devLAB: Montreal’s latest developer meetup

This article is mostly an adaptation of my recent article on my own blog which aims to a French speaking audience. Port25 generously let me publish this English version of my article on its blog.

The developer community is rising in Montreal. People want to gather at quality events to learn and enhance their skills. We, at devLAB Montreal, have wanted this to happen for a long while, but never found a similar meetup except PHPQuebec’s yearly hackfest and Montreal Python meetups. Most of the web communities are about social gathering and next to no hands on sessions or single technology centered.

That’s what devLAB is all about:

[devLAB is] an opportunity to share, try things, and improve open source software with other passionate web developers in regular technical workshops where we actually do something constructive outside of our normal habits.

[on my blog] I personally annonounced the coming of these sessions. We participated in events and  joined others too, but we still wanted those regular events to happen. Now, starting January 2011, every wednesday, we invite you to join us.

The concept of GeekNights is not really new, and we are not the only ones to do this. We decided to open it to the public because people were interested to join.

How did it start for us?

It all started in 2006, after many beer drinking nights with Etienne at 3Brasseurs and talking about IT stuff and exchanging ideas.

After a while another friend, Stephan, offered that we join him and start with small, fun projects on a weekly basis at a gathering. We called them GeekNights.

The meetup happened regardless of whatever happens at the office in our respective jobs. We did meetup and start working on the current project and always use unknown or uncertain technology we want to try.

Among the things we’ve tried:

Sometimes other friends joined. We were also inspired by those things we sometimes do at the office but cannot complete.

Some of those things:

  • Test Driven Development with Visual Studio and NUnit
  • Javascript generated user interfaces using ExtJS
  • Auto installing Linux machines with RedHat’s (CentOS 5) Kick start.
  • Build a Postfix SMTP server with Spam filtering on Debian Etch
  • Deployment processes using Apache Ant with PHP projects
  • Build our own migration library between machines using Bash shell scripts
  • Build a Virtual Machine who acts as the development sandbox with X-Windows server. Basically running Inside the VM the software but shown outside with display tunnels on the local machine
  • Do the same as previously mentionned but with VMWare fusion on a Mac
  • A diet management webapp using the canadian food database
  • Many mockups with all the PHP framework we wanted to try
  • and many others

Why we started, yet another, event in Montreal?

We started meeting up because we had not found any local events doing all this. We have been doing this since 2006 and we decided, this year, to open it all to the public in our offices. Our objective goes like this:

devLAB is an occasion to share with other invested developers  in weekly meetings where we can make things happen.

Evocatio, the Chicken or the Egg?

Let’s make this clear. Because we, the founders, decided to meet and do this is only a starting point for us. We want to make this separate from our own company. We even want to never advertise our own company as far as saying where we work. Like everybody else who is coming.

The direction it is going

We want to make this more than just us Our manifest, sort of:
1. Meet up every Wednesday 18:30
2. Improve and/or use Open-source software
3. Try as much technologies/programming language as possible
4. Work in teams (code pairing) to learn from each other techniques
5. Add a factor of new in your project
6. Everybody is there to learn and use (no silent participant)
7. Bilingual from the ground up. (This article is a translation by its author, from french)

When is the next one?

This Wednesday, or the next one. See or @devlabmtl and the Facebook group. You can also like our Facebook page.

For any questions, you can write an e-mail to us at [info AT dev lab mtl DOT org].