FOWA Dublin 2009 Recap

Posted on 12 March 2009 by Johannes Fahrenkrug. Tags: Conferences
I think there are 2 letters to sum up this event: OK. Content-wise, it was between OK and great. The organization of the event was terrible, though: The venue was too tight and crowded, the registration consisted of being pushed toward two registration tables, being handed an empty badge and the moving across the room - through the crowd - to get a pen and write your name and company on your own badge. Annoying. Then: No free coffee. No free water. 2 euros for a small cup of coffee at a very crowded bar. What about WiFi? They used a home router which you could never get on and if you every managed to get on it, it was so slow that sucking a steak in through a straw would seen easy, fast and enjoyable. So I was basically offline all day at a conference called "The Future of Web Apps". Not good. Oh, and no swag either!
So now that I got that off of my chest, what about the sessions? I'll make this very short and quick:
  1. How to sell your web app (Ryan Carson)

    Good talk. 14 tips, including not writing your own billing code (but using Spreedly instead) and making it easy to give your customers a refund.

  2. Unconventional web apps (Eoghan McCabe and Des Traynor from Contrast)

    One of the best (if not THE best) talk of the day. The two guys showed how we often limit ourselves and keep ourselves from innovation by thinking that we always have to build web apps using the same sets of old conventions. The slides are up, but you should wait for the video to be available. Very, very good!

  3. Apps for all in a Web 2.0 world (Robin Christopherson)

    Robin is blind and showed how difficult it is for people with his disability to access websites that heavily use more innovative web technologies. He made a good and important point, but I found the presentation to be somewhat lengthy as it mainly consisted of listening to a screenreader on different websites and didn't give much of an advice of how to do it better.

  4. How to build amazing web apps - Lessons learned from building (Blaine Cook)

    This was one of the talks I was looking forward to the most. But I was very disappointed. Blaine took the first couple of minutes to talk about what his talk will NOT be about and then went on to talk about some emerging social technologies on the web. Nothing about amazing web apps and the parts about the emerging social technologies felt more like fluff to me than some in-depth information. He did a good job presenting it, but I was disappointed by the content. And the title was misleading.

  5. The future of Ruby without Rails (Emma Persky)

    Another highlight. This wasn't a Rails-bashing talk, but Emma showed very well that there are different tools for different jobs and tasks and that you shouldn't try to do everything with Rails, but rather look into using other great frameworks like Sinatra and AppEngine, too when they are a better match for your problem. Couldn't agree more.

  6. Yet another web app? Or a successful business? (Morgan McKeagney)

    I don't really remember this session anymore... I guess it had some tips about how to not build just another web app but a successful business instead ;-)

  7. How to build desktop apps that help your web apps succeed (Matthew Ogle,

    Good talk with a short history of and how their audioscrobbler application made them so successful. The key way not to change the users' habits but to use the data they already produce anyway (in their case, which music they listen to) and to get some value out of that data. Obviously a good idea.

  8. Web application horror stories (Simon Willison)

    Simon is the co-creator of the great Django web framework. Actually the talk was called "web application security horror stories". It was a definite highlight of the conference. He gave a great overview of the basic (XSS, SQL Injection) and the more obscure (Clickjacking) security problems that all web developers should know about. Great talk and very entertaining as well.

  9. 120 seconds of madness - Start-ups pitch their ideas to DHH, Mike Butcher from Techcrunch and Ryan Carson

    Boring and lengthy.

  10. A talk which topic I forgot (David Heinemeier Hansson)

    A great, great talk about what it takes to start a successful web business. It's not the ideas or the secrets. It's all about great execution and perseverance. A great idea badly executed will be a failure. A mediocre idea well executed will be a success (most likely). Reminded me a lot of his talk at the Start-up School. He obviously had a lot of fun giving the talk and I had a lot of fun listening. Lots of very good points!

Oh, and Microsoft was there too with a Surface thingy. Pretty cool:
So all in all it was a good conference. I'd attend again but only if there'll be free coffee.


Des Traynor said...

Wow - thanks for the compliment, glad you enjoyed it!


March 12, 2009 04:38 PM


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