HTML5, JS and the Future

By ,
Golden Gate

Last week I attended the HTML5 Dev Conference in San Francisco. While reasonably priced, the conference offered excellent workshops full of cutting-edge techniques and geeky humor. I enjoyed learning about new technologies and tools, as well as receiving confirmation of some best practices that I’ve been using. As a meetup for front-end developers, there was ample discussion of JavaScript and powerful new tools, such as Yeoman, for increasing productivity and efficiency. These are two areas of particular interest for me as I work to further my client-side aptitude. I particularly enjoyed Compass’s Chris Eppstein’s talk about the awesome, but somewhat obscure, features in the Sass CSS preprocessor language, such as variable interpolation via the #{$variable} syntax and the sprite creation functionality.

I also appreciated Steve Souders’s “Cache is King” keynote, which underscored the importance of explicit caching declarations for browser performance, a best practice which, according to his research, is woefully underutilized on many of the most popular websites. For JavaScript, my favorite presentation was that of Mike Mikowski and Josh Powell, authors of the new book Single Page Web Applications: JavaScript end-to-end, who explained some the most important details of JavaScript, like variable hoisting, which make it such a unique and fascinating language.

After this conference, I’m more excited than ever about the new technologies available now and those coming soon that are going to improve both the work of web developers and designers and the experience of end users. One such development is Google’s SPDY protocol, an improved mechanism for transferring data between servers and browsers, that is available now for websites to use and users of Chrome and Firefox to enjoy, and is also the inspiration for the upcoming HTTP/2.0 standard. Then there’s Meteor, a JavaScript framework for creating impressive real-time web apps, and Twitter’s Bower, a package manager for web development. Along with technologies, new techniques and styles are being codified, helping to advance the web development community. One of my favorite is Object-Oriented CSS, which Groupon’s Shay Howe evangelized about in his “Tactical HTML & CSS” presentation.

I’m confident that web development is a field without limits. I believe this is due largely to the community’s willingness to, and enjoyment of, sharing knowledge and distributing tools and technologies freely and openly. This, thankfully, means I’ll never need to stop learning.