2014 Fluent Conference Recap

Razorfish presentation layer engineers from around the U.S. recently converged on San Francisco for the 2014 Fluent Conference (the third instance of O’Reilly’s annual web conference on HTML5, JavaScript, and other web technologies). This year’s event marked several themes woven into the working sessions, presentations, and general thought leadership. Two that stand out in my mind were:

Tooling, Automation,** and Collaboration**

Hidden within the many sessions devoted to web production automation and collaboration, I discovered a few “debugging” oriented tools/techniques that caught my attention:

    • LiveReload: LiveReload is a browser plugin that allows code changes to apply without a page refresh (includes support for mobile devices). The tool also compiles abstraction layers for you (SASS/LESS, CoffeeScript, etc). Nice!
    • Ripple**: Apache Ripple (recently resurrected from the dead) is impressive, although not 100% bulletproof yet as a workflow/debugging tool (its still an emulator, after all). This Chrome based emulator is designed for Apache Cordova/PhoneGap debugging purposes, similar to the modern browser’s typical “web developer” tools. Check out the Accelerometer feature![fluent_image](/uploads/2014/04/fluent_image-300x246.jpg) **
    • GitHub**: **everyone’s favorite open source collaboration GIT repo is, of course, GitHub, which provided some insight into their integration of Git “pull requests” into their main web UI.

Is there a Frameworks War?

As JavaScript continues its relentless march towards being the defacto language of the web, and applications continue to grow in complexity, so has the proliferation of libraries and (so-called) “frameworks” to address the needs, particularly on the presentation layer. Although the comparisons between Ember and Angular were prevalent and suggestive of an existing “frameworks war,” the overall tone at the conference was deliberate in accentuating that various approaches can be accommodated, based on business needs.

Here is the most interesting part. Angular and Ember were well-represented entities at Fluent 2014. Each is a “framework” in its own right, with something to offer (and something it doesn’t).

Ember is closest to the tradition definition of “framework,” in that it is a specific toolbox for “building large, maintainable applications” and is designed with standard best practices in mind (in regards to templates, routing, models, etc.). The expectation (for success) is that developers will accept and follow its structural conventions, especially for Ember’s sweet spot: larger multi-page/navigational applications.

Angular is more of a toolbox for building your own framework. Core features such as modularity and dependency injection usually make it easier to test. The tool’s flexibility in defining the appropriate architecture for the particular need has obvious benefits, but often leads to the infamous “you’re doing it wrong” argument by competing philosophies. Hilarious. Suffice it to say that Angular has the larger mind share at this point, and is suited for smaller applications that won’t grow beyond their original design.

Author: Fred Welterlin Presentation Layer Technology Director - www.welterlin.com