Our profession is maturing

The classic web developer stereotype used to be a white male in his twenties. He likes craft beer, GIFs and code. Although these guys were over-represented at the conferences last week, we really got the impression that diversity is finally coming to our industry. Lena Reinhard got the honour of ending CSSconf with an enlightening talk about existing in the tech industry. She shun light on the struggles of being a minority, how destructive the open source community can be and how she has dealt with depression over the years. I don't think we've ever seen or heard a crowd so silent and agreeable before. Just the fact that someone is talking about these human-related topics instead of showcasing cool code is a sign that our profession is maturing for the better. Watch her talk here.

We're entering a new era of layout on the web

Håkon Wium Lie got the honor of opening CSSconf with a reminder of why he invented CSS and where he sees it heading. He showcased a really advanced multi-column layout in a custom built browser only a man responsible for CSS and the Opera browser can cook up. Not only did he open up our minds about where we might be heading with CSS, but it was especially valuable hearing the godfather of the language itself talk about it. Watch his opening talk here. 

Jen Simmons's talk gave us a great heads up on what is achievable with future and current layout models in CSS. There's no doubt that we've fallen in to a "boxy" way of thinking about layout on the web. With the upcoming CSS Grid model, Flexbox and CSS Shapes we are able to achieve incredibly advanced layouts you could only dream of seeing in printed designer magazines just a couple of years ago. And the best part? You can start implementing them today! Wrap your experimental stuff in a feature test like @supports{} or with a Modernizr test. Check out her "labs" section on her website to see some of her proof of concept examples.

Jen Simmons with a sarcastic image behind her mocking standard web design patterns

Progressive web apps

If we were to ask anyone who attended the conferences last week if they could sum the whole thing up with a buzz word, I'm sure they would say "Progressive web apps". At least four talks were about this topic and several others mentioned it briefly. The "mobile web" has gotten so big that saying the phrase "mobile web" is already like saying "color TV". Smart phones have gotten a huge boost the last year. India alone stands for 108 million new internet users in 2015. Most of them are mobile only users and access the internet for the first time in their lives through this device. Many third world countries do not have wifi accessible everywhere and rely on using mobile data. Downloading or updating an app alone will cost them precious megabytes. Andreas Bovens from Opera Software explained this in his talk "Towards better apps: the what & why of progressive web apps" where they found that a lot of their Opera Mobile users weren't updating the app because they couldn't afford it. This is something we don't consider in "the west", but it's something we should start taking into consideration now that India alone got over hundred million new smart phone/internet users last year. It is also the main reason why web apps are becoming highly relevant;

  • No app download or update needed.
  • As long as you have a web browser you're good to go
  • Cutting edge web technologies to give the user a native app experience is widely supported since most smart phones' browsers are up to date.

Node.js is extremely powerful

NodeConf was packed with examples of different use cases of Node.js. Everything from running Node on a microcontroller like Tessel to running it in a production environment to recording the fermentation of a beer and turning it in to a MIDI song. The possibilities are endless and the threshold to start utilising and building powerful products with it is really low since, after all, it's "just" JavaScript.

Developers like emojis

Developers have always managed to jam GIFs into their presentations, but we're seeing a clear trend that the Emoji is creeping itself in there as well. Why is this? Is it because we as developers know that emojis aren't just funny stupid icons? Is it because we know that a smiley isn't just a smiley, but a string of characters which is parsed by the browser and rendered as a font in a vector format? Fun fact: The "woman whipping her hair"-icon isn't really a woman whipping her hair. It's a stereotypical Japanese secretary showing you the way when you enter an office space with the official name "information desk person". Information desk lady emoji

What talk do we remember most?

I'm sure we're not the only ones who got blown away by Mariko Kosaka's talk about the history of print, how type was implemented to computers back in the 70's and basically how everything around the topic of type works and functions digitally. It's something we take for granted every day. Not only was the talk informative, but energy coming from Mariko talking about type really spread out to the audience. I walked away from the conference feeling really inspired and grateful that we get to work with this awesome medium which is the World Wide Web. Watch her full talk here.

If this brief summary wasn't enough, here are the complete recordings of the whole conference. See you next year!