XWiki at CSSconf EU 2015

Last modified by Ecaterina Moraru (Valica) on 2020/01/28

Sep 30 2015

On the 26th of September, I’ve attended CSSconf EU 2015. It was really nice to see a conference focused mostly on CSS, and not combining very much other development or design topics. Also it was my first trip to Berlin.

The conference participation was sponsored by XWiki SAS, so thank you for making it possible.

It’s the 3rd time CSSConf was organized in EU, but they are part of an international family that is all over the world. There is an increasing number of participants each year, as you can see in the “family photo”. This shows an increasing number of people interested in doing front-end development and creating dedicated conferences for this topic.

Some notes from my favorite talks: 

  • Claudina Sarahe — “The Front End Revolution”.
    • Sketch - Video
    • Among other things, Claudina talked about the evolution of frameworks. The front-end world is rapidly changing and lots of frameworks get generated or deprecated over night. At XWiki, we still have lots of code written in Prototype and we still embed the script.aculo.us framework by default. JQuery, while still popular, is debated for change. Also we picked LESS as a CSS preprocessor, while Sass is gaining more and more traction. The nice thing about XWiki is that since it’s highly flexible we could integrate any framework we want. The only problem is making the decision for which, when and how to rewrite our old code. She also talked a bit about JQuery’s success as an OOS framework, that was driven by these rules: “a simple approach, good documentation and an invitation to participate”. In order to expand our community I think is necessary to update our FAQs, code examples and tutorials, providing samples on how to use newer frameworks and focusing on simplicity of the examples.
  • Una Kravets — “Photoshop is Dead!: Editing Images in CSS”
    • Sketch
    • Una demoed how to use CSS blend modes, filters and gradients in order to apply custom photo effects. In the past years Photoshop is getting highly criticized for its price, while the effects are now easily done inside the browser. The effects are almost identical, but the catch is that you need to know CSS syntax in order to achieve them.
  • Michael Mifsud — “It’s All Just Functions And Variables”
    • Sketch
    •  Michael talked about his experience contributing to LibSaas (a large C/C++ project), although being a front-end developer. Still I would be very careful about his “Compiler Error Driven Development” and “Copy Paste Driven Development” strategies.
  • Lea Verou — “The Missing Slice”
    • Sketch - Presentation - Video
    • Lea is an Invited Expert in W3C’s CSS Working Group, so I consider her to be the highlight of the “show”. Her presentation focused on showcasing 4 approaches (skewed or rotated pseudo-elements, SVG, conic gradients) when trying to create animated pie charts with CSS, showing advantages/disadvantages on different solutions and trying to limit the number of lines written. It was a pleasure to see her code in real life. She also emphasised that browser development team listen to developers when deciding what CSS properties get supported, so we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what we need.
  • Tammie Lister — “Emotion Through CSS”
    • Sketch - Presentation 
    • Tammie followed an experiment to convey emotions to simple buttons by using CSS animations and interactions (no color or additional images). This is an interesting concept that could be used for more playful applications in order to enhance emotional connections.
  • Katie Kurkoski — “Developing for Localization: CSS Techniques To Get Your Message Across To The World Wide Web”
    • Sketch - Demos
    • Katie showcased CSS techniques for easing the localisation of your product, from text-uppercase problems to international quotes standards. Having a product available in multiple languages means making sure it’s flexible enough to support long German phrases or very short Chinese ones.
  • Zoe M. Gillenwater — “Enhancing Responsiveness with Flexbox”
    • Sketch - Presentation
    • Zoe demoed how to use display Flex to fix some old layout problems: vertical and horizontal alignment, ordering without using media-queries, auto margins, etc. Flexbox is not something new anymore and after the past browser support problems it’s more safely to use it in production. Still Zoe underlined that we need to change a bit the mindset when trying to integrate this solution inside our code base, just like we needed to change the mindset when switching from tables to float, a long time ago.
  • Tim Holman — “Fun.css”
    • Sketch 
    • This was a fun talk hold by a professional prankster. You should see it if you want to use CSS for it’s dark-side properties.

CSSConf will publish the videos on a dedicated playlist, so if you are interested in any of the presented talks, you should be able to see them in no time.

Conclusions: Doing front-end and being a front-end developer is considered very hip these days. We are living in an era where Photoshop or big heavy frameworks are fast getting deprecated. Unfortunately this era doesn’t care much about backwards-compatibility or support. People are trying to make everything faster and easier and don’t look too much in the past. If we want to stay relevant we should try to move a bit faster on the front-end development front, but I guess this is a problem any platform faces in these rapidly changing times.

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