Fronteers 2010 recap

I know, I know. It’s been a whole week. What can I say? I’m glad to have so much work.

Fronteers 2010 in Amsterdam was definitely the best Fronteers yet. I was honored to have been invited to speak for the third year in a row. As Chris Heilmann points out, the two of us share that privilege, and a privilege it is; the Fronteers team has put the conference on the map as one of the top front-end design and development conferences around today.

Aside from speaking, Fronteers was a great opportunity to see some friends again and meet new people, and to see some of my favorite web talents speak as well:

Day one

Day one kicked off with Jeremy Keith on HTML5. Jeremy is one of the best thinkers in front-end development and a *fantastic* speaker. He presented a clear overview of past, present and future HTML5. I also finally got to meet him in person after reading so much of his work through the years. And, he built Huffduffer, which you should try.

Robert Nyman. What a character. A very informative presentation peppered with images of celebrities, which misdirected the audience from the fact that Robert has cloned himself several times in order to keep up with all his work.

I’m a big fan of SVG, so I thoroughly enjoyed Brad Neuberg’s presentation, which could have easily been called “show off and make your friends jealous with SVG“. A well-rounded look at this vector graphics format.

Håkon Wium Lie shared stories and images about the beginning of the Web and the history of CSS. Especially enlightening was seeing a picture of the world’s first web server. He finished up by sharing some of his ideas about the future of the Web. Since he is CTO of Opera Software, I do of course expect him to get CSS3 Template Layout implemented soon. To this end, I had to have a little chat with him during the break.

I loved Stoyan Stefanov‘s session on performance. Lots of little tricks in this presentation and some things I didn’t know, but can apply today. Good stuff, and a super-nice guy.

I’ve admired Jina Bolton‘s work for a few years. She’s done a lot of work educating people about and promoting CSS, and it’s easy to see why. While her subject matter was tried and true, it served as a good confirmation of some best practices, especially within teams.

Jake Archibald‘s presentation on design principles for building APIs was insane. Jake’s presentation style is a flurry of insight and humor. There was plenty to learn and lots to laugh about. Absolutely awesome presentation.

Day two

I kicked off day two, basically discussing progressive enhancement all over again in light of the current obsession with media queries. The slides were minimalist, but I found using SVG quite flexible. (Some people have asked about the slides, so I will post the SVG file very soon, with an explanation of how I made the slides).

Moving on…

Paul Irish… what can I say? The Web is his little plaything, and does pretty much whatever he wants it to.

Meagan Fisher‘s slides were gorgeous. She walked us through the subtle use of texture, rgba() and text-shadow and box-shadow to turn a bland, wireframe-like page into something delicious.

I didn’t get to see Nicholas Zakas’ presentation on High Performance JavaScript, as I was drafted by Andy Clarke and Dan Rubin to take part in their talkshow session which took place in a second room. It was a fun session, and should have lasted at least another half-hour, as not all questions could be answered in time. As far as Nicholas goes, I can’t wait to see the video of his presentation.

Steve Faulkner and Hans Hillen talked about HTML5 accessibility, and the message was pretty much that it’s not ready yet. But they did give some valuable tips for introducing some WAI-ARIA into your HTML. Christian and I especially loved the slides.

As a big fan of Robert Hodgin‘s work, it was great to see Cameron Adams talk about animation on the Web. Cameron’s presentation also challenged the Flash-bashers, certainly causing me—and probably many others—to stop and think about which technologies are better suited to which goals. Cameron is also a great guy to have a beer with.

As far as I’m concerned, the star of the show was Chris Heilmann, with his inspirational and hilarious presentation designed to motivate us to Go Forth and Make Cool Stuff. Being the web developer’s answer to Anthony Robbins is no easy task, and Chris pulls it off beautifully.

All in all, I had a fantastic time. My compliments go out to the Fronteers team; they really did a superb job putting this conference together. I think we can expect great things for next year!

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