The Node Brigade’s March Hits Its Stride at HiVE

The Node Brigade is not, by any technical definition of the word, a brigade. Nothing about the crowd at the HiVE on January 15 implied militaristic thinking. But a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, as they say, and according to Rob Ellis the name was chosen for its innate camaraderie.

That’s what the event comprised of: the men (and one woman who was not myself) of Vancouver’s web-development industry sat, considered, celebrated and communed with their colleagues over the intricacies of Node.

The Node Brigade is a young organization with a legitimate pedigree. Its founders, Rob Ellis and Brock Whitten, have been working together since 2007 at Nitobi Software, best known for developing PhoneGap and PhoneGapBuild.

Adobe purchased the company in 2011, after the two of them had already departed to work their magic at Joyent. Some tables were entirely populated by people connected to Joyent; most of the guests in attendance were more than familiar with Node. One man admitted to me, under conditions of anonymity, that his sole reason for attending tonight was to see if he could find errors in the presented code.  

There were none, and rightfully so. Node Brigade is not for novices, though it is for amateurs.

For those in the dark, Node.js (colloquially shortened to Node) is a platform based on JavaScript for building network applications—that is, applications that run on servers rather than in a browser as JavaScript is wont to do. It’s been used to develop services for companies as diverse as Uber, the Dow Jones, Milewise, Wompt and Wikia. The Meetup group is open to all comers, and many attendees were representing themselves as independent entrepreneurs, hoping to enjoy the networking (and keg of beer) as much as the speakers.

The two speakers of the evening, Trevor O (short for the unwieldy Orsztynowicz) of Coherence and Mitch Granger of NodeFly, delivered lectures that were approximately 20 minutes long apiece. Trevor O weighed the merits of event loops to deal with I/O blocking; Granger, with brevity on his side, led the audience through a discussion on server to server communication, weighing the pros and cons of Zero MQ, Axon, and Amino. The post-talk conversation lasted as long as the talk did, with hearty laughs shared over the challenges of working with Zookeeper.

The feeling of community in the room was palpable, and heartwarming. One gets the sense that this feeling radiates from the organizers: Rob Ellis spoke fervently about his desire to give attendees what they wanted.

”We get a tremendous amount of value from local sources, and we thought that there isn’t enough giving back. Everyone wanted more technical, more in-depth talks on Node, and that’s where this came from: getting past the ‘Hello world!’ and into the nitty-gritty,” he explained to Techvibes. “There’s a lot of events with the intro to Node, and this lets us get into the details and show as much code as possible.”

With a keen eye, code filled the room; between speakers, more than a few audience members had their laptops open to factor in what they’d learned and work on their own projects. The Node community is vibrant, passionate, and inclusive.

The next event will be two months from now. I look forward to it.