dotJS 2019 in Paris from the perspective of a Frontend Designer

Beginning of December I joined the dotJS conference in Paris with two colleagues, after we already attended the little sister conference dotCSS a day before. Even though the concept of both conferences was the same, it differed in some points: there were many more sponsors, speakers, and participants. What’s more, the conference was two days long and split into two main topics. Day 1 covered Frontend development while day 2 was about Backend development with a focus on JavaScript. With the concept of 18-minute talks one after the other, it was possible to attend all of the 20 talks without feeling exhausted, quite the contrary…

My favorite talks

Even though every talk of each speaker was wonderfully prepared and very professionally held, I have my TOP 3 very clear on which I would like to provide some details…

#1 Charlie Gerard - Exploring the hidden potential of sound data

Charlie’s talk was about machine learning by “Using the rich properties of sound to gain insights about an activity or environment”. She demonstrated her topic in a very special way and showed us how a teachable machine recognizes different sounds, for example coughing, typing, or teeth brushing, and how the collected data of a sound look like. I mean, how often do you see someone teeth brushing on the stage to get a certain sound into a microphone in front of hundreds of people? That was fun to see and exciting for everyone when the teachable machine finally showed the action “teeth brushing”. You could feel the tension in the room before the silence was replaced by loud applause. Charlie also introduced us to the application’s possibilities as well as its limitations.

You can find her presentation slides here.

#2 Chris Heilmann - Develop, Debug, Learn?

Chris’ talk was an answer to a long-standing question for me. As a Frontend Designer I would love to code some more, but every time I tried, I failed right from the start. The first challenge always was deciding WHAT language or framework from this vast pool of possibilities I’d like to try or learn. Followed by the second challenge to SET UP the environment on my own to even get started. And the third challenge, START CODING, was sometimes something I didn’t achieve at all, because I was already too frustrated. Therefore Chris’ talk was like a revelation to me. He talked about exactly these problems, even if they were looked at from a different angle.

Chris told us how important it is to know what exactly happens in the background of our written code, besides “Filling the needs”, “Adding quality”, and “Creating delight”. He wants us to focus again on the end customer, instead of staying in our comfort zone and focusing on third party solutions just to develop faster. We should stop overengineering and not send more code than necessary to our devices. This was a kind of call to go back to the roots.

He introduced us to online editors which simplify our lives (e.g. CodePen, Stackblitz, Codesandbox, JSBin, …) and documentations which broaden our horizon (Mozilla Web Docs, Can I use, …). What I learned from this talk is, that I maybe should start writing a small application with JavaScript into CodePen before setting up an entire Flutter environment for writing an app! 😬

You can find a nice write-up of his talk here.

#3 Sara Vieira - The complexity in simplicity

Sara managed to captivate the crowd within a very short time with her energetic attitude. She provided exciting and funny 18 minutes before she’d been also asked questions by moderator Christophe Porteneuve. Her talk was literally about complexity in simplicity starting with a button and the “100 different things” you can actually do with a single button. She continued the topic of input fields, mentioned the accessibility, and the problem of untranslated placeholders. After reminding mainly designers, that placeholders are NOT labels, she showed us her opinion about Custom Selects, which you can find here… 😄 Interesting was also her solution to easily get the type of a credit card with RegEx. Her outcome of the talk was to take the burden on us so that the users don’t have to take it, and to cut back on the design to improve the UX, because “Your pretty code won’t make your users come back”.

You will find her presentation slides here.

Summary

To attend the dotJS was worthwhile in every respect. The concept of having 18-minutes talks is simply awesome as you’re able to attend all talks. Even for me as a designer every talk was easy to follow and interesting. (And if something wasn’t that exciting, then it was only 18 minutes… 😉).

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.