A Russian, a Brazilian, and a German at the dotCSS 2019 in Paris

… sounds like a joke, but isn’t 🙂. On the 4th of December, me and two colleagues attended the dotCSS conference. It calls itself ‘The world’s largest CSS conference’, and indeed it was huge.

The very first two things I learned after arriving was that Aubervilliers (the place where the conference took place) is NOT Paris, and that the French adore sweets. So I found myself in a cozy atmosphere with large pillows on the ground, surrounded by a modern interior design branding next to an endless cake pipeline. The Pullman Docks itself is a nice place for arranging the dotCSS (December 4, 2019) and the bigger brother dotJS (December 5-6, 2019) to listen to inspiring talks and also to get in touch with other developers, designers, as well the sponsors of the event.

The moderator of the conference was Una Kravets, who immediately had the crowd on her side with her cheerful nature and her rousing “Hello dotCSS 2019!”. Every talk had a time slot of 18 minutes followed by a short question and answer session which allowed the audience to receive only the most important information in a short time. After a break, lightning talks took place followed by another slot of 18-minute talks.

Agenda dotCSS 2019

  1. Sarah Dayan - In Defense of Utility-First CSS
  2. Aurélien Levy - The double faces of CSS
  3. Hakim El Hattab - Building Better Interfaces

  4. Lightning talk: Fabien Zibi - CSS tests
  5. Lightning talk: Jérémie Patonnier - SVG & CSS
  6. Lightning talk: Jean-François Garreau - JS in CSS
  7. Lightning talk: Roman Komarov Utility of Inline Styles

  8. Emily Plummer - CSS, Design Systems & Developer Experience
  9. Jason Pamental - Dynamic Typographic Systems with Variable Fonts
  10. Ire Aderinokun - Writing CSS in 100 years
  11. David Khourshid - Crafting Stateful Styles
  12. Hidde de Vries - On the origin of cascades

My favorite talks

Each talk was fascinating and very well arranged by all of those professional speakers. Here are my TOP 3 talks:

#1 Building Better Interfaces by Hakim El Hattab

Crazy dude Hakim talked about how to create amazing UI components with the help of animations and interactivity. His talk was all about having fun, being open-minded for new ways and ideas, as well as creating something useful and intuitive for the end user. He showed us his improvement of a hover menu, a binary and dynamic scroll shadow component, an imaginative spinning 3D Christmas tree out of input fields, and a funny checkbox wave. Everything is only created with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. I mean, HOW COOL IS THAT? It seems like only the sky is the limit!

You can find his presentation slides here.

#2 Dynamic Typographic Systems with Variable Fonts by Jason Pamental

I need to admit, I love this Dark Mode trend! Therefore it was interesting for me to see, that with Variable Fonts it is possible to switch between font-weights for Light and Dark Mode in a smooth way with also nice performance benefits. But this is just one of many useful applications Jason mentioned regarding this scalable font wonder. It is possible to create whole designs with the help of a single font, which is easy to combine with custom properties, calculations, and grids. The thinking of being dependent on the decisions of a typographer has changed. Now we are the ones who decide.

Take a deeper look at his presentation here.

#3 In Defense of Utility-First CSS by Sarah Dayan

Sarah gave me a new view on Utility CSS, and in general about the idea of Utility-First CSS. Before this talk, I was like “How dare you implementing utility classes?”, because as a Frontend Designer I’m used to supporting good object-oriented design with all my heart. After the talk, I need to admit that I see the advantages of this approach clearly, especially in working on big projects with many colleagues. During the talk, we were shown some code examples of different approaches as well as their pros and cons. It was interesting to see in which way HTML and CSS were needed for certain designs, and what the performance said in the end. Sarah was not trying to convince the audience to use Utility-First CSS, it was more a well-meant request of being open to other options and to ‘Embrace changes, within reason’.

You will find her presentation slides here.

Summary

Visiting the dotCSS conference was like opening a treasure chest full of new tools and possibilities I hadn’t thought of yet. I guess I need to play around more often with some HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to also create something funny or useful myself. And I still have to get to know this magical Houdini that some speakers mentioned at the conference… 😉

About the author

Anne Debora Zimmermann is a Frontend Designer. She is keen on User Interface and Web Design, and loves to combine the art of design with the art of coding.