Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Node School–Bristol

Last Saturday I got to attend the first NodeSchool to be held in Bristol.

The event was held at the MixRadio offices in the heart of Bristol who were sponsoring the day by hosting the event, the room was at the top of their building looking out over Bristol which was brilliant.

The Day

I, like most attendees, started arriving about 9:15 finding somewhere to sit and getting their laptop ready.

Just after 10 the event began with an introduction telling us all about the day, what we could expect, how to get help and thanks to the sponsors that had made the day possible.

The format for the day was to follow the tutorials in the learnyounode workshop from NodeSchool (which you can install using npm install –g learnyounode) the difference being that instead of having to do it on your own, and try and complete the exercises simply by Googling for solutions, there were “mentors” on hand to help if you got stuck.  The mentors were volunteers who had experience with node and could help solve the exercises in the workshop.

The original timetable for the day had attendees having a break at 11 but most people were heads down working on the exercises with mentors helping out as required.

Lunch was supplied by JustEat, who were also sponsoring the event, who provided some awesome pizza for everyone to eat.

After lunch there was a short update on what the plan was for the afternoon and other tutorials that you could look at before we carried on with the exercises.

At 4:30 we stopped for a talk from Adam Butler on “5 Things to build with NodeJS” the highlight of which was Adam flying a couple of different drones using node.

After the event there people went for drinks at Big Chill which unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend.

The workshop/exercises

The learnyounode workshop code is structured into a series of exercises that take you from “Hello World!” through multiple async http calls to creating your own http server.

Everything is done at the command line with learnyounode providing a list of all the exercises and marking each as completed when you successfully complete an exercise.

When you start an exercise you get told what it is you need to do and then get a “Hint” giving you more information about how to accomplish what it is you need to do, once you’ve written your solution you verify its correct using the learnyounode inbuilt test harness. 

If your code doesn’t pass the test you get test failure output showing what was expected and if you pass you get shown the “official” solution to the problem.

My Day

During the day I managed to complete the entire workshop, which was the intention for everybody.

I also managed to complete the Express workshop, ExpressWorks, and what was interesting (to me at least) was how noticeably easier it was to use node with a framework like express after having had to code at the lower level for most of the day. 


It was a really good day in a fantastic venue, we were fed watered and looked after really well throughout the day, I must give a big thanks to Katja ,Tristan, Tom & Adam for organising the day.

Although I wouldn’t say I’m now a proficient node developer I feel I have a much better idea of how node works and also through doing the Express workshop can see how easy it would be to put  together an application on node.

I know that they are planning future events and I would recommend attending one if you want to explore the world of node but were unsure where to start.