Frontend United

 

This weekend the first Frontendunited conference was organized in Amsterdam. This conference is the successor of Drupal Design camp. It was a great weekend with lots of interesting presentations on a wide range of subjects.

More than Drupal

It was also really nice to see that there were also presentations from people outside the Drupal community like Jeroen Weijering of the famous JW player and Jan Willem Tulp about data visualizations.

Video

Jeroen Weijering talked about the state of HTML5 video and what is still missing. One of the major issues to solve is the codec issue. The major browsers do not support the same codecs. So either you have to create 2 versions of every video or solve it with flash in one browser. The expectation is that Firefox will be supporting the H.264 codec in the future though. At this moment there are a lot of HTML5 video players available like JW Player, Sublime Video, medialement.js and VideoJS. You can find a list with some more with a comparison of features here. For JW Player and mediaelement there are Drupal modules available.

Data visualization

Jan Willem Tulp showed some amazing data visualizations he made. You can find his work here and I think it looks really amazing. He also mentioned some software he uses for creating those great looking interactive charts like the Java tool Processing  and the Javascript library http://mbostock.github.com/d3/. There is a sandbox project for D3 for Drupal that you can find here.

Drupal

Of course there were a lot of sessions targeted on Drupal. It was a Drupal conference after all.

CSS

There were a few sessions about wiring better and more optimized CSS and HTML for Drupal. Jan-yves Vanhvaerbeke talked about removing unneeded divs, css and javascript form Drupal; thinking about how to use css classes: try to be as generic as possible and use semantic classes, not the ones you get from Drupal. Graeme Blackwood talked about object oriented CSS. You can use tools like SASS and LESS to help you in structuring your CSS and think of it more in a "OO" way, but object oriented CSS is more a way of thinking. You can use this principle also without those tools. Once you get the principal it will help you to create more structured, reusable CSS code. The important principles of Object Oriented CSS are:

  • Separate structure and skin (use a grid)
  • Separate container and content

Great resources for learning more about OO CSS are the blog of Nicole Sullivan and the SMACSS book. You can find the slides of this presentation here.

Javascript

An interesting session was that of Théodore Biadala about Javascript performance. Drupal uses jQuery which means that if you want to do something with javascript you have to load the complete library of 32kb. His suggestion was dropping jQuery from Drupal and use AMD for the new javascript architecture with something as RequireJS. There is an issue on Drupal.org which you can find here.

Templating

René Bakx did a session about Twig and Drupal. The cool thing is that you can use it right now with the sandbox project found here. You can use a base theme that uses PHPTemplate and use Twig in your own one. However in practice I am using less and less tpl.php files because most of what I want to do can be handled with Display Suite and modules like Block Class and Skinr. You can find the slides here.

Final words

Triquanta was very happy to be able to sponsor this great event. I would like to thank all other sponsors, speakers, attendees and the organization for making this one of the best Drupal events I visited.

If you want more resources of a lot that has been discussed over the weekend, check out the list Baris Wanschers made on Delicious.