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I recently attended POSSCon in Columbia, South Carolina. Surprisingly the term POSSCON doesn’t stand for a backwoods South Carolinian “Possum Conference” but rather it stands for Palmetto Open Source Software Conference as South Carolina is known as the “Palmetto State”. 


I intended to go last year, but didn’t get registered in time. This year I was able to make it down for one day, Tuesday, the day in which the majority of the breakout sessions occurred. 

When I walked into the main room where the keynote was to take place I immediately saw one of our Charlotte based DNN user group members there. We sat down and caught up and ended up hanging out for the majority of the day. After catching up with my friend it was time for the keynote. The keynote was given by Andy Hunt of Pragmatic Bookshelf and I really enjoyed his speech. He spoke about the movement of open source technology and noted that “Open Source won the developers”. He encouraged attendees to never stop innovating and to experiment while also noting that the “Internet of Things” (connected devices) is the next big thing. He also gave attendees a 5 step method for producing new ideas. After listening to Andy’s speech I wanted to go out and build something! Imagine controlling real world objects (connected devices) through microcontrollers (like Arduinos or Spark Cores) that can be updated via a DNN module that uses web services - it’s all possible! 

Andy Hunt of Pragmatic Bookshelf giving keynote at POSSCON 2015


Intro to Angular
As you can imagine, right after the keynote came the breakout sessions. I sat in on several sessions throughout the day. I’ll share info on some of the interesting sessions I attended. Tom Wilson of Jack Russell software did a great job in his “Intro to Angular” talk. I started into Angular a while back and was impressed by it, but then with the news of a complete re-write coming I pulled back from it a little. I know some of the my fellow Southern Fried DNN User Group members here in the Charlotte area are also a little hesitant regarding Angular due to the rewrite. I was really curious as to hear Tom’s perspective on the transition to the Angular 2.0 rewrite, but he didn’t really elaborate on that subject as his talk was more focused on introductory Angular concepts based on Angular 1.4.  He really presented the information in a way that was easy to understand for beginners. He did a good job with his session and was definitely well versed on Angular. 

What are your thoughts around using Angular in your DNN modules? Are you using Angular at all? If so, are you using a current version or waiting until 2.0 or even 2.1 to release? How are you going to handle the transition? 

Tom Wilson of Jack Russell Software at POSSCON 2015

Intro to GitHub
I’m definitely not a GitHub pro so I looked forward to the “Intro to GitHub” session by Lee Faus who works at GitHub. In the DNN Community we have seen a lot of traction since moving our platform to GitHub. Check out the growth in pull requests from Joe Brinkman’s blog featuring our DNN Community Heroes + see the DNN Platform on Github. Back to the session, Lee did a great job presenting the history of version control solutions and was informative the entire way. I did learn a few things from sitting in on Lee’s presentation. Unfortunately towards the end of his discussion the internet connectivity gave him issues and he was unable to cover as much ground as he had hoped. Still it was a good session though and GitHub is definitely changing the game.

Battle of the (PHP) CMS Titans
One session I looked forward to sitting in on was David Hurley’s “Battle of the CMS Titans” session. David was a great presenter as he combined stats, jokes, and interactivity with the audience in a unique way. I enjoyed his style. Early on in the session he noted that he wasn’t going to show any favoritism toward any specific CMS and he held true to that statement, well to the CMS part he did :-)

Battle of the PHP CMS Titans

Early on in his presentation he asked the audience to think about what the term “CMS” means. He then paused and asked the audience to consider how we look at a CMS today with the thought in mind of what will we need a CMS to be in a few years. His rhetorical question pointed to the evolving needs of CMS with which we can all identify. When I think about the ever changing demands on a CMS and how DNN has been able to… and still is able to… evolve to meet these demands it highlights the flexibility of our platform and it speaks to the strength of the global ecosystem & community we have behind the project. The release of DNN Platform 7.4 is a great example of this evolution and community.

David’s session focused in on Wordpess, Drupal, and Joomla. It was apparent that he was a PHP guy as there were no open source .NET solutions mentioned at any point in his discussion so while he didn’t show favoritism to any specific CMS he did show favoritism for a specific technology. I think a more accurate name for his presentation would have been “Battle of the PHP CMS Titans”, but nevertheless it was interesting to hear the debate from the PHP side of the spectrum. The features and functionality reviewed and the questions from the audience were the same types of features and questions that we all commonly hear at DNN Conferences. As you would imagine the PHP guys face the same business challenges that we as .NET devs face.

Ultimately David didn’t recommend one CMS as being better or worse than the others. He spoke to the CMS of choice being directly related to the task at hand, which of course is accurate. Interestingly David spoke to the real battle being open source vs. closed source and cited new “Up and Comers” such as Wix, Weebly, and SquareSpace being the solutions everyone should look out for. This is because they are closed source solutions and once you get locked into them the road ahead is not a good one. 

Even though the tagline for POSSCON says it is a conference “Exploring tech and the open web” I couldn’t help but think there was a gaping hole in the spectrum of open source technologies represented at the conference. Coming from a Microsoft background I felt the conference only told one side of the story. Even the keynote had a lack of Microsoft references and I didn’t see any sessions based on, or anyone speaking about, Microsoft technologies.  Microsoft has open sourced just about everything here lately. .NET itself is on GitHub, Microsoft even has a whole site dedicated to open source, and our DNN Co-Founder Joe Brinkman had a great blog post about “What does it mean to be open source?” 

My friend and I even discussed this throughout the day and with some other attendees at lunch. Every session I sat in was slanted towards PHP, Apache, Linux and then of course JavaScript (which spans all technologies). Perhaps this is a signal, but I know there are plenty of Open Source technologies and technologists on the Microsoft stack that weren’t represented at POSSCON. In this regard I think the conference lacked a little and hope it will open up to more open source technologies in the future.

All in all the POSSCon conference was a good one that I would recommend attending to others. It was organized, communicated, and hosted really well (kudos to the organizers). Though as I just mentioned, I do wish the conference had better representation from the entire open source community. I imagine conference attendance would increase over time and attendees would have more of a diverse selection to choose from if more open source technologies were represented at the conference. In all fairness though, I don’t guess the conference organizers have any control over what sessions do and don’t get submitted from the outside so perhaps I’ll submit a session next year! Along with that I would ask more .NET devs and DNN’ers to attend and submit sessions as well!

And while we’re on the subject of conferences - who’s going to DNN-Connect in France?


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