Christian Heilmann

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Decoded Chats – fourth edition featuring Sarah Drasner on SVG

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

At SmashingConf Freiburg I took some time to interview Sarah Drasner on SVG.

In this interview we covered what SVG can bring, how to use it sensibly and what pitfalls to avoid.

You can see the video and get the audio recording of our chat over at the Decoded blog:

helicopter interrupting the interview with Sarah

Sarah is a dear friend and a lovely person and knows a lot about animation and SVG.

Here are the questions we covered:

  1. SVG used to be a major “this is the future of the web” and then it vanished for a while. What is the reason of the new interest in a format that old?
  2. Tooling in SVG seems to be still lagging behind in what Flash gave us. Are there any good tools that have – for example – a full animation timeline?
  3. SVG syntax on first glance seems rather complex due to its XML format and lots of shortcut notations. Or is it just a matter of getting used to it?
  4. Coordinate systems seem to be easy to understand, however when it comes to dynamic coordinate systems and vector basics people get lost much easier. When you teach, is this an issue?
  5. What about prejudices towards SVG? It is rumoured to be slow and very memory intense. Is this true?
  6. Presets of tools seem to result in really large SVG files which is why we need extra tools to optimise them. Is this improving with the new-found interest in SVG?
  7. There seems to be a “war of animation tools”. You can use SVG, CSS Animations, The Web Animation API, or JavaScript libraries. What can developer do about this? Should we learn all of them?
  8. There are security issues with linking to external SVG files which makes them harder to use than – for example – images. This can be discouraging and scary for implementers, what can we do there?
  9. Does SVG live in the uncanny valley between development and design?
  10. Is there one thing you’d love people to stop saying about SVG as it is not true but keeps coming up in conversations?

Future Decoded 2016 – My talk on Machine Learning, Terminators and Star Trek

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Yesterday I went to the Excel in London for Future Decoded to learn a lot about the future of technology, finally see the DeLorian from Back to the Future and give a talk. I covered Machine Learning, its ethics, its effects on the job market and what we as developers need to do to make Artificial Intelligence work for rather than against humans.

DeLorian from Back to the Future

Apparently it was more relaxing that the Great British Bake Off:


Sadly, there was no video recording, but I recorded my own screencast again. The video is on YouTube

The slides are available on SlideShare.

Machine Learning on the web – moving from Terminator to Star Trek from Christian Heilmann

I will repeat this talk slightly amended and more about the ethics and ideas as the Friday Keynote of the upcoming Øredev Conference in Malmø so see you there?

My GotoCon Copenhagen talk videos: PWAs and Machine learning for images

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

The lovely folks at Goto Conference just released the high quality recordings of my talks at their Copenhagen edition earlier this month.

Explaining the power of the link on stage at GotoCon

Fixing the image problem of the web using Machine Learning was a impromptu presentation as one of the presenters had to pull out and they needed another presentation.

Progressive Web Apps – return of the web talks about what PWAs mean to the web as a platform and features lots of Star Wars references.

My next GotoCon will be in Berlin on the 14th of November.

Decoded Chats – third edition featuring Chris Wilson on JavaScript and Web Standards

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

At the Microsoft/Mozilla Progressive Web Apps workshop in Seattle I ran into Chris Wilson and took the opportunity to interview him on Web Standards, JavaScript dependency and development complexity.

In this first interview we covered the need for JavaScript in today’s web and how old-school web standards stand up to today’s needs.

You can see the video and get the audio recording of our chat over at the Decoded blog:

Monica saying hi

Chris has been around the web block several times and knows a lot about standards and how developers make them applicable to various different environments. He worked on various browsers and has a high passion for the open web and empowering developers with standards and great browsers.

Here are the questions we covered:

  • A current hot topic that seems to come up every few years is the dependency of web products on JavaScript, and if we could do without it. What is the current state there?
  • Didn’t the confusion start when we invented the DOM and allowed for declarative and programmatic access to the document? JavaScript can create HTML and CSS and give us much more control over the outcome.
  • One of the worries with Web Components was that it would allow developers to hide a lot of complexity in custom elements. Do we have a problem understanding that modules are meant to be simple?
  • Isn’t part of the issue that the web was built on the premise of documents and that a nature of modules needs to be forced into it? CSS has cascade in its name, yet modules shouldn’t inherit styles from the document.
  • Some functionality needed for modern interfaces seem to be achievable with competing standards. You can animate in CSS, JavaScript and in SVG. Do different standard working groups not talk to each other?
  • Declarative functionality in CSS and HTML can be optimised by browser makers. When you – for example – create animations in JavaScript, we can’t do that for you. Is that a danger?
  • A lot of JavaScript enhancements we see in browsers now is enhancing existing APIs instead of inventing new ones. Passive Event listeners is a great example. Is this something that will be the way forward?
  • One thing that seems to be wasteful is that a lot of research that went into helper libraries in the past dies with them. YUI had a lot of great information about animation and interaction. Can we prevent this somehow?
  • Do you feel that hacks die faster these days? Is a faster release schedule of browsers the solution to not keeping short-term solutions clog up the web?
  • It amazes me what browsers allow me to do these days and create working layouts and readable fonts for me. Do you think developers don’t appreciate the complexity of standards and CSS enough?

Decoded Chats – second edition featuring Monica Dinculescu on Web Components

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

At SmashingConf Freiburg this year I was lucky enough to find some time to sit down with Monica Dinculescu (@notwaldorf) and chat with her about Web Components, extending the web, JavaScript dependency and how to be a lazy but dedicated developer. I’m sorry about the sound of the recording and some of the harsher cuts but we’ve been interrupted by tourists trying to see the great building we were in who couldn’t read signs that it is closed for the day.

You can see the video and get the audio recording of our chat over at the Decoded blog:

Monica saying hi

I played a bit of devil’s advocate interviewing Monica as she has a lot of great opinions and the information to back up her point of view. It was very enjoyable seeing the current state of the web through the eyes of someone talented who just joined the party. It is far too easy for those who have been around for a long time to get stuck in a rut of trying not to break up with the past or considering everything broken as we’ve seen too much damage over the years. Not so Monica. She is very much of the opinion that we can trust developers to do the right thing and that by giving them tools to analyse their work the web of tomorrow will be great.

I’m happy that there are people like her in our market. It is good to pass the torch to those with a lot of dedication rather than those who are happy to use whatever works.