I went to my 3rd Italian Perl Workshop, IPW2008 at the end of last week. It seems to have been the most successful Italian conference to date, and it certainly succeeded at being both a national workshop and an international event. It hadn't occurred to me before that these are actually two orthogonal aims.
An international event
The organizers managed to pull out all the stops with sponsorship. There's always various random swag, books for the auction, cheap/free use of rooms from the University. And in recent years, the conference has had just enough money to be completely free of charge, even with its (excellent) coffee and biscuit break. But this year, the "platinum", "gold" and "silver" sponsors contributed enough money to pay travel and accomodation for speakers of international calibre:
Other international attendees included Michel "XML::Twig" Rodriguez (though he
lives in nearby Lucca and spoke in Italian); Bruno (a Pole who lives in
Spain... or Amsterdam or something... I'm confused, especially as to why he
attended the Pisa workshop
Hmmm, 4 Norwegians, 3 Brits, 2 French. I wouldn't have expected quite that many Norwegians, largely because I'd never have thought that Opera, based in Oslo, would have been recruiting at a workshop in Italy. But it's on their "world tour" as several of the core Perl team for their social network are Italian. And they really capitalised on the opportunity, sending 3 perlisti and 2 HR, all of whom were very visible throughout, sponsored a competition for a Wii, and hired an interview room for recruiting sessions during the workshop. I'll be really interested to see how successful they, and the other recruiting companies (Wind, Dada, A-Tono) have been. It's very positive that Italian companies using Perl are getting involved like this.
Oh, the talks! Matt spoke about Devel::Declare, which rocks. I finally got to see Tim Bunce's Perl Myths talk in the flesh, and also his demo of Devel::NYTProf which is so beautiful it makes me want to cry. Marcus introduced Catalyst, and I missed the others, for various reasons.
A national event
There's a danger that the focus on the exotic allure of geeks arriving by luxurious Ryanair jet could distract from the fact that this is also the event for Italian programmers. Having two tracks, and a general policy of not scheduling 2 "guests" against each other worked very well here.
The first day's Italian talks concentrated on beginner and intermediate topics, including dakkar's tutorial and regex theory, and Flavio Poletti on writing IRC bots, though there was some crossover, as rgs also presented on coding style in English. The perl.it guys are really keen on appealing to new programmers, which is fantastic. (There was a little gnashing of teeth about how the recent Pycon in Italy had even more attendees despite being a younger conference.)
Not that it was all for beginners: emi spoke about Linux wifi captive portal setup; emazep showed a fantastic UI for constructing complex DB queries, running on Catalyst with jQuery; grubert presented a news portal prototyped in 2 months with the awesome power of CPAN; [LucaS] finally presented his workgroup software IGSuite, yay! Cosimo spoke about scaling and the Dogpile Effect at Opera. Sadly I missed the "GUI track" completely with Mattia Barbon, the author of WxPerl, and nids talking about Perl/TK. And finally I had to give an emergency talk myself to fill in a gap (went OK, trailed off towards the end).