awesome power of macros. I’m thrilled about this, because I saw it as my mission for the past few years. But truth be told, it would be wrong to see that as a personal victory, because at the bottom line it was really the compiler team’s efforts that tremendously improved macros and it was people like Jason and Mark and Nadako (and many, many more) who managed to raise awareness about the subject on a broader scale — so they are the ones who made it happen. Thanks guys! As a result of this, I had quite a few people coming to me who were tackling complex problems and were stuck in rather specific questions — which is definitely a sign of strong self-investment and the will to use macros at scale. I particularly enjoyed getting quite a few questions regarding tink, because in the end it is really the result of me figuring out how to get unstuck in such complex situations over the past five years. The libraries are truly my best work and it feels good to see others drawing from that. But more than that, I would like to interpret it as a sign of people moving beyond the point where they are too eager to learn about macros to use a library that hides some of the problems — or simply not yet confident enough about macros to rely on 3rd party stuff and be caught with their pants down when things don’t work as advertised. So I’m very happy to see that.

Honestly, It was great to witness all this. Meeting you all in person. It has been also been a pleasure to follow all the stuff published in this community and the contributions (I was very glad to receive very helpful ones on my own projects and I see this happening in more and more places) made over the last year. And a good year it was.

I feel like I should say something more about the can of worms (i.e. governance) that I have opened at the end of my talk. It’s becoming a big problem and we can’t continue ignoring it. But I don’t think we can just magically find a solution for it either. It will consume a lot of time and energy and probably take us on quite a few detours. I do plan to lay out my thoughts on this soon. But for now, I think it is a good time for us to draw strength from all we’ve accomplished. We’ve done well, my friends. And we shall do better still!