MDN hack day tomorrow in the #mozldn space in London, England

We cleared the aftermath of yesterday’s epic Geek Quiz (photo proof here) but there is no rest for the wicked in the London Mozilla Space. Tomorrow (yes, that day after this one) we’ll run an MDN hack day here in 101 St. Martin’s Lane, London (5 minute footwalk from Leicester Square or 10 from Charing Cross).

If you have no idea what hack day in MDN means, check out Tristan Nitot’s introductory post.

MDN hack day

There are still tickets available, so go to http://mdn-hackday-london.eventbrite.com/ and sign up if you haven’t yet.

There’ll be food (well, Pizza, we thought Fondue would be too much of a mess) and drink (the non-fermented and fermented kind, we don’t discriminate), lots of experts from Mozilla to pester about your wishes for our products and to learn all about what we are doing in London, a few Boot to Gecko phones to play with and quite a few talks to give you inspiration to hack:

Schedule (subject to change slightly but you get the idea of who is speaking):

8:30 Registration & Light Breakfast
9:00 Welcome Remarks Christian Heilmann
9:15 Christian Heilmann – The New Web Challenge
9:45 Rob Hawkes – B2G
10:15 Chloe Varelidi – Catch Them Young – Meet the Web Arcade
10:45 Brad Lassey – Fennec Goes Native
11:15 Break
11:30 Heather Arthur – Firefox DevTools
12:00 Jean Yves Perrier – BrowserID
12:30 Rob Hawkes – Games
1:00 Paul Lewis – WebGL Live Demos
1:30 Lunch (Lightening Talk/Discussion Group Sign Up)
2:30 Hacking
5:15 Presentations and Lightning Talks
5:30 Refreshments

The hashtag to use is #mdnhackday, the wireless is open, the Fox is out there, let’s do this!

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State of the browser in London, England

Last Saturday in London, England the State of the browser conference brought together developer advocates from almost all browser vendors to give the audience an overview of what is going on in the world of browsers.

Browser panel

Browser panel with Bruce Lawson (Opera), Chris Heilmann (Mozilla), Martin Beeby (Microsoft) and Paul Kinlan (Google)

My involvement was to talk about the state of HTML5 when seen from a native market’s perspective, show some cool new technologies that need our input and take part in the browser panel to discuss current issues. Here are the talks and screencasts. Videos recorded by the organisers should follow soon.

Talk “Broken HTML5 promises – are we ‘appy?”

The main Mozilla presentation was about feedback on HTML5 we got at Mobile World Congress from mobile developers, how we as an HTML5 community fail to answer their questions and get tangled up in petty bickering over details instead and what Mozilla does to make HTML5 work across the board.

The slides with notes are available here and the screencast (with bad audio, sorry) is on vid.ly.

Breakout session: “The bleeding edge of HTML needs blood donors”

The breakout session (which was repeated twice) was much less of a “talk” but more of a show and tell in a smaller room. Therefore the screencast is a bit more raw but shows what you can do right now.

The slides with notes are available here and the screencast is on vid.ly.

The conference

All in all the conference was great value for money. All the speakers had great information to give and there was no “marketing talk” promising things that don’t work outside lab environments.

  • Michael Mahemoff did a great job introducing the day with a “native vs. web knockout” talk.
  • Paul Kinlan showed what is coming in Chrome and how Web Intents can change the way we solve app communication over the web
  • Martin Beeby gave a glimpse of how the web can merge with newer devices and UX needs of users

Seb Lee-Delisle took all the browsers to the performance test to end all performance tests by animating millions of 3D particles and seeing which browser would be the one that can show the most without slowing down. In the end Firefox was the winner with 3695244 particles at 10FPS. Of course this is not a real measure (especially seeing IE10 was run in a VM) but it is always fun to see Seb code live.
Particles competition results

I guess my favourite piece about the conference was that the browser panel was very much about answering people’s questions instead of trying to beat each other in being the browser that people should use. British understatement at its best.

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jQuery UK conference in Oxford, England – slides, audio, impressions and notes

Yesterday I attended the jQuery UK conference in Oxford, England where about 300 developers gathered to hear the newest and coolest about probably the most successful JavaScript library out there.

Naturally I thought it a good idea to give a talk that they shouldn’t use it. Well, more to the point that it is not necessary to use jQuery for everything out there and that there is quite a lot of redundant use of it. jQuery showed browser makers what developers want and browser makers listened. A lot of the initial concepts of jQuery – accessing the document via CSS selectors rather than the DOM and simplifying the handling of CSS classes are now natively available with querySelector, querySelectorAll and classList.

Slides, notes and audio

You can read the slides with notes online or embedded below (left+right to go back and forward, down for next bullet point and N to toggle notes):

As always I also recorded my talk and the audio is available on archive.org, soundcloud or embedded here:

The feedback was overwhelmingly good, and I am very happy that I dared to be different and didn’t get vegetables thrown at me.

My general impressions of the conference

As the first European (or UK?) jQuery conference I can safely say it was a massive success. The success of a conference very much depends on the passion of the organisers and the group behind this one has passion to spare. You always knew where to go and got help immediately if you didn’t.

The event was run professionally without pestering attendees with unnecessary communication (“Please fill out this survey”) and the venue was incredible. The lecture hall had power plugs and ethernet connectivity on the seats and the wireless stood up (probably because of the ethernet option).

The food was sandwiches, fruit and cookies – more than enough for a single day – and the fermented beverages at the party were bountiful. There were lots of giveaways for the audience (Playbooks, T-Shirts, books, awesome Firefox stickers, Tequila bottles and Kendo sticks).

As a one-track conference, they invited too many speakers which is why the speaking slot was 30 minutes. This at first threw me a bit but in hindsight it went really well and gave the conference a much better flow. There was no moment of boredom.

The audience was very good and the Twitter backchannel buzzing and very creative and observant. The vitriol and trolling attempts you find at other conferences was not happening at all – great stuff. Instead people created awesome doodles and live-blogged the sessions on GitHub(!). The low number of female attendees was a bit of a surprise to me – I’d expected more at a jQuery conference.

Some quick notes on the talks

Some speakers asked me about feedback and I am happy to give some more in person and detail (contact me again, please), but here are a few impressions I got from the talks I saw.

  1. Conference organiser John Wards started the day with the necessary housekeeping and explaining the day – the main shock there was to go to Oxford to hear a strong Scottish accent on stage first thing (memories of Highland Fling?)
  2. Ralph Whitbeck followed up with a report on the state of the jQuery project – the only predictable talk, delivered informatively and keeping the audience on the ball
  3. Todd Parker then explained the ins and outs of jQuery Mobile in my favourite talk of the day. Engaging, funny and full of goodness in terms of best practices I very much subscribe to, too (progressive enhancement, real hardware testing…)
  4. Fellow Ajaxians Dion Almaer and Ben Galbraith followed with a longer talk on Web vs. Apps discussing the benefits of the web as an application platform and how far we are from matching the native experience. Ben and Dion work very well together on stage and had some interesting insights.
  5. Jörn Zaefferer talked about the pitfalls of single page applications. Despite being nervous, he managed to give a good idea about the necessary steps to deliver one of those without breaking the web experience
  6. Haymo Meran of Aloha Editor showed how the editor works and explained the problems of using and implementing contentEditable in the browser and stay accessible. He also used the opportunity to release Aloha WikiDocs, a collaborative live editable wiki
  7. Paul Irish talked about the App development stack for JS developers covering the whole range from preprocessors to developer tools in Chrome previewing the upcoming remote debugging and sourcemapping. Lots of great content there – maybe too much for one talk, but I am sure the (very elaborate 3D effect ladden) slides will help us digest a lot of that.
  8. Addy Osmani talked about building large-scale applications with jQuery covering a few of the architectures followed in larger libraries like YUI and Dojo and explained a few patterns to use and patterns we already do use without knowing it. Again, a bit too much to digest in a half hour talk, but lots of good stuff to dive into
  9. Doug Neiner finished off with Contextual jQuery explaining a lot of great tips on how to create lighter, more responsive jQuery solutions by applying functionality when it is needed and not upfront. A very interesting talk full of pragmatic goodness

All the talks were filmed and will be released in the nearer future.


All in all I am very happy to have attended the conference and hope there will be more by these organisers. I was the first speaker asked (imagine my surprise given that I hardly have anything to do with jQuery) and I have to say thanks – it was a great experience.

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