Two Days of Creative Code: a Thank You Note

This Thursday and Friday I went to Paris to attend the dotCSS and dotJS conferences. As I went all alone, I was a bit nervous about the trip (and about how to behave in such a big intimidating group of talented people). Turned out, the organizers did an excellent job at making a giant crowd feel like a cozy get-together. Even the stage looked like a homely jungle-themed living room. I had an amazing two days: I learned a lot, admired the stylish city (and citizens) of Paris and talked to a bunch of nice and like-minded people. And on top of that, I felt that I had pushed some personal boundaries.

5 Things that Made dotCSS and dotJS a Great Experience for Me

  1. The speakers were a treat. 📣 Every one of them showed craftsmanship, while still all telling a different story.
  2. The venue was impressive. 🏰 As was the stage decoration. No better place to start a day full of creativity.
  3. The food was delicious. 🥐 And plenty, too much to taste it all.
  4. The background music was spot-on. 🎶 From Metronomy to Arcade Fire, it set the perfect mood.
  5. Everyone was approachable. 👋 Whether it was someone of the organizing team, one of the speakers, or the lady behind the buffet: everyone was friendly and never more than a few steps away.‍

5 Thruths I Learned at dotCSS and dotJS

1. Radio waves contain a lot more secrets than you might expect.

After hearing Thomas Watson ‘s talk on receiving live airplane information with a simple digital TV antenna and some NodeJS, I decided to experiment more with combining hardware and JavaScript to build unexpected experiences.

In less than 20 minutes, Thomas showed us how to pull a realtime stream of flight info into your Terminal window.

2. Whether you like the Dropbox rebranding or not, variable fonts are here to stay.

Laurence Penney demoed the future of (web) fonts with his own Axis Praxis tool. Long story short: version 1.8 of the OpenType spec features a very smart way to enable font features like x-height, font weight or italic to be set dynamically. This results in much smaller file sizes and opens yet another world of web typography possibilities. Best of all, even a simple website with only three font variations can benefit from this.

3. Javascript developers can be funny.

Who thought of developers as boring people, think again. In his talk, Feross Aboukhadijeh unveiled in a hilarious way his holy quest to make the most annoying website possible with today’s browser technology. You should definitely check it out for yourself or read more about it on his blog .

4. Web accessibility is more than technology, it’s also ethics.

Both Marcy Sutton and Suz Hinton talked about accessibility on the web. Suz showed how we can use new technologies like Machine Learning and AI to improve accessibility on almost any website. Marcy, on the other hand, pointed out that making your web projects accessible doesn’t have to be hard and that it’s often a question of caring. If accessibility only matters to you when it’s personal, make it personal. Consciously trying to understand and anticipate to people’s needs is more than an afterthought, it can change both peoples lives and your sales numbers.

The work of The Accessible Icon Project show that even the design of an icon can have a huge impact on how people perceive accessibility.

5. There are always some syntax parts you did not know about yet.

  • Turns out place-items: center is short for both align-items: center and justify-items: center , while display: contents "unboxes" the target element's children. Saved another 20 bytes thanks to Benjamin De Cock .
  • Turns out await / async pattern is a nicer way to write Promise-based JavaScript. Can not wait to try it, thanks to Wes Bos .
  • There’s more to media queries than screen and print . If the plans of Florian Rivoal and the CSS Working Group gather some browser support, we might soon be querying based on specific target features⸺pointer support, script support or hover support⸺instead of targeting devices itself. The W3C Media Queries Level 4 spec proposal is worth giving a read.

TL;DR

My last two days at dotCSS and dotJS conference exceeded my expectations. I learned lots of new things, met passionate people and hope to be back next year. Merci à tous!


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