CSS Summit Review

We spent a full three days this week with the CSS Summit and learned a lot. There were some good sessions, some underwhelming sessions, and some missed sessions (Jeff Croft sadly didn’t present).

The hardest part about putting a conference together has to be identifying your target market, and in this particular case, I feel that it was too broad. The talks jumped all over the gamut between beginner and advanced and many concepts were introduced in detail after other speakers had already shown them.

The top sessions for me were:

Trent Walton‘s Web Typography presentation

Trent showed off some of the power of lettering.js and fittext.js as well as various CSS3 techniques. Advanced typesetting is still a bit of a hit-or-miss proposition when it comes to browser support, but it’s getting better. I’m looking forward to the day that I have as much control in the browser as I do in InDesign.

CSS3 Polyfills by Jason Johnston

Jason is the creator of CSS3Pie, which I’ve used before in projects. This was a really informative session to me on how different browsers use polyfills and how we can use them to target certain things that we can’t simply degrade gracefully.

SMACSS talk by Jonathan Snook

I’ve read the book, so it wasn’t earth shattering, but it was nice to get the refresher. Modularity in CSS is paramount, especially when you move into really large sites or style guides.

Essential Tools for UI Performance by Nicole Sullivan

I had never had a good walk through of how to debug slow-rendering web pages before. Nicole showed her workflow as well as numerous tools to debug. I had never learned about frame view in the debugger until this talk. I’ll be watching this one again for more gems.

CoffeeScript, Linguistics and Cockney Rhyming Slang by Brandon Satrom

I’ve been on the border of learning JavaScript for years and this helped me realize that everyone goes through a similar process of frustration in the initial phases. He also showed a lot of great examples. I feel many people in the chat room didn’t quite get it, as they were having random side convos the whole time, but this talk is really about the future. CoffeeScript will affect the syntax of ECMAscript in the long run, and knowing both will make you a better front-end developer. Also, want job security? It’s almost impossible to find good JavaScripters right now.

In review

All in all it was a good conference. There we lots of other small “OOO COOL” moments in various talks. I thought the third day would be the most exciting, but in hindsight, the second day was far more invigorating. I think I would have enjoyed a more advanced Sass track, as we’ve been pushing the limits of it with our internal tools development at LivingSocial.

I need to spend a week with Chris Eppstein‘s interactive slides to go through more of his hardcore examples from Sass and Compass, but I think that may end up being one of my top talks as well.

As I said at the beginning, it’s hard to plan a conference, especially a remote one, but this was pretty good. If you’re relatively new to or needing a refresher in CSS, this was a perfect mix of basics and complex. For advanced people, we picked up a lot of tips and tricks that we’ll be implementing soon, but I wish the Sass workflow stuff was a bit more case-study or advanced.