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Speaking at the IT Summit

24 October 2016

Recently, I spoke at the University of Arizona’s IT Summit about Elixir and Phoenix and what makes them special.

I have grown to really like Elixir for it’s syntax, functional nature, and multi-process capabilities. Since I work in web applications primarily, of course I sought out different web frameworks to use Elixir for. It didn’t take long for me to find Phoenix and fall in love with it’s lightweight, Rails-inspired take on functional MVC web applications.

But what made me want to speak about them at the biggest IT conference in the Tucson area? There are two primary reasons: I want to get better at speaking and to help expose the University’s tech community to newer trends in the industry.

From my observations, the University IT sector (the part that’s not involved with teaching or research) tend to either swing toward Java or PHP. The part that I’m in is the PHP portion, where a lot of our solutions make use of Drupal and it’s endless ecosystem of modules. Unfortunately, I’ve come across a significant number of projects (and heard a number of horror stories) where Drupal was probably the last thing that should have been used. Of course, there’s a whole cycle and set of factors that help perpetuate this sort of thing, but I believe that the best way to help us get out of the PHP/Drupal rut is to lower the barrier to entry for other languages and frameworks. And, who better to help inform the people around me than me? I love learning new languages and frameworks and helping others come up with solutions based on the things I’ve learned. I love teaching these things and experimenting with others.

So, I set out early Spring as I was exploring Elixir and Phoenix to create a goal for speaking at the IT Summit in October. I’m happy to say that it was a great experience and I’m very glad my topic got picked, even though it was a bit unusualy. The talk had a good turnout and I had quite a few people interested in chatting after the presentation was over. One gentleman even taught me some things about the Windows world, explaining how F# has some very similar features as Elixir.

I hope to speak about cool and interesting things again in the future, if not at the IT Summit, then maybe elsewhere.

You can view my slides on their website. Note that my name is “Alex Wynter” there because Wynter is a preferred last name that I will be changing to in the future.

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