I suffer from a mindset that I think many of us have: I have lots of goals but am bad at celebrating once I reach one of them. I am acutely aware of all the ways I’m lacking, how little I know and understand of coding and the web. But while I was sitting in a chair in a beautiful building that used to be a church, surrounded by people, listening to the talks of people who shape the web, I tried to remind myself that I belong here. That I am just at the beginning of my path, yes, but at the same time I came this far already.
As I don’t have a history with CSS (yet), I didn’t get every throwback, all inside jokes and certainly not every technical aspect mentioned in the talks. But I understood most of it, I could follow along and form my own opinions on the topics discussed. The conference provided so much context for me; why we do things the way we do, where we’re coming from and how this informs where we are going. As these talks inspired me to try things, read up on things, build things, I had to stop myself from instantly setting new goals of what to learn next and take the time to be in the moment and celebrate myself for making it here instead. At least for a moment.
I won’t recount the core messages of each talk here, others have done so already and better than I could. The conference was recorded though, so check out the youtube channel. Instead I will go over some of the details that left a lasting impression on me.
Jeremy Keith opened the conference with a big picture keynote about the evolution of CSS and set us up perfectly, talking about how shared context and agreement are the foundation on which we all rely. He explained material honesty as using the right tools for the right job. As CSS evolves new features eventually become the standard, allowing us to ditch hacky workarounds and single purpose tools and move closer to materially honest code. He set the stage for the next 48 hours, reminding us: “CSS is simple, but not easy”.
Rachel Andrew then smoothly picked up the thread with her talk about Interop 2022, sharing how the project strives to bring us all the new features across different browsers. There are so many exciting new features being rolled out right now. Rachel, as well as many of the other speakers, reminded us to take part in the process, to give feedback, file bugs and demand the implementations we are missing. I was wondering beforehand if I would feel starstruck with so many well known people on stage, but I quickly realised that this truly is a community where everyone can participate as much or as little as they want. We are all human here.
Next Lea Verou zoomed us in even more, getting into the nitty gritty, making my head spin with her css variable tricks. The automated live coding of her story in four acts made me want to build something cool, like, right now.
The last talk of day one was a super fun presentation by Marcin Wichary talking about the history of fonts, keyboard shortcuts and the headaches of a designer. It wasn’t just entertaining to watch Marcins energy and his super cool slides. It also made me think about the “material quality” of the shapes we create on the screen.