A Reflection on Day Two of An Event Apart Atlanta

The second day of An Event Apart has wrapped up. I would say that only one new theme emerged, a couple of talks tied in with one of yesterday's themes, and a couple of talks stood on their own ground.

Test Everything

The dominant theme in today's talks was the importance of testing. As builders on the web platform, we are accustomed to testing; it's long been an integral and needed part of the process. Jake Archibald summed it up well in his talk with the maxim "tools not rules," meaning that we should trust our own experiences and tests in the browser over the possibly outdated or simply incorrect advice from others. Jenn Lukas emphasized the need to test web fonts across browsers and across devices, as they may be rendered very differently. Sarah Parmenter's talk on data driven design had the great suggestion to treat intuition as experiments. If we have a hunch that a certain implementation or revision will result in a specific change, we should plan an experiment and test that hunch.[foot]Parmenter also wisely observed that our hunches and intuitions are nothing but the ingrained result of our personal experience and subconscious data gathering.[/foot] While not directly addressing the need for testing, Mat Marquis touched on it as he recounted the history of responsive image solutions. We need to test not only our designs, but our ideas, our hunches, and our solutions.

Continuing on "The Web is Complicated"

Staying on the theme from yesterday, Jake Archibald and Mat Marquis both demonstrated the complexity of the web. Archibald emphasized the diversity and seeming unpredictable nature of browser behavior while Marquis showed just how difficult it is to create, evolve, and implement web standards.

Unrelated Ideas

I didn't feel that Kevin Hoffman or Andrew Clarke's talks fit with any of the emerged themes, but they were both excellent talks. Perhaps I could shoehorn their ideas into my themes, but I think that would be a disservice to the points they were making.[foot]Hoffman talked about "experimental design," which could be thrown in with the "Test Everything" theme, and Clarke advised us to challenge ideas, which could also be grouped with "Test Everything."[/foot] Hoffman gave an inspiring talk on working collaboratively and effectively. I look forward to incorporating many of his ideas and suggestions into my projects. Clarke gave a very high-level closing talk, encouraging us, essentially, to be ourselves: to find the best medium for us to work in, to focus on results over methods, to challenge ourselves and others, and invest in achieving and contributing our own great ideas.

Other Takeaways

  • A responsive image solution is currently being implemented by some browsers!
  • Mat Marquis has a fantastic combination of gravitas and levity.
  • Jake Archibald know how to make an epic introduction.