State of the Browser 2023 Trip Report
September 25, 2023
Thanks to my friend Henri Helvetica I learned about the State of the Browser conference. Henri spoke at the 2022 event and correctly surmised that I would enjoy myself there as the London Web Standards group are my type of people. So I bought a in-person ticket to the event and got myself over to London to take it all in.
Unfortunately, my trip was much shorter than originally planned due to reasons that I won’t explain because they are boring and not germane to the post. However, I’m very glad I decided to take the event in-person because I was treated with a day full of 5 star banger presentations.
The day started off with Dave Letorey welcoming us all to the conference and making the salient point that:
‘Earlier this year, Musk said “I’m going to make Twitter the everything app.” He’s wrong, the browser is the everything app.’
At that point I was ready to run through a wall if Dave asked me to.
Then he went on to describe the conference badges as save icons.
For those of us old enough to have used a 3.5" floppy disk, Dave quizzed us on how much storage space the disk provides.
1.44 MB and if your homepage doesn't fit on one of these you are doing it wrong.
Did I check the weight of my homepage before including this quote, yes, yes I did. I’m happy to report it is under 200 kb.
Then we got into the talks which were all extremely high quality. Here’s a few brief thoughts on each of them.
Web Standards: Does Anyone Actually Care? - Michael Lorek
- We should be validating our web pages. Most websites do not validate. My own homepage doesn’t validate and I’m going to dig in and fix those errors.
- There are over 1.1 billion websites on the internet but just over 200 million are active. A startling high percentage 43% are built with WordPress.
- There is inadequate teaching of HTML in our industry. I couldn’t agree more on this point.
It all means nothing in the end - Amy Hupe
- With apologies to all the other speakers, Amy’s talk was the standout of the day. I highly recommend watching her talk on burnout as we’ve all been or will get there at some point in our lives.
- The talk is hilarious.
- Amy is available for hire.
Accessibility Is Easy … Except for When It Isn’t - Ian Lloyd
- Ian did a great talk on a11y positing that the best way to be accessible is to use native HTML elements instead of building your own from scratch. I agree 100% and this is one of the reasons that I’m upset with Apple for blocking Web Components from extending anything other than HTMLElement.
- He also mentioned some interesting blog posts on how to style select and multi-select components.
Stop using JS for that: Moving features to CSS and HTML - Kilian Valkhof
The Blue PWAnet - Diego González
- Diego channelled his best David Attenborough to give us an update on where we are at with Progressive Web Applications.
Cache Rules Everything - Harry Roberts
- Harry provided a master class on caching.
- It all comes down to two headers,
- Slides are available and I plan on going over them again just to make sure we are not making any caching mistakes.
Exploring the Potential of the Web Speech API in Karaoke - Ana Rodrigues
- Ana builds a karaoke machine in the browser using the web speech API.
- I respect her willingness to sing to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star live on stage in front of an audience. I’ve never been that brave.
- As a former speech recognition engineer I really loved this talk and wish the web would make more progress in this area.
- She also recommended everyone watch Léonie Watson talk on Designing voice interfaces which I have to +1.
What Are Accessibility Overlays? -Heydon Pickering
- The final part of the talks was the world premier of Heydon’s latest web short.
- What Are Accessibility Overlays?
No London conference would be complete without a trip to the pub afterwards. I had the chance to meet and talk to a bunch of folks including (but not limited to) Katie Fenn, Nick F, Sophie Koonin and Alistair Shepherd. Special thanks to Alistair for my new favourite laptop sticker.
Would I recommend attending a future State of the Browser?
Yes, a thousand times yes.
Now, I just have to think of what I can submit for a presentation topic for next year.