March 15, 2013

CODEshow Debuts At Dock Street Theatre To Positive Reviews

Brendan Kearney  /  Post and Courier

About halfway into his presentation on the computer programming language AngularJS, Brian Ford switched from telling to showing.

"Now it's live-coding demo time," he announced from the stage of the Dock Street Theatre.

Tim Caswell, who had just delivered his own fast-paced talk on another open-source language and was tapping out some code on his laptop in the audience, perked up.

"Yes!" he whispered.

Back up at the podium, Ford, a 22-year-old University of Michigan senior who has been working for Google since last summer, forged ahead. His plan is to build a "To-do List" app with more than 100 of his friendly but intense coder kin watching his every keystroke.

Ford, wearing a hooded Google sweatshirt and a matching Angular-branded T-shirt and Converse All Stars, programmed "Go to Code Show." But after adding a few more elements and tweaking the syntax here and there, things got buggy.

"You have a routeProvider missing," Nathan Hanna called out from his seat.

Ford paused and thanked Hanna, a user experience engineering manager at Daniel Island-based software firm Benefitfocus, but quickly ruled out his idea.

"I'm doing a chaining syntax here so I don't need to do that routeProvider each time," he explained.

After a bit more troubleshooting, involving the audience and cross-checking with some pre-vetted code, Ford got back on track and eventually finished the demo app just as it was time for the second item on his to-do list: Lunch.

That was the scene Thursday morning at CODEshow, the so-called Silicon Harbor's first conference "exclusively focused on the software engineering community," said Ernest Andrade, director of the Charleston Digital Corridor.

The latest part of the corridor's education campaign, the idea of the conference was to import national experts in cutting-edge technologies to educate local coders, while exposing outsiders to what's happening in Charleston.

Tom Wilson, who helped pick the trio of speakers, said his team at Mount Pleasant-based Jack Russell Software uses all the tools discussed Thursday. While it would cost $2,000 per person to send one of his guys to Silicon Valley for professional development, he was able to bring nine to CODEshow for about that much.

"It's a lot more efficient if we can bring national people here," he said.

Attendees ranged from commercial coders to computer science teachers from nearby colleges to a Notre Dame graduate student in between interviews at Lowcountry tech firms.

Andre Dublin, who recently moved to Charleston from Richmond, Va., to become web developer at Johns Island video game developer Kiz Studios, recalled his reaction when he heard about CODEshow. "I was like, 'Sweet, it's in town.'"

He seemed pleased by what he found.

The 32-year-old said the analogies in Caswell's Node.js presentation were "perfect," and that Asya Kamsky's MongoDB presentation will inform his next conversation with his boss about what database Kiz should use for its websites. He likened talking to "the people behind the code" to the sort of master-apprentice relationship found in "Star Wars."