Christian Heilmann

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Learning about DevRel for the Asian market at DevRelSummit Singapore

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018

I’m in the lounge of the Singapore Airport waiting for my flight. Yesterday I spent the whole day at DevRel Summit in a fancy event space listening to peers and colleagues how they tackle the task of reaching out to developers in the Asian market.

I didn’t have any speaking slot at this event, so I took the time to take a lot of photos and take lots of live notes of the event

I was very happy to be able to help out with a workshop for the leadership of the Asian Women Who Code chapter, giving an “Ask Me Anything” style Q&A in the local Microsoft office.

The things I was asked about the most were:

  • How to get invited to present at events. I pointed out that having a good online portfolio with what you can cover, examples of your work and your speaking terms and conditions help a lot. Feel free to fork and change my terms and conditions on GitHub
  • How to deal with bad feedback online
  • How much to charge for speaking engagements
  • How to ensure that more diverse people get a chance to represent your company

Many of the answers I gave sparked a constructive discussion amongst the directors of Women Who Code and resulted in answers presented at the closing panel of the DevRel summit.

I look forward to working more on this.

The summit was organized by the same people who run the DevRelSummit in Seattle, Barry Munstersteiger and Sandra Persing, together with a local crew and MC. It was held in a hotel in Clarke Quay, an entertainment section of town close to places for the after party and walking distance from my hotel. The event space was good, with excellent catering, good room facilities and excellent WiFi. A few more power outlets and a better sound system would have been beneficial, but the ample space to sit down and have conversations made up for it.

DevRel Summit

Some talk feedback

  • Jarod Reyes of Twilio did a really good job talking about reaching Dark Matter Developers, aka the ones not publicly visible (a term coined by Scott Hanselman) showing how Twilio found out more about their developers by doing in-depth research and surveys on what they are and altering their outreach and materials accordingly. It is also interesting to see that Twilio has a defined content creation program that offers money per article to people who want to write for them and give them writing training. They also have an open policy for people to ask for event sponsorship and they have a game you can host, Twilio Quest, that teaches coding and participating in open source.
  • Tomomi Imura of Slack explained where developers go to learn based on the Stackoverflow survey and described how to create developer education materials for different types of learners based on the VARK system (which is loosely based on the Honey&Mumford research into learner types). She also gave her insights into how to reach out to developers in Japan with important information how to run events.
  • Yohann Totting of Google explained in detail how they localized Google’s devrel model to the Indonesian market based on a government hackathon he organized. In the notes there are some interesting numbers on that.
  • Ali Spivak of Mozilla did a great job describing how Mozilla uses a data-driven approach to developer outreach and how they scaled and diversified their speaking engagements by training up community speakers. This is directly based on the work I started when I worked at Mozilla and fun to see how it worked out.
  • Keir Whittaker of Shopify had a very detailed talk about how Shopify had a different problem than other DevRel organisations as they reach marketplace owners with a slight developer angle or resellers and not developers. I was impressed with his candidness about what worked and what didn’t
  • The closing panel with directors of different Asian countries of Women Who Code was a good insight into how they work differently from country to country
  • The biggest win for us according to my agenda of learning more about the Asian market was the talk by Thomas Gorissen, organizer of JSConf Asia who gave a detailed talk about what the developer landscape and company interests are in Singapore

Summary

I had a great time and met a lot of lovely people to follow up with on right now. There is a lot of opportunity in the market in Asia and the differences to what the landscape is like in Europe is a good challenge to tackle. Thank you for the organisers and everyone involved to make this a great event worth the long flight.

Live notes

Trondheim Developer Conference 2018 – One day, three talks and many happy moments

Thursday, October 25th, 2018

I just got back from Trondheim, Norway where I once again spoke at the Trondheim Developer Conference. The last time I spoke there four years ago and I had a great time and I have to say nothing changed – it is still a conference well worth going to.

The amazing keynote stage

I was pretty impressed to see that the conference videos were available the day after the event, so I am happy to give you all the materials of my participation and some of the things that impressed me.

Setting up the AI talk

The keynote: Watch this space

In this keynote I am talking about protecting the open web as a publishing platform by improving the quality of our work. We’ve accumulated a lot of knowledge over the years, and yet it seems new developers always start from scratch. By making our best practices part of the start of your career and embedding them in tools, we can have a new generation of developers who can invent amazing things that don’t break.


Chris Heilmann – Watch this space! from TrondheimDC on Vimeo.

The slides of the keynote are available on notist

Seven things to make you a happier JavaScript developer

This talk wasn’t planned but as another speaker couldn’t make it, I filled in.


Chris Heilmann – Seven ways to be a happier JavaScript developer from TrondheimDC on Vimeo.

The slides and resources of this JS talk are on notist

Kode24 did a great write-up of this talk on their site called Stop using console.log.

AI for humans

Linda Liukas' machine learning robot

The last talk was about using AI to build more human interfaces.


Chris Heilmann – Artificial intelligence for humans… from TrondheimDC on Vimeo.

The slides of the AI talk are here

Happy Moments

Book stand at TDC with robot sex front and center

Great talks to watch

If you are looking for inspiration, there were a few talks that stood out for me:

Planning for next year

One great side note: the organisers asked me about more female Europe-based speakers to invite so I collected a few in a tweet.

This thread snowballed and is now a superb reference for presenting talent in Europe.

Career advice, AI ethics and inspiring the next dev generation to care about the web at Web Unleashed

Friday, October 5th, 2018

I just got back from Toronto, Canada, where I attended Web Unleashed a FITC organised three day conference with fifty talks in four tracks. Despite this size, the event felt cozy and not too spread out. There was a lot to learn and a truly stellar line-up of speakers to choose from.

Setting up for my AI talk

Originally I was lined up to give a workshop together with Burke Holland on developer toolchain setup, but there were not enough sign-ups, so I “only” spoke on a panel about “Life as a lead developer”, gave a talk about AI, ethics and building human interfaces and the closing keynote.

The slides of the AI and ethics talk are available here and I made a gist with all the resources I mentioned.

The closing keynote slides are also on noti.st together with the resources mentioned in that one.

The resources mentioned in this one are here:

I will write more about the subject of the closing keynote soon here.

I want to thank everyone involved in this event and hope that people learned something from my efforts. It is impressive how many great speakers were present and I had a wonderful time with some of the most relaxed parties.

I also realised that no matter how hard I try, I will never have the same presence as the devrel expert at the Shopify booth:

Walnut the dog

JavaScript Jabber podcast had me as a guest to talk about teaching and learning JavaScript

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

The folks at devchat.tv just published the 332nd edition of the JavaScript Jabber podcast. For about an hour a panel of people grilled me on the topic of You learned JavaScript – what now? a talk I had formerly given at a women in tech event in Berlin.

Might be worth your while, I had good fun.

Hinting at a better web at State of the Browser 2018

Sunday, September 16th, 2018

State of the browser is an small, annual conference in London. It originated as a format of 20 minute presentations by each browser maker followed by a panel allowing people to hear browser news straight from the horse’s mouth. It has been running for seven years (I think, hard to find out). This year was slightly different as they didn’t do a panel and there were several speakers that aren’t representatives of browser makers.

State of the browser ticks many of my happy boxes when it comes to conferences and I am highly impressed how the organisers manage to pull it off:

  • It has a great and diverse line-up of presenters
  • It is single track, with a sensible talk length
  • It is pragmatic in its approach and keeps costs low by not catering lunch but giving enough time to find some
  • It is ridiculously affordable at 30 GBP
  • And yet, they do a really good job to make you feel welcome and supported as a presenter

The conference has a low-key feel to it and that also keeps the presenters humble. There is a great diversity ticket program in place where attendees can sponsor others. The line-up was diverse and there is a focus on availability and accessibility. All the talks were streamed on YouTube and they have professional transcriptions in place that type along as the speakers present. The conference team is taking notes and publishes resources presenters covered live on the speakers’ pages on the conference site and on Twitter.

My talk this year was hinting at a better web in which I cover the changes the web went through over the years and how as developers we have a harder time keeping up with them. And how tooling and using the right resources in context of our work can help us with that.

Hinting at a better web from Christian Heilmann

I will write a longer article about the topic soon.

The full video stream of the conference is available here. My talk is on from 05:11:00 onwards to 05:38:00

Here is a quick recap of the talks from my POV:

  • Michelle Barker of Mud showed off the power of CSS grids and custom properties to build complex layouts on the web.
  • Dr. Ben Livshits of Brave showed how the advertising model of their browser can make the web more secure and easier for publishers
  • Sara Vieira gave a talk ranting about the overuse of DIVs in design and the general lack of quality in semantic markup and sensible, simple solutions on the web
  • Rowan Merewood of Google gave a talk about Apps, Web Apps and their overlap. His slides are available here .
  • Ada Rose Cannon of Samsung covered “WebXR and the immersive web” showing some interesting VR/AR examples running in Samsung Internet
  • Ruth John talked about using the Web Audio API for music experiments and visualization with a focus on the performance of those APIs.
  • Chris Mills of Mozilla showed the new features of the Firefox Developer Tools in Nightly talking in detail about their WYSIWYG nature. He covered the Grid Inspector, Animation Editor and a few other neat tools
  • Jeremy Keith of clearleft once again gave a highly philosophical talk about how the open web is an agreement
  • Charlie Owen of Nature Publishing ended with a ranty (in a positive sense) keynote about us over-complicating the web and thus making it far less accessible than it should be

I was happy to see some nice feedback on Twitter:

I’ve been a supporter of State of the Browser from the very beginning and I am happy to say that – if anything – it gets better every year. The dedicated team behind it are doing a bang up job.