What a great conference

Frontend United 2012

Frontend United 2012, at Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam (great location!) was a very succesfull conference. It’s a very focussed event, on frontenders for Drupal, and that setup resulted in just one major problem: it was hard to choose which session to attend as they all were very interesting.
Here is a personal post about the sessions I attended.


On the first day one could choose between a training given by Acquia, a workshop on “Mobile First” and a theme sprint. The focus in this sprint was to help out the sprint in San Francisco that same weekend. First there was a discussion about all pain points of the theme layer, which imho did not reveal a lot of new insights as it was already thoroughly discussed in chx’s thread. But three main conclusions were drawn. What “we frontend developers” want to have is:

  1. the ability to easily change the default markup,
  2. a consistent way of getting and overwriting data, and
  3. sensible markup defaults in templates.

(I was in doubt if I could be of any assistence in this process but I’m very proud to say that the comment on our example was “this is a really great example, and the one we are using for our first change to core.”)


Designing Drupal 8

Bojhan Somers @Bojhan is working on the new content creation page (together with Roy Scholten) and he showed us the path and results of that journey so far. If you’re interested check http://drupal.org/node/1510532.

Twig and Drupal

The shiny new kid on the block for all Drupal Frontend Developers! Well, actually that could very well be true. Jacine and chx are pushing for this and René Bakx @renebakx showed us what it could be like, as he already made an implementation with Twig.
It looks very promising but of course it’s not a silver bullet, more needs to be done if we frontend developers want better tools (see friday’s sprint and the note at the end of this blog entry).

Using Responsive Grids with Drupal

Leander Lindahl @leanderlindahl got us up-to-date with the history of grids and their use on modern responsive themes.

The State of HTML5 Video

Jeroen Wijering, the developer of JWPlayer held a session on html5 video and it’s rising support in modern browsers. This makes it userful to support html5 with only a fallback to Flash. He also showed us that mp4 with the h.264 codec seems to be the “winner” of the codec-battle. As most browsers support it (including the main mobile ones) and a lot of desktop browsers too. Apart from serving double content, supporting two formats is actually quite easy though.

Follow-up Friday: Drupal 8 Theme Layer Sprint

Everbody could get up-to-date with the work that was done on friday and the developments in San Francisco. Check out http://groups.drupal.org/node/226224 for more info.

How to Tackle the New Hot Shit in an Accessible Way

This session from Eric Eggert @yatil focussed on the accessibility regarding html5. One of the issues he mentioned is that because all new browsers treat the newly added html5-tags, like article, nav and such as divs the meaning of those tags is not corresponded correctly to screen readers. So for now add the proper role-attribute to those elements. (Or use his accessifyhtml5.js JavaScript.)


Object Oriented CSS for Rapid, Scalable and Maintainable Development

Graeme Blackwood @graemeblackwood showed us the principles of oocss. The main thing is to split up the css in smaller bits and add those bits as a class to the various elements. This makes reusing the css much more easy. Also if you have exceptions add an extra class to that perticular element instead of relying on id’s or classes of the page or containing block.

Managing a Client With Multiple Devices

The main message of this talk by Jason Yergeau @aquariumtap was to keep communicating about your (static) mockups and not make them a visual contract. Instead of designing in f.i. Photoshop, you could try to desing in the browser so from the moment you start to talk to your clients they can be made aware of what happens when their site is viewed on smaller screens.

What the f**k is a Polyfill?

Alan Burke @alanjosephburke explained to us why using a polyfill can be useful. Well, mainly to patch the rendering of ie, obviously. And what the downsides are (speed, mainly). So choose wisely when to degrade gracefully and when to use a polyfill. Interesting ones are css3pie, html5shiv (in core in Drupal 8, thank you John Albin), modernizr.js and yepnope.js.

HTML 4S – While We Are Waiting for the Revolution

The last session was from Mortendk @mortendk. He preaches clean, semantically correct html and css and he showed us how he puts that in practice in his Mothership theme. Interesting are his foad-technique for removing core and module stysleheets, and his ongoing struggle within the Drupal community to make Drupal output proper html.
Anyone interested in this particular subject, there was this call, heard a few times during the conference, to start making themes in Drupal 8 right now and get your voice heard. Make it in Twig and report about what is good and what is not good about it. That is the only way the core developers will know what is wrong and what they have to do before Drupal 8 comes out (instead of complaining afterwards).

And on that bombshell, I close this review and thank the organisers (Bert Boerland, Isabell Schulz, Jesper Wøldiche, Marek Sotak, Morten Heide-Birch Jørgensen) and sponsors (NodeOne, Dutch Open Projects, Krimson, Omega8.cc) for an absolutely great conference.



Dude thanx so much for you participation in the sprint - it was wonderful to have fresh eyes on the topics instead of us that have been going around in circles :)