In my first year at Kalamuna, I’ve noticed that people here have a Thing about self-teaching. This may be a common trait among developers, or it might be something that brought the agency together. Noticing the tendency, I thought to ask everyone here to point out the most valuable summits, projects, and technologies from the past year -- the things that helped them most, and that, hopefully, will help you, too. The bits below are the cream of the crop.
1. The Aspiration Non Profit Development Summit (@aspirationtech)
Aspiration, once again, brought together activists, nonprofit staff, and developers working with technology within nonprofit and social justice spaces. Activists, techies, tech-activists, non profit staff, and foundation clients gathered in downtown Oakland’s Preservation Park to share knowledge on subjects such as digital security, accessibility and inclusion, nonprofit web development, and online collaboration and decision making. Our creative-tech-unicorn Thiago attended and summarizes it as:
Every attendee is radically amazing in some way. It’s masterfully facilitated, you’re never watching a panel, or being preached at from a podium, and everyone in the room is in some way a relevant and vital part of the discussions. Gathering this many “techies that care” in the same place is a welcome reminder that one is not alone.
Thanks to the folks at Aspiration for bringing so many talented folks together as one giant force for good.
2. Women Who Code (@WomenWhoCode)
The disparity between the number of men and the number of women coders is A Thing, whether you’re the sort to talk about out loud or not. Which is why we really like Women Who Code, a non-profit dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers. The group is 18,000 members strong in 44 cities spanning 14 countries, and runs meetups where folks can learn how to code. Our site builder, Katy Pool, went to WWC meetups in 2014 and grew into our junior developer due, in part, to what she got out of the meetups. Katy writes:
WWC was awesome because it gave me a) a dedicated three hour block of time each week where I was solely focused on coding and learning to code, b) a room full of other women who were in the same position as me, or once had been, and c) a lot of interesting and inspiring talk about the tech community at large and what kinds of projects, jobs, and opportunities were out there if I decided to go down that path (I did).
We’re excited to see Women Who Code grow and expect it will help other people find their paths through the tech field.
Front-end development has come a really long way, and the two-day front-end summit at this year’s BADcamp, organized by David Hwang (who has been talking decoupled front-end all over the place this year) was inspiring.
We’ve also been pushing our front-end development. Sometimes the weight of the CMS gets in the way of innovative, elegant UI and UX solutions. So this year, we've been developing exciting living styleguides and static prototypes that let us nimbly evolve responsive designs. We’re also making straight-up static sites.
Kalamuna's Rob Loach has been energizing our static initiatives, and a major re-do of our own website is underway leveraging not-Drupal, but kss-node (thanks John Albin), metalsmith, npm, and other magic that is all over the internet these days. Expect exciting developments in Kalatheme 4.x this year to expose these approaches for all.
4. Docker (@docker)
Docker is an open platform for developers and sysadmins to build, ship, and run distributed applications, whether on laptops, data center VMs, or the cloud. It revolutionizes how people think of virtualized environments by allowing individual “containers” of software to run in a single Linux instance, avoiding the overhead of virtual machines. We like docker a lot because it facilitates extremely fast environments for your application hosting, testing, deploying, and use. Docker 1.0 was released on June 9th, 2014, and a whole flurry of big Internet players quickly announced support of it, including Microsoft, Red Hat, Amazon, DigitalOcean, and more.
5. Collaborative Design Sketching (Google Venture Labs)
We’ve started to design websites and other UIs as a group, with our clients. Asking a web design/build client to sketch their own website sounds nuts (“Aren’t they paying you to do that?” Aren’t they marketers, not designers?”) True, but when you hear your clients’ input and ideas and integrate them with the same weight as you would a UX designer’s sketch, you get valuable (and what would otherwise go hidden) information and early “buy-in” on design. We’ve started to invite design/build clients to time-boxed sketch sessions where everyone votes on sketches and talks about why certain things work. Everyone here is excited that we can compact perspectives from different disciplines into efficient, collaborative design. Read more here.
6. Kalabox 2.0 (@kalamuna)
Kalabox 2.0 will have a huge impact on the way developers push code live. Kalabox is a free, integrated workflow solution for Drupal developers. It’s the thing that connects all your things -- including your Pantheon account -- to provide a complete desktop-to-live workflow loop. We first developed it as an internal tool, and thanks to our 2014 Kickstarter campaign we’ve been able to work on 2.0 throughout the year. People all over the world use Kalabox to code, test and go live faster, and with multi-platform integration available in 2015, we’re excited to see how the product is going to help even more folks.