BytesConf 2016 and spreading the word about PWAs

Last week I was fortunate enough to be one of the speakers at BytesConf, a mini-conference in Brighton, UK. It was the second edition of the event run by web design agency Liquid Light. It was a lovely conference with a super-friendly vibe — and it was all in a good cause, raising money for Code Club. The talks had a really nice variety and they were presented in a fun and accessible way:

  • Lisa Freeman from the Web Guild gave us a great run-down on the new EU data protection regulations (GDPR) and how they will affect us all (despite the Brexit vote!), as developers and data subjects. If you didn’t know better, you might think that a talk about regulations could be a little bit dry, but Lisa delivered it perfectly and it was really engaging. A live audience poll about cookie constent messages revealed that most people were annoyed by them and the rest ignored them — no one said that they thought they were a good idea or found them useful! This was consistent with a larger poll Lisa ran; the Web Guild are preparing a report for the EU.
  • Mike Street from Liquid Light gave a talk formerly titled “The Digital Bucket List for People in the Web”. He decided that this title sounded a bit too “up himself” though, so he invited the audience to come up with alternatives and win a prize! The talk was an entertaining run-through of ideas for side projects to keep ourselves fresh, learning new things and continually improving ourselves.
  • Alas, I missed it because I had to get the last train back home, but Graeme Robinson then spoke about Autism and the Web. I look forward to watching the recording of this one later.

We also had a short talk from Dan Powell about Code Club’s great work helping 9–11 year olds to learn to code and make cool things — and how we can volunteer.

As for my own talk, “Progressive Web Apps and the Biggest Browser You’ve Probably Never Thought Of”, I introduced PWAs and why I think we’re now nearing HTML5's Plateau of Productivity.

Gartner Hype Cycle

The key messages that I wanted to share were that:

  1. Progressive web apps — including capabilities such as offline caching and push notifications — offer the best experiences for our users.
  2. These technologies are powerful and they are ready for prime-time now. Using progressive enhancement we can use them in production immediately.

Most of the audience had come across the PWA concept, but no one had (or admitted to having) developed one yet. Seeing the majority raise their hands at recognising the term was encouraging for me though, because only a few months ago at FullStack Conf, another speaker asked the same question and back then it was only about one third.

I also introduced our browser Samsung Internet and the part we’re playing in establishing and promoting the open standards behind PWAs. I’m part of a new developer relations team and we’re here to help.

I included a live demo of my Snapwat web app — here’s the resulting selfie!:

All the talks were recorded — here is the playlist. My slides have lots of links included and you can view them at: https://poshaughnessy.github.io/bytes-conf-2016-pwas/

Thanks again to the organisers Candi and Mike and everyone who helped to make such a great event!