Talking JavaScript in Berlin

Last Thursday we met the rest of berlin.js (JavaScript Berlin User Group) at co.up in Berlin Kreuzberg. After a quick news round by the organizers about unconf (did you know the cool people at hood.ie are giving away a couple of tickets?), froscon and rejectjs, we dove right into four great JavaScript-related talks. To summarize the evening…

Node Deployment

Bodo Kaiser likes to get a bit of both worlds when hosting his node apps. Which worlds? Well, that of a PaaS environment and the virtual machine. Going with Arch Linux – where one does not ‘have to bother with a lot of configuration’ – and nginx to have multiple subdomains on one server, Bodo deployed his classic Hello World app live.


The happy lady bottom left is Sara. She very much enjoyed the meetup.

Bodo has got it all written down for you. He threw in a little extra for the Berlin.js crowd talking about git clone --bare LINK and how to execute different hook scripts.

Also, spoiler alert: at anynines we’re working on a deployment guide for node.js.

Building messaging using open systems

Simon Tennant from BuddyCloud then chatted about XMPP, JSON and how the stanza.io and xmpp-ftw libraries are bringing open and extensible communication to the browser. With his dad being a civil engineer, young Simon spend a lot of time thinking about the difference between building software and building houses, the latter seemed to have adopted a more sturdy way of building things. “DNS, SMTP, HTTP, Blockchain, WebRTC are standards, where we can experiment on. The experiments probably won’t be around for long, but the underlying systems will.”

Tennant: “Once you get your app working, you need to support user communication like upvotes and likes. It needs a activity stream right?!” Instead of grabbing the Twitter / Facebook SDK Tennant recommends looking how protocol confederations have solved it pretty gracefully over and over again. XMPP’s extensible messaging and presence protocol, is used virtually everywhere (think: Whatsapp, Facebook, Google Talk/Hangouts).

Nervously laughing over how ‘the XML scary layer and the JSON fun layer’ work together for BuddyCloud, Tennant refers to a little example app, adding chat to a web app in 10 minutes. It was certainly interesting to hear that XMPP is supported by a ‘great helpful community, who are actively helping to push the web forward’.

WebRTC, such realtime

Philipp Hancke from &yet (in XMPP hoodie) praised WebRTC for bringing realtime communication to the open web platform. Comparing WebRTC to the Ford Model T, Hancke explains how it is indeed much like the first affordable automobile. With toolkits like simplewebrtc you can add a simple videochat to your website and the quality of apps like talky.io or Jitsi Meet is ‘impressive’.

Skimming over getUserMedia (and how they ‘yetified’ it at &yet), reveal.js, RTCPeerConnection and SimpleWebRTC, we all got a pretty good idea of ‘what is our there’. Using jitsi (built on XMPP) as an example of what a full mesh and selective forwarding looks like for a service commonly handling 20 users per conference, forwarding 400 streams, was a good move.

Hancke mentioned iswebrtcreadyyet.com; and the standard is not ready yet, but webrtc 2.0 is on the horizon. Hancke: “WebRTC is a technology, not a solution. It needs your work.” That last bit was an open invitation.

Know your /’s

Lindsay Eyink gave a brief history of the tech industry and Silicon Valley — LSD, counterculture, hippies, communes, The Whole Earth Catalog, and California. The Whole Earth Catalog (seen as the 1968 Google), originated from Stewart Brand’s question “why haven’t we seen a photograph of the whole earth yet?” and coined terms like personal computer, electronic frontier and virtual community. Even today the Whole Earth Network ideology expands to media like Wired. Eyink recommends reading From counterculture to cyberculture by Fred Turner, and What the doormouse said by John Markoff, if this subculture intrigues you.

“The early Silicon Valleyists were merry pranksters rebelling against the silicon chips made for the army, in… Silicon Valley. The ‘new communalists’ were heavily focused on community building, which sounds a lot like the social web.” So how did we go from counterculture to Rice joining Dropbox? Why do we love to hate Silicon Valley? “Well, the counterculture was very homogenous and exclusive to outsiders, with traditional gender roles. And in a way, that (perception) never changed.” Eyink concluded with “Can we stop calling everything ‘silicon something’? Just be Berlin.”

Slides will be added to the berlin.js site shortly.

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