Conferences, holiday, conferences

It’s nearly 1am now, and this is the only time slot I have available for a blog post about the two conferences I attended this week. Besides, I’m going on holiday in a few hours and it’s my unfailing habit to point that out here—and the fact that we have to be at the airport at the ungodly hour of 5am means that I’m not going to sleep tonight.

So let’s get it out of the way: I will be on holiday on Zakynthos, Greece, from 2 to 16 June, and it seems likely I’ll be completely unreachable during that time.

I’m hardly yet in a holiday mood; yesterday I returned from London at 11pm, still slightly the worse for wear after I’d spent the afternoon sipping pints with Dean Edwards, and today I had to do a lot of boring-but-necessary pre-holiday things such as finances, dropping stuff off, sending vital mails etc.

But I’m digressing. Let’s talk about conferences instead.

I went to two; Kings of Code in Amsterdam, a first-timer I spoke at; and the annual pilgrimage to @media 2008 in London, where I once more met a few of my British friends (and pints).

Kings of Code

Kings of Code was held on Tuesday, and the organisation had put me in the first speaker slot; an opportunity I used for chatting about JavaScript Events, and for meeting other front-end programmers in my own city.

As a conference, Kings of Code was surprisingly good. I say ‘surprisingly’ because, to be quite honest, I had my doubts about its viability in the two or so months leading up to the event. I’ve never been happier to say that I was completely wrong; the organisers (especially initiator and general work-horse Sander van der Vliet) created an excellent event that can withstand comparison with foreign web design/development conferences without trouble.

Kings of Code also allowed me to test the Fronteers 2008 venue. Verdict: good catering, shitty wifi. And the people on the floor are amazingly helpful—but I already knew that.

There seems to be an actual market for web dev conferences. There seems to be a front-end scene right here in my own city that’s in the process of being born, a scene that could easily start to flourish and bloom in the not-too-distant future, with barcamps and other amenities of polite society. Cool!

Evidence: Kings of Code sold out, which is a good sign for the upcoming Fronteers 2008. We’ll be using the same venue with the same maximum capacity, and it’s good to know that a conference aimed for 2/3rds at front-enders can sell out in Holland. Others might, too.

@media 2008

@media, which was held on Thursday and Friday, does not need any introduction. Patrick pulled it off brilliantly this year, too, and frankly I hadn’t expected anything else. The programme and speakers were good as always; the venue by far the best until now, even to the extent of featuring excellent catering. As a final bonus, there was working wifi. Now that was a surprise.

My personal highlight was (for the third year running), Nate Koechley’s presentation. This time he talked about professional front-end engineering. Becoming professionals is exactly the thing we’re trying to do with Fronteers, and it’s good to know that Yahoo!, at the very least, is thinking along similar lines.

There was one aspect of @media that deserves a closer look. I remember it most clearly for the Communicating Best Practices session, but the same goes for other sessions, too.

This session was about how a front-ender can convince the Others, such as managers and clients, that he knows what he’s doing and that the stuff he proposes makes sense. It featured down-to-earth tips and tricks for convincing Others of the need to follow best practices.

The comment I heard most was: ‘Yeah, nice, but I knew all this already.’

Now that’s completely true—when you’re a front-end engineer with a few years of experience in the trade, and a regular conference-goer and blog-reader to boot.

Other, less experienced web developers, though, might not know all these tips and tricks. Or they might have stumbled upon the right way to communicate best practices by trial and error, but not be entirely sure if they’re actually doing it right. In both cases, a session like this can be a huge help.

More in general, one of the purposes of @media and other major web dev conferences seems to become not so much showing cool new stuff, but reiterating the basics of our trade—not for the benefit of veterans like myself, but in order to show people who’re just getting started that the way they work is actually the correct way. That can be a huge asset to a beginner—or even to an intermediate developer who’s too uncertain of himself.

In any case, there’s definitely as much need for @media now as in 2005; it’s just that the audience might change over time. But that’s fine, and besides @media is getting more international now with attendees coming from as far as Slovenia, Israel and Lebanon (and probably loads of other places, too).

So I’ll be there in 2009, too. See you all there.

Next: An Event Apart Boston

My next conference will be An Event Apart Boston, on 23 and 24 June. As of this writing there are still some tickets to be had, so you can still come hear me talk about unobtrusive JavaScript.

This is the blog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer. You can also follow him on Twitter.
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1 Posted by patrick h. lauke on 2 June 2008 | Permalink

as always, it was a pleasure to catch up with you again, ppk. i'm a bit saddened about the "i knew it already" comments as well, but you're absolutely spot on with your remark about the ongoing need for the evangelism. once you start going to all these conferences, frequent the same cutting edge blogs, etc, you start losing perspective and think that hey, everybody is doing standards stuff, so why bother talking about it? the reality is that we conference goers are the elite (without sounding too grand about it)...for every @media attendee there are thousands of developers still doing table-based layouts and such, who have never even heard of standards...

2 Posted by Henry on 8 June 2008 | Permalink

Looks like your going to be quite busy for sometime but at least your traveling to some cool spots.

3 Posted by Natalia on 15 June 2008 | Permalink

Peter, you're going from one place to the next like a nomad :). I have to look around whether there's any conference in the States when I'm there in July.