This week I had the pleasure to attend the 2012 Web Developers Conference in Bristol. The first event took place in 2007 and has been running annually ever since. Hosted in the Odeon cinema on Union Street and lasting a day, the event was packed with interesting and inspiring talks from a wide variety of speakers. Here's how it went down.

Kicking off proceedings was David Burton, head of innovation at Redweb. He came with a lot of talk about creativity and ideas, three of which I have listed below.

  • 'Our brain is a river of connections'. Large rivers are our experiences and the connections between those rivers are the ideas we are able to generate as a result of those experiences. Therefore, more experiences = more ideas. (Let's all do more stuff!)
  • 'Ideas are like plants'. You never know whether the idea will turn out to be a weed or a flower, so you shouldn't judge it too early. Ideas need to be nurtured, protected and allowed to grow until you can make a more informed decision on that idea.
  • 'We shouldn't make things because we can, we should make things that matter'

Rivers

Next up was Jack Franklin, a 20 year old developer working as a Software Engineer for Kainos. He gave a talk around writing better Javascript. Some of the more controversial points included ditching GUI's in favour of the command line and abandoning plugins so that you are forced to write your own. Not too sure I was feeling those suggestions but I can definitely get on board with using code quality checker jslint and script loader yepnope.js which he brought our attention to.

Keir Moffatt took the third slot of the day with a talk detailing the parallels between the Wild Wild West and the World Wide Web - the 'Wild Wild Web', as he calls it. Thought provoking, hilarious and with a spot of breakdancing in the middle (really!), it was one of my favourite talks of the day. He suggested that as coders we are all pioneers and that the things we create are evolving how we think, behave and interact, which lands us with a certain responsibility to consider the morality of what we are doing and think about quality control.

Mozilla man Shane Tomlinson took us up to lunch with a talk about data, identity and privacy online. We were shown interesting/worrying stats consisting of the biggest leaks of personal info from hacked databases over the last 12 months. Firefox addon 'collusion' was mentioned as a way to discover who is tracking you online and in real time.

Collusion

Hacker/developer Syd Lawrence opened the afternoon session with the most unorthodox slide backgrounds I have ever seen. It was an assault of full screen animated .gifs that at times showed some stomach churners. That aside, it was a pretty cool talk. Syd pushed the idea that as developers we should all have time to play at work, as giving developers time on their own projects would make a difference to overall happiness and attitude, which would in turn contribute positively to client work. He argued that many of his creations that had started out purely for fun had turned into money makers for his collective, www.wemakeawesomesh.it.

Creative technologist from Microsoft Andrew Spooner up next to give us some insight into what was considered when designing and building 'Windows Experience' (formally metro). Unfortunately for him he was running a development version of PowerPoint that set off the infamous 'xxx has encountered a problem and needs to close' dialogue box. Laughs all round. We got the overview on the Windows 8 native app system and some inside info concerning the apps themselves - they will be able to be built using HTML, CSS and Javascript.

Overall it was refreshing to hear a range of different perspectives and ideas. It really made me think about my place in our industry, what I wanted to achieve professionally and the new projects I wanted to start for fun. I walked away feeling like it was time well spent and looking forward to next year.