Front Trends

May 18-20, 2016 Warsaw, Poland

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After a former colleague told me about a web-event, called Front Trends, in Warsaw, he used to visit every year, I became interested in attending this event. After my trip to Berlin’s web conference Beyond Tellerand in 2015 I started arranging my tickets for the Front Trends conference in May 2016. As some people may know I like to travel a lot so I made sure to start my trip a couple of days ahead of the event starting day. These personal days I used to visit the old town of Warsaw and some other interesting locations in the city. I stayed at an appartement in a very nice neighbourhood and used the public bicycle-system for transportation.

The conference started on a Wednesday and it was held in some kind of club in the center of the city, though it felt as if it was somewhere in the middle of nowhere. The weather was nice enough to sit outside during the breaks and observe the other attendees, who mostly consisted of young, pale guys with beards who looked very serious (and could use some sun).

Day 1

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  • The first speaker told us about static sites, static site generators (Jekyll), static publishing (Surge) and hosting (Netlify). Interesting, but unlikely that I will use it in my daily job soon.
  • There were some so-called lighting talks.
    • One person told us about Flexbox (which especially can help with vertical alignment).
    • A member of the booking.com team told us about data-driven design and A/B-testing
    • The last talk was about language attributes in CSS.
  • After the break the topic of the presentation was RxJs (Reactive programming).
  • It continued with a talk on Ecmascript 2015 and generators in Ecmascript.
  • The last talk of the day was probably the most interesting (since I am very interested in psychology) and focused on the relationship between the perception of the user and performance. The speaker gave us some advice (preloading with CSS, prefetching) and i learned that spinners suck. Instead, it is probably better to give the user some info on what’s going on.

Day 2

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  • On the second day we started with a talk on CSS. It reminded me a lot of the good old days when we used CSS Zen Garden, which was very inspiring when i started doing this work. Nowadays we use a lot of different tools and techniques for example Gulp, BEM, SASS. We may call it the components age (also in this presentation: media queries, CSS animations, pseudo classes, server rendered CSS, style guide extraction).
  • The next presentation was kind of philosophical (our eternal digital afterlife) and made us think about what we can do on social media when we are dead…
  • Then the stage was set for man I called demoscene guy since he was a member of some kind of group where people do free style coding with Javascript and animations and perform this on stage. Well, that’s exactly what he did and it was very cool although way out of my league…
  • The fourth presentation of the day was about syntax highlighting and CSS font-feature settings.
  • After the lunch break it was all about the internet of things.
  • Next speaker was a man who worked for Google and presented some new features of Angular 2.
  • My day ended with a discussion between a few speakers of the event about tooling and the complexity of it (maybe its getting too complex?).

Day 3

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  • On the last day we got started with a topic on how to make websites more attractive. The speaker mentioned the term ‘pixel bonding’.
  • Next was about Modrnizr/fontface modules, serviceworkers/webworkers (for storing data so only loading is needed once). Until now this only works in chrome but according to the speaker it will get used a lot more in the future.
  • Then there was one more presentation about CSS which was a a little complex but interesting. The speaker started with some history (the first programming language flow-matic and inventor Grace Hopper). Later he pointed out some best practices.
  • The Financial Times website is build with a component-system called Origami. Lead developer of this project told us about this in the next talk and also about tooling in general, why it is different from other frontend frameworks for example bootstrap etc.
  • I ended my conference with a case (the Guardian) that pointed out how this works when its offline and you still want to attract your public. A way to do this is to make use of (yes there it is again) serviceworkers (which always runs in the background, pushes and fetches events and stores it in the cache).
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After three days of conference, two days of sightseeing and much more 😉 I very much appreciated the city and (most) people I met, but mostly I really enjoyed this event. The fact that the conference lasted for three days (instead of two) gave the attendees much more time to enjoy it and keeping focused when they really want to. I might go back next year. 😉
By the way, these conferences are also a good place to pick up some (cheesy) quotes, such as:
“Predict the problem not the solution”
“Never use an !important in anger”