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Vida Devs on Tour: All Day Hey!

On Thursday 5th May, our developers Jai and Gemma headed down to Leeds to catch a day of talks at the All Day Hey! Conference.

The conference was held at the Everyman Cinema, with Gemma and Jai attending in person, while Henry and Rhys joined remotely from the studio. To fill you in, we asked Gemma to share her highlights.

Emily Cressey – The Monster We Created

The first talk of the day came from Emily Cressy who discussed design systems, mostly in the context of Sketch. This talk wasn’t directly applicable to me as a developer, however it was still interesting, and actually turned out to be one of my favourite talks of the day as many of the underlying themes can still be applied to the development process.

She addressed the elephant in the room, being the misunderstanding of design systems, and explained what they are. She then went on to outline the benefits of using a design system, what you should include in them and some little tips and tricks to go along with it. The highlight of this talk had to be the fact Emily worked a Pitch Perfect 2 quote into her slides, and it was totally applicable. Just in case you’re wondering which one, “Sometimes you need to break things in order to fix things”: genius!

Stephanie Stimac – Building Beautiful Web Apps

Next up was Stephanie Stimac who talked about ‘Building Beautiful Web Apps’ and Progressive Web Apps (PWA); which she defined as “Progressively enhanced websites that function like native apps. Stephanie talked through many aspects of PWA’s, including;

  • UI Basics for PWAs
  • Responsive Considerations
  • User Experience Considerations

She shared a very useful website too, that serves as a little bit of a bible if you are building PWAs.

Stephanie ended her talk with “Sweat the details, be intentional” which is my favourite quote from the day and such an important concept that should be remembered throughout any working process.

Jhey Tompkins – Creative Coding

This was Jhey’s first ever talk at a conference apparently, but you wouldn’t have known! His talk was everything that I love about conferences – informative, fun, and demonstrated some amazing work, probing laughs along the way. Jhey talked about how to be creative with coding, showing examples of fun little projects he’s done over the years, and the mentality involved with coding in this context.

He wrapped up his talk with the what and the how of creative coding and told us all to forget about the why – because this simply didn’t matter. He reinforced the idea of making for yourself, and how perspective fuels creativity, which fuels innovation.

Lightning Talks

There was then a set of three lightning talks:

  • Rachel Skelton – Branding for Techies
  • Luke Murphy – Building Illustration Systems
  • Joanne Imlay – Unconscious mentoring

These were a great addition to the day, allowing for some more specific topics to be discussed in a way that was very informative and engaging, with some useful takeaways.

Cassidy Williams – Functional Programming in Javascript

I’ve followed Cassidy on Twitter for a while, for her hilarious videos and her useful tips and tricks she shares (if you don’t follow then I highly recommend). Sadly, Cassidy couldn’t be there in person, so her pre-recorded talk was played for everyone to enjoy. The topic was a little on the technical side, but it shared some interesting information and provided many laughs, especially with the positions and expressions Cassidy was in when the video was paused to allow for live coding to happen in the room.

Andy Bell – Be the browser’s mentor, not it’s Micromanager

Finally, the whole reason I wanted to attend All Day Hey! in the first place, Andy Bell’s talk on being the browser’s mentor, not it’s micromanager. Andy’s opening statement of his talk was “I’m going to change how you write CSS”, and since I’m writing this a month after attending, I can confirm that it has.

Andy talked about how everyone should get an excellent user experience, and you should use progressive enhancement to do this.

He created a website prior to the talk to demonstrate how he would do this, and explained how he built it using these ideas and his ‘Cube CSS‘ methodology.

The biggest thing I learned from this talk was about the clamp() function in CSS, and my mind has been blown – I’ve been wanting a function like for this for ages, totally unaware that it already existed. And this really has changed how I write CSS. If you’ve not heard of it, go and look into it NOW, I promise it will change your life (only if you’re a developer I’m afraid).

To sum up, Andy stated how everything he had shown us was to be the browser’s mentor, and that “you need to help it to help you”. Just an incredibly impressive talk and I was locked-in from start to finish.

It was a great day, the event was organised so well and the venue was a great choice with incredibly comfy sofas to enjoy all the talks from! I can’t wait for next year already!

If you want to learn more about All Day Hey, you can find more information on the event, speakers and photos from the day here.