Meet our speaker

Brian Klaas

Brian Klaas is the Senior Technology Officer at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Teaching and Learning. As the architect for eLearning technology at the School, he leads a team that designs and delivers custom online courseware to students and members of the public health workforce around the globe. In addition to designing software and delivering courses, Brian heads up University technology accessibility initiatives, teaches "Introduction to Online Learning," and leads faculty training and development courses. Brian has presented on software development and eLearning at conferences throughout the country, including jQuery US, dev.Objective(), CF Summit, NCDevCon, and Adobe MAX.

Tell us about...

Tell us something funny about yourself?

I have serious impostor’s syndrome. Hilarious, right?

People in the CFML community know me as “the AWS guy,” which is great. But I know so little — so very little — compared to some of the real AWS gurus out there. If you ask me about CloudFormation, I’ll break into a cold sweat, shout “look over there!,” and bolt from the room.

I try to learn something new every day. Whenever AWS comes out with a new service (which feels like a weekly event), I try to figure out how I can add it to my AWS Playbox app. Between teaching at the graduate level, maintaining a huge CFML app, and trying to turn my three boys into responsible young men, I don’t always get to adding new services to the playbox right away. When I do find the time, though, I pull up the AWS SDK JavaDocs and stumble my way to success. I love that I get to learn, and try new things — sometimes things that I can use in my real production apps at work. All the while I’m learning to be less of an impostor and more of a pro — at least until the next Re:Invent conference.

Why should companies or developers modernize?

If you’re in technology, your skills became outdated today. It’s a brutal, ever-changing landscape. Keeping up isn’t a “nice to do,” it’s a “must do.” I’m not saying that you have to know every new JavaScript framework, or be able to spin up Kubernetes clusters in your sleep. Just be aware. Take small steps. Get better every day. Doing that will have a profound impact on your ability to work smarter and remain relevant in this industry.

Why is ColdFusion (CFML) still relevant?

CFML is Java, but better. It lets you develop quickly, while having at your fingertips literally tens of thousands of battle-tested libraries which can do just about anything you need them to do. CFML isn’t perfect. It doesn’t need to be. It just needs to make you productive right away, every day, which it does for me and my team.

What would you like to experience during the conference?

One of those moments where your brain has been completely fried by the sheer intelligence and smart work of one of the presenters. That feeling of “damn, I just got better as a developer by listening to this.”

Which speaker at ITB do you want to sit down and ask a few questions?

Pete Frietag — he’s so darn smart!

Why should attendees go to your session?

CFML can only do so much. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be tapping into the incredible power that infrastructure and software-as-a-service providers give you. Let’s be frank: AWS is the biggest player in that space, and it’s only getting bigger. If you really want to use AWS (or Azure, or GCP for that matter) in a meaningfully secure way, you have to master access permissions. If you can even get a quarter of the way to mastery of that topic, and learn how to automate some of that from within your CFML app, that’s a big win. And that’s what I hope to provide to people who go to my session.

What is your favorite *Box Product and why?

CommandBox - it empowers me to be a better developer every day.