Nexmo Blog

Memories of ConFoo

Thu 26 Feb 2015


This past week Nexmo attended the ConFoo Web Development Conference in Montreal, Canada. Around 600 developers, speakers, sponsors, and organizers were surrounded by a thick blanket of snow and gray skies as they made their way to the top floor of the Bonaventure building in the heart of Montreal to escape the frigid temperatures (which never rose above -10C [14F]).

The ambience couldn’t have been better: the venue made us feel like we were staying in a mountain chalet. With a heated outdoor pool that many of us enjoyed after the sessions, I started to think the name “ConFoo” got its roots from the French word “CONFOrtable” (“comfortable” in English). This amazing setting lent to a laid-back yet passionate energy that made the event something special.image2


Excitement filled the rooms as soon as the sessions started. Many of the attendees I spoke with said the richness of this conference comes from its multi-lingual nature — and the fact that almost everyone in Montreal speaks both French and English notwithstanding. They were talking about the wide breadth of programming languages covered at the conference: PHP, Python, and Java. More impressive, however, was the fact that the web development experts appealed to all levels of programmers. Regardless of how many years of experience a person had in the web development industry, the speakers gave useful advice that applied to everyone.

This brings me to my next point: the quality of the sessions balanced the variety of topics. Some of the sessions were oriented for non-technical audiences, like “Getting things done with ADHD” by Jason Lotito, which taught us how to be more organized in our work and keep a streamlined task list to help us concentrate on ultimate objectives. Some of the sessions were more technical, like “Schemaless Meets Relational – JSONB in PostgreSQL 9.4″ by Magnus Hagander and “ASP .NET SignalR – Real Time Web” by Mathieu Richard.



The sessions did a great job balancing technical and non-technical content, but the best part, in our opinion, was the regular crowd in the audience. Code Rabbi made this point as he addressed his extraordinary audience during his talk: “By being here today, in this room, you are part of that 1% of the community.” I realized just how much this audience has grown from 10 years ago.

Of course it’s impossible to meet all 600 attendees, but the small sample we had the chance to talk to was surely among that 1%. We met people from all over the world, including countries like China, France, the US, Israel, India, and Brazil. They had  different backgrounds and knowledge in different aspects of the web like programming, security, databases, usability and they  brought different  ideas, knowledge, and previous experiences with them. You know what they say about putting a bunch of smart people together in a room… Well, the network that arises is greater than the sum of its parts, and the ConFoo conference was the catalyst for that reaction to happen.image4

Common Area

The freshly brewed coffee (courtesy of Microsoft) and  breakfast in the common area made the room a frequent stop for attendees before and after the sessions. It was also the place for booths where companies like Nexmo, 8D, FlightHub and Heroku to set up. The booths offered a great way of getting to know each of the companies, trying out their products, asking for product advice, networking and making connections through LinkedIn, or who knows, maybe even getting a job.

The real point of ConFoo, however, is to give companies visibility among the community. As the HR director of one of the companies with a booth at ConFoo said: “This is the third year that we’ve come and, while we haven’t hired anyone directly here, we keep coming because that’s not the purpose of this conference. It’s to engage potential customers, let the community know about our products, and just for general company branding.”



If I had to choose one word to describe this event, it would be “fun.” Even before  the first day, before all attendees had arrived, a group of us headed to the local pub near the venue. People were already getting to know each other, prizes were given away, and the frequency of the vibrant ambience was already close to resonance. The next night there was a gala dinner at a delicious steak house,Vargas, another great chance to get to know new people in a casual way.

I also couldn’t pass on swimming in a heated outdoor pool while it was  -15C outside.  I jumped in, and hen I came up, I realized my hair had frozen! I shook the icicles out of my hair, dried off, and headed back down to my room to prepare for the last day of conference sessions.

To close the event with a bang, ConFoo hosted a cocktail party on the last evening of the conference. With drinks in hand and an old version of Super Mario on the big screen, we had one last hoorah before all of us at Nexmo made our way back to sunny California.

GoTo ConFoo 2016

The “GoTo” command isn’t supported in many modern languages, and even if it is, it’s not good practice to use it, but I can’t help but make one lame pun to end this post… Allow me to use it to invite you to yet the next iteration of this magnificent conference: “GoTo” ConFoo 2016. I know the team here at Nexmo is already looking forward to next year’s conference!

Did you make it to Confoo this year? Please feel free to share your experience in the comments section below!

U.S. SMS Long Codes vs. Short Codes? What is Best for My Use Case?

Wed 25 Feb 2015

iStock_000001130338Large_resizedIn the United States, there are strict regulations that dictate how businesses should interact with end users via SMS. Sending an SMS incorrectly can result in an immediate shutdown of your service, or worse fines of up to $1500 per message. The two most common ways to send SMS messages in the U.S. are using a long code or a short code as the Sender ID (a Sender ID is the “from” address of a text message). This post will assist you in understanding the differences between the 2 options and help you choose which option is best for your use case.


Fancy a Trip to Amsterdam, At No Charge?

Tue 24 Feb 2015

The 10th edition of The Next Web Conference will be held on April 23-24, 2015 in Amsterdam, bringing together thousands of innovative minds in one jam-packed event, to learn and discuss the latest web trends, best business practices and meet some of the world’s most influential leaders in technology and innovation. The annual meetup will celebrate a decade of inspiration, with confirmed appearances by the industry’s top trailblazers, from Mark Randall, Adobe’s Vice President of Creativity, to Werner Vogels, CTO at Amazon.

TNW Conference

A full-priced ticket to the 2-day TNW Conference Europe 2015 event costs $625 (€545). In partnership with The Next Web, Nexmo is offering you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you to not only win free tickets, but also arrive at the conference in style.

No matter where you’re based in the world, we want you to experience Amsterdam, VIP-style. Continue…

What is VoiceXML?

Sat 21 Feb 2015

If you’re just getting started building phone-enabled applications, you may be wondering what exactly VoiceXML is used for. In this post I’ll give an overview of what VoiceXML is, what it’s used for, and the general components of a VoiceXML document.

In a nutshell, VoiceXML is like HTML for a phone call: it describes what the call should “look” like when a call connects a person with an interactive voice response (IVR) system. Continue…

Improving Women’s Health in Malawi

Wed 18 Feb 2015

World’s First Program Provides Medical Care Via SMS & Voice Messages


Here is another reason why Nexmo is special: our technology has a direct impact on making people’s lives better. It’s incredibly rewarding whenever we see our products help connect people when they need it the most. You may have missed how we worked with engageSpark to help Filipinos escape the wrath of Typhoon Hagupit last December.

But two weeks ago we announced a collaboration with VillageReach, a non-profit focused on providing healthcare in low-income countries. Our joint effort has resulted in the first free healthcare center by mobile phone for expecting mothers in Malawi, which has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world. Continue…

Stopping Scams at the Door of Love

Sun 15 Feb 2015

Finding love online is hard. When you throw in the potential for fraud and financial scams it could be enough to make anybody give up. For online dating companies like Dates of Asia, user abandonment is a worst case scenario.

Dates of Asia started out using an email-based registration validation system to try to reduces spammers and scammers from using their services. Robert McGrath, CEO, quickly learned that email addresses are easy to spoof and his Dates of Asia staff was spending valuable time responding to user concerns about scams coming from other users. Continue…