Spark Conference Aims to Ignite Regional Developers

Saturday, June 6 marks the first Spark Conference, a day-long code camp in Charlotte, NC, whose mission is to provide essential training for developers of all skill levels. The conference features more than 50 sessions on topics spanning design, AngularJS, MongoDB, OAuth, SQL Server, the Internet of Things, and much more.

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An enormous part of being a developer is continuous education in a constantly evolving industry, and an event like Spark Conference is an ideal solution. It provides a free opportunity for developers to brush up on practical knowledge of current development technologies, while also granting previews into other technologies they may have yet to embrace. Talks like “Mashup! Ruby on Rails and .NET” from Paula Paul and “Migrating a Real .NET Application to Azure” from Christopher Dix are just two examples of sessions that take what .NET developers already know and extend it to new environments. Other talks cover topics that dominate developer publication headlines. An entire block of sessions is devoted to the Internet of Things and different tools for building connected devices, from Raspberry Pi to the Intel Edison platform.

For developers looking to exercise their current skills, Spark Conference is also hosting a National Day of Civic Hacking hackathon with Code for Charlotte, a local Code for America Brigade. The hackathon will bring together developers, designers, community leaders—anyone who wants to participate, really—to focus their various skills on identifying real problems local government and its constituents face, and hack out solutions for those problems. Given the absolute deadline of 5 PM for the hackathon, at which point teams will present what they’ve accomplished, participants are under pressure to produce some form of a workable solution. It’s one thing to brainstorm a list of ideas that could pan out as solutions, but it’s an earnest step forward when you have a GitHub project live and open to contributors at the end of the day.

Spark Conference is also hosting sessions beyond the scope of coding. David Neal aims to prove that Kanban is more than “just sticky notes on a whiteboard,” other talks closely examine the practices of successful project management and development processes, and several talks dispense advice for startups, from securing funding to product launches.

Another group of sessions just outside of coding intends to engender student interest in science and technology. These include a lab where participants will learn to solder electrical components to build a persistence-of-vision display; a crash course on using Construct 2 to design 2-D games without having to code anything; the creative possibilities of admin and mod tools available for Minecraft; and even a demonstration of a classic manual printing press.

The roots of Spark Conference can be traced back to 2005, when the Enterprise Developers Guild—a nonprofit organization providing developer education on Microsoft technologies—launched the first Charlotte Code Camp. “We saw a lot of change coming and no easy way for contract developers to get training,” said Bill Jones, cofounder of the Enterprise Developers Guild, in a Logical Advantage article posted at the time.

The event was small, with about 100 attendees, but managed to cram more than 20 hours of talks into a single day. The theme of the original conference was all things Microsoft, as you can see from the original schedule, with topics covering ASP.NET, .NET application frameworks, SQL Server 2005, and more. (Fun fact: Succinctly series contributor Nick Harrison, who wrote ASP.NET MVC Succinctly, led a session at the first Charlotte Code Camp and is conducting a training session on refactoring at this year’s Spark Conference.) In the ten years since, the event grew into Carolina Code Camp, and now, as Spark Conference, it is poised to become a premier code camp for the southeast United States.

Although registration is already closed for this year’s Spark Conference, you can learn more about it on the event’s website, sparkconf.org. You can even check out the web app built for the conference at app.sparkconf.org, or download it for Android and iOS devices. Syncfusion is proud to be a swag sponsor for the event, so if you’re attending, you’ll be able to claim an Essential Studio Community License, giving you complete access to all the tools available in Essential Studio Enterprise Edition. Spark Conference promises to be a great learning opportunity for developers across industries, one that cultivates the regional developer community and highlights the importance of software development in the enterprise and public sectors. At Syncfusion, we sincerely hope this is the first of many Spark Conferences to come.

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