Chris Heilmann @ Fronteers 2015: Of Gaps, Fillers and Empty Spaces

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At the Fronteers Conference in Amsterdam in October 2015 developer / evangelist Chris Heilmann gave a talk about our desire as web developers to innovate ever faster, mostly motivated by our feeling that – despite the drive to implement an ever increasing number of software products as web applications – browsers and the web as a platform can’t yet compete with native platforms (specifically mobile ones) in many respects, to which belong for example: UI responsiveness, native look-and-feel and simple use of specific hardware features such as geolocation. The breakneck speed, at which new JavaScript frameworks keep popping up trying to fill in gaps and compensate for browsers’ shortcomings, simply is mind-boggling.

This innovation for innovation’s sake – as it sometimes appears to be – often makes us lose sight of what’s actually important: Solving users’ problems and perhaps even making the world a little better along the way.

We’re wasting our time racking our brain’s about which next-generation JavaScript and CSS frameworks to use while many users – particularly in large enterprise companies – still have to use IE 8. We’re bickering about things like Gulp vs. Grunt while we actually should be solving one of the countless real-life problems. We fret about React Native or Angular 2 trying to make up for the deficiencies of our platform (compared to native environments that is) while we should be embracing the web instead. In lieu of trying to recreate a native UX on the web our focus should be building upon the aspects that make the web unique: Sharing, linking and freely exchanging information.

In Chris’ own concise words:

“Web development is in a state of confusion. We feel we are not innovating enough, we are let down by browsers and OSes and we try to fill all these holes with home made remedies. It’s time to look at what we have, what we lost and what is a waste of our time.”

This talk is very much in the vein of his previous talk “Advancing the web without breaking it?” at beyond tellerrand last year in Düsseldorf. As usual he’s funny, thought-provoking and insightful, so the talk is worth watching in its entirety:

Christian Heilmann – Of Gaps, Fillers and Empty Spaces from Fronteers on Vimeo.

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