Christian Heilmann

⚡️Fronttrends2010 in Warsaw, Poland – my impressions, slides and audio

Monday, October 25th, 2010 at 10:23 am

I just returned from a thoroughly enjoyable trip to Warsaw to speak at the Fronttrends 2010 conference. This new conference managed to assemble a stellar line-up of speakers and around 400 developers who were very eager indeed to learn about new techniques and products. Big names like Tantek Çelik, Douglas Crockford, Peter-Paul-Koch were the first to be recruited and I was also happy to see Jake Archibald (who I pimped mercilessly to conference organisers), Robert Nyman and Anthony Ribot again.

Together with these known people, Fronttrends took the daring move to have 8 speakers who gave their first talk ever at conferences. I do very much applaud the organisers for that and I managed to spot some very interesting new talents who I am sure I will see much more of – check out the conference line-up for the details.

The conference organisation was good with the main problem being once again the wireless connectivity. This is always an issue and I can only say that if you are a speaker at a conference do never rely on having web access. Take screenshots and screencasts of what you want to show and you will be safe and leave a happy rather than confused audience.

So here are some things that surprised me positively about the conference and showed that preconceptions of anything are most of the time wrong:

  • The catering was amazing – I loved the food and was very much surprised to have a wealth of Vegetarian options to choose from. For some reason I remembered Polish cuisine to be mostly sausage and cabbage based but this was very good indeed.
  • There was no language barrier to speak of. I had pitched my talk to be very low on puns and language and heavier on the content and code (Robert Nyman was surprised to see that much JS in my slides) as I thought I might not be easy to understand but the audience even stomached Jake Archibald’s Northernisms without batting an eyelid.
  • Geeks of the female side of the species – whilst the amount of ladies in the audience was predictably low it turned out that all of them were developers and very outspoken in their interest to take some tech info home with them (which manifested itself in very detailed questions). I loved it and was very interested in the level of knowledge I encountered. I am right now working on some of them to make them share this knowledge and speak at conferences very soon.
  • The mix was very good – to me this was the first conference that really managed to have a mix of mobile and web development and talk about the open web rather than providing a sounding board for battling SDKs and App Stores.

Talent spotted: Lea Verou

Lea Verou - "Pragmatic CSS" (3)The big surprise to me though was Lea Verou who gave a 2 hour session on Pragmatic CSS3. I’ve met Lea at Fronteers in Amsterdam and heard that she’d speak at Fronttrends but I’ve never heard of her before which confused me. When she confessed that she is very nervous and I offered to go through her slides with her to give some speaking advice I was simply amazed. Not only were her slides very thorough and detailed but also written in HTML/CSS/JS and interactive. She used contenteditable to allow her to change some values live on stage to see the differences. Clever piece of work and beautiful to see.

Her delivery was also spot-on. Yes, nervous, but also no-nonsense, no-fluff information delivered at an understandable pace. That Lea is from Greece and very versed in newest technologies is just wonderful to see – we need more good people in countries with great weather and food to run some very relaxed conferences there. Keep your eyes out for Lea’s talk and videos – it is very much worth it.

My talk – using webservices with JavaScript

I shifted my talk as Anthony was getting too “spiritual” the evening before and didn’t show up on time (he pulled through like a trooper though and delivered a great talk later on). As I thought the audience would be very technical and mostly interested in takeaways I kept the slides very to the point. Specifically I talked about how to use webservices in JavaScript and the issues about it – making asynchronous calls come back in a predictable order, local caching on the client with localStorage and how to move your JavaScript server-side by embedding it in YQL open tables. The slides are available on SlideShare:

Using Web Services with JavaScript – Fronttrends 2010

As always I recorded my talk (to find out what I said) and uploaded the audio files on Archive.org:

Summary

Fronttrends was the first of its kind and I was very happy to be part of it. The audience was engaged, the organisation worked out well and I am looking forward to coming back to Poland and to see more of the things the organisers are planning to do. One thing they already announced is Falsy Values, a pure JS conference in May.

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