This year's BarCampRDU was fantastic. Presentations given this year covered a really diverse set of topics. Frankly, too many topics to cover in this post. Ironically, I forgot to vote...
Talks on Social Networking? Yeah, but that is so last year. Instead I saw talks on iPhone programming and the Fan Programming Language, Cloud Computing using the Amazon EC2, Big Lee himself was there getting a talk going on social controls over Spam, and there were even topics such as Hadoop and Mahout (talk led by Grant Ingersoll no less). Not to mention a crowd of serious people working on incubating technology startups in the RTP area. And yes, a group discussing Groovy and Grails was there and yours truly did more than lurk.
The interesting thing about Grails is how broad an audience it targets. At the moment the core G2One guys (I've only met Jeff Brown) are focused on Java shops. This is probably a good "head of the spear" tactic for them. (See I was paying attention in the startup talk) as the integration story between Java and Groovy and Spring and Grails just totally fantastic. There are only so many hours in the day and only so many people you can talk to. So the choice to focus was probably wise. I think there are some great advocates and allies for Grails waiting out there in frustrated LAMP stack developers who are ready to move to the next level.
The fact that you can dive as deep into Grails as you want to or stay as shallow as you want is so powerful. By leveraging Groovy which by its very construction means I can dig deep into Java if I need to means for small projects that scale out they can be incrementally and iteratively backed off down to Java applications if you need to. Or, you can stay fast an loose on top of the Grails platform cranking out features like there's no tomorrow. And there are many LAMP guys who are going to love that. I think I've met a few smart guys that might actually find a few great ways to help Grails grow into this region.
During the between presentations times I met folks who work at exciting technology companies like rPath, Lulu, Tibco, and through them I've heard about the small Google office here in RTP working on Android related software. And, since I've started to get out and about I know that Sun also has a small group of engineers here in RTP as well as Oracle and the obvious big guns like RedHat, Cisco, Nortel, and IBM.
I think that the RTP area (because of the insane growth seen in Chapel Hill, Durham, Cary, and Raleigh) is just inevitably the next great place to be for new young companies seeking to innovate, invent, and create. If there is a recession it's not here, if any thing I'm seeing a boom town in my backyard. Why aren't there more high profile startups and more technology companies here? I think it's just a perception thing.
I can't mention everyone and everything in this post ... in a scant few hours I got as much out of BarCampRDU as I have some week long conferences ... I'm sure that many of the connections I made at BarCampRDU will help to inform future posts and might even change the course and focus of my career. Yes, it was that good. If you didn't go... you missed out.