Fronteers 2014 sessions

This year, Fronteers will cover 16 topics ranging from agile workflow to ES6 and pretty much everything in between. Below are talk details, take a look at the full schedule for timing.

Getting nowhere with CSS best practices - Heydon Pickering

Broadly speaking, common CSS best practices cover readability, efficiency and modularity. Adopting them purports to make long-running projects more manageable. But do any of them really help, and how many of them actually improve the product that falls into people's hands? Is it possible that CSS best practice can perpetuate or even beget bad design practice?

Making maps - the role of Frontend Infrastructure at Etsy - Daniel Espeset

The scope of Etsy's frontend is massive - our JavaScript codebase has grown by 50% in the last year to more than 3,000 files totaling almost 800,000 lines. Because of Etsy's dedication to continuous deployment, the code running in production changes 25 to 50 times every day. Because of our experimentation-driven development cycle, there may be multiple production versions of our features at any given time. These factors can lead to uncertainty and fear with rolling out upgrades, deleting old code, or confidently making changes. We'll see how the Frontend Infrastructure team works within this ecosystem to mitigate those risks, manage the asset build pipeline, builds tools to understand our frontend, automates migrations & deletes as much code as possible.

Do we need to write markup? - Nathan Ford

Hand-crafted code has been the hallmark of quality front-end development since front-end was even a thing. As websites become more functional, though, and loaded through myriad viewports, is typing our intentions the best use of our time? If we make markup easier, what do we have to fear? Easier markup means more people can build richer content on the web. Also, by relying on tools, rather than our fingers, developers can free up time to focus on the features that really need brain power: accessibility, semantics, optimization, saner class structures, and whatever comes next. We just first need to define what is “good enough” output, and rethink how we approach our tools to make them actually useful.

Pushing the real-time web forward - Arnout Kazemier

WebSockets, Server Sent Events or should I maybe just use Short Polling?
Choosing the right tool for the job is always harder then it looks and often requires deep understanding of the various techniques and hacks. Join this journey and learn about the beauty and horrors of building the real-time web.

State of the Animation 2014 - Rachel Nabors

The post-Flash era is hardly free of animation. CSS animation is quickly becoming a cornerstone of user-friendly UI frameworks, and JavaScript libraries already exist to handle complex, interactive animations. And now there’s a new API coming to town specifically for web animations! In the wake of so much “CSS vs. JavaScript animation” infighting, you'll be introduced to the Web Animations API via the development styles and insights of four distinct groups of people: UI designers, interaction developers, library authors, and the browser teams implementing it.

Gaming in the Browser

In this practical session Dominic Szablewski, Luc Bloom and Thomas Palef will each share their experience on building games for the browser. They will give us a hands-on view into the possibilities and challenges we face when building such games.

WebRTC: A front-end perspective - Shwetank Dixit

WebRTC gives us a way to do real-time, peer-to-peer communication on the web. In this talk, we'll go over the current state of WebRTC (both the awesome parts and the parts which need to be improved) as well as what could come in the future. Mostly though, we'll take a look at how to combine WebRTC with other web technologies to create great experiences on the front-end for real-time, p2p web apps.

Offline First: faster, more fun, and more robust (web) apps - Alex Feyerke

Let's assume for a minute that the technical side of building offline-capable (web) apps was really, really simple. Because it's getting easier every day, and it's obviously desirable: you’d rather have a robust, reliable app instead of one that turns into a wonky disappointment when it's disconnected for a moment. Once we take that as a given, we can think about what building apps Offline First means in terms of interfaces, in terms of your application's structure, and in terms of the experiences your users could have with it. What are the benefits, opportunities and challenges of Offline First development? A talk about patterns for offline UX, thinking differently about user data, confident wording, pre-empting people's needs, notions of the future and ordering things in lists.

Optimizing web performance - Dave Olsen

Today, a web page can be delivered to desktop computers, televisions, or handheld devices like tablets or phones. While a technique like responsive design helps ensure that our web sites look good across that spectrum of devices we may forget that we need to make sure that our web sites also perform well across that same spectrum. More and more of our users are shifting their Internet usage to these more varied platforms and connection speeds with some moving entirely to mobile Internet.

In this session we’ll look at the tools that can help you understand, measure and improve the web performance of your web sites and applications. The talk will also discuss how new server-side techniques might help us optimize our front-end performance. Finally, since the best way to test is to have devices in your hand, we’ll discuss some tips for getting your hands on them cheaply.

Animating SVGs with CSS and SMIL - Sara Soueidan

SVGs can be animated with CSS, but they also come packed with their own animation elements that allow us to animate them in ways that are not yet possible with CSS. In this session, we'll go over how SVGs can be animated with CSS, including prerequisites, gotchas, and browser bugs, and then we'll go over the native SVG animation elements and how they can be used, what advantages and disadvantages they have compared to CSS animations, browser compatibility, and a little bit more!

This is the web platform - Paul Kinlan

An analysis of the trends in the web platform to help you plan, prepare and build for a better web. We'll go into ways to analyse trend data to help you learn more effectively about the platform, and we'll go into tools you'll need to make intelligent decisions when deciding on feature levels and browser support.

Using agile to bake in accessibility - Meri Williams

One of the most powerful and helpful aspects of agile can be that it leads to better integrated multi-disciplinary teams. But the focus on building "the simplest thing that works" can lead folks to worry that accessibility and similar will fall by the wayside. Let's have a look at how agile ways of working can help you bake in accessibility and good practices in everything you do, so that the products you produce are for everyone.

Choose your own JS adventure - Kyle Simpson

Yeah, yeah, ES6 is awesome. Everyone knows that. We're all excited about not having to write the word 'function' anymore. But, isn't it about time we stop obsessing so much about what TC39 puts into the official language spec?

Let's talk about making and using tools (built in JS, of course!) to customize the language itself to your own liking. We'll talk about macros, code parsers and transpilers, and other fun tricks to put the control of the language back in your fingers.

Make your own JavaScript. And no, that doesn't have to stop you from playing nicely with others.

Scaling up and down: evolving your testing strategies - Pete Hunt

Projects have different testing needs at different points in their lifecycle. In this session we'll have a look at the evolution of testing at Facebook and Instagram, how our needs changed over time, things we did right and mistakes that we made.

Dream big. Think small - Petro Salema

Hoverboards, jetpacks, holograms, and "the next big thing:" none are everyday technologies not because we can't envision them, but because we haven't yet put together the capabilities to make them consumable technologies.

The buzzing, blinking, and beeping atmosphere mediated by our ever-on, ever-connected, and ever-present devices has made it clear that computer technology revolutions will be grounded in making computing more humane (UX). But what the next lifestyle shaping and culture-making product will be is almost impossible to say. It's very hard to invent the future, but it is our job—and within our reach—to enable it. And the key to this is solving smaller problems.

We'll consider how solving small and hard problems is what brings about capabilities,
and it is capabilities—more so than vision—that is the link between our imagination and reality.