Christian Heilmann

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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.

Slides and resources for my Reasons.to 2018 keynote “taking the vile out of privilege”

Saturday, September 8th, 2018

I just came back from Reasons.to conference where I gave the opening keynote about the perils of social media and how we should use the privileges we have to make them better. I will do a longer write-up about this later, but a lot of people asked for the slides and links to the resources I covered, so here you go.

Lovely tweets

Slides

Taking the "vile" out of privilege from Christian Heilmann

Resources

“The complete JavaScript toolkit” Skillshare course is free this week!

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

Chris Heilmann smiling behind his laptop as the course is finished

This July Skillshare released my course called The Complete JavaScript Toolkit and you can access it by signing up for a 2 months trial of Skillshare.

I am happy to announce that for this week, this course is now completely free. You need still to sign up for a Skillshare login, but you don’t need a Credit Card and you don’t need to sign up for the two month trial period.

So what’s keeping you? check out the course here

As a reminder, here is what you will learn in the course:

The videos are the following. We deliberately kept them short. A huge benefit of this course is to discover your own best way of working whilst watching them. It is a “try things out while you watch” kind of scenario:

  • Introduction (01:46) – introducing you to the course, explaining what we will cover and who it is for.
  • JavaScript today (08:41) – JavaScript isn’t writing a few lines of code to make websites snazzier any longer. It became a huge platform for all kinds of development.
  • Uses for JavaScript (06:25) – a more detailed view on what JavaScript does these days. And how the different uses come with different best practices and tooling.
  • Finding JavaScript Zen (04:15) – how can you stay calm in this new JavaScript world where everything is “amazing”? How can you find out what makes sense to you and what is hype?
  • Evolved Development Environments (10:22) – all you need to write JavaScript is a text editor and all to run it a browser. But that’s also limiting you more than you think.
  • Benefits of Good Editors (12:34) – by using a good editor, people who know JavaScript can become much more effective. New users of JavaScript avoid making mistakes that aren’t helpful to their learning.
  • Version Control (09:15) – using version control means you write understandable code. And it has never been easier to use Git.
  • Debugging to Linting (06:01) – debugging has been the first thing to get right to make JavaScript a success. But why find out why something went wrong when you can avoid making the mistake?
  • Keeping Current in JavaScript (05:11) – JavaScript moves fast and it can be tricky to keep up with that is happening. It can also be a real time-sink to fall for things that sound amazing but have no life-span.
  • Finding the JavaScript Community (03:59) – it is great that you know how to write JavaScript. Becoming part of a community is a lot more rewarding though.
  • Asking for Help (05:47) – gone are the days of writing posts explaining what your coding problem is. By using interactive tools you can give and get help much faster.
  • Final Thoughts (01:11) – thanks for taking the course, how may we help you further?

I wrote this to make myself more content and happy in this demanding world, and I hope it helps you, too. Old-school developers will find things to try out and new developers should get a sensible way to enter the JavaScript world.