Cascadia Fest Conference

A couple of weeks ago, we both went to CascadiaFest, and had a fabulous time. The setting was a gorgeous resort near the Canadian border, and we were able to wade in the sea between talks, and look at herons and seals. Some people brought their kids and their partners and their dogs, which made the atmosphere at the social events more chilled out and fun.

Melinda in Puget Sound

The conference spanned three days, and each day had a theme, although it seemed like the scope of the talk topics widened each day.


Melinda: I was the most excited about this day, because it was more about design, art and (of course) CSS than the other days, and I feel like those are the places where I have the most to learn. I was surprised to see that many of the talks included live examples in CodePen.

Two of my favorite talks of the day were the one about implementing fractals in CSS, and the one that included the launch of a participatory art project. I felt like those were about pushing the bounds of what CSS could do.

The other talks that struck a chord with me were about empathy- a design talk about microinteractions , which was all about empathy for people using your product, and a talk about the design of development, which touched on things like having empathy for people using your dev tools, and working with you.

Kristina: I was excited to see the amount of creativity and drive in our community. John Brown’s talk about exploring CSS art through a 100-day project was especially motivating.

Our co-worker Mike Judge recently worked on a 100-day voxel art project, so it was inspiring to see how many directions that kind of project can take you.

I’m also a big history buff, so I really enjoyed Kenneth Ormandy’s talk on efficient web type through the context of early typesetters. Una Kravets’ talk about how we can improve the accessibility of open source projects for all contributors, not just developers, was a great note to close out the day on.

Browser Day

Melinda: My non-Javascript-background self was helped greatly by the talk about prototypal inheritance. And anyone who does signal processing and work with sounds in the browser wins a place in my heart. But as a curmudgeonly former tester, the talk about the fallibility of large systems had me mentally cheering the loudest. The reason that everything is broken, it turns out, boils down to human factors.

Kristina: Browser Day was my favorite day of the conference. Every talk was fabulous and interwove with each other in really relevant ways. If you have time, each talk is worth checking out.

If you want to get your mind blown, Andrei Kashcha’s network visualizations were stunning. If you want to understand why those visualizations are so impressive, check out Jana Beck’s talk on performance tools for visualizations. Ashley Williams’ talk about ES6 and whether Javascript is a good language to learn to code in was very relevant for me personally, having learned to code in the last year.

Server Day

Melinda: The best part of the day was clearly the fact that Marcy emceed it in a variety of costumes, including a bear suit. But if you want to hear about the talks, the ones about time, security in node modules, and mapping the entire internet were the ones that I liked the best.

Kristina: I agree, Marcy’s costumes were on point. My favorite talks from this day were Jennifer Wong on the value of simple explanations, Kevin Dela Rosa’s straightforward, beginner-friendly introduction to machine learning, and John Feminella’s talk on time.

If you’re sad you didn’t go, you can watch ALL OF THE TALKS here.

Melinda: My favorite part overall was meeting lots of cool people in a dev community that I’m relatively new to. Also, there was a lot about the human side of software development- over and over again, speakers reminded us that we were building things for a purpose, and for other people. I’d never been to a tech conference that was so human before.

Kristina: One of my favorite parts about the conference was its strong sense of community. I had consistently great conversations about everything from technology and social justice to bad movies and Arnold Palmers. I felt genuinely welcomed by the community, and would highly recommend attending the conference in the future.