A Few Reasons Why You Should Attend APJ Spark

Later this month, I'll be travelling over to Perth for the APJ Progress Spark Conference.

What is the APJ Progress Spark Conference, you ask? It's a free, 3-day action-packed event full of technical sessions and hands-on workshops, highlighting the latest solutions from both Progress Software and Telerik. We'll have some of our best and brightest from across the Asia-Pacific region, demonstrating what's possible with our software and answering your questions. You'll see technologies like OpenEdge, Telerik Platform, Sitefinity, and more! We also have a number of external speakers joining us, delivering presentations on important application development topics such as cross-platform mobile development, IoT, and security.

A few days ago, we published the agenda for the conference. Rather than going through each and every session, I thought highlight just a few to provide a taste of what to expect:

Cross-Platform Mobile Development for iOS, Android and Windows Phone

We kick things off with the lovely and vivacious Tommy-Carlos Williams. Tommy's great; he really knows his stuff. I've dubbed him "the Greatest PhoneGap Developer in the Southern Hemisphere". Tommy will be delivering a presentation on how to target mobile platforms with tools like Apache Cordova, Telerik AppBuilder, and Telerik ScreenBuilder. If you're keen to see what's possible in the world of hybrid mobile app development, you'll definitely want to see this session.


Putting Your Things on the Internet

Connected devices are everywhere these days. Even fridges have IP addresses, for crying out load. Getting these devices online and connected through to your applications is critical to play in this brave new world - otherwise known as the Internet of Things (IoT). That's where Microsoft Australia's own, Andrew Coates comes in. He'll be delivering a very cool session that showcasing some amazing things being done at Microsoft around connected devices. He'll show you just how simple it is to integrate them into new and existing applications. It will be a cracker!

Hack to the Future

Troy Hunt's presentations are scarey to watch. Why? Because he's great at showing where vulnerabilities may lurk in your applications. But don't worry; Troy will be here to help us understand how you can protect yourself against the bad guys. In his session, you'll see how tools like Telerik Fiddler can help you detect what your application is transmitting "along the wire". He'll also share a number of tips and tricks that you can apply to guard yourself against a number of attack vectors. Bring your popcorn because this session is going to be fun to watch!

Project Feather: Develop Rich User Experiences with MVC and Sitefinity CMS

We have Bulgaria's own, Peter Marinov joining us in Perth to talk to us about Project Feather, the awesomesauce of Sitefinity site development with ASP.NET MVC. I'm really excited to see this session because we've put a boat-load of work into Project Feather. It's a great project because it gives you back the control you've been after when building against Sitefinity.

In addition to these sessions, we'll also have a 3-hour workshop where you'll see a soup-to-nuts walkthrough of Sitefinity and Telerik Platform. I like to think of these two solutions as Telerik's peanut butter and chocolate combination. They're simply awesome. If you're looking for a way to get online with a site and make your content available to a rich, immersive mobile application then look no further. This workshop will have you covered.

That's just a small sampling of what you can expect to see at the APJ Progress Spark Conference in Perth on April 21-23. Why not register and join us? Did I mention it's a free event? I did? Okay, cool.

I'll see you there!

Respond 2014

Last week, I attended Respond 2014 in Sydney.

This one-day conference was organised by the super-awesome folks from Web Directions and was described as “a festival of Responsive Web Design for designers and developers of the multi-device Web”. It featured a number of prominent folks from the RWD community from Australia and overseas, including Ethan Marcotte and Jason Grigsby.

Left-to-Right: Jason Grigsby, Ethan Marcotte, John Allsopp

Left-to-Right: Jason Grigsby, Ethan Marcotte, John Allsopp

Even though I have a vast experience with RWD, I felt like somewhat of an imposter. It had been a while since I had hacked against media queries, fumbled with grids, or dabbled with responsive images. Compounding this problem was the fact that this was my first time attending a conference dedicated entirely to RWD.

Despite all of this, I felt right at home at this conference. The speakers did an amazing job bringing folks along with the materials and concepts presented. Furthermore, I learned quite a number of new things along the way.

Jason Grigsby (@grigs) at Respond 2014  Photo credit:

Jason Grigsby (@grigs) at Respond 2014

Photo credit:

One of my favourite presentations was by Jason Grigsby who spoke about responsive mobile-first design.

I think Jason provided a lot of solid advice when it comes to tackling responsive mobile-first design. Of particular interest to me was his insights on the state of responsive images. Of the many solutions available, I found Picturefill - a polyfill for the picture element - to be the most practical for helping to address responsive images.

Polyfills: is there anything thing they can't do?

A little later in the day, John Allsopp delivered a presentation entitled, Well, How Did We Get Here? which I found particularly interesting. John invoked nostalgia by taking the audience on a trip through the world of Web development in the 1990s. I remember those days quite well. So many hacks.

John Allsopp laments about the past

John Allsopp laments about the past

John's presentation was excellent because it provided some context around the theme of the day; responsive web design.

I will admit that I started to feel bad for John after 20 minutes into his presentation. He's seen far too many things in the Web development days of old. Naturally, this prompted me to quip the following on Twitter:

Rounding out the day was Ethen Marcotte's presentation entitled, The Map and The Territory. He delivered an interesting presentation that talked about RWD and the future challenges we face globally as more and more third-world countries come online.

All in all, I had a great time at Respond 2014. I learned a great deal and would be very tempted to attend the conference if held next year!

MelbJS and Web Directions Code 2013

Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of returning back to Batmania (Melbourne) for MelbJS and Web Directions Code 2013. Both events were fantastic and I had a wonderful time connecting with attendees, chatting with them about Kendo UI.

tl/dr: Two awesome events where we (Cameron Marsland and I) were able to connect with the web developer community. Lots of interest around Kendo UI. Great times all around


MelbJS is a prominent user group for JavaScript developers in Melbourne. It features presentations on a monthly basis from local speakers, highlighting a number of topics as they relate to JavaScript and web developer in-general.

The evening's event featured a number of talks by speakers at Web Directions Code. With 100+ attendees, it was a huge turnout for MelbJS and it was great to see!

While at MelbJS, I got a chance to speak to a number of developers about Kendo UI. There were a lot of questions to answer. In particular, I fielded a lot of questions about Kendo UI DataViz, our visualization library for SVG-based charts and graphs.

All in all, I had a great time. I (heart) MelbJS.

Like most house parties, the most popular room was the kitchen

Web Directions Code 2013

As the conference states, Web Directions Code is "for web professionals like you who care about code two days of intense learning, connecting and geeking out". In short, a web developer love-fest.

Web Code Directions 2013

For this year's event, 300 web developers were in attendance from across Australia; 20% higher attendance than Web Directions Code 2012. (Well done, Web Directions organisers!)

Web Directions Code 2013 at Melbourne City Hall

Web Directions Code 2013 featured many prominent speakers from Australia and overseas as evidenced by the conference schedule. If you were unable to attend, you can check out the presentations:

The presentation that stole the show was Steven Wittens' talk entitled, "Making Things With Maths". So impressed I was with his delivery and timing, I tweeted the following:

You can check out Steven's slides (linked above) but to appreciate the epicness of his presentation, you should check out a recording of his talk from Full Frontal 2012:

It was good to be back in Melbourne, my former hometown from 1999-2002. The sights, the smells, the colours. All of it combines into this magical city. Of course, some sights are more interesting than others:

Meanwhile, at the same venue at Web Directions Code 2013...

Being in Melbourne with my colleague (Cameron Marsland) did give me the opportunity to show him around. One of my favourite spots for a bite to eat is Supper Inn in Chinatown:

Supper Inn, Chinatown Melbourne

Which, in turn, led to this at Berlin Bar:

Drinks at Berlin Bar (Melbourne)

Good times all around.

To the next adventure!

Back to Batmania for MelbJS and Web Directions Code


Next month kicks off with a visit to Melbourne for MelbJS and Web Directions Code 2013. If you happen to be in the area, I'd recommend joining us for these great events.

As far as JavaScript groups go, MelbJS is pretty awesome. They have a great group of organisers and have consistently greatly talks.

This will be my second time at Web Directions Code (May 2-3). This conference features some of the top minds in the web development space from around the world. It's a treat for us here in Australia to have some wonderful talent visiting our shores.

Back in Perth-fection for Edge of the Web

Ah, back to Perth we go!

Another early morning wake-up. Haven't I been here before? Truth be told, I'm a sleep camel and can easily tolerate it. I probably would have been quite successful in the military. All that jogging and early mornings. Child's play if you ask me.

I kid, I kid.

This week, I'm in Perth for Edge of the Web, a conference for web developers and designers around Australia. I'll be speaking to attendees about web performance, which has always interested me since I started hacking on angle brackets back in the '90s. Things have certainly changed since then.

Anyway, if you're attending Edge of the Web and feel like listening to me rant and rave about web performance then I'd suggest you drop by.

AppFest Sydney, Day 1

There must be something special about an event that compels me to wake up at 3:45 AM.

I asked myself this question more than once as I made my way through the dewy confines of a Melbourne morning to Tullamarine Airport. Yet, a quick flight to Sydney and a short taxi ride afterward, I found myself bleary-eyed at the footsteps of University of New South Wales in Sydney.

The University of New South Wales (Sydney)

The University of New South Wales (Sydney)

I was here to attend a developer event called AppFest - an event organized by the Developer and Platform Evangelism (DPE) team at Microsoft Australia. Its purpose was to provide a venue for developers to meet, discuss, and hack against a wide range of Microsoft technologies and products, including Windows 8, Windows Phone, and Windows Azure.

The calm before the storm

The calm before the storm

My purpose for being here was simple; to hear more about Microsoft's latest offerings, to discuss them with fellow attendees, and to demonstrate the tools we have at Telerik to assist developers targeting the Microsoft stack.

My (new) Surface RT device, sitting very nicely on a tray table.

My (new) Surface RT device, sitting very nicely on a tray table.

A side benefit of this trip was to test-drive my new Surface RT device in a real world setting; onboard an airplane. To push the matter further, I decided to book myself in the worst seat on the plane: the last row on a Boeing 737-800 (on Virgin Australia). Anyway, my overall experience was pretty awesome. The form factor of the Surface RT is perfectly suited for a standard airline seat. Everything from the angle of the screen to the surface area covered on the tray table was perfect. In fact, I cranked out a number of paragraphs of this article on the flight over to Sydney without a hitch. Other features like the ambient light sensor worked very well when the cabin lights were dimmed. Overall, I came away with the feeling that this little device is deserving of a lot more of my attention.

Get excited, dammit!

Get excited, dammit!

The idea of an AppFest isn't new. These sorts of events have been around for a long time - with names like hack-a-thon and code camp. Their purpose is to spark a developer's natural tendency, which is building software. Developers come in all different metaphorical shapes and sizes. However, the one thing that we are share is the feeling we get from the creative process. That is why events like these are awesome; they kick-start the "I want to build epic shit" engine dwelling inside the developers who attend them.

AppFest featured two concurrent tracks - one for developers and one for designers. Leading the developer track - which I attended - was Nick Hodge, a Developer Evangelist for Microsoft Australia.

Nick Hodge (@NickHodgeMSFT) showing off his "Metro-ness"

Nick Hodge (@NickHodgeMSFT) showing off his "Metro-ness"

Nick spent the first hour providing a high-level technical overview of Windows 8, showcasing a number of sample applications and the code that underpins them. Next, he walked us through a number of aspects of Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud platform. One of the more interesting aspects of Nick's presentation was his overview of Windows Azure Mobile Services. Essentially, it provides the ability to automatically generate CRUD operations for mobile applications against a SQL Azure-based database. It supports Windows Phone 8, Windows 8, and iOS (quite surprisingly). Note to self: Spend more time checking out Windows Azure Mobile Services.

Before lunch, Nick spent some time walking the audience through the process of managing your applications for the Windows Store. This, of course, is a critically important aspect of developing for Windows 8 and Windows Phone.

Nick Hodge (@NickHodgeMSFT) running the show. Photo attribution: Code Red Paul (Flickr)

Nick Hodge (@NickHodgeMSFT) running the show. Photo attribution: Code Red Paul (Flickr)

After lunch, Nick gave me an opportunity to demonstrate RadControls for Windows 8, along with a couple of Windows 8 apps - AppMock, and Tasks. (All of these are available in the Windows Store.) If you haven't seen these yet then I would strongly encourage you to check them out. Afterward, I shared some information about our newly announced Virtual Accelerator for Windows 8. This program gives you the opportunity to receive $30,000 in funding, a week in Hong Kong to attend a mentor-led boot camp, and three months in virtual acceleration program.

Telerik Virtual Accelerator for Windows 8

Telerik Virtual Accelerator for Windows 8

During the afternoon, Nick switched gears by turning attention to the Windows Phone platform. I'll admit that I was surprised by some of the things that Nick shared. It's been a long time since I've used a Windows Phone device and I was impressed by all the improvements that have gone into Windows Phone 8. Even though end user adoption isn't great, the platform is certainly capable.

Overall, I had a blast at the AppFest. Microsoft Australia did an excellent job organizing the first day of this event. My thanks goes to Lachlan Hardy and Nick Hodge of Microsoft Australia for having me at the event. Unfortunately, I cannot attend the remaining days over the weekend. However, if today is was any measure then the attendees are in for a wild weekend of technical awesomeness.

Kudos to Microsoft New Zealand for TechEd 2012

As I made my way back across the Tasman to Melbourne, I felt compelled to share with you my experience at Microsoft TechEd New Zealand 2012.

I've been to a lot of conferences in my time. Mostly, as a speaker. Sometimes, as an attendee. And, on the rare occasion, as an exhibitor representing a company. This year, I attended TechEd New Zealand 2012 wearing all three hats.

Conferences aren't easy. Ask anyone who's committed themselves to bringing members of the community together in a shared learning environment. It's a tough job. And, it takes a lot of effort. You have to organise and plan a lot of things.

Having been a part of Developer & Platform Evangelism (DPE) with Microsoft Canada, and having organised a number of developer events myself, I understand just how difficult they can be to coordinate, manage, and execute. I felt the team running TechEd New Zealand 2012 did a wonderful job. From organising speakers to coordinating exhibitors, they should be proud of their accomplishment. They were able to bring 2000 developers and IT pros together in a pretty awesome way.

Some of the highlights for me:

  • I thought the keynote was excellent. (Nigel Parker: Take a bow.) It featured a great mix of creative and technical content. And, throughout each presentation, there was a wonderful narrative that demonstrated the passion Microsoft brings to the technology it builds. As it was articulated throughout the keynote address, this is the biggest year in Microsoft's 35 year history. Consider the some products and technologies that has been released this year; Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Visual Studio 2012, the .NET Framework 4.5. It boggles the mind.
  • My apologies to Thiago Almeida for not submitting my presentation on time. However, did that bother him? Nope. Did he accommodate me as a speaker to make sure I could do the best I could? Absolutely.
  • The events staff who looked after the exhibitors were excellent. They took care of any/all issues (no matter how small) with the utmost care and professionalism. There was never a time where I felt needing anything in order to better engage our customers.
  • The in-room A/V folks were great. As a speaker, I was quite impressed with just how accommidating they were for my presentation. I had quite a few devices on-stage. At one point, I was a little worried at over-taxing them with things to do. Nope. They were awesome.
  • The catering with quite good. I can't say I've ever consumed as much salmon as I did at any conference in the past. However, I'm wasn't complaining. :) The only thing I might change would be to have an assortment of drinks on-hand. I don't think I was alone in thinking it was odd to not have pop/juice available. Finally, the Internet access. Speed? Good. Coverage? Excellent. Well done. That's about it.

Again, awesome job, Microsoft New Zealand!

Current Status: TechEd New Zealand 2012


Greetings from Auckland! I am in town for the next few days for TechEd New Zealand 2012. This will be my second time visiting Auckland, also known as the City of Sails. The last time I was here was about 12 years ago. To give you some perspective: at that time, .NET had not been announced; COM components were all the rage. But, I digress.

As part of Telerik's long-term commitment of supporting and connecting with the developer community, we have an exhibitor booth all decked out with jealousy-inducing swag and awe-inspiring demos. If you've got questions then we've got answers. Why not swing by for a chat? We'd love to connect with you, even if only to "kia ora".

I'll also be delivering a presentation entitled, "Create Your Own Lego: Building Custom Controls for Windows 8 Apps". Here's the abstract:

Windows 8 provides a platform for you to create touch-based, immersive applications for consumers and business users alike. For developers, the building blocks of these applications are controls. Controls form the building blocks of applications. Much like Lego blocks, these controls are adaptable and reusable; facilitating a consistent look and feel across applications. In this presentation, you’ll learn how to create custom controls for Metro style apps with HTML and XAML. Along the way, you’ll discover many of the mechanisms available to controls including data binding, event handling, and designer integration. My main objective: Help developers to level up and be awesome on Windows 8.

The session will start at 10:40 AM in the Marlborough Room on Friday, September 7th. I hope to see you there!

webDU 2012

I was in Sydney earlier this week to speak at webDU. This year marked the 10th anniversary of this conference and I admit that I walked away impressed by the quality of the presentations that were delivered along with the professionalism of the organising staff.

Initially, I had planned to deliver a talk on responsive design. However, I was asked to cover for a missing speaker due to illness. My first talk entitled, “Make Awesome Web” covered a top 25 list of sites and tools I had curated on Make Awesome Web.

This talk went very well. In retrospect, I probably should have given the presentation a better title. Something like “Johnny’s Crazy-Ass Brain-Dump of Awesome Sites and Tools” would have been much more appropriate.

Later in the night, I was a panelist in a BOF entitled, Building Native Apps with Web Frameworks, which featured a lively discussion about building applications for mobile devices with web development technologies. Of course, I spoke at-length about how we (at Telerik) approach this problem with Kendo UI. Our view is that many developers and companies want to build applications that look and feel native without having to resort to differing frameworks and unfamiliar languages. During our discussion, I made the point that of all the viable mobile platforms in existence (and soon-to-be-in existence), the Metro UX metaphor presented by Microsoft is the one that certainly disrupts the in-and-out push-button experience you see across iOS, Android, and Blackberry today. This certainly got a few questions raised. Of course, the reality is somewhat interesting this days with Apple and Google owning a great deal of developer and consumer mindshare in this space. Nevertheless, it’s one that a lot of folks are watching with great interest.

As I stated earlier, I had planned to deliver a talk on responsive design on the following day of the conference. Unfortunately, my son back in Melbourne was very sick and I received word from my wife that I needed to come home immediately. I was (therefore) unable to deliver my talk but I suppose that’s life as a parent.

On a side note, I was great to meet a number of the speakers and attendees at webDU. I was quite impressed by the level of expertise and experience at this conference. I truly hope to be invited back to speak next year and I look forward to seeing the list of talks on-offer at that time.