Event Review: Web Unleashed 2014

FITC’s Web Unleashed was another successful event!

WEBUnleashed_250x250To start, the organization of the event was excellent. Everything is setup very professionally and finding sessions was as easy as pie – especially with the Web Unleashed app which even allowed attendees to create their own timetable and set reminders for specific sessions. Some speakers complained about bad WiFi; I found it to work flawlessly especially when compared to other conferences I’ve been to. There was always FITC staff around if attendees needed help, and all session rooms were located in the same place so it was easy to find sessions.

Even though it was titled a “a front-end developer event” the audience was diverse enough to allow attendees to see beyond their own nose and get some new inspiration. I was surprised by how talkative most people were, which I discovered was typical for an FITC event… you won’t sit by yourself for long before you find yourself in conversation about gulp, jquery and other web related topics. I met some nice people from different industries from Toronto and as well as from far away places like Switzerland.

The conference was also hosting a couple of booths from its sponsors. The conference bag contained the usual give-aways plus a free O’Reilly book from a good selection of conference related topics (available for download).

The selection of speakers was very good. From Dan Nagle‘s (Author and Senior Software Engineer) “Groundwork for a Modern Web UI”  covering some HTML5 basics for beginners to very advanced and specific topics like “User Interface Algorithms” presented by Mark DiMarco (Senior UI Engineer) or “Build Supercharged Web Apps with AngularJS” with Gerred Dillon (Developer Evangelist), the conference covered a broad range of topics. My personal toolbelt got stocked up with some new tools and concepts, some of which I’m now using on a daily basis.

As someone who is somewhat in the middle of design, development and project management I also appreciated the sessions covering workflow related themes. Mike Costanzo gave an inspiring talk about Rapid Interactive Prototyping and how it can improve the process of creating apps and websites. He also shared some insights on how designers can communicate effectively with their developers.

lannygeffenMy personal highlight was “Happy Clients, Happy Life!” with Lanny Geffen who is an excellent speaker plus has the practical experience to speak of most of the rather disheartening moments when working with clients and explained successfully which mindset to not only get back on the same page with clients, but taught how to be an advocate for their goals. As simple as that might sounds it can be a challenge to keep this mindset in the middle of revisions and feature requests. He was successful in pointing out the dynamics and presenting solutions for many of the challenging scenarios.

Also very interesting was Lisa Larson-Kelly‘s (Online Video & Communication Sherpa) talk about realtime communication using WebRTC. A glimpse into what to expect from the web in the future of the web was also offered by Mickey MacDonald (Microsoft) in his session “Unleashing the Power of 3D with WebGL”, showing some 3D that is natively running in the browser.

One of the highlights certainly was Dave Methvin’s (President, jQuery Foundation) presentation on “Foot-Gun Features to Avoid in jQuery” was a must for everyone working with jQuery on a daily basis.

I also enjoyed “Syncing Async” with Kyle Simpson (Open Web Evangelist, Getify Solutions). His presentation was packed with methods on how to keep code structured in the age of asynchronous interactions.

All speakers were open to talking with attendees after the session which was great to ask some more specific questions.

It’s important to note that Web Unleashed is no mega event. It’s a small conference with a total of four presentation rooms. This also explains the lower price point compared to other, larger events, as a ticket for Web Unleashed was available from $279 for both days. Well worth it!



Philipp Schöfer is Web Developer and Founder of Perspektive Web + Design