This was FrontendNE 2018 – well, from my POV

Last week I swapped the 18 degress in Berlin with snowy rain in Newcastle, England. Why? To attend the 2018 edition of the FrontendNE conference and I am happy that I did.

The plane taking me back to Berlin

All in all this was a lovely, cozy and well-organised event. As an extra, it had an audience you don’t come across at a lot at other events. The reasons were threefold. A good location – the big hall of a brewery with proper stage audio equipment. A very affordable ticket price. And the loveliness of the organisers with a no-nonsense MC demeanour and not a hint of arrogance.

The crowd at the event

I like single-track events. It means the organisers have to work harder to ensure each slot is a winner for the audience. In this case, the line-up and topics were diverse and there was a lot to take away.

Val Head : Choose Your Animation Adventure

Val is a well-known authority on anything animation on the web. She has authored quite a few books and courses on the topic. And she teaches people to make things move without making your users queasy or drain the battery of their devices. In this talk she explained different techniques to animate on the web. Starting with CSS animations, past vanilla JS and up to animation libraries. This was a very pragmatic talk explaining the pros and cons of each technoloy with warts and all. Val is a very chipper and engaging speaker, and I am happy she thawed out the audience as the first to step up. Looking forward to the video.

Léonie Watson : You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!

Leonie showing off screen readers

Leonie is an accessibility expert giving sensible and actionable advice on how to create accessible interfaces on the web without overshooting the mark. Yes, there is such a thing as adding too much to make your widgets accessible. Often adding a lot of ARIA also means it is your job to make it work with all kind of assistive technology. Something you can avoid by using the appropriate HTML elements and guiding the user. Hence Leonie’s talk, a nod to The Italian Job. Leonie is a superb presenter. It is great to see a visually impaired person wield stage technology and presentation software as if there is nothing much to it. I liked this talk as it fell neither into the “legal accessibility” nor the “everything works if you only use $thing” camps. Instead, Leonie showed that accessibility is like any other thing. It is a matter of looking into what you are doing and trying your best to make it work. Often this means doing less and the simple thing instead of trying to cater to needs you can’t even know about.

Jack Franklin : A red LEGO brick is always red: components on the web

Jack Franklin is a development lead at thread (the company partly responsible for my swanky style). He showed how they made it much easier to maintain and improve this product using a component approach. Web components are nothing new, of course. Making them work and perform in browsers natively is still trickly though. That’s why many component talks are about the framework du jour and opinionated. Jack did a great job not falling into this trap but showed the real benefits of components. For example hot-fixing a display issue with the certainty that you won’t affect the rest of the page. A great, no-nonsense talk about the subject, well worth a watch.

Niels Leenheer : Having fun with WebBluetooth

Oh how I rooted for this talk to work. Niels is a lovely person and oozes having fun playing with technology. That’s why it was grim to see this talk’s tech demos fail at the Halfstack conference in London earlier this year. Niels still managed to make it a good talk, but seeing him lug lots of hardware to an event just to see it all fail because of connectivity issues was grim. In essence, what Niels proves with this talk is that the specification of Bluetooth and Low-End Bluetooth is a terrible mess. And that with borderline self-flagellating reverse engineering you can do fun things with Web Bluetooth. It is a mess with a lack of standards and at times a total disregard for security. But Niels did a lovely job getting us excited anyways. Top tip though: do not fly back with him as airport security doesn’t like his suitcase full of Bluetooth marvels.

Sara Vieira : Your brain does not have a fix flag

Sara explaining that is hard to be normal

Sara’s talk was the big surprise. It wasn’t a tech talk, although she is highly capable of giving those, too. It was instead a no holes barred account of her life story dealing with and overcoming anxiety. A very important talk about a mental health issue that is tough to understand for people and hard to empathise with. I hope that the video of this will do the rounds and inspire people to care more and those affected to find the strength to find help.

Ian Feather : Frontend Resilience

I wished I had seen more of this talk, but I was bricking it as I was up next. Ian works for BuzzFeed and showed the many ways they ensure the site stays up even when everything is against you. Instead of having a “this is how to make your site performant and everything will be rosy” Ian talked shop. CDNs not working like you expect them, data feeds timing out, the whole horror show of network connectivity. I’m looking forward to seeing this.

Chris Heilmann : 7 things you can do to become a happier JavaScript developer

Hated it. Knew all the content. Boring. Also, what’s with that accent?

General conference feedback

Everything worked nicely and people were very well fed and watered. Actually there was a lot of yummy food left over, which was a shame. The timing worked out, the breaks were well-timed. The location was gorgeous with a lovely park outside full of dogs and swans and their interplay.

The after-party was at a location that had pool billiards, minigolf, bowling and many other things. The food was plenty, two vouchers for drinks ensured that people got merry and charming and not annoying. I only used the bowling lane as I had a lot of people come up to me and ask me questions. I heard from witnesses that parts of the sounds in the karaoke room violated the Geneva convention but that may have been hearsay (or what’s left of the hearing).

The self-demeaning jokes of the organisers on stage, “turns out using sketch for print wasn’t the best idea, just imagine those missing letters” showed that this event was a labour of love and not a way to make money. I like when an event outside the usual spaces for events works out that well. I have the same fondness for Beyond Tellerand, as Duesseldorf isn’t a hub of web news either. I am very happy to have contributed to this event in Newcastle and hope that more will come soon.

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DevRelSummit was well worth it

Last week I was in Seattle to attend a few meetings and I was lucky to attend DevRelSummit in the Galvanize space. I was invited to cover an “Ask me anything” slot about Developer Outreach in Microsoft and help out Charles Morris of the Edge team who gave a presentation a similar matter.

It feels weird to have a conference that is pretty meta about the subject of Developer relations (and there is even a ConfConf for conference organisers), but I can wholeheartedly recommend DevRelSummit for people who already work in this field and those who want to.

The line-up and presentations were full of people who know their job and shared real information from the trenches instead of advertising products to help you. This is a very common worry when a new field in our job market gains traction. Anyone who runs events or outreach programs drowns in daily offers of “the turn-key solution to devrel success” or similar snake oil.

In short, the presentations were:

  • Bear Douglas of Slack (formerly Twitter and Facebook) sharing wins and fails of developer outreach
  • Charles Morris of Microsoft showing how he scaled from 3 people on the Edge team to a whole group, aligning engineering and outreach
  • Kyle Paul showing how to grow a community in spaces that are not technical cool spots and how to measure DevFest success
  • AJ Glasser of Unity explaining how to deal with and harvest feedback you get showing some traps to avoid
  • Damon Hernandez of Samsung talking about building community around hackathons
  • Linda Xie of Sourcegraph showing the product and growth cycle of a new software product
  • Robert Nyman of Google showing how he got into DevRel and what can be done to stay safe and sound on the road
  • Angel Banks and Beth Laing sharing the road to and the way to deliver an inclusive conference with their “We Rise” event as the example
  • Jessica Tremblay and Sam Richard showing how IBM scaled their developer community

In between the presentations there were breakout discussions, lightning talks and general space and time to network and share information.

As expected, the huge topics of the event were increasing diversity, running events smoothly, scaling developer outreach and measuring devrel success. Also, as expected, there were dozens of ways and ideas how to do these things with consensus and agreeable discourse.

All in all, DevRelSummit was a very well executed event and a superb networking opportunity without any commercial overhead. There was a significant lack of grandstanding and it was exciting to have a clear and open information exchange amongst people who should be in competition but know that when it comes to building communities, this is not helpful. There is a finite amount of people we want to reach doing Developer Relations. There is no point in trying to subdivide this group even further.

I want to thank everyone involved about the flawless execution and the willingness to share. Having a invite-only slack group with pre-set channels for each talk and session was incredibly helpful and means the conversations are going on right now.

Slack Channel of the event

DevRelSummit showed that when you get a dedicated group of people together who know their jobs and are willing to share that you can get an event to be highly educational without any of the drama that plights other events. We have a lot of problems to solve and many of them are very human issues. A common consensus of the event was that we have to deal with humans and relate to them. Numbers and products are good and useful, but not burning out or burning bridges even with the best of intentions are even more important.

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That was Smashingconf 2012 – well, for me, at least…

The last few days I spent in Freiburg, Germany at the first Smashingconf. All the things I did there have been released as slides, screencast and a long article (my notes, actually) on Smashingmag. The video should be out soon, too. So this is about my impressions of the conference.

The organisation

The success of a conference stands and falls with the passion of the organisers and Marc Thiele and Vitaly Friedmann are two guys that are 100% behind what they are doing. I know Marc for years (we’ve done stuff in the C64 demoscene together) and I got to know Vitaly a few years ago when I complained that Smashingmag has terrible quality and he asked me to write and become an editor there.

The organisation was incredible, as speakers you got your travels booked, got picked up at the airport, and put up in the hotel where a welcome basket full of cute little edible and non-edible things waited for you together with your badge, wireless information and how to get to the venue:

Speaker goodies in the room

Not that the latter was needed, as most of the speakers walked there as a group as it was a 5 minute walk down the road.

The conference itself worked well, the tech was fitting (the wireless was a bit hit and miss but that was partly due to the building and the speakers got Mi-Fi backups), timing worked out, there was always enough nibbles, coffee and drinks and the space was easy to navigate. Light and sound conditions in the room weren’t ideal, but there was nothing the conference organisers could have done about that.

Instead of catering lunch and endless queues there was a 2 hour break to get something to eat outside which made the tickets cheaper and also allowed people to form smaller groups to go out to hunt for food. With a market just outside the building this was not hard at all.

The afterparty was in a club which was a tad loud and people smoked inside which didn’t quite do it for me but the attendees were happy, and that is the most important.

The online coverage of the event was superb, with the team live-blogging and tweeting and the lanyrd page getting constantly updated.

I can’t think of much that could be improved, and the venue gave the conference a cute touch others lack which makes you forgive not having a bullet proof connectivity throughout.

The location

If you haven’t been to Freiburg yet, let me just tell you that it is so sweet it must be fattening just to look at it. It is a very quaint little town full of narrow streets, shops with cute things and cobblestones throughout. Arriving at the Airport means you can leave for Switzerland or Germany via France – how cool is that?

The conference venue itself was a very old and posh building complete with red velvet chairs and chandeliers:

Smashingconf building

All over were also old oil paintings of statesmen and kings and queens including Lord Cameltoe (as I christened him – seriously it was disturbing to look at):

Lord Cameltoe

Space was scarce and before we opened the windows it got quite hot in the room. After opening the windows the nearby church bells were audible at times during the talk but sitting in such an amazing building made up for these small niggles.


The talks

I didn’t see all the talks, but here are my quick reviews of the ones I followed.

  • Stephen Hay’s “Style Guides are the new Photoshop” had some very good advice how to automatically generate style guides from your prototypes and products using scripting. A designer not scared of the command line was unique to the audience and Stephen did a great job breaking down initial fears and animosities. Stephen has been around for donkey’s years (talking about donkeys, check the awesome magazine in the hotel room) and really knows his stuff. At the same time he is very humble about it. Top lad, and well done.
  • Nicole Sullivan’s “OOCSS and preprocessors in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g” was all about her adventure into SASS land and how it relates to the OOCSS work she has done before. I found it a very good reminder not to fall for the siren song of preprocessors without analysing the final code that gets generated. It was also very good to see that Nicole wasn’t going into it with a “this is it, you all should do exactly what I do now” attitude, but instead took a “here is what worked for me after I did it wrong” approach.
  • Jake Archibald’s “Application Cache: Douchebag” was the third time for me (as we spoke at the same conferences) but it is a very worth-while talk with a truckload of research going into it. It is also a very important topic as the success of HTML5 apps stands and falls with our ability to store content offline. Check this out for all the hacks Jake had to do to build Lanyrd mobile. It is also incredibly funny.
  • Lea Verou’s “10 more CSS secrets” was not announced but she replaced her regular expressions talk with that one in the last moment. Lea is incredibly knowledgeable about CSS and showed a lot of cool tricks with modern CSS. Some of them were very useful, others more edge-case. What I love about Lea’s solutions is that they do not only show you how to do this in the coolest and newest browsers but also how to degrade gracefully. The whole talk was live-coded, which meant that she got 15 minutes over the allocated time, but I am sure the audience didn’t mind. I always want Lea’s CSS talks as an article afterwards as it is too much to take in by just watching.
  • Josh Brewer’s “Responsive is as responsive does” explained his journey towards finding a solution to have a perfect measure in line-length in responsive designs. I really liked the talk and the way Josh explained how he got far too obsessed with finding the perfect formula. Good ideas, lots of research and entertaining to watch
  • Tim Ahren’s “Web fonts backstage and on stage” taught us all there is to know about font formats on the web and how rendering of them works. Lots to take in and quite some in-depth information there.
  • Jonathan Snook’s “Your CSS is a mess” explained the rationale behind his SMACSS approach to writing CSS and had quite a lot of handy tips how to organise your style sheets. Jonathan is a very down-to-earth guy and it shows in his talk. Facts and some dry humour, I like.
  • Brad Frost’s “Beyond media queries (and a lot more words I am too lazy to type now)” on the other hand was a whirlwind experience of knowledge about responsive design and how to use it for the benefit of our users rather than because it is cool. I am a bit of a fanboy of Brad and I think we can expect great things from him (wow, I sound like Mr. Ollivander here) and he didn’t disappoint. A very funny and impeccably timed talk. Go and watch it when it is out.

All in all I think Smashingconf was very much worth our while and the audience should have gotten a lot for their money. It is a conference to watch as if they keep the quality up it can be the new Fronteers or @media.

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Software Engineer – Java (Could be Sr. or Principal Engineer as well)

Sunsson LLC San Jose, CA
Job description: …in Agile development process * Experience with ext-JS , Web services, Spring, iBatis ( similar O/R mapping technology), MySQL * Experience developing Enterprise-class, appliance-based, and/or shrink-wrap applicationsEducation * B.S. Computer Science, MSCS preferred View full post on Dice.com – Web Application

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URGENT – Oracle Application DBA with a well respected Client

Medsourcesusa LLC Tampa, FL
Job description: …Duration: 12 monthsLocation: Tampa FLDescription:Requirement — Concurrent Manager Administration– Oracle web server ( Appache) administration– Registering Oracle TAR and applying Patches– Oracle Application Upgrades– Good understanding in Oracle Web… View full post on Dice.com – web

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Web sales play well for GameFly in Q1

Sales increased 20.8% to $25 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2010. Online games rental company GameFly Inc. started its 2011 fiscal year with a healthy boost in sales, the company reports in updated initial public offer documents filed recently with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.

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