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7th October 2021 in News

Codebar Unconference 2021 – Review

By Paul Wong-Gibbs

Codebar is a charity that facilitates the growth of a diverse tech community by running free regular programming workshops for minority groups in tech. Recently, Codebar had its annual unconference for the seventh year running, an event that encourages the codebar community to come together, share knowledge, and strengthen the community that supports their workshops.

Our Engineering Director, Paul Wong-Gibbs, participated in the annual conference on the 11th September, and has shared some of his favourite takeaways from the day.

Intro to Elm

Paul’s favourite session of the day was a presentation on “Intro the Elm” by Katja Morduant.

Paul says: “I knew nothing about Elm, and I learnt it’s a language that compiles to JavaScript, and that it’s a purely functional language (which is different from most other compile-to-JavaScript languages), which means it consists of functions which implicitly return a value.

In terms of rendering HTML with Elm, the syntax looks like this. The first example returns an HTML button with a specific label and a hook to a JavaScript callback for the onClick event. The second is a simple link and shows how attributes can be set on HTML elements.”

button [ onClick DoThing ] [ text “Do thing” ]
a [ href= “/my-path” ] [ text “Follow the high road” ]

It’s ok to…

Towards the end of the day, there were flash talks, and Paul enjoyed Kimberley Cook’sIt’s ok to…”. Inspired by a poster they found in the UK GDS office, Kimberley explained it was ok to say what’s ok:

We’re hiring quite a lot of new people… Of course they get told all the official stuff – how they get paid, how to use the printer, who their line manager is. But it’s harder to communicate the unofficial stuff. The stuff that’s good to know, but that it’s no-one’s job to tell you. The stuff you’ll probably find out during your first few months, but most likely by accident, because someone casually mentions something in passing and you say “Wait, what? Is that a thing?”


Kimberley highlighted several examples. Notably, that it’s OK to…

  • To ask for help (people who pretend to know everything are liars)
  • To feel overwhelmed (with your new job, or new tech)
  • It’s very OK to make mistakes (people aren’t robots)
  • To get frustrated with something
  • To Google things
  • To have a day off
  • Not to have a side project
  • Not to be a Git pro
  • Not to have a green square on your Github profile each day for a year
  • Not to have a blog (if you didn’t enjoy writing something, then other people aren’t going to enjoy reading it)
  • To say no

If you’re interested in discovering more about codebar, to attend as a student or volunteer your time as a coach, check out codebar.io. The header image used in this post is from codebar.io.