Cell Zero goes to Ember Conf 2017

Article summary

One of our Accelerator program’s goals is to make sure that our consultants are well-connected: in our company, in our community, but also in the industry as a whole. We go to great lengths to create opportunities for Accelerator members to get to know their fellow Atoms. Our cohorts visit local user groups and conferences.

We also like to attend a couple of conferences outside Michigan each year to meet folks from other parts of the country and learn what excites them. In this spirit, Cell Zero recently took a trip to Portland, Oregon, to attend Ember Conf 2017.

Ember Conf

Cell Zero picked Ember Conf for a few reasons:

  • We use the Ember library on many projects at Atomic, and it’s a familiar framework for most of our cell members. We felt that we’d learn some practical knowledge we could bring back to our projects.
  • After attending a more technology-agnostic conference last fall (Strange Loop), we wanted the contrast of a conference focused on a single framework.
  • Most of our group hadn’t been to Portland before, and we were excited to visit.

The conference spanned two days, with an optional day of workshops prior to the conference kickoff. I really enjoyed the fact that the schedule was organized in a single track so I never had to make any hard decisions about which session to attend.

Everyone’s favorite talk this year was Sarah Mei’s closing keynote. She encouraged the audience to think about our codebases as interior space rather than architecture, and to appreciate that our spaces need to be livable. Her terms and perspective resonated as a valuable metaphor for the work we do, and she suggested some great rules to make and keep your codebases livable.

Another favorite was Miguel Camba’s talk on higher order components. The talk had really great pointers on how to create leverage and configurability by composing Ember components. The presentation format was quite original–Miguel built a classic RPG-style game that drove his slides. It was a lot fun at the end of a long day.

I also really enjoyed Jen Weber’s talk on SVG Animation and Interaction. It was interesting to see a practical example of how to use components to build a different type of markup than the usual HTML.


We had quite a bit of fun outside the conference itself. Andina’s Peruvian food provided the culinary highlight of the trip–we highly recommend stopping in if you have a chance. Sizzle Pie’s pizzas impressed. The group enjoyed some lovely Portland beers at the Cascade Barrel House and Deschutes Brewery.

We indulged our sense of adventure by walking over the Steel Bridge on our way to the Pearl District. If you’re terrified of heights like I am, this is quite an adrenaline rush.


We had mixed reviews on the conference. Some folks really appreciated the practical information gathered. Others wished for more big-picture talks like Sarah’s keynote. Yehuda Katz shocked all of us by talking over his slot, the 15-minute break, and the entire time slot of the following speaker. The conference swag was much better than average, and the Ember mascots were a really nice touch. Portland was lovely as usual, and I really enjoyed having time away from the office with our Cell Zero team.