RIAUnleashed 2011 wrapup

This week I attended RIAUnleashed in Boston. Centered around Rich Internet Application development, this conference focused on technologies such as ColdFusion, jQuery, and Flex that help developers build compelling internet and mobile apps. Here's what I thought of it.

I was fortunate enough to attend this conference as a speaker, being invited to present back in August. My company,, graciously sponsored my attendance. RIAUnleashed is in it's third year but this was my first time being able to make it to Boston and I was excited about the prospect (my wife less so). I flew into Logan airport on Wednesday evening and made it to my hotel, the Westin Waltham, around 9:30. I ran into a few people I knew and chatted with them, then headed to dinner with Doug Neiner (of jQuery and .appendTo()).

The first day of the conference was a workshop day, with 2 sets of 4 classes morning and afternoon. I chose Jesse Freeman's HTML 5 Gaming workshop and thoroughly enjoyed myself. He introduced those attending to an 8-bit game development framework called ImpactJS. An impressive bit of code ImpactJS is a licensed work including a level editor, game mechanics, and everything you could need to developer your own side-scrolling game ala LodeRunner, Contra, and the like. Jesse walked us through the steps of creating assets, setting up levels, adding weapons and hit states, and finally the awesomely titled step "Death animation" (potentially an excellent name for a metal band).

Jesse did a great job and clearly knows his stuff. Self-admittedly he had a little too much material for a 3.5 hour session but he provided a download link for us as well as negotiated a non-commercial license for ImpactJS with the developer of that framework. That means I can play around with all of his code samples and possibly build a game of my own. Sigh, one more thing to add to the long list of "things I'd like to do someday".

My afternoon workshop was jQuery Plugins with Doug Neiner. Doug is an excellent speaker, well prepared and thorough. He walked the room through the basics of efficient and proper plugin creation and made sure everyone understood the processes and the reasoning behind what we did. Sadly I had to bail out about 2/3 of the way through due to work but his slides are available online as well as his code samples.

Friday was normal sessions day, 4 concurrent tracks. I chose Jesse Warden's Refactoring talk, Terry Ryan's Flex Skinning talk, Ray Camden's Intro to jQuery (gotta support your buds you know), and finished off the day with my presentation: One Codebase. I walked through the basics of jQuery, AIR, Phonegap, and jQuery Mobile and rounded out the session by demonstrating how to run a single set of code in the browser, the desktop, and mobile apps by funneling it all through Dreamweaver CS 5.5. Feel free to download my slides and my code. My presentation seemed to be well received and fairly well attended with about 30-40 people in the room.

Some of the highlights from my time in Boston: an excellent dinner at a Waltham restaurant called The Elephant Walk. Billed as a French/Cambodian restaurant, the food was great...easily one of the best restaurant meals I've had this year. Amazing conversation in the hotel bar between Dough Neiner and Jesse Warden on the differences and similarities in development approaches between JavaScript developers and Flex developers. All in all it was a great time and I was glad to have been a part of it. Perhaps I can return next year, ya' hear that Sean Pucknell?

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