Frontend United We came to Rock!

24 April 2012 mortendk

This weekend we had the first Frontend United (FU) conferences- the logical successor to the European baased "Drupal Design Camp" thats the European answer to Design 4 Drupal, where we wanna focus harder on Developerment than on Design, cause you might not know it - but Drupal theming is actully a ton of development where we dont use an ide!

Im was lucky enough to be a part of the the organizers for FU, & was dead lucky to have 4 badasses rocking harder than me. So the event turned out to be one of the best one I have been involved with so far (were up in DrupalCon Copenhagen level here)


First of all I'm so proud of where we have takend this concept of beeing a "themer-designer-ux-markupjunkie-javascript-hero" in the Drupal world - and are becoming an active part in the Drupal Development cycle & that the plan that Marek & me put down on paper over a beer in Copenhagen 2 years ago seems to hold \o/

Array of Doom

On Friday before the session, we had planned to set up a workshop & by demand of the "Arrays of Doom Codesprint" in San Francisco do a "What is it that you themers want" sprint. So we didn't end up with a situation with nagging themers in 2 years.

When we put together the program, we thought that the workshop would be around 20 people showing up, the code sprint might get about 5 attendees (at best) -which would be a good number for both. Instead a massive 80 people turned up to participate in the 4 hour Workshop & and we had about 10 people at the codesprint.

In the "Codesprint" we stated out with getting “all that is wrong from a frontend perspective down to paper. With no whatsoever focus on whats possible, why it is or why its there. we simply wanted to find the biggest painpoints

Usually when I have tried to do talks like this its allways ended up in 4 hours bitch-fest with a feeling of "fuck the devs they dont understand and/or hates us" or falling into rabit holes of discussions about security layers / cache whatever, that really has nothing to do with the markup & implementing a design.

At the same time a team was gathered in San Francisco that took over all of our notes & user stories and used them (we hope)
Due to the 9 hours time difference, we were not in such close communication as i might have hoped for (while San Francisco was coding - we went to the bar Drinking & talking markup love - hey whattaya expect) Now looking at the comments - it looks like we fitted in perfect with the devs.

Follow up success

On Saturday we did a follow up session of the array of doom sprint so those that had not been in the sprint had a chance to chip in & so we could make sure that the word spread
I hoped for maybe 20 people. It turned out that we filled the room with eager participents that wanted to know what was happening & what could be done. Again no bitch-fest but pure positive ideas & hopes for getting a better & extreme flexible theme layer

Allan Burke hammered on that its important that we now take it on our shoulders to help out the development community, cause its to late in 2 years to come & moan over lack of flexibility. I hope for a true storm of Frontenders participating in the future discussions & help pointing out what we needs & wants (so go to you keyboards gentlemen & ladies - The issueque is there for the taking!)
Sprint docs:

I am really glad that we could use Frontend United as a support group for the Code sprint in San Francisco - there was more synergy than even Bluemarine Syngergetics could muster!

The Sessions

It was clear from the beginning that we from an organizer point of view wanted a good mix fron "typical theme sessions" to find a couple of specialist in different fields (Javascript, css techniques, accessibility etc) and with a little luck we could end up with new speakers & bringing fresh blood into the range - if we were really lucky the Quality might even be good!

I only made it into 4 sessions (which is 3.5 times more than i did at the last DrupalCon) and im pissed off at my self for not beeing to everyone!

Those i made it into was:

how to tackle the hot new shit in an accessible way

the accessibility session that for once was not one long boring talk about you being sued if you didn't put ria roles inside you code - This was about getting it done (and cock pushups...)

twig & Drupal

I personally forced Rene to come to Amsterdam (and he paid for his own ticket!) to show what he had done with Twig He's been coding on this concept for years, since Drupal6 - but its been kinda in the dark. After I saw the mighty CHX claiming love for TWIG, it would probably be a good idea to get some info about twig in a hurry.
I got a introduction to twig & the big win imho would be the inheritence feature.

My hat off to Rene that dared to enter the lions den & show a little bit of what twig can do for us instead of using phpTemplate. I hope to begin to use it very soon to get some ideas of whats good & bad

the project sandbox is here

WTF is a polyfill

Allan did a great talk about wtf a polyfill really is (basically a patch to get ie to work) and came around a ton of them all - i learned from that i maybe is the only one atm that a billing my clients for IE7 support ;)


graeme blackwood did a good intro talk to the basics of OOCSS and why its a total win to use that aproach (which btw drupal atm is totally not using, due to its strict hook name system)

We had a great talk about OOCSS + a follow up discussion afterwards that was even better.

html4 S

Not to forget I did a recap of my session from DrupalCon Denver about HTML4S - hope people liked it, and those that are not on the html5 wagon can jump on it with out feeling like they are doint it all wrong

the hallway track

the rest of the time i personally was standing in the hallway discussin how to move this forward + some tender moments with the coffe where i tried to control all this info in my little head.

What i heard from ALL other attendees was that the rest of the sessions was pretty much ace. So it was a BIG mistake from our side not to have em all video recorded - Next time we will!

You the People

The attendees were absolutely fantastic!
Helpful and active in the discussion -they made the event to what it really was: an awesome frontend focused conference that didn't stop after the last session :)

Apparently it helped out a lot that we have changed the name to Frontend United. New attendees came because its wasn't just a design camp and it gave that sense of community around the ux, accessibility, markup & design that I personally hoped for

Normally attendees of drupal events is a majority of Developers not that I have anything against Developers! But it can be hard to move a discussion the right way, if we constantly have to ship focus from cache/security/boringstuff to what we as "themers" work with every day: browser inconsistency, mobil phones. designers & off course Drupal
It seemed to be from the discussions that people was keen on looking for solutions. the days of endless bitch-fest are over ;)

So of you were an attendee Thank you for coming - hope to see you next time - If you didn't came - well you will get your chance the next time ;)

As a side node how awesome was it that we collected 300€ for lunch because of a minor screwup in the budget, in under 2 minutes!

The Sponsors

Beeing a Dane it will always be hard for me to say Kind words about the Swedes (the fuckers walked over the ice & tried to burn down Copenhagen) But my hat off to Nodeone that not only signed up as platinum sponsors the second they could.
But also overdid themselves with the Cookiecutter Swag! … so you didn't here it here from the dane (but I was a little bit impressed)

Belgian long time Drupal Rockstars Krimson had apparently heard something the Nodeone stunt - so they rolled in a camping wagon & made sure that we all got to taste the 2. best thing coming out of Belgium: Duvel’s & there was a ton of them :)

Acquia came in and did Training the day before so we could be sure that we got new blood to the frontend warrior ranks.

Open Dutch made sure that we had enough candy during the event & that you can never say yes to enough times - and provided us with Bert Boertland and his hardworking dutch epicness :)

The last Gold sponsor - is so geeky that they just gave us money to make sure that we make Drupal Prettier - how cool is by doing that!

without all of these we would have ended up with a biiiiig minus - we actually ended up afaik with a very slight overhead of 1000€ - That were shipping off to the Drupal Association

Those that made it rock

We were a small group that have planned Frontend United for something for a long time (since the last one)
Isabell @murgeys - the Drupal Angel of Quatar.
Whom I apparently haven't scared away after we worked together at DrupalCon Copenhagen, made sure that the rest of us got the job done aka cracking the whip
Bert Bortland @bertboerland been in drupal since the dawn of time and old DA member
Marek @sotak - The original gangster with yours truly
Jesper Woeldich - The sensible dane, that unlike me thinks before he speaks

We got help front the Drupal Association this was also a good step forward to getting Frontend United into the "Drupal workflow"

Ifrik for giving us a place to be for the codesprints - sorry we turned up 100 people instead of the 35 ;)

Other Blogs about FU(n)


Next Time!

Keep an eye on @frontendunited or the website

I can allready promise you that we are working on the next one - where it will be in Europe we dont know, other than were moving it to another city & if you wanna help out please let us know

I am a very proud little frontend Drupal Warrior after this weekend, there was moments where i had to just sit silent & watch the conference & the discussions.
thank you all for coming - hope to see you again in the future our in the Frontend of Drupal \m/

btw pictures & links please post em in the comments :)

Freakin Great Job

I wish I could've made it. This sounds pretty damned amazing.... especially the sprints startign to clean up the kruft arrays. I also just realized that the initials for this are FU.

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On markup styles

Frontend United was a blast! Great to meet so many interesting people! I wrote a blog post on a possible markup style UI:

As Morten said, as frontenders, we have to raise our voices and change things in Drupal!
Chime in, and make the idea better!

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