Events are part of the lifeblood of the web development community, an opportunity to learn from talented people, share your own experience, meet new people and get excited about what you’re doing. We’ve gained a huge amount of value from attending events, whether they are large international conferences, meetups, unconferences or simply informal and hastily arranged hangouts with some people with common interests.
Earlier this year, we started thinking we should host our own event. Our experience had shown us that although there are a lot of accessible conferences teaching established best practices, there are fewer opportunities for developers to come together and talk about the very newest stuff – stuff that may not have even got to a beta browser yet.
This kind of stuff tends to be talked about in the more rarified atmosphere of W3C working groups, mailing lists and bug trackers, and it can be a daunting place for anyone not used to the intellectual fray of standards-building.
We’re not opposed to the way standards are built, but we think it’s time to get more people involved, earlier in the process, in a more accessible way. If a developer wants to solve a problem that a proposed web technology will solve, they’re unlikely to want to wait for it to land in browsers (and for their target audience to upgrade to that browser), so in the meantime they’ll find a workaround. The workaround they choose to use is a valuable input into the way we build the technology that will eventually make the workaround redundant, but finding examples of these is often really hard.
I’m pretty new to poking my nose into working group mailing lists, but I’ve noticed a common theme is a hunt for use cases. There’s a real desire from all sides to make things that will work well, and finding the key use cases that help to shape a new technology makes the difference between something everyone can embrace immediately, and something that ends up holding us back.
So, we present Edge, a new kind of conference. We say that because rather than invite submissions, we have curated seven very straightforwardly named sessions on different aspects of advanced web technologies:
- Responsive layout
- Privileged access
- Testing and tooling
We hand picked panellists to offer a diverse range of perspectives and experience, and we designed a format that we hope will encourage free flowing discussion. We also vetted delegates, choosing those that we thought would be best able to contribute to the discussion, because we want Edge to be a collaboration between all participants. The panellists are actually there as much to learn from the delegates as the other way around.
We actually planned to make Edge quite small, but when we approached Facebook London and Google about the idea, they were so enthusiastic with their support that the conference has become larger and more complex than we ever imagined.
It’s quite a risk, especially with so many superb contributors giving up their time and money to join us, but with luck the format will work and it will be worth the effort.
I’m a bit late posting this, as we are already completely sold out (sorry!). But you can sign up to our event mailing list and we’ll drop you a line when we organise another event that you might be interested in, along with news about Edge and how you can access the videos and other resources created by the event.