FluentConf 2018 Review

Back in April of this year I responded to a tweet from O’Reilly by tweeting my own advertisement for FluentConf, their annual web conference:

I completely forgot about it for half a month until O’Reilly surprised me with this tweet:


FluentConf 2015 was outstanding, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to go back. I made the appropriate appeals to Kenzan management and, before I knew it, my plane was landing at SFO. (Pro Tip: Fly directly into San Jose. Yes, they have an airport. No, it’s not easier than flying to San Francisco and taking the trains down).

Since I last attended, the conference had moved from San Francisco to San Jose and moved later in the year from March to June. Velocity, O’Reilly’s platform-centric conference, happened to be occurring at the same time and venue as Fluent. The pass I won included access to Velocity, but I was having trouble picking between 50 talks at Fluent over two days, let alone 100 at both.  Every time slot at the conference had at least one talk I wanted to see, so I had to choose wisely. Here are the sessions I attended:

Wednesday Thursday
  • Creating a Reusable React Component Library
  • Frontend Developer’s Guide to GraphQL
  • Evolution of a Node.js Service
  • Keynotes
  • Offline Sync for Progressive Web Apps
  • 10 KB or Bust: The Delicate Power of Webpack and Babel
  • Future of JavaScript Modules
  • Reactive Programming: Why you should care and how to write more future-proof code
  • Modern Workflows: Aiming for Faster and Better Without Burning Out
  • Keynotes
  • Introduction to Micro-Frontends
  • What’s New in Angular

Of all the popular topics (React, Node, accessibility), front-end performance was this year’s central theme. This was evident in Brian Holt‘s “10 KB or Bust” session, Bradley Holt‘s “Offline Sync for Progressive Web Apps” session, and some of the talks I didn’t get to see:

  • Hacking Web Performance
  • Thinking PRPL
  • Raiders of the Fast Start: Frontend Performance Strategy
  • Meaningful UX performance metrics and how to improve them
  • Adaptive PWAs
  • Does it have to be a PWA?

Interestingly enough, I remember this being talked about at length at the 2015 FluentConf as well. Either the industry still hasn’t quite latched onto the idea *or* it has but is having trouble implementing it.

Key Takeaways

Micro-frontends are a hot topic. I’m on board with using separate frameworks on different application routes, but multiple frameworks on a single page doesn’t sound performant at all. Micro-UIs still make me a little uneasy:

The Angular tooling has come a long way since I last looked at it (2.x release candidate-era). The schematics CLI, which is an open platform for modifying projects, is absolutely fascinating. I found myself wondering if it could be applied to other frameworks to help with generating and updating codebases.

Cory Doctorow, Addy Osmani, and Scott Davis are incredibly charismatic and engaging speakers!

Design systems, which include pattern labs and styleguides, are still hard to pull off but are worth the effort.

Babel can be used to transpile Node.js down to CommonJS modules, so we can write ES Modules in Node now to future-proof our code.

Webpack and Babel are a front-end dev’s best friend when trying to slim down a build to reduce load times.

Offline browsing and caching makes for great user experiences, especially in areas with slow mobile connections, but it’s important to know your audience.

GraphQL is taking over the world and Apollo has a great toolset.

A company monorepo that includes a fork of Create React App could be more useful than a static boilerplate.

Once again, I really enjoyed attending FluentConf this year. It’s great to be in the same room as other folks yearning for exciting, new information, many of whom are dealing with the same problems that I am. Hopefully I can convince management to send more of us in 2019!

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