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Wrapping up #WDCNZ 2012

A calm moment at the WDCNZ after party

Confession: I’m a bit of a conference and meetup junkie.

I love attending events like WDCNZ in Wellington yesterday. They provide you with a great chance to talk to the speakers and to chat with other people who work in your field – to share your thoughts and techniques.

It was interesting to speak to Divya Manian about the sudden, unexpected rise of better tools for web developers and to talk to Douglas Crockford about the culture around JavaScript at Yahoo! It was also great to see folks responding to the presentations on Twitter (#WDCNZ).

If I’ve learnt something or come away with a different perspective then it’s time well spent.

CSS: transitions and animations

My head is still spinning from Lea Verou’s presentation “CSS in the 4th Dimension“. Lea’s topic focused on two, seemingly small, topics – CSS Transitions and CSS Animations .

If you’ve dabbled in any CSS3 you’ve probably used some simple transitions, but Lea did an amazing job of building from simple transitions and animations to show how you can use these techniques in ways I hadn’t considered. I learnt a lot.

For the past year or so I’ve had the idea that CSS is at the same place that JavaScript was around 2006 in terms of how well it’s understood by web developers and the maturity of ideas around best practice. 2006 saw the emergence of the first wave of popular JavaScript libraries. In the past year or so CSS systems like OOCSS, SMACSS and BEM have emerged. We’ve had CSS preprocessors like Sass and LESS for a few years too. The JavaScript frameworks were a major driving force in the JavaScript renaissance of the last few years and I feel like we’re on the cusp of a similar growth in the appreciation and understanding of CSS.

Lea showed us a simple game built using only HTML and CSS. Mozilla recently ran a No JavaScript competition to see what can be done with just HTML and CSS. If you didn’t make it to WDCNZ I’d keep an eye on the WDCNZ Vimeo channel for the video of Lea’s presentation, I think it will push your ideas about how you can use CSS in new and exciting ways.

Something for everyone

Something else that really stood out for me was the diversity of topics covered by speakers. A few years ago would you have expected a presentation on something like Cassandra at a conference for web developers? Deploying software over the web and using the browser as a deployment platform creates opportunities and problems that didn’t exist before. Roles in Dev Ops and Front End Engineering used to only exist in companies like Google and Yahoo!, now their importance is being recognized by more and more companies as they scale up. WDCNZ had presentations that included standardization, tools, frameworks, programming style, data storage & clustering and emerging web technologies. In 2012 those are all things that are part of the web developer’s world.

For Xero, sponsoring events like WDCNZ helps us to help the local developer community. Having international and local speakers present highlights that developers in New Zealand can develop world class software for a global audience. At the after party there was lots of enthusiastic sharing of ideas and stories: “did you know about this?”, “do you use this?”, “what did you think about that?”, “how’s your thing going?”. And after the after party hopefully folks wake up refreshed and inspired to try new things:

Only around 350 more sleeps till WDCNZ 2013!

 

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