Development

Daylight’s 2018 Fluent Conference recap

Two persons looking at a laptop with the word fluent

What it is

The O’Reilly Fluent Conference brings together thousands of web developers, app developers, software and security engineers for days of hands-on tutorials, break-out sessions with industry experts, and keynotes from thought leaders. Fluent Conf educates and engages those seeking exposure to the newest trends in web development and provides a great meeting ground for the tribe to gather. 

Why we wanted to go

At Daylight, we create and build digital solutions for businesses looking to reach and engage their target markets through technology. Often the experiences we create can blur the line between a website and web application. Evan Jenkins and I went to help us stay on top of our game and level up in new technologies and frameworks like web assembly, vue.js, react.js, graphql, etc.

Here’s a list of some of the talks we geeked out on:

  • Creating a Reusable React Component Library
  • Hacking Web Performance
  • Building Software for Blue-Collar Users
  • How to Stay Sane While Managing Complex State in Vue.js
  • Patterns in Node.js Vulnerabilities
  • Meaningful UX Performance Metrics and How to Use Them

We also wanted to make industry connections to help drive Daylight’s project flow. We work with many agencies to collaborate on design work, preliminary development (prototyping), web/application development, and marketing and business strategy.

The core theme: accessibility

Accessibility bound the talks together. Accessibility in the broad sense of the word. According to dictionary.com, Accessibility can be defined as easy to approach, reach, enter, speak with, or use. All users benefit from a site being more accessible through a well-designed user interface able to be used through fingers, mice, voice, etc. All users benefit when sites they want to use can be interacted with and viewed quickly even on slow or inconsistent network speeds. Even security can be thought of in accessibility terms because it makes content easier to approach and trust.

What we learned

Performance, performance, performance. Each day, several talks dove into ways of thinking about performance, measuring performance, and improving key performance metrics like Time to First Paint (TTFP), Time to Visually Ready (TTVR), and Time to Interactive (TTI) through effective caching, code-splitting and tree shaking. Code splitting allows you to break your javascript down into different bundles which allow you to control resource load prioritization. Tree shaking involves only bringing the functions you are using in your dependencies (and removing the “dead” functions you don’t touch) which drastically can reduce the size of your dependencies. To learn about them check out: https://webpack.js.org/guides/code-splitting/ and https://webpack.js.org/guides/tree-shaking/

One of my favorite talks explored ways of using Google’s BigQuery (https://cloud.google.com/bigquery/) with the Http Archive data set (https://github.com/HTTPArchive/legacy.httparchive.org/blob/master/docs/bigquery-gettingstarted.md) to analyze performance and accessibility trends of the web. Through dashboards built on appropriate query data, Daylight could have a better understanding of how our sites measure up and how to stay on the leading edge of user experience.

Now what?

Conferences are all about what happens next. Most talks scratch the surface of something and whet the appetite for future learning. My concentration and interest are in better-documenting sites we build and maintaining performance and accessibility data alongside historical trends. I also want to level up in code-splitting / tree shaking on projects where it makes sense to drive better web performance. Another takeaway is getting more involved in the open source community. Most of the speakers found terrific mentors and friends through their involvement in open source projects. Many of them started out small before moving into their current core teams which encourages me to identify one project I can contribute to now and see where it leads.

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