Oklahoma City JavaScript User Group Continues to Thrive

For many of us, the word “JavaScript” is something we only see when an error message pops up on our screens. However, JavaScript is a programming language that exists all around us, and a group of local tech professionals, meeting regularly at StarSpace46, is on a mission to help the people of central Oklahoma learn more about this interactive computer script.

For those unfamiliar with scripting languages, JavaScript comes into play every time you interact with a web page. From interactive components to animation, to live content updates, JavaScript helps bring static websites to life. The Oklahoma City JavaScript User Group, known as OKC.js for short, teaches free, one-hour classes on JavaScript and how the language comes into play with other web technologies. Prior workshops have covered topics such as scripting in Photoshop, game development, game design, as well as team dynamics and leadership. Because JavaScript is so prevalent in our world today, other Meetups have taken deeper dives, giving participants insights to procedural art, complexity analysis in computer science, mobile applications, artificial intelligence, the legality of software licensing, and even hacking a wristwatch.

 Kristin Ferrier presenting at an OKC.js Lightning Talk

Kristin Ferrier presenting at an OKC.js Lightning Talk

Part of the Techlahoma lineup of programming, the group has been meeting monthly since January 2012, and new territory is explored at every single session. Even as OKC.js covers unexplored ground with each MeetUp, they still continue to discuss new JavaScript Frameworks and best practices regarding basic skills. The leaders of the group want to create a platform to help attendees broaden their technical skills, and ultimately, further their careers.

Every few months, OKC.js hosts a Lightning Talk. This gives members of the community a chance to stand up and talk about the world of JavaScript from their own experience. New speakers are encouraged to post their related topics online, and the most relevant subjects are included in the lineup. A few of the previous “beginning” presenters at Lightning Talks have gone on to speak at national and international technology conferences.

OKC.js was founded by Vance Lucas and Jesse Harlin. Even though JavaScript is a programming language, Jesse sees it as a great way to express your creativity. “ JavaScript is a really empowering language, and despite its quirks, it is my favorite language to work in. My own background began in the arts, and I see programming as a means for self-expression. When I present to the group about topics I care about, or I engage in passion project I try to capture this in my work.”  Jesse uses well-known themes and illustrations to make JavaScript more accessible, like retro video games and 90s boy-band album art. “I want discussion of technology to be fun and to break out of the mold of what is normally expected at a user-group meetup. I also use JavaScript to make video games and fuel my algorithmic music composition experiments.”

 Presenters at the Oklahoma City JavaScript User Group

Presenters at the Oklahoma City JavaScript User Group

Although the founders of the group have worked with JavaScript for a number of years, the group still presents new learning opportunities each and every time. Jesse observed that  “The most important thing I have learned is that everyone who attends has the capacity to be a teacher and a student to everyone else that attends. It's important to attend and engage in this sort of forum to exchange ideas regularly and practice continuous improvement.”