Full Frontal 2010 in Brighton

Full frontal javascript conference My wife had learned that in recent years Brighton has become a destination for nudists and she was a little upset last month when I told her I was to attend a Full Frontal Javascript conference 2010 there.  I explained to her that the conference was aimed at Front-end Developers and others who were interested in the future of the web and the role of Javascript.
Delegates (or their wives/partners) were not required to take their clothes off. And in any case, November was no time to be parading around in the nude on a beach in Brighton.

Organised by Remy Sharp (http://remysharp.com/), co-author of the book ‘Introduction to HTML5’, the conference was clearly popular amongst web design and java users and tickets were sold out long before I headed to Brighton on 12 November. This was the second such annual conference organised by Remy.

There were roughly 600 delegates.

Who were they? At the beginning of the conference it was interesting to learn by a show of hands that there were only 6 javascript developers, about 30-40 front-end developers and the remainder were back-end developers. A strong indication that javascript is growing in popularity among back-end developers.

The line-up of eight expert speakers (http://2010.full-frontal.org/speakers) was most impressive.

The following are a few of my brief notes of some presentations:

  • Alex Russell

    – My overall impression of his message was that browsers in the future will have many more built-in features, and developers will have less javascript to write. A most interesting example was about scripts we (front end developers) are using and reusing from site to site. Like search box, menu and slideshows. He asked ‘Why is there is no <input search />?  If we just add css style all javascript will follow behind’. Or <input email />. Also, there will be no need to write and download form validation as normally this should be built into the browser. Opera has <input date /> which produces a calendar. So, no need for a javascript calendar plug-in.

Just a few years ago 50kb was the max required for a webpage, including images. BBC currently use 116.5KB only for javascript. There are widgets, moving blocks, swf etc. Because most of this is used on any modern website, then why do we have to rewrite jt for each site instead using the browser and speaking with javascript through simple API?

A blank page is the starting point for building a website and Alex asked what that should weight. He said, “At the moment a blank page would contain a reference to a JavaScript library (so 25Kb of code), and reset styles. Why does it cost us 30Kb to start a new page or project? We may already be stuck at this point.”

  • Jan Lehnardt

    As a speaker this guy was rocket propelled. He spoke with the speed of light and I struggled to keep up with him. There was however, one subject about which we hold opposing views. He sang the praises of Lotus Notes as a great application. I must disagree in terms of front end as it is a challenge to make even a newsletter look good on Lotus Notes. Apparently, Couch DB is based on Lotus Notes back end.

  • Paul Rouget

    was something else and his presentation blew my socks off.  Paul is from Mozilla and he showed some Firefox 4 versions with patches. This browser uses the power of the PC to the full and puts 3D within the reach of everyone. I believe this is the direction of future development but not necessarily in the immediate future. It will deliver websites without flash, with full 3D and live comments, tweeter and everything you want to see in your matrix.

    Paul Rouget about Firefox 4 with patches

Paul began with a simple 2d image demonstration where you can drag and drop the image into a browser and change on a fly (resize, colour, add text), then just drag to Flickr. As his demonstration progressed things became more mind-boggling. A video could be seen in the browser and as he dragged the photo the video was working with this new image. All this happened in the browser. Clearly it was not an everyday browser as it behaved like a seamless video editing application in which CSS and the browser could not be separated out.

  • Dan Webb

    spoke about ways of getting crossdomain information rather than our current method of using iFrames to implement Twitter and Facebook. There is a way, but I have to admit I did not get exactly how.

  • Paul Bakaus, CTO of Zynga

    If you know about Farmville at Facebook then more likely you will know what Paul is doing. He was my favourite speaker even though, unlike the other speakers, he supported the use of the IE browser. At Zynga games made in Flash are now converted into html. I think they are keen to be ahead in a field where it is difficult to get something moving and to keep it moving with just simple javascript. Paul was able to show   the prototype of a high performance browser game called Sim city. The game environment was drawn by the clever use of z-index and canvas elements. See also http://nodejs.org/ and http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-workers/current-work/

This was not only about using latest html 5, css3 and png transparency. The browser’s hidden power is used and Paul pointed out that there is a lot to learn about IE which is now forgotten, such as 3d transformation which is built into IE. Although I am unimpressed with IE as a good browser, I was certainly impressed about the power of javascript.

javascript warning by Seb Lee-Delisle

  • Seb Lee-Delisle

    is a flash developer working in a web environment for so long, on many different projects, that for him there is no big deal in using javascript or actionscript. He started with a simple demonstration of how to move a single pixel to the left or to the right. He then demonstrated other approaches to movement. For example, by replacing small images with larger images and vice versa, and with just a little manipulating javascript, we suddenly dive into a world of 3D. As he put it, “small is far away, big is close”. With this knowledge and a bit of javascript you can build 3D games today. As an example from Father Ted.  I was very impressed with his style of explanation (not Father Ted’s but Seb’s).

    JavaScript 2D and 3D particle effects at Full Frontal by Seb Lee-Delisle

Conclusion

It is likely that javascript is with us for some time to come and we will continue to use this simple (ahem!) scripting language. I foresee the development of websites that are more responsive because of the growing numbers of users who want responses at the touch of a button. I also foresee websites on which it will be possible to walk through shops, add your favourite music, put images on a wall, make purchases and to leave notes and comments. And all this will be happening in everyday browsers.

End

Thank you. I trust my brief notes have given you a flavour of the Full Frontal conference. A lot more info is available from the above links and other links that you will find through Google.

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