Reps/SIGs/Evangelism Reps/Conference participation/FrontEndConfCH2013

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Trip report: Webplatform Doc Sprint and FrontEndConfCH, Zürich, Switzerland, 28-30 August 2013

In the last week of August 2013, I traveled over to Switzerland to take part in two events, a Doc Sprint, and the conference, which I was speaking at.

Doc Sprint - 28th August

The Doc Sprint was focused around creating CSS property and HTML element pages on, plus one of my personal goals was to think more about what to do about from Mozilla's perspective, and what the community thinks. About 32 people signed up to attend the sprint, but only 15 actually turned out, possibly due to the terrible weather on the day (really heavy rain.)

We got around 10 CSS property pages, 15 HTML element pages and 10 other pages (some JS, some attributes) written, which wasn't bad at all for the number of attendees. My personal contribution (other than spending most of the day helping others and filing bugs reported by attendees) was the unicode-range descriptor

We should probably copy this over to MDN at some point, although it doesn't work in Firefox yet ;-)

Overall the day was useful, and it was nice to forge some relations with Zurich people. I met up with local Mozilla rep Michael Kohler and had a good chat. In terms of versus MDN, I think both have a good place in the community, and I think both can exist, but I really think we should work out a proper way of sharing single versions of docs between the two, rather than moving docs over to WPD and maintaining both. Something like a github repo for storing the raw content in, which could then be grabbed and published wherever, would be good. This would also solve the problem of MDN contributors not wanting to contribute to WPD. 29-30 August (

The conference was a small, but lively affair. About 300 people, and topics ranging from typical FED stuff like CSS/JS, to gaming, internet of things and Google Glass. I got a good feeling about Mozilla presence there. Lots of people were happy to see me there, and I talked a lot about Firefox OS and web apps, showed people the OS and gave them links to find out more.

Talks of note:

Coping with the broken web, Rodney Rehm

Rodney gave an interesting talk on testing, reporting bugs and browser support data, and how future W3C work on testing frameworks, automation and documentation will make a lot of such efforts easier.

Building the web in 2018, Roger Dudler

Roger Dudler, creator of the co-working tool (styleguide creation, etc.) gave a talk in which he mainly listed predictions for the future, based on trends he is seeing:

  • less pure desktop apps in our workflow and more interactive/cloud apps. He mentioned a 3D CSS app called tridiv ( which unfortunately doesn't work on Firefox. Lighttable ( also looks interesting.
  • more open web apps and less walled gardens (he gave Mozilla Brick a shout out here, but weirdly didn't mention Firefox OS).
  • more code being taught and interesting learning experiences. MS touch develop sound interesting ( he also mentioned, and other things.
  • More collaborative conversation tools…this sounded vaguely useful, although the stuff he was talking about sounded a lot like Google Wave, and we know how that turned out.
  • Pageless design - I have heard this a few times; it's a good idea. telling a story across whole site
  • death of print agencies, many going across to digital

Gearing up for Google Glass development, Max Firtman

Well, I thought Google Glass was kinda cool but slightly insane before I was this talk. Now I definitely do ;-)

Max Firtman took us through the whole ecosystem as it stands now, how to test apps and play with a simulator, and how the device and code works. To get a real device you've got to sign up to the right developer program, but you can go to to use a simulator, and contains a lot more information and docs. The code itself seems to be a combination of cards like WAP used to use, and JSON for data. An interesting spin on RWD.

The Responsible Programmer, Jan Lenhardt

It was nice to meet Jan - I knew about him from his work on things like couchDB and JSConf Berlin, but he is a great guy to meet in person. We are now planning a JS event in Manchester together, and he is meeting with some Webmaker folk to talk more about education projects.

He is also one of the creators of (check out, a JS framework for creating a whole web development stack really fast, with just a JS library to abstract it all. I ma planning to check this out to see if this would be a good fit for rapidly creating MDN examples that require a server-side component.

Anyway, Jan's talk was all about how privileged we are as developers, and how we more than anyone else have the power to change the world, so we should do so. He asked everyone in the room to talk to someone next to them that they didn't know about why they are so privileged, and what they do (or could do) to help the community. This talk really struck a chord with me.

This learning platform is also cool -

Lightning talks

There were also some lightning talks, which was a fun way to break things up a bit. Highlights:

  • Trick for not defining media queries twice.
  • Check out for responsive e-mail templates. that's cool.
  • Support - initiative for making public labs of real devices available for testing

Me: Getting rid of images with CSS

Mostly seemed to go down really well. People enjoyed it, and asked some good questions.