Saturday, 13 April 2013

Day one at Frontend United


What a nice day at Frontend United. I guess that's the second year of the event and this time it is held in London baby. People seem to like Drupal camps also, but this event managed to generate more buzz on Twitter. So what happened?


This is the program for day 1. It started with Christian Heilmann's keynote, from Mozilla. It was a really interesting session about how web works as a platform and as a business model. Nothing new under the Sun, but the same time it managed to pinpoint some crucial behavior of the system. Web is a great survivor in the sense of reliability, accessibility and popularity. Even if many of us think it as a document platform it's actually a full fledged software stack. It's strange, because if you want to make something spread out quickly to the mass it's the web that build on. A lot of disabilities are because it's not used enough. And that I totally agree. Having no needs won't generate new features. If you still do native apps or desktop tools you will not challenge the browser stack enough to grow. Web is somehow got this very categorized view that it's a document serving system. Actually - it is. Many says all interactions, even POST request is an abuse of the protocol. Sadly enough it's a system that we cannot change in a short time. I heard from Twit that maybe we don't have the people who knows why web is still working as is. So I guess it's something for the early adopters to break in. We need people who dare to use nightly build and dare to claim new features.

He also mentioned Firefox OS. I'm not entirely sure how the model works. It seems to me that it's an OS you have to use exclusively. I think the interesting model with phones is that it's shifting, or it will. One of my friend was surprised to see that I don't even have my phone app on the first screen. Yeah, I don't really use my phone for calls. I do most of my calls on Skype. It's cheeper and I'm close to Skype anyways, I can type and share at same type. Phones are just too clunky for many things. So if you don't think about phones as phone call making devices it's totally fine to have a dedicated internet device. Well, you still can make a call on, but it's more about the shift of daily usage. People are fine to have features, hardware is something that can support it, but people are not too keen having ARM processors, they want Facebook. I just installed the Firefox OS and it looks nice. Not as nice as Android or iOS, but when the overal hype about tiny internet devices fade away you can actually take attention to the content. Like the way I don't care about my wallpaper, because there is an app always covering it.

Then I've visited Kristof Van Tomme's session about Walkthrough. They managed to reach their goal in the Indiegogo campaign, which I'm really happy about. Their effort is to bring documentation to front and make it alive and much more is really getting attention. I've seen the early iPad app and it looks awesome. I think that's the way to cut the old fashion documentation to consumable chunks and present it in a way that it helps users discovering the web and getting things done. I'm looking forward to see the next phase.

I've also checked Morten's presentation about - basically - how to tell developers what to do in order to play nice with templates and the presentation layer. It brought up a lot of interesting questions. It's an eternal fight between flexibility and maintainability. Easy to go wild with DS, Panels, Page manager, Views and all these tools where you have the endless ability to nest and wrap and twist and bend the DOM. I was thinking if a mixed model would work on a system - you know, playing with the flexible tool though the time requirements are stabilized and then you can set the DOM in stone and make it slim and sleek. However it really seems starting from the bottom is also great way to go. Maybe the best way, yeah. One new thing I've heard is Smacss. I always thought I knew too much css syntax and too little css strategy, and it turned out it's true. As found I am with data architecture the same negligent I do my stylesheets. Maybe less negligent since I do SASS. But still having this collection of proven patterns is a brilliant idea.

The final presentation from Bruce Lawson about how to destroy the web was splendid, pure entertainment, I must say. Wait for the videos to be uploaded, worth to see each minute.

Great day, back tomorrow.

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Peter

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