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    The ES6 conundrum – new article on SitePoint

    Tuesday, August 11th, 2015


    I just released an article over on Sitepoint called The ES6 conundrum. In it, I am discussing the current issues we’re facing with using ES6:

    • We can’t use it safely in the wild – as ES6 is a syntax change to the language, legacy browsers will see it as a JavaScript error and give our end users a broken experience. This violates the Priority of Constituencies design principle of HTML5
    • We can use TypeScript or transpile it – which means we don’t debug the code we write but generated code. This can also lead to a lot of code bloat.
    • We can feature test for it – which that can get complex quickly and we can’t assume that support for one features means others are supported
    • Browser support for ES6 only makes a difference internally – as we transpile, we never send any ES6 to the browser
    • The performance of ES6 is bad right now which is normal, as we have no way to tweak and test it in the browser and it offers much more complexity than ES5

    All in all, we need to have a good think about ES6, and – to me – it feels we are at a turning point in web development. I will talk in more detail about this in my BrazilJS keynote in two weeks.

    Read “The ES6 conundrum” on Sitepoint

    Erase and Rewind – a talk about open web enthusiasm at Open Web Camp

    Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

    I just flew from San Francisco to Seattle still suffering from the aftermath of the after party of Open Web Camp 7, a gathering of enthusiasts of the web that lasted for seven years and showed that you can teach, inspire and meet without having to pay a lot. The ticket prices were $10 and even those were mostly to avoid people getting tickets and not coming. All the money left over was then donated to a great cause. Thank you for everyone involved, especially John Foliot for seven years of following a dream and succeeding. And also for moving on whilst you are still happy with what you do.

    My presentation at the event, “Erase and rewind – a tale of innovation and impatience” discussed the problems I found with advocating for the open web I encountered over the years. The problems we found, the gaps I see in our storytelling and the loss of focus we suffered when smartphones became a new form factor that seemed great for the web, but became its biggest problem very soon.

    There’s a screencast of the presentation on YouTube

    The slides are available on Slideshare

    I got a bit into a rant, but I think there is a big problem that the people who advocate about great ideas of the web clash with those who want to innovate it. There are a lot of events going on right now that want to achieve the same goal, but keep violating the best practices of others. We need to rally to keep the web relevant and alive. Not define that what we do is the one true way.

    Got something to say? Write a post!

    Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

    Tweet button

    Here’s the thing: Twitter sucks for arguments:

    • It is almost impossible to follow conversation threads
    • People favouriting quite agressive tweets leaves you puzzled as to the reasons
    • People retweeting parts of the conversation out of context leads to wrong messages and questionable quotes
    • 140 characters are great to throw out truisms but not to make a point.
    • People consistenly copying you in on their arguments floods your notifications tab without really wanting to weigh in any longer

    This morning was a great example: Peter Paul Koch wrote yet another incendiary post asking for a one year hiatus of browser innovation. I tweeted about the post saying it has some good points. Paul Kinlan of the Chrome team disagreed strongly with the post. I opted to agree with some of it, as a lot of features we created and thought we discarded tend to linger longer on the web than we want to.

    A few of those back and forth conversations later and Alex Russel dropped the mic:

    @Paul_Kinlan: good news is that @ppk has articulated clearly how attractive failure can be. @codepo8 seems to agree. Now we can call it out.

    Now, I am annoyed about that. It is accusing, calling me reactive and calls out criticism of innovation a failure. It also very aggressively hints that Alex will now always quote that to show that PPK was wrong and keeps us from evolving. Maybe. Probably. Who knows, as it is only 140 characters. But I am keeping my mouth shut, as there is no point at this agressive back and forth. It results in a lot of rushed arguments that can and will be quoted out of context. It results in assumed sub-context that can break good relationships. It – in essence – is not helpful.

    If you truly disagree with something – make your point. Write a post, based on research and analysis. Don’t throw out a blanket approval or disapproval of the work of other people to spark a “conversation” that isn’t one.

    Well-written thoughts lead to better quotes and deeper understanding. It takes more effort to read a whole post than to quote a tweet and add your sass.

    In many cases, whilst writing the post you realise that you really don’t agree or disagree as much as you thought you did with the author. This leads to much less drama and more information.

    And boy do we need more of that and less drama. We are blessed with jobs where people allow us to talk publicly, research and innovate and to question the current state. We should celebrate that and not use it for pithy bickering and trench fights.

    Photo Credit: acidpix

    I don’t want Q&A in conference videos

    Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

    I present at conferences – a lot. I also moderate conferences and I brought the concept of interviews instead of Q&A to a few of them (originally this concept has to be attributed to Alan White for Highland Fling, just to set the record straight). Many conferences do this now, with high-class ones like SmashingConf and Fronteers being the torch-bearers. Other great conferences, like EdgeConf, are 100% Q&A, and that’s great, too.

    confused Q&A speaker

    I also watch a lot of conference talks – to learn things, to see who is a great presenter (and I will recommend to conference organisers who ask me for talent), and to see what others are doing to excite audiences. I do that live, but I’m also a great fan of talk recordings.

    I want to thank all conference organisers who go the extra mile to offer recordings of the talks at their event – you already rock, thanks!

    I put those on my iPod and watch them in the gym, whilst I am on the cross trainer. This is a great time to concentrate, and to get fit whilst learning things. It is a win-win.

    Much like everyone else, I pick the talk by topic, but also by length. Half an hour to 40 minutes is what I like best. I also tend to watch 2-3 15 minute talks in a row at times. I am quite sure, I am not alone in this. Many people watch talks when they commute on trains or in similar “drive by educational” ways. That’s why I’d love conference organisers to consider this use case more.

    I know, I’m spoilt, and it takes a lot of time and effort and money to record, edit and release conference videos and you make no money from it. But before shooting me down and telling me I have no right to demand this if I don’t organise events myself, let me tell you that I am pretty sure you can stand out if you do just a bit of extra work to your recordings:

    • Make them available offline (for YouTube videos I use YouTube DL on the command line to do that anyways). Vimeo has an option for that, and Channel 9 did that for years, too.
    • Edit out the Q&A – there is nothing more annoying than seeing a confused presenter on a small screen trying to understand a question from the audience for a minute and then saying “yes”. Most of the time Q&A is not 100% related to the topic of the talk, and wanders astray or becomes dependent on knowledge of the other talks at that conference. This is great for the live audience, but for the after-the-fact consumer it becomes very confusing and pretty much a waste of time.

    That way you end up with much shorter videos that are much more relevant. I am pretty sure your viewing/download numbers will go up the less cruft you have.

    It also means better Q&A for your event:

    • presenters at your event know they can deliver a great, timed talk and go wild in the Q&A answering questions they may not want recorded.
    • people at the event can ask questions they may not want recorded (technically you’d have to ask them if it is OK)
    • the interviewer or people at the event can reference other things that happened at the event without confusing the video audience. This makes it a more lively Q&A and part of the whole conference experience
    • there is less of a rush to get the mic to the person asking and there is more time to ask for more details, should there be some misunderstanding
    • presenters are less worried about being misquoted months later when the video is still on the web but the context is missing

    For presenters, there are a few things to consider when presenting for the audience and for the video recording, but that’s another post. So, please, consider a separation of talk and Q&A – I’d be happier and promote the hell out of your videos.

    New chapter in the Developer Evangelism handbook: keeping time in presentations

    Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

    Having analysed a lot of conference talks lately, I found a few things that don’t work when it comes to keeping to the time you have as a speakers. I then analysed what the issues were and what you can do to avoid them and put together a new chapter for the Developer Evangelism Handbook called “Keeping time in presentations“.

    Rabbit with watch
    White Rabbit by Claire Stevenson

    In this pretty extensive chapter, I cover a few topics:

    All this information is applicable to conference talks. As this is a handbook, all of it is YMMV, too. But following these guidelines, I always managed to keep on time and feel OK watching some of my old videos without thinking I should have done a less rushed job.