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Highlights from the 2016 Nodevember JavaScript and Node Conference

Nodevember is a two-day conference touching on all aspects of JavaScript and Node. The third annual conference was held on November 20th and 21st in Nashville, Tennessee at the Lipscomb University campus. It featured 6 keynote speakers, 48 session talks, and an all-day workshop by Kyle Simpson the day before the conference started.

This year, two Treehouse teachers, Guil Hernandez and myself, were selected by the organizers to give presentations at this year’s conference. Guil gave a presentation titled “Introduction to React Router” and I gave a presentation titled “Exploring TypeScript” (more about these presentations in just a bit). We were excited and honored to be given the opportunity to participate in the conference.

Location and Venue

The historic Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville.

I had a great time visiting Nashville. The airport was easy to get in and out of, the roads were easy to navigate, and the food was great. This was my first time visiting Nashville, so I took the opportunity to explore downtown on the last day of my trip. One of the sites that I visited was the Ryman Auditorium. It was amazing to see the auditorium where so many legendary country, rock, and jazz artists have performed over the years.

Collins Auditorium at Lipscomb University

The beautiful Lipscomb University campus is located in the south part of Nashville. Nodevember utilized four of the campus’ buildings including Collins Auditorium (pictured above), which was large enough to house all of the attendees for the conference’s six keynote presentations.

Moving from building to building to get to the sessions that you wanted to attend was a nice touch, as it allowed you to get outside for a moment, stretch your legs, and enjoy some of the fantastic weather that we had during the conference. Ample parking and comfortable chairs (often difficult to come by at conferences) added to an overall great experience.

Day One

Common themes, topics, and technology from the presentations that I attended on day one included immutable data, pure functions, and various Facebook technologies including React, GraphQL, Flow, and Immutable.js. Also, more than once I heard the message that there’s “no one solution for every problem” and that developers shouldn’t be dogmatic about their chosen solutions.

It was refreshing to hear developers talk enthusiastically and passionately about technologies and techniques that they have found successful while promoting a mindset to research, explore, and test new ideas and technologies in order to find what works best for you and your projects.

Video recap of day one from James Churchill and Guil Hernandez


Registration was smooth and painless, which is such a great way to start a conference. Each attendee received a Nodevember bag, t-shirt, stickers, and buttons. Thanks to all of the volunteers who helped make the logistics of getting checked into the conference so quick and easy to do.

Opening remarks in Collins Auditorium on day one of the Nodevember conference


Immutable Apps / Lee Byron

Lee Byron works at Facebook on React Immutable and GraphQL. And he’s done with MVC and REST, choosing now to focus on what he calls Immutable App Architecture. In this talk, Lee did a great job building a compelling case for embracing immutability, explaining how it helps overcome the various challenges that modern applications face. He also touched upon the roles that React, Redux, and GraphQL play in Immutable App Architecture.

Reasonable JavaScript / Preethi Kasireddy

In this informative talk, Preethi Kasireddy delved into what makes JavaScript code “easy to reason about”. She started by defining the characteristics of reasonable code including “does not affect or mutate external state”, “does not rely on external state”, “always returns the same output for the passed in input”, “guaranteed to work as intended by the programmer”, and “is modular and generic”. Preethi then examined various programming techniques that could be employed to help make your code more reasonable, including unit testing, types, immutable data, pure functions, and composition.


Public Speaking without Barfing on Your Shoes / David Neal

David Neal gave an entertaining and inspirational talk for anyone who needs to prepare and give a presentation. Right away, David made the point that the audience won’t remember what you did or didn’t do, but they’ll remember how you made them feel. He then went on to demonstrate the power of illustrating your own presentation, by using his own illustrations and drawings throughout his talk.

A full list of resources is available here.

The Ezell building at Lipscomb University where some of the Nodevember breakout sessions were held, including my talk “Exploring TypeScript”

Exploring TypeScript / James Churchill

I gave a talk on Microsoft’s TypeScript language. TypeScript can be summarized as three things: a superset of JavaScript, optional static typing, and features from the future (i.e. ES6, ES7, ES++). I gave demos using Visual Studio Code showing the basics of the TypeScript language, how to mix JavaScript and TypeScript in the same project, and how to acquire type declaration files for third party libraries and frameworks.

Slides, demos, and resources available here

Speaker and Volunteer Dinner

At the end of the first day, Microsoft hosted a speaker and volunteer dinner at Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in downtown Nashville. The drinks, food, and company were all excellent. Guil Hernandez and myself had a great time hanging out with students from the Nashville Software School.

Day Two

I really appreciated the “human” centric messages from day two’s presenters. CJ Silverio reminded us that “people are harder than technology” and if you get that “right”, everything else will take care of itself. Christina Keelan reminded us how we can help someone who is learning to become a developer and Ryan Lanciaux encouraged people to help with personal open source projects if they can.

There were also great technical talks as well, covering topics and technologies such as JavaScript generators, React Native, React Router, Now, and Next.

Check out this video recap of day two from James Churchill and Guil Hernandez

Treehouse teacher Guil Hernandez hanging out in the Nodevember speaker and volunteer lounge


The Accidental Noder / C J Silverio

CJ Silverio, CTO at npm, kicked off day two of the conference with her spirited talk titled “The Accidental Noder” that covered a wide range of topics from JavaScript, programming, modularity, and operations. In this talk, CJ told attendees that they can learn anything, to automate everything, DevOps is hard, databases are terrible, and the non-technical problems are the harder problems.

Now & Next / Guillermo Rauch

Guillermo Rauch wrapped up the conference with a thought-provoking talk on Now and Next. “Now” allows you to transport any directory that contains a package.json or Dockerfile to the cloud using the `now` command. “Next” is a framework (built on top of React, Webpack, and Babel) for developing server-rendered universal JavaScript web apps. And we learned that Guillermo can type fast… really fast.


From Community Manager to Developer — My Path to Becoming an Engineer / Christina Keelan

Christina Keelan recently made the transition from working as the full-time Community Manager at RethinkDB to becoming a developer. She’s currently a student at The Iron Yard. In her talk, Christina touched upon ways to deal with imposter syndrome and how we can help those that are learning to become a developer. Great advice for developers of all experience levels.

Jordan Kasper presenting “Generating a New Async Workflow… with Generators!” in the Ezell Building at Lipscomb University

Generating a New Async Workflow… with Generators! / Jordan Kasper

Jordan Kasper is currently a front-end engineering instructor with The Iron Yard in Washington, DC. In this educational and entertaining talk, Jordan gave a step-by-step introduction to JavaScript generator functions and how to use them to write code that looks synchronous but runs asynchronously.

Treehouse teacher Guil Hernandez presenting “Introduction to React Router” in Collins Auditorium at Lipscomb University

Introduction to React Router / Guil Hernandez

Guil Hernandez, a fellow Treehouse teacher, gave an informative talk on React Router, covering the basics of v3.0 including configuring routes, nested routes, active links, URL parameters, and more. He also showed examples of the new, pre-release version of React Router, v4.0, and how to migrate from the current version.

Slides available here.

For more information about React Router, check out Guil’s Treehouse course React Router Basics.

Personal Open Source in the Age of JavaScript fatigue / Ryan Lanciaux

Ryan Lanciaux is the developer of the open source Griddle grid component for React. In this talk, Ryan gave useful advice—based on his own hard-earned personal experience—on how to start, develop, and manage personal open source projects. He also reminded us how important it is to lend a hand (when possible) to the projects that you use or rely upon.

Final Thoughts and Thanks

The above list of keynotes and sessions is not comprehensive; they’re just the ones that I attended and chose to highlight. There were many other great presenters and sessions, so definitely check out the full list of the speakers. You can also view videos for all of the presentations on the Nodevember YouTube channel.

One of the best parts of attending a technical conference is getting a chance to meet other developers, talk about their experiences, and hear their stories of how they got into our industry. Nodevember offered the chance to do exactly that.

Special thanks to the organizers, sponsors, speakers, and volunteers that made the conference possible. Nodevember was a wonderful conference full of useful information, friendly people, and great conversations. I hope to be back next year!

If you attended Nodevember this year, we’d love to hear your highlights in the comments below!

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