August 17, 2015Web · London

Inside the 2015 Edge Conf

Camelia Dobrin

Facebook London was excited to host the fifth edition of the Edge Conference, which took place in late June and was organized by the London Web Performance Group. Edge is a special kind of conference about advanced web technologies, focused on discussions and debate and aimed at developers and browser vendors. All profits are donated to charity, and this year the conference donated over 13,000 pounds to CodeClub, a U.K.-wide network of free, volunteer-led after-school coding clubs for children ages 9 to 11.

The conference included speakers from various companies and featured panel debates and breakout sessions in which participants could delve into the subjects in more depth. Among the topics chosen for discussion were securing the web, identifying the current shortcomings of browser storage, the future of web components, and how to take all this and more into consideration when determining the baseline for which we should develop.


Panel: Security

The theme was the need to make security easy by default, and this panel discussed the value proposal of TLS and of the soon-to-be-released Let's Encrypt cert authority. The panel was formed by moderator Dan Appelquist (W3C TAG co-chair), Yan Zhu (Yahoo), Patrick Hamann (Financial Times), Mike West (Google), Virginie Galindo (Gemalto/W3C WebSec IG), and J. Alex Halderman (University of Michigan/Let's Encrypt).


Panel: Front End Data

This panel talked about the increasingly complex use cases of storage in browsers and the creative designs that developers have implemented. Support for persistence and syncing is hard to get right, and while there are some solutions, they are still lacking. The panel consisted of moderator Jake Archibald (Google), Nolan Lawson (Squarespace), Matt MacPherson (Mozilla), David Fahlander (Dexie.js), Jing Chen (Facebook), and Glynn Bird (IBM Cloudant).


Panel: Components and Modules

Web components were introduced years ago but have not yet reached the ubiquity expected, with only Chrome supporting a certain variation. Issues like the right encapsulation for them and the handling of Content Security Policy rules are still up for debate. Furthermore, the advent of React and other similar virtual DOM frameworks have provided solid alternatives. Panel participants included moderator Chris Heilmann (Microsoft), Guy Bedford (Verve Interactive), Ian Feather (Schibsted), Alex Russell (Google), Kaelig Deloumeau (FT Labs), and Christopher Chedeau (Facebook).


Panel: Progressive Enhancement

Progressive enhancement builds upon a common baseline, but where exactly the line should be drawn is a fluid decision. Apart from factors of feature support or performance, a more nuanced approach of user experience is needed. Participants on the panel were moderator Lyza Danger Gardner (Cloud Four), Remy Sharp (Left Logic), Jack Franklin (GoCardless), Jeremy Keith (Clearleft), James Kyle (Cloudflare), and Lee Byron (Facebook).


Closing Keynote: The Business of Sharing

Debbie Wosskow, CEO of Love Home Swap and chair of the trade body Sharing Economy UK, talks about the new sharing economy, including the alternative business models it brings about and the challenges it poses to the current systems of regulations.

For the full list of videos from the conference, see the Edge Conference 2015 playlist.

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