CSSConf Australia 2018 Recap

Table of contents

There is always a first time for everything. In my case, today was my first fully CSS-oriented conference, at CSS Conf Australia 2018, which took place at Melbourne and was attended by 350 people.

Caveats: As a backend developer, I am very far removed from the frontend and UX world, so my perspective of this event would be as a regular end user with some educated knowledge about the area. For that reason, maybe some of my points could be consider silly, but for me it was actually pretty amazing!

The event format

During the event I noticed a few things that I found a little weird though effective, compared with the personal experience of the events where I’ve participated before.

  • No keynote session
  • No Q&A
  • Two session in a row without break
  • 2.5 hours for lunch

One thing that I found to be very practical and helpful was live captioning, which I had never seen in any other event. This was provided by White Coat Captioning through a person in USA, very impressive I must say.

The organization was phenomenal, with plenty of food and beverages in every format and color you can imagine, indeed very Melbourne-hipster style.

CSS Conf Au

Photo by @maciejadamczak

Favorite sessions

All sessions were live streamed and recorded; as soon as they publish the video I will update this blog post, there are just too many details that are impossible to describe here.

I am going to list my favorite sessions, but in general all of them had very relevant content, kudos to the organization!

  1. Behind the Illusions: Impossibly high-performance layout animations, by David Khourshid

This session was pretty cool in terms of demonstrating a lot of techniques to animate your sites without JS or at least with the minimum of CSS.

Check presentation here http://slides.com/davidkhourshid/illusions

2. Faster fonts for speed fanatics, by Jeremy Wagner

This was one of my favorites sessions, probably because it was closely related to the backend area. Jeremy explained many techniques to improve your sites performance when it comes to using fonts, as summarized below:

  • Host your fonts if possible (same server as application)
  • If you can’t host your font use rel=preconnect
  • Always use crossorigin to load resources
  • Don’t use icon fonts
  • Use front-display: swap to accelerate loading time and provide a nice fallback
  • Use save-data client header in conjuntion with your css to acelerate client loading

  • Can you see that OK? CSS tips for low-vision accessibility, by Julie Grundy

Julie Grundy shows many accessibility improvements that can be applied via CSS especially oriented to assist people with visual limitations.

The most important to me in terms of their impact and simplicity were:

  • Using mobile/responsible design components to zoom and improve user experience
  • Testing how your website looks for people with difficulty in detecting color using filter and grayscale

Check presentation here http://juliegrundy.id.au/links/low-vis/notes.html

The end of an era

At the end of the event, the organization announced that this would be the last CSS Conf Australia (and my first one :P).

The CSS Conf Australia has been running 4 events in the last 5 years but it seems to me that there needs to be a leadership change to bring fresh ideas to the event and I hope the community takes over. I know first hand the burn out you get when organizing community events over the years.

What I missed in the event

After attending three community events in Australia I have to point out that that I’ve noticed a lack of networking, and that is a problem.

Maybe I have been spoiled by Drupal events in U.S., but I think the Australian events don’t have enough networking spirit. In the U.S., I would say that roughly half of the people attend the sessions and the other half stay in the halls, the exhibition areas or even code sprinting and there’s where the networking magic happens.

In contrast, in Australia I can say with confidence that 99% of people go to the sessions, leaving little opportunity for making connections and discuss business with potential clients and partners.