Why I’m Excited About the DinosaurJS Workshops

Suz Hinton talking about accessibility at DinosaurJS 2016.

Update: We’re now offering special “workshop-only” tickets at a much lower price than the full conference ticket. Also, if you’re a student or recent graduate, you can use the code “student” to save an additional 40%.


Last year, DinosaurJS was a one day event. This year, we’re expanding it to two days. The first day will be traditional conference talks. They’ll be 25 minutes in length, which seems to be the standard for JavaScript conferences. (We stole this format from JSConf US and JSConf EU.)

The second day will be a bit different and feature long-form workshops. I’m excited. Many conferences charge extra for workshops. Our workshops will be free to anyone with a conference ticket. In fact, we’re not even raising ticket prices compared to last year. (Full disclosure: this move has added a non-zero amount of stress to your author, who manages the budget.) Many times, workshops occur before the official kickoff of the conference. Ours are very much a part of the conference itself. (We stole this from JSConf Colombia, by the way.)

I love conferences. Great speakers present new ideas and contrarian takes on established wisdom. But, 25 minutes isn’t a lot of time to dig deep. My hope is that these workshops will help balance that equation.

I’m particularly pleased with the quality and range of topics this year. We selected our speakers through a blind CFP process. We selected our workshop instructors by hand. We’re still working on getting bios, abstracts, and outlines squared away. We’ll be announcing these on our email list when they’re official. That said, I wanted to spoil the surprise and tell you about what we have planned.

We’ve already announced DinosaurJS alumnae, Rachel White. She’ll be running a workshop in machine learning for beginners. I find machine learning to be fascinating. But, I’ve struggled to learn it on my own despite several attempts. We’ll use machine learning algorithms to determine the cat that is the closest match to a selfie.

My friend, Kassandra Perch, will take us on a tour of IoT and serverless using NodeBots as a vehicle. Even if, you’ve hacked on an Arduino before, this workshop will expose you to technologies you can use at work. And if, you’re new to Nodebots, that’s even better!

Functional programming is all the rage these days and for very good reason. But, it can be a little hard to grok inside of our current paradigms. Marla Brizel is going to take us on a tour of ClojureScript. By the end of the session, you’ll build a small web application with a new language and a new paradigm.

Brittany Storoz is one of the best teachers I know. When we’re working on a new feature or fixing a bug, a code doesn’t work more often than it works. By better understanding our developer tools we can shave minutes, hours, or days off of the time it takes to ship.

Accessibility is critical. But, how do we get started? What are the low-hanging fruit that would go a long way for our users? Brian Sinclair is going to show us the common places where we’re dropping the ball. He’ll also show us how to fix them.

Vue has been growing in popularity. Regis Boudinot works at GitLab, which is the largest Vue application that I can think of. He’ll show us how to build an application using Vue. Along the way, we’ll learn how to use reactive state and take a look at some applications in the wild.

Louisa Barrett is a rare unicorn. (This is true for several reasons, but I’m only going to tell you about one.) She’s a trained graphic designer turned talented software engineer. She’s also a fantastic teacher to boot. She was my first hire for the front end engineer program at Turing and she runs the local Girl Develop It chapter. I asked her to run a workshop entitled “Design for Developers: How to Make Your Applications Not Look Like Garbage.” I don’t have anything to say about the workshop beyond that.

Patricia Realini is going to be giving a workshop on a topic near and dear to my heart: becoming better and more empathic professionals. She’ll explain intersectionality and inclusivity as well as how they’re how the are beneficial for our community. In addition, Patricia will explore privilege and unconscious bias. She’ll show us techniques for supporting underrepresented groups in our industry. It’s so important us that we’re going to make this session free to everyone.

Brenna Martenson is one of my heroes. I’ve never seen her shy away from tackling the hardest and most intimidating technical topics. In my experience, many developers struggled with managing state in their application. Brenna will take us on a deep dive into Redux and its middleware. She’ll show us what happens between our actions and our reducers. Let me just put it this way: I’m going to make sure that Patricia and Brenna’s sessions don’t happen at the same time.

My hope is that you’re now as excited for DinosaurJS as I am. All of these workshops are in addition to the great talks happening the day before. The team wants everyone who attends to come out of the conference with a metric ton of new skills, techniques, and insights.

We’re going to make some workshop-only tickets available to those who can’t afford a full-price ticket soon. (Sign up for our mailing list if you want to be the first to know.) If even that is too much for you, let me know and I’ll make sure that you can attend. On the flip side, if you company can, we’d love to be able to offer more diversity scholarships. Please consider buying a scholarship or a Diversity Enthusiast conference ticket.

I hope to see you at DinosaurJS 2017!