Christian Heilmann

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Hacking Øredev’s after hours: Sharing our Coder Privilege (video, slides, talking points)

Friday, November 11th, 2016

The original plan at the first evening of this year’s Øredev was for me to interview Peter Sunde about the history of Pirate Bay as covered in his SmashingConf Barcelona “Technology Is Neither Good Nor Bad — You Are” talk.

As Peter couldn’t come and the massive news of the US or the voting system choosing Donald Trump as the president I quickly changed my plans. Instead, I wrote a talk explaining the very random way I got to become a professional developer and that it is our duty as privileged people now to share our knowledge with those not as lucky.

After the talk I invited a very distraught Rob Conery, author of The Imposter’s Handbook to help share some cheerful and amusing anectodes in his history. We ended up with some actionable ideas how to learn more and not listen to the inner voice that keeps telling us we’re not good enough.

Here’s the video of the hour of information on Vimeo:

The slides of the talk are on Slideshare.

Sharing our Coder Privilege from Christian Heilmann

Here are some of the points of the slides:

Things I learned

  • Nothing can hold you back when you are good at analysing and repeating
  • Everything you see on screen came from somewhere – it is never set in stone
  • It is much more fun to explore and tweak than to get something handed to you
  • Working in a limited/unknown environment is a wonderful challenge
  • You don’t need to feel limited by the environment you target – you can use whatever you want to create for it
  • The more people do this, the more best practices can be shared.

Hello View Source

  • A big part of my success on the web was using view source and reverse engineering
  • We all did, don’t let people tell you otherwise
  • The lack of distance between creation and consumption was really down my alley…
  • These days, developer tools have replaced view source
  • We have incredible insight into what our code does in the browser
  • Of course, not everybody is ready for this…

Here is where we come in.

  • We are at the forefront of online media
  • We are creators and makers – not consumers
  • We have the privilege of open tools, an open platform and openly available documentation.

Getting started has never been easier…

  • Using GitHub, you can host your code, collaborate, execute your projects, write collaborative documentation and books…
  • Using social media we can promote these products, share knowledge and invite people to learn…

You’re building on existing solutions…

  • You don’t need to start from scratch – you can contribute to thousands of existing projects – many aimed to teach people how to become a web maker.
  • You don’t even need to code. You can help with UX, or document, or herd communities.

One main thing i learned in my whole career…

  • You learn best by teaching
  • Sharing and making people grow with you is the best feeling ever
  • If you feel down and “not good enough”, create something – anything!

Use your frustration, your anger and your deviousness for good…

  • What we need more than ever right now is education
  • Traditional education is encumbered by privilege and costs
  • We’ve been lucky – it is time we give back

The web is the most versatile and non-elite platform. Go and make your mark!

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?