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Into The Box 2016

Once again this year I was lucky enough to travel over the pond to Minneapolis to attend two conferences, Into the Box and dev.Objective(). For this post I will cover Into the Box.

Into the Box is the annual conference run by Ortus Solutions, a stalwart of the CFML community. For the last three years this has been run the day before dev.Objective() starts and this years conference was held at the University of St Thomas in downtown Minneapolis. Whilst the conference is mainly focused around the Ortus “box” products, hence the conference name, it also covers techniques and technologies that can be applied in general.

This year I was invited to speak at Into the Box for one of their “Tech Tasting Sessions”, more on that later, so I got to see “behind the curtains” a bit, attending their pre-conference rehearsal the afternoon before the conference and then spending the evening in the company of “Team Ortus”, getting dinner at Zelo and generally having a good time.

This year was also the 10th birthday of Ortus’s flagship product, the ColdBox MVC framework, so the day kicked off with a keynote from “Team Ortus” covering what is new and upcoming in the platform and celebrating the past ten years.

Once the keynote was out of the way the morning sessions kicked off. There were two tracks so it was time to pick what to go and see. We have been spending quite a lot of time recently at mso working on building REST API’s and I was keen to see how these are handled by ColdBox so I started with “Relax with ColdBox RESTFul services” with Jon Clausen. Jon covered all the RESTful capabilities of Coldbox and then how to model and document your REST service using the ColdBox Relax module. ColdBox’s REST capabilities are extremely impressive and anyone creating a REST service in CFML should definitely take a look before they begin. The Relax module takes this even further giving you an excellent to base to test and document your service, with the minimum of effort.

Next up was “BDD Testing & Automation from the Trenches” with Gavin Pickin. We do a lot of automated testing using Ortus’s TestBox platform, so it was good to watch a member of “Team Ortus” explaining how they use their own platform using the BDD (Behaviour Driven Development) style to get confirmation that you are doing it in the right way.

After a busy morning it was time for lunch and everyone headed off to the university's cafeteria for a bite to eat and some networking.

After lunch and a good chat with various people I chose to go and see Scott Steinbeck talk about “Building Mobile Apps with ColdBox REST” in which he explained how to build a mobile app using the Ionic framework using AngularJS with a ColdBox REST API for the backend to provide the app with data. Ionic looks like a nice framework for building iOS and Android apps, however unlike Meteor it has been built for mobile specifically and therefore would not play so well as a webapp.

I sat out the next session in order to review the slides for my presentation which was going to be part of the “Tech Tasting Sessions” during the second part of the afternoon. These sessions were 30 minutes, instead of the normal 55 minutes, and were for people to give a brief overview of a technology. These sessions were an excellent idea and I managed to pick up some interesting insights into some different tech that I would maybe have not spent time looking into previously. In the middle of these sessions was my talk, title “AWS Lambda - What, why, when, how?” where I covered what AWS Lambda is, why it is a really useful service on the Amazon Web Services platform, what type of applications it suits and how you go about using it. The session was well received by all that attended and I got some great questions and feedback from people afterwards.

To round off the day “Team Ortus” had arranged a small after party dubbed “HappyBox” in the Universities atrium with some nibbles and a bar for everyone to enjoy, along with music from a live four piece Mariachi band who filled the atrium with the sounds of central America, to celebrate the roots of Ortus’s founder, Luis Majano.

Thanks to everyone on “Team Ortus” for the warm welcome you gave me and how involved you made me feel. Hopefully see you all again next time.



Andrew Dixon, Technical Director



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