Site Morph at Silicon Milk Roundabout

After what seemed like a short afternoon presenting at Silicon Milk Roundabout
I am left with a few feelings I would like to share: Again I was impressed by
the organisation of the team running the event. It is a really great event.
This was my first time attending as a potential employer. It is quite a
different expirienc on the other side of the stand.

While my feed ache from standing for five hours the more lasting feeling
is that it was well worth the effort attending. There seems to be no shortage
of talent in the London tech scene. From technology advocates trying to leave
the corporate offices of financial institutions to third year graduates seeking
their first taste of gainful employment: there is a great mix of interest and

One slightly surprising thing that grabbed me and a number of people I talked
to was that there seemed to be a strong bias for back end developers. I should
say that for most people back end seems to mean their art is executed by the
server rather than the browser. This left me with a few questions. Are there
just more back end developers? Are the back end officianado's just more likely
to work in a startup or: Are the more aesthetic front end developers already
working for the start up of their dreams?

At the same time that there seemed to be a relative shortage of front end
developers; I should say, for me front end is anyting involved in presentation
and includes the web server; it seemed like everyone I talked to today was
trying to hire a front end developer. While I tried to talk to everyone I saw
wearing a frontend badge I am sure I didn't meet them all. Having said that I
estimate there can only have been a few tens of front end developers at the
event and seemingly hundreds of jobs for them.

Design work seems to have taken on life of it's own in the last few years as we
have seen the shift via a pervasive Internet to a more aesthetic web including
ever more design. This leads to another question: are you a web developer if
you don't include design aspects in your portfolio of skills?

Finally I would like to share a few things we learned from this even:

  • Make sure you have a nice poster that explains your start-up. We had lots
    of interest because of ours.

  • Make sure you invite a few friends to give you a break when you start
    loosing your voice.

  • For a small stand you can probably only hand out about 100 leaflets in
    five hours per presenter. Yes that is one every 3 minutes.

  • Take a table and chair and put them at the back for the tiny moments you
    can take a breather.

I am positive that we have found some great candidates. Hope to see everyone
again at the next event.


PHP : The only choice for front end development?

Is it the only option?

In a recent chat with a ex-colleague we were discussing how hard it might be to find a front end developer who can also use Java. They rightly pointed out that there are a lot more design oriented front end developers using PHP. This reminded me of Jeff Atwood's post on The PHP Singularity where he talks about how the only option is to invent something that is so much better that it's use is not even a question.

This is also relevant because I have been evaluating Java page template technologies like the play framework. Most of the options like that are very similar to template frameworks from other languages. On a personal note, I am not a great fan of these due to the tag soup issues they seem to promote.

While the search continues most of the current stack I am using is a minimal non template approach similar to the work from Apache on wicket. Perhaps the need to get other front end orientated developers involved in current projects will force the requirement but let's hope that I can find someone at Silicon Milk Roundabout that can read Java and create usable and attractive UIs