Back in November, I, along with some colleagues from Wingify went to Singapore to attend CSSConf and JSConf Asia. A part of DevFest Asia, it is the best way to meet and connect with front-end designers and developers in South East Asia. It was the first time CSSConf was happening in Asia, and our own Kushagra Gour had the opportunity to speak at it. He talked about 10 Commandments for efficient CSS architecture. The conference venue was Hotel Amara Sanctuary, on the island of Sentosa, Singapore.

CSSConf

The day began with boarding the MRT and the Sentosa Express to get to the venue, and meanwhile being mesmerized by the marvelous Singaporean skyscrapers. A sip of coffee at the Jimmy Monkey Cafe made our eyes open wide, and began Thomas’ introduction to Asia’s first CSSConf. It is commendable for a small bunch of people to organize conferences for the community at such large scale, working part time.

The quality of the talks at the conference was way above our expectations for a first-time event. The speakers and the topics they spoke about were pretty interesting. Below are the talks that I found really intriguing, and I recommend everyone to go through the videos and slides for them:

No More Tools by Karolina Szczur

Her talk made an interesting point: with all the rapid development happening in the front-end realm, we’re making use of tools more than ever, which when mixed with biases and preferences, do more harm than good. She explained what puts apart good tools from the bad ones, and the telltale signs of a tool doing more harm than good.

Build Scalable, Automated CSS Both You and Your ’Back-End’ Coders Can Love by Christian Lilley

As front-end developers, we have been conditioned to live and breathe CSS, both good and bad parts, beckoning a love-hate relationship with it. But it is rather cumbersome for someone new coming in ease into the concept of cascading style sheets, and that coupled with misused practices makes people think of CSS as some sort of dark magic. Christian’s talk separates the good parts from the bad ones, and points the listeners into a direction everyone can take to make CSS a language everyone can love.

Inside the AirBnB brand evolution by Fiona Tey

AirBnB’s product is so simple, yet efficient to use, especially their mobile app that it makes you feel a sense of satisfaction competing products or even luxurious hotels couldn’t match. Booking for a stay with the locals via AirBnB has always been exciting inspiring for me. And today it was a fortunate time to see the face behind such great product design.

What are we doing, anyway? by Ben Schwartz

If you’re like me, perhaps you ask yourself this question as the sun rises each morning. Recall a time when that wasn’t really the question? Ben’s talk took the listeners on a nostalgic ride to the years of hacking around and creating things from the past. Recall spending nights working on creating things as the first ray of sun hits the window, the pride of showing around your project in your peer group, hours upon hours of creative brainstorming to build something exciting? Ben extracts out the secret sauce for that feeling of happiness that stems from creating something and how to hold on to it to keep treading that road.

Words of Wisdom

JSConf

JSConf had multitude of interesting talks. Below are the ones I found rather inspiring to attend:

Bad Form by Chris Lienert

“Your password must contain an uppercase and a lowercase letter, a number, a dinosaur’s name and your grandmother’s maiden name”: do sights of such messages make you cringe? Or perhaps you recall the frustration of filling out a large form and you missed out checking those terms and conditions and the page complains by asking you to fill everything over again? If you do, this talk will let you share your frustrations and learn about what you as a developer can do to create better forms for a better web.

Fun with JavaScript and Sensors by Jan Jongboom

In terms of what JavaScript can do on the browser and on mobile devices, Firefox OS is the best example of openness and accessibility to the lower language features. Jan, in his talk introduces several sensor APIs, primarily for Firefox OS that you could make use of to create your next big innovative app or game. Perhaps you could even mix and match the data from various sensors, or perhaps from a set of devices put together to create something awesome!

Translation Workflow and Formatting Complex Translations by Tingan Ho

Tingan goes about solving the problem of i18n and l10n by introducing concepts like CLDR, pluralization, and ICU’s message formats. He also publishes his localization module l10ns at the end of his talk. If you’re planning to translate your app into multiple languages, especially east-Asian ones, this is a must see talk.

WebTorrent by Feross Aboukhadijeh

BitTorrent is a great protocol to share data between users across the world. Feross introduces the underlying functionality of BitTorrent and the advantages of a distributed network when compared to a centralized one. He also highlights certain shortcomings of the protocol that are centralized, like torrent files and tracker servers, and how we could solve these problems. Finally he describes WebTorrent, a project that makes use of WebRTC and special “hybrid clients” to connect to the BitTorrent network.

Gibbering at Algoraves - JS in Live Audiovisual Performances by Charlie Roberts

Possess certain skills like the ability to play music and you have the chance to perform it live in front of an audience. But writing code, especially JavaScript isn’t that way. That’s what we thought before this talk. Charlie introduces Gibber, a creative coding environment that lets you create music and visuals on the fly. Be ready for a trippy ride of a JavaScript live coding performance towards the end of the talk!

It might seem like I’ve described every talk at both the events, but the truth is that the quality of the talks was so impressive that it is hard to not praise the speakers for the efforts they have put in to prepare a stellar presentation. Looking forward to the next installment of DevFest Asia in 2015!