Will "the Mighty" Strohl

Jacksonville Code Camp 2009 Recap

Morning Announcements I had the honor of once again speaking at the Jacksonville Code Camp, for the second year in a row.  I was very happy to be accepted to speak at this event, as it is one of the largest and most renowned in the State of Florida.  I do not know what their official final head count was, but I am told that their registration number reached a whopping 640!  That is impressive for any community event, and definitely a number that most reach for.

The Jacksonville Code Camp 2009 common areaI drove up to Jacksonville the night before.  This drive was MUCH different than last year.  Last year, there was a hurricane hovering over the entire county.  It was one of those hurricanes that mostly consist of rain though.  This year, that drive was not eventful or ominous at all – just your typical boring Florida drive.

We used RezHub.com to book a room at the Homestead Studio Suites, about 2 miles from the venue.  (RezHub’s travel search form is built using jQuery and CSS!)  This was the cheapest hotel ($59.99/night) within a few minutes drive time to the venue.  This hotel was more like one of those long-term hotel places.  Each room had a full fridge, stove, and dining area.  Overall, it was nice.  There was great water pressure, the room was clean, and it had central air.  However, our freezer leaked water onto the floor.  Also, the water was either too hard or too soft, because it was the kind of water that kept making you feel that you hadn’t rinsed all of the soap off.  I really cannot stand that.

My Presentation Room The venue this year was at the University of North Florida.  I must say that despite the ongoing construction on campus, it was a really nice place.  The buildings were all nice and new, and had a great appearance.  The class rooms were all nice as well, having what appeared to be new furniture and equipment. 

Unfortunately, my room was the only room with a projector problem.  I have never had a projector problem with my current laptop, or since I began speaking – so I was definitely due for one.  Once I exhausted my troubleshooting skills, I asked for help from the Jax Code Camp volunteers.  They eventually ended up having to redirect the wires on the podium to allow my laptop to work.  From what I was told, the room I was in was the only one that didn’t have a laptop connection completed for the room.  But we got it sorted out with plenty of time to spare.  Thanks guys!

My Presentation Area and Screen The screens and projectors in the room I was in were huge!  They were perfect for the purpose we were using them for.  I couldn’t help but think of the possibilities that they could have with the right surround sound system.  Hehehe…

My presentation was entitled, “Using jQuery in DotNetNuke Development.”  The intention of my presentation was to give some background of jQuery, and then move into the various ways jQuery could make a difference in DotNetNuke® development. 

What I quickly found out though, was that half of the attendees had not even used DNN yet, much less developed in it.  So, I adjusted my presentation accordingly.  I used a lot of time giving background to the attendees about DNN, and its features, and pros and cons.  They seemed to really enjoy this, and had plenty of questions.  I gave away a Day of DotNetNuke® 2009 shirt for each question.  Unfortunately, this meant that I had to cut off time from our demo.  It’s a good thing that I already had the module code available on CodePlex.  It’s a Lightbox gallery module that was built specifically to give various examples of using jQuery in a DNN module.

My last presentation was at the Day of DotNetNuke®, which I also ran.  I really feel that I bombed that presentation, because I was very exhausted and my mind was all over the place, thinking about the event.  I think that today’s presentation was an excellent follow-up, as I was rested and prepared, and had nothing to worry about but the topic and content.  I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.

I had a great conversation with a lady whose name I cannot remember about shopping carts in DNN, and custom DNN development.  I pointed her to some of the usual suspects in our DNN ecosystem.  Then, I had a very similar conversation with two other ladies at the end of my session.  They too were look at shopping cart solutions for DNN, but had been having a really hard time meeting their business requirements.  They already have one in production, so they know very well what requirements they have.

We spoke at great length about how they might need to approach their shopping cart replacement strategy.  What really stuck out about the conversation though, was that they were speaking to someone local about their problems before speaking to me.  He had been telling them to avoid DNN at all costs, because installing modules was way too difficult to do.  I was taken back to say the least, since this is one of the easiest things to do in DNN.  I gave them a demo of the different ways that people may use to load modules into their DNN website:

  • Using an install package
  • Using a DNN manifest file
  • Using the Create Module interface

That demo literally took less than 10 minutes including questions, so I think that I cleared up any concerns that they had with module installation.  (Though we ran into one error when installing one of my custom modules.  I didn’t realize until later that it was because I was trying to install a DNN 5+ module on DNN 4.09.04. I chose another module and moved on.)

I finished up our conversation by showing them the file system and solution setup for a compiled module.  It was like giving a second presentation (which I of course don’t mind doing).  I really feel that I helped them, so if nothing else happened, I am pleased with that.

I of course recorded the session as I usually do, but at this point, I am not sure when I will be able to make it available.  :(

I am sorry to say that I didn’t stay for the entire day.  I had to leave to head back home.  If the morning was any indication for how the event would end up, then it had to be incredible!

I have already sent my slide deck to the organizers, and also posted it on the ODUG website.

Did you attend this year’s Jacksonville Code Camp?  What did you think?



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