The Chronicles of From The Front

CSS preprocessors for the best of both worlds


Today is going to be about Gunnar Bittersmann, our favourite guitarist, and his talk: “CSS preprocessors for the best of both worlds”.

Viel spaß, have fun, buon divertimento

Css is a hard beast, especially when a project scales up. Making a webpage is easy; making a good system of UI elements, easy to maintain and understand can get you crazy in no time. In this talk, Gunnar tells about how to use pre-processors like Sass to establish a new way of architecting css. He shows how to avoid the presentational markup and in the same time having a layer of reusable elements, keeping HTML clean and readable. This is a very important lesson for every developer: sometimes keeping CSS code well organised is the only thing that stands between us and post apocalyptic chaos.
Matteo C.

The content was been well balanced: identifying the ogre as the presentational markup and giving us the right weapons to defeat it. OOCSS is a wise choice to keep your CSS tidy, Atom design leading your CSS to a better structured architecture and SASS to make everything reusable. Just taking the best bits out of these would hugely improve your CSS architecture quality and cleanliness.

With great power comes great (development) responsibility


Last year Sally Jenkinson spent some wonderful words about From the Front, and we are grateful to her for those, but not as close as how grateful we are to her for being there. Her presence both as a speaker and as a person to the conference was invaluable.

"Sally's talk starts from the idea that technology is experience.
Under this light responsive design can be seen as technology and design working hand in hand to make life better and responding to situations.
That's an empowering and wonderful vision!
Even developers are in charge of user experience, and the problem is that often we do not recognise how true it is and what is the responsibility that comes with it.
While is easy to be lured by the new shiny, and fancy possibilities browsers, devices and languages offer to enhance our websites, Sally advised us not to use technology for technology sake, especially if that results in excluding part of our audience from accessing our websites.
At the same time, we ought to remember that, above getting the work done, it is up to us to recognise the opportunity for enhancements, and shall we not miss those opportunities!"

"Hard to summarise an inspiring talk like Sally's.
There a few sentences that are echoing in my head since I first heard them and that I found very useful sharing with the teams I work with. (my head might have rewritten some of them).
You should use technology to improve User Experience, don't use technology for technology's sake!
Don't let technology drive your UX strategy, but think outside the box, aim 'higher' and use technology for users' advantage.
We should be shifting our thinking in how we make our builds and how we prioritise.
Being a good developer is good... being aware of it, makes it even better.
The choices that we make shouldn't be based around getting the job done and meeting immediate project needs but we should also be thinking a bit bigger than that, and beyond ourselves."

Your customers WANT to pay your testing budget


New video from last year's edition: it's time for Andre Jay Meissner, one of the founders of the Open Device Lab initiative, Jay talks about testing, opens source, working with a community and helping the web community to grow and form stronger connections.

Inspired by Jay, during the conference we proposed to some friends to create a temporary ODL at the conference and we are proud that's still operating in Bologna!

"We know that we won't code the site right at the first try, problems may arise, nobody is perfect and we want our customers to understand that without tests we are going out in the dark, with half backed products.
Nobody will ever argue against the fraction of the cost of a car spent in crash tests, or the portion of the cost of ticket spent in security and simulation.
Jay gave us motivation and suggestions on how to make our customers understand that they really want us to test our websites (and pay for that)."

"The thing I love about Jay's talk is that, even tho it's about testing and responsiveness and process and..., it really is about collaboration: the Open Device Labs is a revolution that we can start and it's a benefit not for us only but the whole local dev community, isn't that awesome?"

We Make the Internet


We choose Jon Gold's talk to start releasing the videos from From the Front 2014 because some of the thoughts he shared on stage are somehow related on how we feel about the conference itself. There is no point in describing you the talk: just watch it and share with us the thoughts you have about it as we asked to do to some of the staff members.

"In the era of hipsters, makers and unicorns Jon starts an introspective journey trying to show us the intrinsic multidisciplinary nature of the design role. A nature we should be embracing not rejecting or consider weird. Contamination between roles will create better designers and better developers and it's the way forward for both the freelancer and the employee of a big organisation."

"From the Front always believed that through discipline contamination we'd be better persons and professionals. And we always tried to reflect it in the content we proposed. Jon's talk expresses in an amazing way the need to break boundaries and get influenced, exposes the limits of being defined by our job role or by the specificity of what we are currently doing. This is From the Front."

"2014 has been the year of some brilliant — to not say deadly funny — guys like Jon Gold @jongold, mentioning Modernism everything and Bauhaus as an example of multi-disciplinarity that has to flow in every developer that does our job. Oh, I’ve also learnt from him that when recruiters ask for full-stack web developers they are also looking for “unicorns” or “people who make internet”. Cheers Jon for all this gold (pun intended)!