A Newbie's Perspective: UpFront Conf

Jack Simpson

Head of Marketing and Communications

So it goes

Upfront Conference – headline sponsored this year by Tech Angels – was great! That is to say, I thought it was great. But as I’d never been to a conference before, I’m probably not the best judge of quality.

Still, that didn’t stop me having a thoroughly fun day. For a conference in its first year I’m especially impressed. I half expected to turn up and there’d be some sandwiches on a table while a lonely speaker stood at the front plugged into a bad PA system. In contrast, what we actually got was a smooth and well executed production. There were flashy visuals, nerdy jokes, even a crowd-participation demo or two, which my phone annoyingly decided it really didn’t want to be a part of.

Of particular interest to me was Brad Frost’s talk, Atomic Design. Which wouldn’t have been complete without plugging a tool he had a hand in developing. But since it’s a free tool, I’ll let him off. One of the most interesting things I found, as a conference novice, was how much of the day I spent engaged in the sessions. Almost constantly I found myself thinking about which concepts I could use in my day-to-day work at Web Apps, and which parts I would have to pencil in to play around with at a later date.

There were also sessions I really didn’t expect to care about that managed to defy my expectations. The typography talk by Richard Rutter for example wasn’t something I was looking forward to. And while I can’t say that I’ll be sweating the small stuff as much as he stressed in my workaday life, I will at least admit to the talk and his delivery being interesting enough to hold my notoriously short attention span.

Now I can’t say that UpFront was perfect. The venue wasn’t perfectly suited to a presentation which relied heavily on everyone in the wings viewing the projection screen. Not to mention the frequent, but thankfully quiet, rumbles of what I can only presume were trams going past overhead. There was also the odd technical hitch, we started a few minutes late and there was once or twice a bit of a kerfuffle getting various laptops connected for the speakers to use.

Despite, or perhaps because of these issues, I think UpFront was a resounding success. It was clear from the start that this was an event dreamt up by people who cared for front end development and there was a feeling that a lot of the speakers and attendees harboured a common passion. It’s safe to say that I’ll have my eye on going next year (hoping it manages to get funded and all the other things that need to happen to pull a conference like this off).
Well played UpFront … well played.


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