Render Conference 2017

Render Conference 2017

I’ve been attending Render Conference since it’s first run out as JQuery Conference  back in 2012.

It always has a great range of speakers and topics, and is brilliantly organised and run. Plus, it’s a chance to get my geek on with a whole load of other developers just down the road in Oxford, what’s not to love.

I always come away feeling inspired to try something new, or look at a different technique that might be an improvement on the way I have previously implemented a solution.

This year was no different.

Although I only managed to attend the second day of the conference, straight away the first talk  inspired me. In fact it was my favourite talk of the day.

Styling Hillary

Mina Markham spent nearly 2 years working at Hillary For America, and in her time there created a CSS architecture, before redesigning the website.

In doing this she created the pattern library Pantsuit. In her talk she took us through the process of creation and deployment of this across the independently managed domains under the site.

Caution, May contain politics

“Value being done over being perfect”

This was a key point I took from Mina, explaining that if they had waited for their work to be perfect it would never be ready on time.

But at the same time Mina explained that towards the end of the project there was a priority shift from maintainable to stable, which made me feel better thinking about projects of my own that have ended the same way.

Mina then told us about the unfortunate side of a high profile job, getting trolled by opposition supporters. Being a black woman working for Hillary Clinton made her a prime target for their hate.

I loved hearing from Mina, as a woman working in a male dominated industry it is always inspiring to hear from others who are successful in their field.

Also, Mina, clearly a woman taste, showed us how she filled the development site for HFA with pictures of Beyoncé as placeholders – introducing me to something I will now use in all my projects going forward –

“i just wanted it to look nice while i was working on it”

Render Beyonce Placeholders


CSS Grid

I’d seen Rachel Andrew give a talk about CSS Grid a couple of years ago, and although I liked the look of it, it wasn’t feasible to implement with the lack of browser support.

Fast forward to now, and browsers are finally ready to support it, and by the end of the year we should hopefully have about 70% support.

Rachel took us through how CSS Grid trumps Flexbox in certain situations, and the difference between the two.

“The minute you stop Flexbox from being flexible, you might need Grid Layout”

There was lots of lovely code demonstrations of multiple layouts, which you can delve into at It’s always better to see code in action when you’re are trying to understand it’s benefits.

Rachel also explained browser support and fallbacks, and best use of feature queries to implement this.

@supports( display:grid ) {}

Since the conference Microsoft have announced Grid support is going into development for Edge. Another step closer to browser support.

Death of the browser

Peter Gasston took us through the current state of the web, and what we can expect in the next few years. Focussing on the influx of no interface interactions, (think Siri, Amazon Echo).

Peter also, to my surprise, informed us that Facebook was actually the most used mobile browser last year. With 48% of all web pages served on iOS coming via Facebook.

Facebook now building on that with the introduction of FB Instant Articles, and we see similar technologies following, like AMP.

Peter also noted that QR codes are making a comeback – explaining that the only fault first time round was that phones don’t ship with QR readers.

We are currently seeing them used more frequently, by the likes of Snapchat, Twitter and Messenger, to share your user/contact detail.

Likeness of Web Design

I enjoyed Sarah Semark’s talk on web design – the main point I took away from it being that you should look everywhere for design inspiration.

Look at fashion magazines and their photography, film credits, textiles, graffiti, magazines, museums.

Sarah suggested, as an exercise, to try and recreate a magazine layout in CSS. Helping you to practice coding more exciting/challenging layouts, and to gain inspiration for future projects.

Progressive What Apps

Patrick Kettner gave a great demo of how service workers, and appcache, can make apps a whole lot better for the user when implemented right.

Making apps available offline becoming a lot easier now everyone is making the move to HTTPS.

Websites Are A Symptom, Not The Cause

Sally Jenkinson closed the conference with a great keynote, explaining how websites are more than just an endpoint.

Using the Obamacare site, and the negative press it received, Sally showed how this becomes mentally linked.

“When websites have problems, people remember.”

Render Bad Impressions

Failure of websites can lead to the end of long built reputations, and can even end businesses completely.

“Don’t just make websites. Use websites to point you in the direction of everything that could be better.”

A great day with brilliant array of speakers as usual, hoping for more of the same next year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *