My trip to jQueryTO

Over the weekend, I went to the jQueryTO conference in Toronto along with Drew and another colleague from work. I’m not a pure jQuery developer by trade – sure, I know a bit about it, and I use it to do my AJAX calls, stuff like that, but I’m not coding in it all the time – so I wasn’t sure how much benefit I’d see from it. As it turned out, jQueryTO really opened my eyes – it didn’t just have some amazing JavaScript-related stuff that I could look to implement in my own apps, but also had a lot of useful information for more general use.

Of course there was some jQuery-specific stuff; the first keynote, in fact, was a chat about the state of jQuery and how it was evolving. That in and of itself was a pretty big deal for me, since I am planning FastInviter to be as universally accessible as possible. Following that was a much more general but definitely interesting talk from Lea Verou regarding the state of color and how things will be changing with color in CSS4. Call me a nerd, but I found that really interesting; a lot of the changes seem like they’re going to be way more intuitive for design.

Speaking of design, that was one thing that really changed for me at this conference. Before coming to jQueryTO, I didn’t get very excited about designing webpages. I took a lot of shortcuts using Bootstrap to style things, because it was so easy. Unfortunately, just attending a conference doesn’t make me good at design; however, I’m certainly interested in learning more now. I might switch to something like Semantic UI, though. Since I still don’t feel comfortable designing my own responsive framework, using something that I can build more from the ground up and apply my own color schemes and templating as I go seems like a good plan.

I also learned a lot about general coding philosophy and conventions, interestingly enough. A couple of the talks that I was really taken by – Nahim Nasser‘s talk on bad practices and anti-patterns in software design really opened my eyes to some things that I should be rethinking, and Dave Methvin‘s talk on JavaScript performance gave me a lot of insight into how to troubleshoot my applications. In fact, there’s a slow-running plugin that’s bogging down an app I wrote a few months back; I’m planning to use some of the strategies from his talk to troubleshoot it.

Emergent technologies was another pretty cool thing that came up at jQueryTO. Michelle Bugave an amazing talk on WebRTC and how JavaScript could be leveraged for server-free chat and video between peers, which was really stunning. Johnny Benson‘s talk on real-time error reporting on Tumblr really blew me away, though. Being able to get real-time data when my JavaScript breaks would be a huge boon to proactively making experiences better for my users, and I’m looking forward to trying to make it work in my current applications. Finally, Nadim Kobeissi gave an inspired talk on cryptography in the browser; while I won’t pretend to be an expert in the field, I am super excited to see where this goes in the near future. The passion that he had in his talk really blew me away.

jQueryTO 2014 closed with a really great presentation from Verold‘s CEO, Ross McKegney, on Three.js, WebGL, and the future of web design. The things he showed off in terms of where the web is headed were stunning – and his announcement and video of Verold Studio was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I’m so excited to get my hands on it and start playing with all of the stuff it can do.

Of course, I couldn’t take a trip to Toronto without taking the time to have some great food from Canadian restaurants. Dinner on Saturday was at Smoke’s Poutinerie – some of the best poutine in Ontario. We left before dinner on Sunday, but still managed to snag lunch at theWorks Burger Bistro, a chain that looks to be fairly concentrated in Ontario and Quebec. We were all quite impressed with the food there as well; I personally have to recommend the Dead Ringer burger. While these were the only places we were able to visit, I have quite the list of places for next time. I’m planning to visit the city again this April, so hopefully I’ll be able to try some more places then!

Despite my being a relative novice in jQuery, jQueryTO was a great experience for me. It ended up being so much more than just JavaScript related technologies – instead, I learned about constructive software development practices, upcoming technologies that I need to stay on top of, and new ideas to implement in my existing applications. I can’t wait until jQueryTO 2015!

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