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February 10, 2014

All About Play Framework at the First Ping Conference

@huntchr
February 10, 2014
PlayFramework

A few weeks ago I attended the inaugural PingConf, a 2-day by-the-community and for-the-community conference about the Play Framework. The conference, held at the Budapest Music Center, was beautifully orchestrated and it was such an honor to represent Typesafe at the event. It was overwhelming to see so much enthusiasm from the Play community, I was truly blown away by the quality of talks (which you can watch online if you missed them) and passion for the technology by attendees.

The most striking thing, to me anyway, was to see firsthand the multifarious ways Play is being used in production; it brings forward the gravity of what we’re doing at Typesafe. I had so many encouraging conversations, and PingConf really enhanced the sentiment that the framework is significant to a lot of people.

The event itself was about 140 people from around the globe. I had the good fortune of connecting with leaders from the Play community like Peter Hausel, who organized the entire conference while still maintaining his full time gig as VP of Engineering at Gawker; we discussed maintaining balance between creating an event that feels intimate and exclusive, while maintaining an energy and momentum that is palpable. I hope Peter, who is also the former Play tech lead at Typesafe, feels like he achieved all his goals with the event- it was a total success in my opinion.

Everything from the venue, which I believe was an old converted warehouse with a contemporary vibe, to the attention to detail with the facilities, speaker dinners and general flow of the conference went beautifully. No one appeared to be wanting of anything.

One of the coolest things was that as the talks were given, they were streamed live! How awesome that my family in Sydney was able to watch me give a talk about Javascript functionality in Play? I will say that they watched me for about 5 minutes before realizing the content wasn’t quite for them… but exciting nevertheless.

The sessions I enjoyed most were the war stories; I always love listening to the folks that actually go out there and apply this stuff in real life and share their struggles, successes, and lessons learned. Below are some highlights:

The Guardian
Grant Klopper shared how the Guardian is in the process of moving from a monolithic software base to a distributed architecture based around the Play Framework; the Guardian’s Play app is probably the largest Play installation in the world, which is incredible. Grant is such a fun presenter, he used the technique of blacking out each slide so you could focus on him and his story, while at one point making a change to the Guardian’s website and publishing it in real time. This showed how advanced the Guardian’s continuous integration and continuous deployment processes really are.

Here’s the link to Grant’s session.

BBC
The BBC’s presentation was a compelling use case that really resonated with me. In 2013 the BBC made an huge move to rewrite their popular CBBC and CBeebies children's web sites from PHP to Play 2 on AWS. We’ve seen a lot of people in the community transitioning from PHP to Play, and Asher and Adam’s talk, was technical while still telling the story of bringing PHP developers into the world of Play and Scala.

The talk drove home how Play is a really great way of getting Scala into an organization as a Trojan horse, as it’s a very applied way of introducing a new technology.

Adam and Asher touched upon how when BBC had to recruit engineers and listed Scala as a requirement, people were knocking on the door! The opportunity to program in Scala seemed to be huge, which took them by surprise.

Check out their session!

LinkedIn
Yevgeniy (also known as Jim) Brikman, the lead developer of the project bringing the Play Framework to LinkedIn, was a fantastic presenter, offering less of a war story and more a summation of the crazy amount of apps LinkedIn is building with the framework. It’s great to see what LinkedIn is doing with Play from a community and awareness standpoint.

Check out Jim’s talk.

My colleague, James Roper (Play Technical Lead) and I both gave talks that we were really happy with. I had a lot of people coming up to me afterwards confirming that what we’re doing is on the right track in the Javascript tooling space with Play 2.3. As a result of some of the feedback, there a few things I plan to do a little differently moving forward that will hopefully help our users immensely, in particular around embracing the existing GruntJs community.

Have a look at our presentations if you have a moment:
James Roper: Play is for Performance
Christopher Hunt: Javascript in Play 2.3

Well, that about wraps it up! A huge thanks to PingConf organizers and sponsors for hosting such a wonderful event. I’m already looking forward to next year.

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