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Announcing the Front End Engineering Program at Summit ’22

Way back when we started in 2004, we had just a single track focussed on web design/development.

Back then this made sense–there were few if any dedicated designers who didn’t also code and the term “product manager” as we use it now hadn’t even been coined. jQuery hadn’t been invented, indeed few sites even used JavaScript (in fact CSS was still considered by many not yet ready for primetime).

But, over the last two decades, just as our industry has become specialised across so many areas, so too have our programs. But front end engineering remains central to Web Directions, and today we’re excited to announce the program for our longest running track–front end engineering.

Front End Engineering

This year our front end engineering track is joined by a dedicated React Ecosystem track–so in total two dozen session covering all things front end. We detailed the first of our React Ecosystem speakers last week, so what’s on our front end track? Let’s find out.

All things new in CSS

CSS is making a huge resurgence, with so much sophistication and capability added to the language over the last few years, and now widely supported in the browser. So we have a number of CSS focussed sessions to bring you up to speed.

  • Long gone are the days of floats for layouts, with grid, flexbox and more. At Summit the world’s leading expert on CSS layout, Rachel Andrew, will walk us through a recent history of CSS layout , and you’ll leave with a deeper understanding of how CSS layout works.
  • Ahmad Shadeed has quickly become an authority on developing with CSS–and at Summit will present “Defensive CSS”, a concept he coined to describe CSS that is future-proof and defensive, and preventing CSS issues upfront.
  • From new selectors like the long long awaited :has() ‘parent selector’, to cascade layers, and more, how we architect CSS is undergoing a revolution. Bramus Van Damme will get us up to speed with how we can develop more readable, maintainable and manageable style sheets.

Progressive Web Apps

Progressive Web Apps, whose name was in fact coined in 2015 by Alex Russell for our Code conference that year, are now, 7 years later, the way to deliver web based applications. Meanwhile the web platform continues to gain every increasing sophistication and capability. At Summit, we’ll keep you up to date with the technologies and best practices for developing web applications.

  • Keynote speaker Penny McLachlan will give us the big picture of where the web platform is today, looking at recent and upcoming changes to how apps running in the browser can be discovered by users, and on emerging capabilities that are making possible a new generation of powerful applications powered by the browser and running standalone or in a tab.
  • Thomas Steiner will then dive deeply into the browser APIs in Project Fugu, an effort to close gaps in the web’s capabilities enabling new classes of applications to run on the web.
  • Isabel Brison will look at the benefits (and costs) of creating and maintaining front end APIs, while Mandy Michael will look at the foundation of everything we build on the Web–text–with modern approaches and technical solutions, including variable fonts, css text tricks and features for the serious or party side of your projects.

Performance

With the advent of Core Web Vitals, and their significance as a signal for Google’s page rank algorithms, performance has moved centre stage, not just for developers but for entire organisations. Long considered a responsibility of the back end, it’s increasingly also a core competence of front end developers as well. Henri Helvetica will bring us up to speed with the state of front end performance technologies, techniques and practices.

Accessibility

Accessibility is a fundamental tenet of the World Wide Web, and has played an important role on our programs since the very beginning. Once again at Summit this year we’ll make sure accessibility gets the focus it warrants.

  • Gian Wild, who chaired the W3C committee responsible for developing a set of Mobile Site Testing Guidelines will cover things that are essential to avoid when designing mobile apps, devices and wearables to ensure that everyone can use them, and accessibility challenges with specific mobile features like pinch/zoom, native screen readers and haptic keyboards.
  • Did you know that an Undo button can be an accessibility feature? It is if your product is a content creation tool. And what apps aren’t in some sense a content creation tool these days? Julie Grundy will cover content creation features useful to people with disabilities, and how you can help your creators to easily make more accessible content.

Security and Authentication

Managing security, identity and authentication is an existential challenge for many sites, services and applications today. So we’ll make sure you’re focussed on some of the key related challenges at Summit.

  • It’s very likely you use NPM (or something similar), and a not insignificant amount of open source in your work. But, between 2020 and 2021, the number of software supply chain attacks (including NPM) grew by 300%. What types of attacks can happen? What can they do? How can we protect ourselves? You can you imagine how seriously payment providers take security, so we’ve got Charlie Gerard from Stripe to help you identify vulnerabilities, and provide some potential solutions.
  • Passwords are a security and user experience nightmare. WebAuthn has brought a passwordless world closer. But where do we really stand? Phil Nash will outline a vision for how authentication could look in the future and a blueprint for how to build the best auth experience today on the Web.

A huge program

An enormous amount of work goes into our programs, with the involvement of amazing experts who help curate each track. or the front end track, Jessica Edwards, Ben Buchanan, Sarah Federman, and Mandy Michael, brought their deep domain expertise to bear in shaping the program from dozens and dozens of proposals.

If you and your team work on the the front end, we’ll keep you up to date with the key developments in technology and practice. So set aside two days in December, and leave energised, and excited about what the direction of the Web.

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Web Directions South is the must-attend event of the year for anyone serious about web development

Phil Whitehouse General Manager, DT Sydney