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Main themes of Future Frontend 2024

Juho Vepsäläinen

Planning the program is one of the complex parts of organizing a conference. Traditionally, we have gone with an invite-based model, although we did a Call for Papers (CFP) based attempt once. Instead of focusing on specific talks, we build our program with themed sessions and try to develop good speaker pairings to foster collaboration.

Although we have not yet fixed the final titles and descriptions for all of our talks, we have fixed enough on a thematic level that it is worth discussing further. For Future Frontend 2024 (13-14.6, Helsinki), the main themes are artificial intelligence (AI), design, and development. Our talks fit within these broader categories; sometimes, we touch on several topics within a single session.

From a pure developer conference to a mixture of development, design, and artificial intelligence🔗

This time, we have shifted from a pure web developer conference into a mixture of development, design, and artificial intelligence. With this shift, we believe we can provide insights for developers, designers, and product developers, particularly within the web space, as the web is the overarching theme of our event, as it always has been.

I believe the shift is good for the conference as it allows us to capture the main trends that occur in the interaction of AI, design, and development, and it is difficult for one of these themes to exist alone. Ideally, we'll be able to foster good discussions between people from different sides of the same coin and, therefore, have something to offer even for the most senior web experts.

Artificial intelligence🔗

Artificial intelligence is visible in our program in several ways. To address the fact that many of us are still getting started with it or have not jumped into the boat yet, we included an introduction-level workshop held at 11.6 (13:00-17:00) at Yle, Helsinki. Zak Allal will run the four-hour workshop, and you can get a spot for 149€ (inc. VAT).

AI will be visible across the conference schedule. We have an AI-focused session during the first day of the conference as Maggie Appleton and Matt Webb delve into the topic. Maggie will help us get into Large Language Models (LLMs) while Matt has focus on his recently successful Kickstarter for Poem/1: AI rhyming clock.

AI exists in Zak Allal's talk, initially titled "Learning Finnish using technology - Mission Impossible?". As a recent immigrant and a medical doctor, Zak had the challenge of learning Finnish fast. To tackle the problem, Zak applied AI to speed up his learning. I find this fascinating, as Finnish is a complex language to learn, unlike mainstream languages, and it has its own weird rules.

In Steve Ruiz's talk titled "Make Real: tldraw's accidental AI play", we learn how tldraw went accidentally in the direction of AI and what happened then. It's one of those talks where you see what business AI can enable.

Design🔗

Design has been a recurring theme in our conferences and makes a return this time. We have dedicated an entire block to it. Incidentally, Zak's AI talk will touch on design as well, and he will approach the topic from a design perspective and show how AI and design go together. Zak's talk will be complemented by a talk by Thaís Santos where she discusses the synergies between design and development and how collaboration between these two functions has transformed how we develop software these days.

Design is also visible in the "UI, Design, and Edge" session as Mohammad Khazali and Samuel Macleod delve into the topic in their joint talk. It will be a talk that mixes multiple topics and helps us to understand how to get the most out of edge computing.

Animation is an aspect of web design that often goes unnoticed or is not implemented. Rachel Nabors will show us the current state of the art and revisit an old project using modern techniques to understand what changed.

Development🔗

From a development perspective, we have several focused blocks available. The first day of the conference starts with the world of compilers as Yoav Ganbar from the Qwik team discusses Qwik 2.0 and how it's yet again changing the rules of web development. Jason Rametta, a TypeScript compiler-oriented speaker, will complement Yoav's talk. Jason will also run beginner and advanced-level TypeScript workshops, so participate to hone your skills.

We have a special treat for developers: a hands-on session that starts on the second day of the conference with Jo Franchetti and Luca Casonato. The idea is to get exposed to new technologies, such as jsr and Deno, in a fun way.

Last year, the green computing-focused block had the most questions, and it will return this year as Ben Holmes and Jari Porras collaborate on the session. Ben's talk will concern hammers, hurricanes, and HTML. The rest is a mystery.

Bonus - Standardization🔗

One thing we try to do with our conferences is to bring up topics that are not often discussed but deserve attention. Standardization is one of those topics, and this time, we are fortunate to collaborate with TC39 in the form of a session built around the topic.

By fortunate chance, TC39 will meet at Espoo during the conference week, and several members will be around during the second day of the conference. The standardization session will help you to understand what standardization is about, how TC39 works, and how you can contribute. In addition, we look at several proposals, including polyfilling with WebAssembly, typing, and standardizing signals.

Conclusion🔗

Although our conference runs only on a single track, we have created a good program in collaboration with our speakers. Although there might be sessions that aren't in your alley, that can be a good thing, as often it is those sessions where you can learn the most. The sessions are not only about consuming content; most, if not all, sessions will have a QA session at the end to capture your questions. Many speakers will also be available on the hallway track during our half-an-hour breaks.