Full Frontal 2013

Posted in Tech by Phil Nash on November 12, 2013

Full Frontal 2013

Photo by Remy Sharp

As November rolls around, excitement grows amongst UK based front end developers. 2013 is the 5th outing of Full Frontal Conf where we all descend on Brighton for a day of talks on subjects that Remy Sharp wants to hear about (is there any other way to curate a conference?). This was my second visit to Full Frontal, after my 2012 experience made it an unmissable addition to my calendar.

The past's relationship with the future

There was a nice balance of content on display between lessons learned and excitement for the future. This was typified in the first talk, from Angus Croll who compared existing JavaScript with its new ES6 syntax. As a CoffeeScript fan, it is nice to see some of the improvements it gives me become part of JavaScript.

We also looked back at performance in mobile sites with Andrew Grieve, at how our development workflow has changed over the years with Kenneth Auchenberg and over the growth of mobile with Joe McCann. Each of these session had a good view on what’s next, with Andrew saying that a lot of the hacks involved in making early mobile sites performant could be safely ignored now.

Most interesting was Kenneth’s call to help him decouple dev tools from browsers and unify remote debugging. I still use Firefox and Firebug for developer tools, but many developers switched to Chrome for the tools. If we were able to use the tools we liked from one browser to debug every browser then our workflows could be vastly improved. Kenneth’s demo of using Chrome dev tools to inspect a page in Firefox elicited a hugely excited response from the audience.

Stepping away from the JavaScript, Ana Tudor showed us how to make increasingly complex CSS animations with Sass to keep the code sane. It was interesting to see how far we can push CSS, but as Peter (who has made similar demos) has expressed, perhaps CSS is not the place for complex 3D.

Looking further to the future, Angenlina Fabbro covered web components, showing a demo of Mozilla’s Brick, a library of custom HTML elements that can be used today. I’ve seen plenty of stuff on Google’s Polymer Project so it was interesting to see the Mozilla approach.

JavaScript and Robots

One talk I was really looking forward to before the event was Andrew Nesbitt’s look at JavaScript and real world technologies. Andrew has seemingly been on a mission to take Nodecopters around the country, but I’ve managed to miss all the events so far. So to see him fly robots, drive a Lego robot and demo Arduino’s with lasers, all of which was powered by JavaScript was a real treat. As was learning which bits Andrew’s rabbit, Bertie, enjoyed (yes to robots that dispense food, indifference to erratically moving lasers).

Last talk of the day was Jeremy Keith talking about Time. It was very interesting to consider our digital legacy and how both digital and physical formats, as well as the data they contain, will come and go. Jeremy’s long bet on a URL seems like a long lived concept, and I hope he loses the bet, but that pales in comparison to a project such as the 10,000 year clock. It was a contemplative talk, beautifully interspersed with excerpts of the wonderful short Powers of 10, which nicely wrapped up the day.

After Party

Of course, no conference is really complete without an after party. Talking over the day and meeting other attendees is fantastic. The Full Frontal after party not only supplied plenty of this, but a round of bacon sandwiches that really hit the spot after a few beers!

All in all, Full Frontal provided a great day of learning, contemplation, old and new friends and plenty of JavaScript. Thanks to Remy and Julie for putting on an excellent conference. Hope to see you there next year!

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