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Infobip Shift Conference 2021

Want a real shift in perspective? Read about our experiences at the biggest Croatian dev conference.

On the 7th and 8th of September, we attended the Infobip Shift conference in Zadar, Croatia. Shift is primarily targeted towards developers and people that contribute to creating software in one way or another. We chose Infobip Shift because it had a great schedule of talks and workshops. Also, our colleagues, who went to previous editions of Shift, only had words of praise. In this blog, we are going to go through the talks that impacted us the most. Let’s go!

Don't Solve Problems, Eliminate Them by Kent C. Dodds

A great opening and motivational talk was held by Kent C. Dodds, a renowned JavaScript software engineer, and teacher. From the very first second, he engaged the listeners with his approach, illustrating different situations and bringing solutions for real-life challenges.

His premise was that avoiding problems is better than solving them because problems arise in every aspect of development. How often do you find yourself starting to build a solution to a problem and later realize that, in reality, this problem wasn’t relevant?

Don't try to solve challenges you don't have yet, says Kent. Instead of solving an issue, try to eliminate it. When you solve a problem, you almost certainly introduce maintenance for your solution and that might add additional complexities to your codebase and system. On the other hand, when you eliminate a problem, you don't have to think about it anymore because it no longer exists.

But… you're not Facebook by Kitze

On the same note as the previous talk, we continued with an inspiring speaker named Kitze. In his talk, he argues that you should probably stop solving challenges that have already been solved (by big guys such as Facebook).

Also, he suggests you reconsider your approach to defining problems and convince yourself to stop solving problems that don't exist. Because, when you think about it, how much of your time (and focus!) is spent solving one particular problem and finding out later on that this wasn't even a requirement for the product’s release.

Making Application Logic Visually Collaborative by David Khourshid

The founder of Stately, David Khourshid came to talk about achieving better collaborations among teams by using state machines and state charts to visualize an application’s logic.

Specifically, by using xstate.js, you can define an abstract representation of a system at a particular point in time. When an application is interacted with, events cause it to change state. Some familiar use cases would be user flows, multi step forms, business logic, etc. With XState, these flows are executable code that can be used to control the logic in your application.

We like the ability to visualize these flows with XState Visualizer and ideally, understand the complex logic so the entire team could easily review code, improve code readability, and prevent bugs.

One of the talks at Infobip Shift.

The Eternal Sunshine of the Zero Build Pipeline by Matthias Dugue

This speaker started with bottlenecks that front-end devs have while creating apps. In your usual front-end tooling, you have template engines, UI libraries, CSS preprocessors, bundlers, web dev servers, hot reloading, and so on.

He advocates a more developer-friendly environment. This would not only simplify the development experience but would make onboarding easier for new developers just starting in this field, without the need to know about overly complex web tooling.

Nowadays, over 90% of browsers support JavaScript Modules (ES Modules). Before ESM, we needed to manage dependencies with NPM/Yarn, use tools for linting, formatting, use transpilers (Babel), then pack everything from the app (JS, styles, assets) using Webpack, and bundle it for production.

Matthias says that compiling for production should not be mandatory during development. Moreover, to improve developer experience, we can already take the advantage of ESM in our browsers. That means there isn't a need for additional tooling.

Instead, we can start using native ESM-based dev servers, such as Vite, Snowpack, and WMR without any configuration or plugins by default.

New Adventures in Front-End, 2021 Edition

Vitaly Freidman, the Creative Lead at Smashing Magazine, held three amazing workshops and one talk, focusing on the lesser known parts of Front-End development, as well as some features coming in the near future.

It's hard to compress 5 hours of workshops/talks down to a few sentences in a blog. But, some of the things we covered were:

  • Advanced and experimental features of dev tools,
  • Webfonts and their performance impact,
  • AVIF Images,
  • CSS Container query, accent color and aspect ratios,
  • Optimizing image loading.

There were many more topics, too many to count. His presentation had over 20,000 slides! That’s the level of detail Vitaly commits to when researching or teaching something. If you are ever in a position to listen to one of Vitaly’s talks, or even better attend his workshop, we strongly encourage you to pursue that opportunity. That amount of knowledge and experience is rarely found in one place.

Our final takeaway

We learned a ton and met a lot of great people along the way. The only minor complaint we would address is that the workshops had a small and limited capacity (around 20ish places), there were quite a few people that tried to get in but couldn't fit in the small classrooms.

Overall the conference was amazing! Next year we will surely attend again, we don’t think there is a better conference in this part of Europe.

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