Web Dev Conference Tips?

Next week I’ll be attending my first web development conference. I’m really luck in that:

:one: it’s local
:two: my work is paying for me to go (!)

I’ve been to a few e-learning conferences, but I’ve never been to a web development conference before. I’m a little nervous because I’m not a pro developer yet, and I’m worried most or all the info will be lost on me. I’ll be a little outside of my element. Any tips on how to make the most of this opportunity?

Wear skinny jeans and bring several resume to hand out :slight_smile: :slight_smile: JK

Let us know how it goes.

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I just went to my first tech conference 2 weeks ago, and it was awesome. At this one, there were several different areas with people speaking on a ton of different topics… I chose to concentrate on the development and javascript, but there were people talking about all topics from design to entrepreneurship etc.

I was surprised and excited by how much I could understand, and I learned a ton. On the flip, there were a lot of people around me who didn’t understand, and still learned a ton. So don’t be worried about feeling lost…you’ll either surprise yourself or find yourself amonst others in the same boat. Just dont go in thinking everyone there will be pro and you wont fit in…you will definitely fit in no matter your skill level, I promise you!!!

Other stuff I didnt think about going in…so much SWAG!!! holy cow, Im still floored … I have so many new tshirts and stickers and gadgets and stuff. Another thing, I had a ton of networking opportunities and talked to so many people. No one carried cards or resumes, its all about LInkedIn connections. I follwed up with everyone I added…though Im looking for a job, I did also talk with people I found shared my same interest or also learning to share resources and advice.

Oh I even met a Camper there!!! She was wearing a FCC hoodie and I stopped her…she was in a rush to a talk so we didnt get to share info, but I so need some FCC gear. We are everywhere :smiley:


It’s really awesome seeing all the progress you’ve made!

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Phew :sweat_smile: ! That’s good to know. I guess that’s how it’s been for the e-learning conferences I’ve been to as well, but…I guess I’m just more intimated when it comes to web development than I am with e-learning.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience! It’s super helpful. I definitely feel more comfortable about going to the conference now. I just need to plan my schedule :grimacing: .

That’s so cool that you met another camper there! Man, I need some FCC gear too.

Would you mind sharing which conference you went to? I don’t know much about dev conferences and it looks like there are a ton of them, so it would be good to know which ones are good. The conference I’m going to is called Webcon, at the University of Illinois.

Ha, I will!

Do you have any recommendations for good web dev conferences?

I went to WordCamp here in Miami, though they happen throughout the year in different cities. I won a ticket from a sponsor…its not expensive about $40, but still…I was but a poor bootcamp student and wouldn’t have been able to go otherwise. :sweat_smile:

At first I wasn’t sure I’d even like it, because it is a WordPress conference, but was pleasantly surprised that the focus wasn’t just on all things WordPress…and in fact, my “well, no duh!” moment that WordPress development actually is development…so not only were there talks on design and “how to” tracks on WordPress specific things. I stayed on the development and javascript track where they did things like create a React app…basically, skills that can include but not at all limited to WordPress.

It was an incredibly well put together conference…and inspiring too. On the final day (its a 3 day conference, most of it Sat/Sun) they had a closing talk, and they said there were about 1000 attendees, and something around 80 guest speakers over the course of the conference. They celebrated that they had the most amount of female speakers in WordCamp history (I believe it was 48% female to 52% male). I thought that was great but… in both the development and javascript tracks I took, not a single one of the speakers was female…so I guess they were all concentrated in design, how to, entrepreneurship etc.

The gears in my brain were already cranking when they mentioned an organization called OutspokenWomen that helps and encourages women in tech to be guest speakers at events, and that was the end of that. I’ve made it my goal to become good enough to be able to give a talk in JS or development. Maybe next year I wont just be an attendee…thats my goal anyway :blush:

That’s cool! And that’s awesome that you won a ticket! I wouldn’t be able to afford the small conference I’m attending if my work wasn’t paying for it, so I’m really glad I was able to convince them.

When I first heard learned about the conference I’m attending, I was a little wary about it because, at the time, there were a lot of sessions about Drupal. I’m not really interested in Drupal, though it’s used for a lot of the departmental websites at my university. But there were also sessions about Angular, accessibility, and I think Google Polymer, so I decided to give it a shot.

That’s awesome, and you totally should! Just from what I’ve seen on the forums, I’m sure you’ll be at that level in no time (I still have a bit or a year or years, probably :grimacing: ). It’s good to hear that the conference organizers were at least paying attention to the gender parity in their slate of speakers, but it’s too bad the development track was so one-sided. Good thing you noticed and can call attention to it, and help get those numbers up by speaking in the future.

Outspoken Women sounds like a pretty cool thing. I went ahead and retweeted them and also scheduled a retweet from my work’s Twitter account. I’m sure some faculty and students would love to know about it if they don’t already :+1: .

So awesome you promoted Outspoken Women! Im planning to sign up for a mentor to help get me started as a speaker. That would be great.

Thats good that you decided to give the conf a shot even though its mostly Drupal…the angular and accessibility classes for sure sound good, and other than that, you will likely meet and get the chance to connect up with people who are involved with some pretty cool stuff.

I hope whatever job I get will pay for my conferences and send me to stuff like this! Thats great you convince them. Now that theyve done it once, theyll have to do it again hehe!

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Ha, I sure hope so! They have said that they won’t fly me to any conferences, so I hope there will be more local ones.

Hope you get that mentor! That would be awesome :smile: .

Btw, working on my after-conference post. Trying to collect all the SlideShare links I can from the sessions I went to.

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Oh that would be awesome! Yes do share! :smiley:

Okay, I’ll try to make this as brief as possible while also including necessary info. A lot of the speakers from the sessions I attended didn’t post their presentations, and some took their presentations down a day or so later, but below I’ve included:

  • Presenter names
  • Session titles
  • Session descriptions (excerpted in cases of long descriptions)
  • Presenter Twitter handles, as supplied by the conference website (didn’t include non-active people)
  • Brief note on my opinion of the presentation
  • Presentation link, if available

I took a lot of notes in the sessions I attended, but I don’t know that they would be very valuable for anyone else. So here we go!

Webcon Illinois :computer: :sparkles: :sparkles: :sparkles: :sparkles: :sparkles:

Progressive Web Apps with Angular—Cory Rylan ( @coryrylan )

Using technologies like Angular and Service Workers, we are set to build the next generation of web apps. In this session we will cover examples of how progressive web apps can improve user experience. Combined with ideas such as caching, offline support, and lazy loading, we can make a truly great user experience.

:memo: NOTE: This was the first session I attended, and luckily, it wasn’t completely over my head. Rylan explained things well and showed great examples.

:play_or_pause_button: YouTube video of same talk at different event

Creating Powerful and Flexible Authoring Tools with Drupal—Brian Gervais ( @briangervais )

Drupal has always been incredibly flexible as far as creating fieldable custom content types. As developers, we can leverage custom code to define and present content in almost any way imaginable. Let’s empower non-technical content authors to do the same.

In this session we’ll explore some of the latest and greatest tools, techniques, and modules offered in Drupal 8, including:

  • How to create and expose custom layout entities in Drupal.
  • How the Paragraphs, Media Entity, Entity Browser, and Inline Entity Form modules can create powerful editing interfaces for authors.
  • How to offer content authors, robust, flexible tools without compromising the integrity of design.

Join us as we explore how we’ve been using these tools to build flexible layout and content creation tools in Drupal 8 for clients like History Colorado and Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

:memo: NOTE: I wasn’t interested in Drupal, but I decided I’d check out a Drupal session since there were so many at this conference and a lot of the websites at my college use Drupal. Gervais’ company, Atten Design Group, makes some of the best looking Drupal sites I’ve seen. I wish they made the sites at my college :sweat_smile: . So now Drupal seems slightly more interesting, but I’d still rather focus on front-end dev instead of Drupal dev.

Ensuring Design Standards with Web Components—Chris Lorenzo ( @chiefcll ) and John Riviello ( @JohnRiv )

Creating a unified user experience across multiple applications at a large company is a daunting task. Most projects work in silos with different designers and developers re-creating UX patterns for each project. Standards guides are developed for best practices, but are hard to share and keep updated across projects. Enter Web Components: little snippets of web code that follow standards, promote accessibility, and can be easily shared. Rather than building standards docs, start building web components that all your teams can leverage. Stop setting standards and start building them!

:memo: NOTE: This was a super good session. I didn’t know much about Google Polymer, but was interested in learning about it. Polymer looks great! The presenters were from Xfinity’s web team and they made Polymer seem really useful and accessible. Also, there was a comedic miracle during this session. The presenters asked if anyone was still using IE 11. Only one person in this big room raised their hand, and as he did, we heard the sound of a bunch of glasses crashing outside the room. It was so perfect it almost seemed planned.

:arrow_forward: Presentation

Modern CSS—Brian Walters ( @BDubCodes )

Great front-end development requires a clear understanding of CSS. But web development is an ever-evolving field, and it’s hard to keep up-to-date with CSS practices when there’s a newer, shinier technology every day. This talk will focus on what is going on with CSS right now, current best practices, the newest additions and developments, and how to fold these practices into your current process. We will examine what clean CSS looks like at an industry level and specify how to improve your current practices. We will look at specific examples to demonstrate the skill set you can immediately integrate into your work as a modern CSS developer. Topics covered: BEM, Stylus, Critical Path, Transitions, Transforms, Selector tricks, Gotchas, and perhaps most importantly, the new layout module, Grid.

:memo: NOTE: Also super good! BEM was really interesting to learn about, and I need to dig into it more. This session, the progressive web apps session, and the web components session were probably my favorite because I learned a lot and the concepts didn’t seem too far out of reach.

The 5 W’s of Docker—Tracey Barrett

Trying to find a path to modernize your applications, simplify your production environment or introduce DevOps? This session will provide you with a basic understanding of Docker: what it is, who is using it, why, when and, where it could help you.

:memo: NOTE: This was over my head, but I was glad to learn a little about Docker.

Functional Reactive Components—Jonathan Barronville

Functional Reactive Programming (FRP) is programming with asynchronous data streams using functional programming principles. As it turns out, this programming paradigm/model works really well for building reliable, flexible, reusable, and testable UI components. The goal of this presentation is to show you how to accomplish this.

:memo: NOTE: This session was a bust. I think the presenter might have had some personal things come up because he had to leave early, seemed kind of shaken, and nothing would work on his computer. I decided to keep it in this post, though, in case anyone wanted to look into what’s discussed in the description.

Support Inclusive and Sustainable Open Source Communities—George Demet ( @gdemet )

Technology communities in general and open source projects in particular frequently suffer from a lack of diversity, with low participation rates by women, people of color, and other marginalized populations who are frequently targets of harassment and abuse.

This session will talk about the tools and techniques used by various open source communities to help support and maintain friendly environments for large and diverse groups of contributors from around the world.

We’ll discuss how these communities manage conflicts and the various challenges they’ve faced while working to help keep their projects welcoming and inclusive places that support positive participation by all.

:memo: NOTE: There were some good guidelines shared in this session and some stories from managing the Drupal open source community. Had a good bel hooks quote and explained the process of instituting and enforcing a code of conduct in an open source community.

Ending Keynote

It Starts with a Search—Maria Naggaga ( @LadyNaggaga )

Learning and exploring languages has changed. Every new feature and programming language begins with the search. As learning programming basics has become more of an online venture, how do we account for the ease of acquisition. How do you make learning a new language exciting to all developers?

In this talk Maria will introduce the core principals she’s learned in creating exciting documentation and online developer experiences that enable all developers to be successful in the browser. How do we get our developers excited about learning C# and .NET without ever having to leave the browser? Maria will show some of the work she’s been doing on the .NET team to make this happen.

:memo: NOTE: This keynote was GREAT! This speaker was really entertaining. Among lots of other things, she talked about the Try .NET project she developed at Microsoft.

:pen: Someone made an awesome sketch note of the keynote:
:play_or_pause_button: Here’s a video of the speaker telling a similar story about developing the Try .NET project:

One last note

@cndragn : Just like at the conference you went to, in almost all the technical sessions, I think just one, the speakers were men :confused: . This conference also had sessions on UX, accessibility, and marketing (the conference absorbed another conference a year prior or so), and representation was much better in those sessions.


What an amazing write up!! Thanks for sharing the presentations! I’ll definitely look into these…

Really quite something though eh how few women are involved in the more technical / development sessions… Hearing that it was not just the conference I went to inspires me even more.

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Thank you! I was afraid it was too long :grimacing: .

I’ve been hearing about this problem in tech conferences for a while now, so it’s really great that you’re motivated to help fix it :+1: .

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