That Conference 2018 Session Recap

I got back home from the Wisconsin Dells a few weeks ago and I figured that it would be worthwhile to write a short recap of what I learned. That conference is never 100% about the sessions but they do have some great ones.


The first session that I attended was “Increasing Code Reuse Via Web Components” with Ken Sodemann. It is a topic that I have been interested in for a while but I haven’t had the available time to investigate. He mainly talked about Stencil. The idea was that you can write your Web Component, compile it down to JavaScript (no additional framework is necessary), and then implement it within whatever tech stack you happen to be using. I liked the concept but I am not completely sold on its value. It seems like an extra level that you would need to grok when you walk in as a new dev on the project. It might be best implemented on a project that isn’t using Vue, Angular, React, etc.

The second session that I saw was “Lost in the Woods: Tackling Usability as a Non-UXer” with Rachel Krause. The speaker is a User Experience Specialist at Nielsen Norman Group and focused on the need for an interface to be learnable, efficient, memorable, have good errors, and be satisfying. It is a message that makes a lot of sense. It is worthwhile going through her slides

The third session that I saw was “Burn it Down and Start Again: Principles of Modern JavaScript” with Joe Morgan. This was one of my favorite sessions of the conference. He talked about how your code should be predictable, readable, simple, and flexible. The core of his argument seemed to be that coders tend to strive to write as few lines of code as possible, even at the expense of readability. By taking advantage of some of the things that ES5 and ES6 allow, you can make your code much more digestible. Below is the slide that really blew my mind.

The forth session that I saw was “Is it Safe To Eat? A Field Guide to Blockchain” with Chase Aucoin. I’ve never before really groked what blockchain actually was. It was just a thing. I now have a much better idea … which is helpful.


The first session that I saw on Tuesday was “Focusing on Focus” with Chris DeMars. His talk seemed to focus on “:focus-visible”, the Focus Visible Polyfill, and how proper use of focus on a web form helps folks. It’s worth at least checking out the demo at the end of the presentation. It hammers home how useful “:focus-visible” is.

My second session of the day was “Let’s Gather ‘Round the Fire(base)” with Rolando Lopez. Admittedly, I did miss the beginning of the session because I was hacking my badge at the soldering stations and time got away from me. I did catch enough to walk away with some stuff, though.  During the three month gap between when I left Starkmedia and joined Quality Matters, I tried to use Firebase to create my dream project management system and I failed miserably.  It sounds like with the addition of stuff like Firestore, it would be easier to do today.

The last session that I saw on Tuesday was “I know I Should Use SVGs, but I Don’t Know How” with Colin Lord.  The biggest take away seems to be that adoption levels are high enough that you should make a point of using SVGs if an image can be plausibly represented as a vector graphic.  It was a good talk.


The first session that I saw on Wednesday was “Browser Automation testing with Headless Chrome” with Derek BinkleyHeadless Chrome is an interesting topic because automated testing is something that I’ve wanted to implement for a while.  Previously, I’ve looked at Selenium but the cost of implementation is huge.  This seems more approachable.

After lunch on Wednesday, I checked out a Microsoft vendor presentation where they talked about Microsoft’s efforts to increase computer literacy in under-served parts of the country.  It was interesting because their issues seemed to mainly be that teachers don’t want to teach development course and the schools don’t have access to the internet.  Their plan required developing TV white-space last-mile solutions.  It is nuts to think that their are parts of Wisconsin where that is a problem.

Beyond that, I attempted some open-spaces sessions but I was done with full sessions.

The closing keynote was pretty good.  I would highly recommend watching it:


… and before you ask, yes, this has been sitting as a draft post for a while.  It’s been a busy month. 🙂

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