jQuery UK conference in Oxford, England – slides, audio, impressions and notes

Saturday, February 11th, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Yesterday I attended the jQuery UK conference in Oxford, England where about 300 developers gathered to hear the newest and coolest about probably the most successful JavaScript library out there.

Naturally I thought it a good idea to give a talk that they shouldn’t use it. Well, more to the point that it is not necessary to use jQuery for everything out there and that there is quite a lot of redundant use of it. jQuery showed browser makers what developers want and browser makers listened. A lot of the initial concepts of jQuery – accessing the document via CSS selectors rather than the DOM and simplifying the handling of CSS classes are now natively available with querySelector, querySelectorAll and classList.

Slides, notes and audio

You can read the slides with notes online or embedded below (left+right to go back and forward, down for next bullet point and N to toggle notes):

As always I also recorded my talk and the audio is available on archive.org, soundcloud or embedded here:

The feedback was overwhelmingly good, and I am very happy that I dared to be different and didn’t get vegetables thrown at me.

My general impressions of the conference

As the first European (or UK?) jQuery conference I can safely say it was a massive success. The success of a conference very much depends on the passion of the organisers and the group behind this one has passion to spare. You always knew where to go and got help immediately if you didn’t.

The event was run professionally without pestering attendees with unnecessary communication (“Please fill out this survey”) and the venue was incredible. The lecture hall had power plugs and ethernet connectivity on the seats and the wireless stood up (probably because of the ethernet option).

The food was sandwiches, fruit and cookies – more than enough for a single day – and the fermented beverages at the party were bountiful. There were lots of giveaways for the audience (Playbooks, T-Shirts, books, awesome Firefox stickers, Tequila bottles and Kendo sticks).

As a one-track conference, they invited too many speakers which is why the speaking slot was 30 minutes. This at first threw me a bit but in hindsight it went really well and gave the conference a much better flow. There was no moment of boredom.

The audience was very good and the Twitter backchannel buzzing and very creative and observant. The vitriol and trolling attempts you find at other conferences was not happening at all – great stuff. Instead people created awesome doodles and live-blogged the sessions on GitHub(!). The low number of female attendees was a bit of a surprise to me – I’d expected more at a jQuery conference.

Some quick notes on the talks

Some speakers asked me about feedback and I am happy to give some more in person and detail (contact me again, please), but here are a few impressions I got from the talks I saw.

  1. Conference organiser John Wards started the day with the necessary housekeeping and explaining the day – the main shock there was to go to Oxford to hear a strong Scottish accent on stage first thing (memories of Highland Fling?)
  2. Ralph Whitbeck followed up with a report on the state of the jQuery project – the only predictable talk, delivered informatively and keeping the audience on the ball
  3. Todd Parker then explained the ins and outs of jQuery Mobile in my favourite talk of the day. Engaging, funny and full of goodness in terms of best practices I very much subscribe to, too (progressive enhancement, real hardware testing…)
  4. Fellow Ajaxians Dion Almaer and Ben Galbraith followed with a longer talk on Web vs. Apps discussing the benefits of the web as an application platform and how far we are from matching the native experience. Ben and Dion work very well together on stage and had some interesting insights.
  5. Jörn Zaefferer talked about the pitfalls of single page applications. Despite being nervous, he managed to give a good idea about the necessary steps to deliver one of those without breaking the web experience
  6. Haymo Meran of Aloha Editor showed how the editor works and explained the problems of using and implementing contentEditable in the browser and stay accessible. He also used the opportunity to release Aloha WikiDocs, a collaborative live editable wiki
  7. Paul Irish talked about the App development stack for JS developers covering the whole range from preprocessors to developer tools in Chrome previewing the upcoming remote debugging and sourcemapping. Lots of great content there – maybe too much for one talk, but I am sure the (very elaborate 3D effect ladden) slides will help us digest a lot of that.
  8. Addy Osmani talked about building large-scale applications with jQuery covering a few of the architectures followed in larger libraries like YUI and Dojo and explained a few patterns to use and patterns we already do use without knowing it. Again, a bit too much to digest in a half hour talk, but lots of good stuff to dive into
  9. Doug Neiner finished off with Contextual jQuery explaining a lot of great tips on how to create lighter, more responsive jQuery solutions by applying functionality when it is needed and not upfront. A very interesting talk full of pragmatic goodness

All the talks were filmed and will be released in the nearer future.

Thanks

All in all I am very happy to have attended the conference and hope there will be more by these organisers. I was the first speaker asked (imagine my surprise given that I hardly have anything to do with jQuery) and I have to say thanks – it was a great experience.

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