Two pre-conference workshops for me this year: Transforming MARC and Metadata into RDF-based Applications and Creating Data Dashboards Using Angular and D3.js, both were great and there were several other workshops I wish I could have attended. Someone in Code4Lib needs to create a time turner.
I was most anxious about the Transforming MARC workshop because it was the first technology-based workshop I'd attended in a while that was using technology I don't already use every day. Fedora, Ruby, Solr, yawn... But Python 3!
I tend to be pretty obsessive about making sure my laptop is prepared before workshops because I'm afraid of being behind right from the start. I spent a good half hour in the morning freaking out because I already had Python 2 on my computer (I only use it very occasionally) and and when I tried to run Python at the command line I could not get it to run Python 3 instead of 2. I had installed pyenv because I was used to Ruby version managers but couldn't figure that out either. I gave up trying to "fix" this five minutes before the workshop so I could go register.
A few minutes into the workshop I learn that you just have to type
python3 at the command line instead of
python and it works. My installation was fine, I'm just a little derpy when I'm nervous.
The workshop itself was good but speedy. I was able to keep up for about the first half before I needed to ask the instructor for a pause to catch up. It was a heavy typing workshop and the more nervous I got, the more I made typos, the more I fell behind. The instructors were gracious about stopping when folks needed to and I was grateful for that.
I left feeling inspired to think more about the solr index I work on that is bringing together data from many sources, wondering whether a triplestore behind it would make our overall architecture more robust or just more complicated. :)
The D3.js workshop was also very satisfying and was an interesting contrast in teaching techniques. Asking us to do very little typing, the presenters walked us through the code to create the dashboard by having a completed app with the relevant code commented out. So as the presenters explained each step in creating the dashboard, we would uncomment the related code.
This was a very nice learning experience, especially as I was really, really exhausted by the end of the day. It introduced both the concepts and possibilities of Angular and D3 while simultaneously giving us the body memory of having built a dashboard. No one seemed to fall behind or get stressed out and everyone was pleased with their dashboard at the end. We didn't learn the syntax ins and outs or learn a bunch of new code, but in three hours we weren't going to anyway! Instead we had a very nice learning experience and are going home with a good example to study.
That's my wrap up from pre-conference day. The hotel is nice, the food is good, and the company is great.