The London Perl Workshop 2016

LPWcommunity Sun 4 December 2016

I went to the London Perl Workshop yesterday. It was the usual excellent mix of good talks, catching up with old friends, and making some new ones. It was also the 10th and final LPW organised by Mark Keating. I came away reminded that what makes a languages isn't really the language, it's an ecosystem for sharing code (CPAN) and the community. And what a great community we have!

Talks I attended

The first talk was John Davies talking about XML::Lenient, a module he wrote for extracting strings out of markup that may not be entirely conformant. He wrote it after trying to use HTML::Parser, XML::XPath, but struggling to get his task done, at least partly because he found the documentation hard to follow. A good example of whipupitude — at one point John explained "I'm an accountant!", and that he just wanted to get the job done. This was the first module that John had released to CPAN, and he found the documentation for aspiring CPAN authors sorely lacking, sadly.

Next was Oliver Gorwits, talking about 15 years of the Netdisco project. Oliver has been one of the core members for more than 10 years, and he gave an enjoyable talk on the ebb and flow of a widely-used large open-source project. He made some good points about the potential for conflict between the goals of end-users (who want a stable reliable system), and goals of developers (having fun, learning new technologies, trying out new ideas, etc). I was interested to hear about his philosophy of handing out commit bits very easily, given "git means that they can't destroy the code, and it's easy to recover from any mistakes".

Theo and Léon both talked about HTTP caching, but from different perspectives. I've had to think about this topic a lot over the last few years, but I still learned some things.

JJ Allen gave a informative, useful, and accessible presentation on GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the new EU-wide data protection law which will come into force 25th May 2018. This is a really important topic that all programmers should be intimately familiar with, I hope that JJ follows this up with a series of blog posts on GDPR.

Mohammad Anwar was giving his first-ever talk. The thing that shone out was his passion and enthusiasm for Perl and its people, the pleasure he gets from people sending him pull requests on his distributions, and other people merging his pull requests. I was going to comment that he needs to work on his timekeeping, but if you were there and saw my lightning talk, you'd know if really don't have a leg to stand on in that department.

Next was my second JJ talk, this time from JJ Merelo. His talk was more of a manifesto, a call for programming to be taught in a new way. He's had enough of "hello, world!". This is the basis of a book, that he's working on, and welcomes input into.

Dave Cross gave a typically entertaining Dave Cross talk about Damian's Lingua::EN::Inflexion module. This all appeared to be a front to an ecommerce scam.

My talks

I gave a 50-minute talk on "How CPAN works", which seemed to go ok, but I was still working on the slides during the day, and I suspect that showed.

For my lightning talk I tried to cover as many modules as I could in 5 minutes, that had been covered in CPAN Weekly. Laughably I didn't even get through half of my slides. Next year, if I give a lightning talk, I will try my damnednest not to end up flicking through my slides at high speed, as Léon looks at me pointedly.

The end of an era

This was the 10th year that Mark Keating had been chief organiser of LPW. In that time he's had to deal with floods in his home town, last-minute changes of venue, and the randomness of us! Through all that he made sure the show went on.

To thank him, the LPW attendees clubbed together to buy him a 3D printer. Next year I'm looking forward to a talk from Mark on driving a 3D printer with Perl. Thank you for all the work you've done on LPW, Mark!

Next year's LPW will be organised by a team of 5 volunteers, including me. We have some big shoes to fill.

Thanks to

There is no entry fee for LPW, and that's only possible with the help of the generous sponsors. So thanks to Adzuna,, CV Library, Eligo, Geek University, Magnum Solutions, Opus VL, Perl Careers, Science Photo Library, Shadowcat Systems, The Englightened Perl Organisation, Floss UK, Perl 6 Developers, Perl Weekly, and the University of Westminster.

I'd also like to thank not only Mark Keating, but all the volunteers who help make it such a good event.

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