Web Directions Conferences for web and digital professionals

The monumental developer track at our 2019 Summit

Banners at our 2018 Summit

From the beginning Web Directions has been about developing for the Web. When we began that was HTML and CSS. It was accessibility. And little else.

In the intervening 15 years, the complexity of what we build, and the stack of technologies, practices and concerns developers have to focus on has grown profoundly.`

All along, it’s been our mission to help our audience keep track of the technologies, patterns and practices we use to build for the Web.

At our 2019 Summit, we’ve got over a dozen in-depth sessions to help you and your colleagues keep up to date. It increasingly feels like a full time job doing so, so why not make it ours, while you get on with your job of delivering amazing products and experiences?

Let’s take a look at some of the key areas of focus for front end developers at this year’s Summit.


Fast loading pages are a fundamental requirement for developers–but as the amount of JavaScript, CSS and other assets we deliver ever increases, it’s a challenge that only itself increases.

So performance is always one of the key areas of focus at our developer events

At Summit 19 we have two significant performance focussed presentations.

  • Patrick Meenan, developer of the widely used WebPageTest, will get us up to speed with the state of Web performance in 2019. Patrick will explore different ways to measure the “user experience”, what the newer metrics like Time To Interactive mean and how best to detect and analyze performance issues.
  • Peter Wilson will revisit his 2016 presentation on HTTP/2, delivered when this new standard was still emerging into widespread use.
  • 3 years later, and “H2” is now widely adopted. But did the reality live up to the promise? Peter will dig in to the data to find out if it’s the technology or developers filling the space provided. Now that HTTP2 is an established technology, learn how to take advantage of the features it provides within the confines of reality.

For any front end developer, these sessions alone, with the potential impact on the performance of your sites and apps, will be worth the price of admission. But there’s much much more in store for you.

Modern Front End Technologies

The fundamental technologies we use to build our sites and apps are always evolving.

We have several sessions focussed on technologies and practices you may not yet be using, or using to their full potential, but which we think you should be.

  • Sara Soueidan is one of our industry’s most influential minds and voices, and it’s her breadth of understanding, of both technologies and their application that sets her apart, and makes her such a wonderful speaker.Sara will deliver a highly practical session, aimed at ensuring that the front-end foundations we build are as inclusive of and accessible to as many users as possible. It’ll be chock-full of tips for creating more accessible front-end foundations. If writing HTML, CSS, SVG and JavaScript is part of your job, then this talk is for you.
  • Just as accessibility helps ensure the widest possible audience for our content, so too does internationalising our sites and apps. Long a complex, and frustrating engineering task, today’s browsers are providing ever more in-built internationalisation options via the Intl.* APIs. Gilmore Davidson will give us an overview of what they do, and how you can support a wide array of locales without adding Yet Another Library to your stack.
  • While it feels at times like JavaScript is replacing HTML, and CSS, any performance expert will tell you that one key performance technique is to avoid JavaScript where you can. And one place we can really improve our performance is utilising the ever more sophisticated capabilities of CSS. In this session, Rhiana Heath will consider many common components that people are still reaching to JS to solve, when they can achieve the same thing with CSS. Things like: Modals, tooltips, mobile menus, accordions and carousels. Make your sites accessible to more people, and faster to boot, after Rhiana’s session.

Software Engineering for the Web

The term engineering is bandied about more and more when it comes to building for the Web. While some take exception to the use of the term, finding it grandiose, or unearned, let’s think about what we are building in 2019. In short, everything. Mission critical, highly performant systems used by billions of people. So, I’ve long advocated we should be taking lessons from the practice of software engineering, going back over half a century and more, and we’ve long incorporated sessions in our conferences that focus on precisely this. Summit ’19 is no exception.

In addition to our already visited performance sessions, here’s a number that fit into the Software Engineering category.

  • We largely think of APIs as something front end developers consume from the back end. In a component based world, we all consume and increasingly publish APIs. But what makes for an intuitive API? In this session, Slack’s head of developer relations, Bear Douglas, through case studies (incl. Facebook’s Open Graph, Slack’s workspace apps project) will examine the tradeoffs, consequences, and some thoughts about how to get your developer community to come along with you.
  • Keeping with the API theme, we’ve had several GraphQL focussed sessions at recent conferences. For Summit ’19 Ben Teese will step back and look at how GraphQL fits into the bigger picture. He’ll start by examining how the evolution of web development has led to a growing schism between ‘back-end’ and ‘front-end’ development, and how REST can sometimes exacerbate this problem.Next, he’ll argue why, for the sake of our users, web-developers shouldn’t just consider themselves to be ‘front-end’ developers, and instead need to take ownership of at least part of their backend too. Then Ben will show how, by accepting this, web developers can see GraphQL as not so much just a technology, but as a tool that empowers them to take back control of their destinies.
  • To round out our Software Engineering focussed sessions, Steve Morris will focus on SOLID, an approach to object oriented programming that emphasises 5 principles for building more understandable, flexible and maintainable apps, and how we can apply these principles to developing for the web.

Emerging Web Platform Capabilities

At the heart of the Web platform is the browser, and its capabilities, exposed to developers through the browser’s APIs. As browsers have moved toward an ‘evergreen’, auto-update model, new capabilities of the platform emerge and become widely available more quickly. One of our main areas of focus at Web Directions is to track and bring to you these capabilities. We’ve been very early to expose our audience to Service Workers, AppCache, CSS animation and transform capabilities, and much more besides, and this year is no exception. Here’s what we’ve got lined up for you.

  • Mandy Kerr will show us how there are many great Sensor & Browser APIs that you can take advantage of including Light Sensors, Gyroscopes and Audio and because these APIs are all available in more devices than you would think they are more accessible than ever. We’ll explore the the possibilities, tools and resources so you can get started creating engaging and creative effects, visualisations and experiences in your projects tomorrow.
  • Over the years, we’ve made it easier for users to do the right thing by security, from email-based verification to one-time passwords via email and security tokens. But nearly all these solutions require you to have your mobile phone, or security device with you. And if you’re overseas, you might have additional problems. In this session, Ben Dechrai will look at mechanisms for biometric authentication with web applications. All utilising the device capabilities of the browser. 
  • Machine learning has really come of age thanks to ever increasing compute power and access to troves of data, what if we could respect the privacy of the users and run it on their device without sending data to a central server. Introducing tensorflow.js a JavaScript implementation of the very popular ML library from Google, you can run it in inference mode or even train a model if you’d like. Yep, front end developers don’t have to miss out on the AI party afterall! Hear how with Ryan Seddon.
  • And to wrap it all up, Charlie Gerard will bring all these threads together and build a simple gesture recognition system using JavaScript, Arduino and Machine learning.

And much more

I think you’ll agree that is an incredibly in-depth, deeply valuable set of presentations. But that’s not all. As the field of design is operationalised, and design systems are increasingly adopted within organisations, this is an area in which many with a developer background are working. In our design track you’ll find sessions on design systems, design ops, and more. Our conferences are setup so you can easily move between tracks, and there’s no need to fear missing out on a session, as they are all video recorded, and available for conference Silver ticket holders. Read all about our design sessions here.

We make events for the professionals shaping the digital future

Learn more about us

Web Directions South is the must-attend event of the year for anyone serious about web development

Phil Whitehouse General Manager, DT Sydney

Join us in 2019:

  • Web Directions Code://remote 2020

    A global remote-only conference for JavaScript Developers and Front End Engineers.

    Exclusively Online September 2020

  • Web Directions Product://Remote Design & Management 2020

    A global remote-only conference–product design and product management.

    Exclusively Online November 2020

  • Web Directions Summit 2020

    A conference for the whole digital team–featuring product, design, front-end dev, and new people/talent/culture tracks.

    Sydney Late 2020, Early 2021