Impressions of WeAreDevelopers 2018 - Day I

4 minute read

We Are Developers is one of the largest developer conferences in central Europe and took place between the 16th and 18th of May this year. I was very lucky to be able to attend and visit many talks, most of which I really, really enjoyed.

I’ll summarize what I experienced each day, and link to some resources where possible, just so future me can re-live those glorious days.

Before I get started I want to link to Katja Budnikov’s post about WeAreDevs. She covered most of the talks that I attended, and her graphical summaries are truly wonderful and a nice addition to my own little summaries.

Also, WeAreDevs have their own YouTube Channel and will probably publish the videos for most of the talks below in due time.

Day I

I had never been to the Austria Center, so I was pretty impressed with the location. I liked the goodie bags we received when entering so much that I got another one on the last day. The contents were mostly advertising, but the bags themselves were top notch.

Fireside Chat with Steve Wozniak and Monty Munford

The first talk of the day was not so much a traditional talk, but rather Monty and the Woz just hitting it off. The chemistry between the two of them was great, and they covered a great many topics.

Some things that stuck with me were Steve’s thoughts on Facebook and why he left it (“I want to live my life, not show it off”), Bitcoin & Blockchain (trust in interactions online is great, but Bitcoin is a bubble) and AI (the A in AI is correct, but its not anywhere near intelligent. We don’t even know how the human brain works, so we are a long way from creating something truly intelligent).

The topics were interspersed with some great anecdotes. We witnessed a discussion about Steve’s business cards, which if the stories are true, he uses instead of the plastic knifes on flights to cut his food. One of the last stories we heard was about how he met Kanye West, and was one of the first to see the musicians firstborn, due to some lucky coincidences.

It was a great pleasure listening to this legend, and a great start to the conference.

Generative Art Speedrun by Tim Holman

Tim kicked off his talk by quickly highlighting some projects that he made, which include elevator.js and Github Corners. What followed after was a perfectly delivered and hilarious talk about how you may generate art using simple tools such as lines, displacement, colors and others.

The code examples given were written in Javascript, and very easy to follow. Tims great, passionate delivery made this my highlight of the day, and probably one of my top three favourite talks at the event.

At the end of the talk Tim plugged his new project: generativeartistry.com. This site pretty much contains the entire talk in an interactive format. Very nice.

Space Jam! Digging Up the Web’s Distant Past by Björn Ganslandt

Björn discussed the state of the art development in 1996, using the original site for Space Jam.

There were some interesting facts about how Netscape handled CSS at that time - namely by transpiling it to JS. Another interesting thing was how framesets were used at the time to create layouts that remained problematic until quite recently. For example column layouts and such.

Bjönr also talked about some extinct HTML tags, such as nobr, which also has an interesting story to it. Supposedly, this tag sparked discussions about responsiveness even back then.

The Austrian website futurezone.at wrote about the talk, check out the article here

The (Bright) Future of the Web by Ilya Grigorik

I have no idea why I went to so many talks about the state of the web. Web development isn’t even my thing! Anyways, Ilya’s talk about the future of the web took place on the main stage.

Although the talk wasn’t very humorous (one of the few talks with hardly any jokes I feel) it was not hard to stay attentive. Ilya talked about the main properties of the web (secure, composable, indexable, linkable, and ephermal) and how modern websites should try to enforce those properties.

He noted how the web was said to be dead due to the rise of mobile platforms in 2010. However, it has recently seen a resurgence due to the rise of progressive web apps. Companies such as Starbucks, Forbes and Lancome all have replaced their mobile apps with PWAs.

The key takeaway here is: Don’t say the web is dead, because it probably isn’t. Its just always changing, from static to dynamic, from text based to media based and so forth.

Ilya also talked about how Google will adapt in the face of these changes. Some upcoming things include crawler changes (mobile version of sites will be used by crawler), updates to the chrome user experience report (will factor in loading speed) and updates to Chrome (will continue push to force websites to use HTTPs).

Fireside Chat by Joseph Sirosh and Sabrina Hoffmann

This one was a bit of a surprise. I actually wanted to go to another talk and went to the wrong location (whoops). Stayed regardless because it was great.

Joseph talked about the State of AI and answered audience questions. It was very nice to hear his take on things and listen to some of his insights. Unfortunately, I did not take any notes and therefore forgot most of the details.


I’ll write about the other two days in separate posts, there’s just too much for a single one. Stay tuned.

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