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2019: A Year in Review

Group of people watching presentation
“Building Component Libraries with a Monorepo,” Lee Robinson, September 2019

In 2019, the Des Moines Web Geeks organized and hosted 22 lunch and evening events. We learned new programming languages, new frameworks, and new ways of thinking. We learned about the importance of diversity and how to stay up-to-date in our fields. We met lots of new people and made new connections.

Read below to take a trip down memory lane and see what Web Geeks were up to in 2019!


DSM Teach n’ Learn: Become a stronger developer in 2019

We got together and learned how to teach, and taught each other how to learn. Community is so important for becoming a better developer, and that’s exactly what this dojo accomplished!

Serverless Saves Kittens: A Purrfect Solution

Kevin McGill showed us how he converted his PHP-based mobile backend to a serverless architecture. We got to learn lots of cool things about this shiny ✨ serverless ✨ trend


Data Science: Digging for Gold

Shalyn gave us a look into the life of a data scientist and how we can use our tech skills to uncover gold data nuggets.


An Intro to Elm

Andrew Shutt taught us a little about Elm, Emma Croskrey gave us an intro to Spark, and Torrey Johnson showed us Blockchain. The triple threat, and a fun night it was!

Professional (Web) Development: Keeping your skillset up to date

This panel featured Shane Church, Meridith Junk, Matt Travi, Liz Wells and moderator Tori Machen who walked us through what it’s like to keep up-to-date on the latest tech trends — and how to make yourself hirable and employable. 


Annual Spring Social

Our annual social event was a smashing success with presentations by Matt Travi, Renae Meines, Tegan Rauh, Bailey Steinfadt, Gianfranco Berardi. It’s always great to get together to network and see what people are passionate about every year.


IoT Challenge Kickoff

This was the second year we’ve partnered with Area515 to host an Internet-of-Things device hackathon challenge. This challenge spanned multiple months, starting in April and a kickoff in May.

Full Stack Web Development with Ember.js and Django in Python

Michael Leners gave us a great intro to Django, Python and Ember with this interactive code-based presentation. It was cool to see how productive you can be with these frameworks!


Build your first React-Native app

This hands-on event helped us get familiar with React Native. We all got a chance to see how to get going with the popular mobile framework.

IoT Challenge Award Ceremony

We wrapped up the IoT challenge with a series of presentations from the teams who participated at We Write Code.

What a time to be a developer!

This talk by Josh Larson walked us through the past decade or so of advancements in the field of web development. We chatted about what is possible now as developers for cheap (or free).


Baby Got Backend: To Server, Serverless or Headless CMS?

Michael Leners returned to chat with us about backends, APIs, whether we really need servers, and how to get up to speed with these new-fangled headless CMSes.

Diversity in IT

Calvin Truong gave a presentation about the state of diversity in IT career fields, why it matters, and what we can do about it. Folks left the talk learning a ton about representation in our field!


An Introduction to Angular

This hands-on dojo by Melanie DeVries walked us through starting a new project with the popular Angular framework.

GitHub Pages: An Often Overlooked Web Platform

Mike Cole called in from Cedar Falls to give us a remote presentation about how we can use GitHub Pages as a robust web hosting platform. This was our first remote presentation in a while, and it worked great!


Building a Headless CMS with Django Workshop

Michael Leners returned for a third time to give us a hands-on workshop with building a Headless CMS powered by Django and Python. We learned a lot about how to get our environments set up and the ins and outs of Django as a framework.

Building Component Libraries with a Monorepo

Lee Robinson stopped by to give us a terrific lunch presentation about building a component library in a JavaScript monorepo powered by React, Storybook and other tools. It was cool to see how HyVee manages their component design system.


Hacktoberfest DSM Web Geeks

This was our first time holding a Hacktoberfest event. This was a chance for people to contribute to open source — some for the first time — and potentially earn a free t-shirt.

DevOps: A Journey instead of a Destination

Kevin Chaloupecky and Ross Sickora talked about building confident DevOps teams and processes after years of experience and observation.


Build a Game Engine with Elixir

This hands-on event led by Toran Billups gave us an intro into using Elixir to build a game engine. Andrew Schutt also gave a short presentation about practical uses for the language.

Test Driven Elixir

Toran Billups returned for this lunch event where he did a live-coding presentation. He showed us how to test-drive a game engine application built in Elixir in realtime.


Ugly Sweater Show and Share 2019

Screenprinting t-shirts
Screenprinting t-shirts

Our third annual Ugly Sweater Show and Share was a huge success. We had lots of new faces who came to present their cool projects to others. We got to screen print t-shirts and — new this year! — make our own buttons.

There you have it!

A few special shout-outs to community members who made special contributions to Des Moines Web Geeks by offering to present multiple times throughout the year, which made the organizer’s lives easier:

  • Michael Leners
  • Matt Travi
  • Toran Billups
  • Andrew Schutt

And of course, Web Geeks wouldn’t be where it is today without the help from our community sponsors who have provided their venues, food, drinks and prize giveaways throughout the year:

  • Pillar Technology
  • We Write Code
  • Shift Interactive
  • Source Allies
  • Blue Compass

Here’s to a great 2020!