Two and a Half Weeks: Four Talks

Disclaimer: It has been exactly 20 days but it felt like two weeks and a half. And it sounds better.

I did it again. Actually after having done a conference marathon last year with my talk about our large scale CSS refactoring project aka Project Ironman I thought I’ll never do something like this again. Either it might not happen again or I might decide to don’t do such an exhausting (but great) thing again.

After I did a small break after ScotlandCSS in June last year I did another presentation at a local Google Developer Devfest in Düsseldorf last year. I put the refactoring into its bigger context (roll-out of a Design System) and called the talk “Rebuilding an aircraft on the fly“. The feedback was overwhelming and actually I’m so passionated about Design Systems and like to be involved and contribute to its community and if it just sharing some experiences we’ve made I thought to do something with this on maybe one or two conferences in 2017.

It basically started in Sofia end of March. I had been invited to speak at MobCon Europe. I’ve prepared a 135 slides slidedeck about our journey with rebuilding our UI at large scale and rolling out a Design System. The feedback of my session was overwhelming as the survey after my talk revealed:

Learning Value: 4.42
Session Content: 4.68
Speaker’s Pace & Timing: 4.58
Speaker’s slides: 4.89
Speaker’sProfessionalism: 4.79
Audience Engagement: 3.89
Speaker’s Knowledge: 4.95
Average Result: 4.6

The rating scale was from 1 – 5 and this are the results of 19 votes. Given that around 200 people attended my talk this is the evaluation of 10% of the audience.

I wouldn’t apply / submit for a talk if I wouldn’t be sure that the content is good but I didn’t expect people perceive it as that good.

So it came that I had a tough schedule ahead I felt confident to commit to after my experiences with the new talk topic.

12nd May – WeAreDevelopers, Vienna
23rd May – Code Europe, Wroclaw
25th May – Code Europe, Warsaw
1st June – Shift Conference, Split

WeAreDevelopers

Oh. I got sick the weekend before and two days before the event I even had to call in sick at work. Some medicine and hours of sleep later I made it to the Airport on the 10th of May.
I was nervous already the weeks before. People might think it gets easier and if you’ve already spoken at more than 10 conferences than it becomes like a routine to do a talk. That’s not how it is for me. You do more talks, you gain more experience, you want to get better, you have higher expectations in yourself, the audience might have heard of you, they might have a higher expectation as well, people paid for your talk etc. All this came to my mind after having done my first talks.
Back to Vienna. I had a good flight, took the City Airport Train and bought a 72h Vienna ticket for public transportation.
I arrived at Ruby Marie Hotel. I  have been at a lot of fantastic hotels before, especially because trivago offers from time to time a very luxury company trip but this Hotel was so lovely and I loved every detail. Have a look at the picture which I took at the rooftop before leaving Vienna on Saturday the 13th.

I was super tired but wanted to get to Schloss Schönnbrunn on the day of my arrival. When I’m at locations for public speaking engagements I normally do “sightseeing speed dating” with a very tough schedule. Schloss Schönnbrunn was on my schedule this time. I ruined a super market next to the Hotel with picking up a beer and accidentally throwing a couple of cans of the floor. Some exploded. What a mess.  But Schloss Schönnbrunn was worth the visit.

One reason why I was nervous this time was the amount of people at the conference. At the end it have been ~3800. The queue was bit long and people had to wait. 4 coffee machines for all of them. Developers tend to get sad if they don’t get coffee. The venue was super cool. The Marx Halle in Wien. The main stage was incredibly huge with space for around ~1600 people. Impressive in size. The biggest event I have ever been to.

I’ve spent the first day with a lot of networking, doing some finetuning of my slidedeck and listening to talks. My personal highlight was the talk of John Romero about the early days of ID Software and every time he asked, who had played this game I could raise my hand. I played them all. In god mode because I was 12 and afraid of all those monsters.
At the end of the first day there was a speaker party which I attended for a couple of hours before leaving around midnight to the hotel.

The day of the talk. I’m always in a tunnel already at breakfast. My talk was scheduled at 10.30am. A perfect time for me. I went to Harry’s talk to get a bit distraction before my talk and went over to my stage at 10.15am.

The room offered seats for around 330 people, but more than additional 50 to 100 hundred were standing around. The challenge of that talk was that I basically somehow squeezed the 45 minutes talk from Sofia into a 30 minutes talk. I had 119 slides instead of 135. I had to go through the story very fast but I followed the thread and at the end I’ve exceeded my talk time with 1 minute which was also ok because there was a break after my talk. Otherwise exceeding your talk limit might be unfair to the following speaker.

Questions came up, and people came to me in person and we discussed in a small round about Design Systems. Others provided me with nice and valuable feedback while I did a small walk through the venue after my talk. One of the nicest feedback you can get is when people tell you your talk motivated and inspired them.

I went to the hotel in the late afternoon to get an hour of rest and enjoyed another speed sightseeing tour in the evening.

Thank you Vienna. Thank you WeAreDevelopers.

Slides of my talk: https://speakerdeck.com/creinartz/rebuilding-an-aircraft-on-the-fly-2
The recording of my talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quMHbpWZieo

Code Europe Wroclaw & Warsaw

I’ve changed my talk from Vienna a bit. The session length for Code Europe was again 45 minutes and I put a bit more focus on the early history of UI development at trivago. All in all the story has been the same but with a bit of different content and focus. I actually have never done the same talk twice.

Hello Wroclaw. There’s only one high building.

What a tiny cute Airport. When I entered the entrance hall there was a Code Europe booth and people I’ve never met before where smiling and waving at me. What a nice welcome. The first time in the next days where I thought: Wow this is greatly organized with a lot of love to the details. And kept thinking this during my whole stay in Poland organized by CodeEurope. I shook hands with the people and have been told that the driver which gets me to the Hotel will arrive in 5 minutes. So he did. And I’ve met Ian Philpot. We were brought with a 20 minute ride to the Hotel. We couldn’t check in because it was 1:15pm and the rooms are not available before 3pm. So Beers.

I entered my room at 4.30pm. I did a 1 hour nap and made myself ready for the welcome drinks session in the hotel at 6pm. I’ve received a message from the organizers that I can pick up a package at the reception.

Wow. Thank you!

I went to the welcome drink session, took accidentally the strongest craft beer available and realized I was already tipsy.

The conference day Wroclaw. Did I mention the organisation? There was a shuttle plan and one bus and a taxi were driving between Hotel and venue nearly every hour. I took the first bus although my talk was at 12.45, but I’m  not going just to speak myself I also want to contribute to the conference as an attendee. The venue was lovely, a lot of stages, I think it have been 6 or 7. I explored mine and I liked it.

I visited a few talks and went to the VIP room around 10pm. Such a lovely venue. But now preparation time for my talk. I was more nervous than I needed to be but on the other hand I wanted to deliver a decent talk. Coffee, charging laptop, toilet, coffee, toilet, toilet. That’s how the last hour before my talk looked liked.

I went on stage on did my talk. It went very good, I was confident and on 100%. The room was overcrowded like at WeAreDevs, I guess it could have been around 400 people. But then something happened. After around 75-80% of my talk the microphone didn’t work anymore. I realized it but continued because also nobody from the technicians seem to be at their desk. But after a few seconds I stopped and people from the audience mentioned they couldn’t hear me. Oh. F***. What to do now? I looked to my left where the table of the technician was but apparently he wasn’t there. I was once again reminded from the audience that my microphone still didn’t work. So then let’s see how can I fix it, so I went off the stage to the area of the technician. When I arrived 20 meters later at his desk, he suddenly jump up on his chair. Apparently he had taken a nap during my talk. I was highly irritated but apparently he as well. He handed me another microphone and apologized. Some people were laughing about this situation. “So what?” I thought and went back to stage, a bit out of the flow I went a couple of slides back and finished the talk.

I answered again some questions in person and did a small video interview for a local tv station.

I spent the day with listening to other talks and networking with other attendees and speakers. In the evening we had a speaker dinner in the old town of Wroclaw. Nice food, nice chats and a lovely location.

We were brought back to the Hotel at 11.30pm and at the next morning we had a transfer by bus to Warsaw. The Wifi within the bus didn’t work. But also most people including myself spent the time with some chats, reading a book, watching a moving or doing a nap.

During that time somebody dropped that tweet to me.

Thank you very much Luke! Love that shot.

I was very much looking forward to Warsaw and I have not been disappointed when we arrived in Polands capital. Impressive, especially the Palace and all the modern Skyscrapers around. Check-in at the Hotel. I had planned to go a free sightseeing tour which should start at the Palace with another speaker. From the window it looked like it is only a 10 minutes walk.

I went to my room and did an interview call for a german magazine and there was a CSS-in-JS discussion in the trivago tech slack channels, where I thought I should leave my two cents in. At 3.45pm I realized I have to leave when I want to attend the tour, so I did. But the Palace was 20 minutes away through a labyrinth of tunnels under the streets. And when I arrived at the Palace I realized the starting point was somewhere else, Google said I had to walk 2.1km. WTF. No. And the Internet connection broke. I walked around a bit at the palace and then it started raining and then I’ve ended up in the office of a big global tech company. Networking and having a coffee.

In the evening I attended another Welcome drink session and spent the evening at the bar of the Hotel. I was sober but I did not really sleep well. The location in Warsaw was the stadium. Yes the one that had been build for the UEFA European Championship 2012.

I arrived a bit later as planned at around 11am at the venue and the organizers were so nice to give a bit of a tour through the inner stadium.

My talk was scheduled at 17.25, the last slot. And my energy went down every minute of the day, I felt like my batteries are completely drained. Back to the speaker lounge, coffee and coffee, a walk in the fresh air, more coffee. My Garmin Vivoactive HR realized with its optical heart rate sensor that I shouldn’t drink any coffee anymore.

It ended up in one the most hardest talks I’ve ever done, despite the one I’ve done after nearly not sleeping at all last year in Amsterdam but somehow I made it. This are maybe the situations where you get better in with a bit of experience. I made my performance, there were only very few free seats left in the room. And I’ve had some nice chats again after my talk.

Another speaker dinner at the evening and my alarm clock was set to 4.30am. I took the first shuttle to the airport at 5am, slept there for 1h again and took my plane at 8.30am.

I arrived at home around noon somehow made it through the afternoon and fall asleep in the evening. I slept 16h.

Slides of my talk: https://speakerdeck.com/creinartz/design-systems-engineering-scaling-user-interfaces-at-trivago

Shift Conference

5 days after my talk in Warsaw I found myself in a plane again. This time to Shift Conference, a single track conference in Split. Apparently with Croatia Airlines everybody gets a snack and two drinks. Have a look Air Berlin, Eurowings and Co.

Oh and what a beautiful view while landing:

Boris – my driver – picked me up at Split Airport and brought me to my Hotel. It was already late, 8pm. So I bought some food on the street next to the Hotel and went to bed early. After removing my contact lenses I found out that I apparently forgot my glasses. I searched for them without seeing much in my luggage but couldn’t find them.

I had a good night and after breakfast I walked to the venue which was around 1km from the Hotel. In. A. Theatre.

I registered and had a look at the very majestic venue and its stage. Oh. My. God.

My talk was scheduled at 15.15pm. So I’ve watched a couple of talks. Most impressive was to see how Chris Heilmann did his talk although only in the beginning the slides were shown, basically he had to do his talk without that the audience could see his slides. What a speaker machine.
I also hoped to not run into technical issues this time, after the microphone situation at Code Europe and in April when I did a live demo at Symfony Live I had to interrupt my talk for about 5-7 minutes until the beamer had been fixed.

30 minutes before my talk I went backstage. There was a small break before my talk. Here’s a picture I took after I’ve set up my macbook.

Here’s another picture after I had been introduced and walked to the speaker desk while my intro song was played. I had chosen “Let there be rock” by Tocotronic. Actually I was super excited but because lots of lights were spot on me it was somehow hard to see something, that’s why I look a bit serious. This was such a amazing moment going on that stage.

My talk was perceived well. I also had the feeling it went well, I have only seen 50% of the recording yet but I’m satisfied so far. I’m reading still too much speaker notes but it helps me to follow the thread and do my talk in time. But something I want to improve if I’m speaking again. But also I think its particular difficult if you adjust your talk for every conference.
I had some really long chats with some attendees after my talk. We planned to stay in touch.

The speaker dinner on the first day was Diocletian Place in the old town of Split. What a venue for a speaker dinner. I found a horse there.

But this was only the beginning. There was a official party at a club in the middle of Split, the Central the Club.

I don’t go too often into clubs anymore but after this amazing day it was no question whether to go or not. Again I got some nice feedback from attendees about my talk and had several other nice chats. What a great location to end the day of a speaking engagement.

Day 2 of Split Conference. I was especially looking forward to the talk of Una Kravets and Laura Carvajal. And I was not disappointed after their talks. It was more the opposite. My expectations have been exceeded. Especially Laura’s talk was very informative for me because accessibility is a topic which I’m very passionated about too and it was so interesting to get some insights and learnings from the Financial Times.

As I was not really hungry I’ve used the lunchtime of around 90 minutes to walk around Split and Split Port.

There was another speaker dinner at the Gallery of Fine Arts which offered the opportunity for another couple of nice chats with other speakers.

I left not too late because I had to get up at 4.20am because Boris was picking up Laura and me at 5am so that we could get our planes. Boris was very reliable. The driver you wish for.

Heading back home. And the Alps. I love the Alps.

It has been a great time. I’m grateful to have been part of the conferences and happy that everything went well.

Slides of my talk: https://speakerdeck.com/creinartz/design-systems-engineering-scaling-user-interfaces-at-trivago-1
The recording of my talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qBNo0PjKyM

Noslidesconf, coffee & Bologna

It all started in August this year. Christian Heilmann tweeted something about a conference without slides, just hands-on and live coding. Challenging I thought and after I had a break of a few weeks after my Project Ironman tour I decided to apply.

I do love challenges. And I already had a good idea: I wanted to live code something with our large scale codebase at trivago. I thought this might be very interesting to see how we do live changes to our codebase, e.g. implementing an A/B test. I submitted a very vague proposal about this idea and asked the organisers to tell me whether they were interested. They did so and came back to me in October and asked for my a final abstract. Things became serious.

So I’ve submitted my final abstract:

Let us build a feature on Trivago
A feature implementation in the production codebase of one of the biggest metasearch engines worldwide. Trivago is a highly data driven company and this session will show how we implement an A/B test into our core product. The demo will show the lifecycle of a feature, from implementation, through testing, review and finally to deployment.

Wohoo! The first step was done.

This was the moment were I became really aware of what this actually meant. Yes live coding is already a challenge but relying on a very good internet connection and assuming that all internal systems and services were fully available on a Saturday morning is a step further.

So now I had to do a few things: I had to make sure that the systems are available, that the deployment works, that my local environment works, my VPN connection is stable and that some people are volunteering to do a code review remotely on a Saturday morning. I could write an own article about the awesomeness of my colleagues, but I keep it just short: None of that was a problem.

I did some trials, but what should I say none of them really worked out, at one I completely fu**** up the git branch, the other time I did a super nasty typo which took me ten minutes to discover and another time I had massive problems with the display port to HDMI adapter which caused me to do a reboot. D’OH! So this meant I had one try, what could possibly go wrong? At least I was confident about the story.

From what I’ve learned from my conference talks throughout the year, be early enough at the location especially if you have never visited the area before. So I decided based on the available flights to go on Friday noon so that there is enough time to clarify a few things which are important:
1) How do I get to the venue (I normally choose a Hotel as near as possible to the venue especially if I do have an opening slot to avoid any hassle e.g. with public transportation in the morning)
2) Where do I get a coffee? (More on that later)
3) How do I get from A to B. E.g. for a speaker dinner, do some sightseeing or visit a possible after party.
4) I might be hungry and thirsty, so where do I get Pizza and beer?

I had a wonderful flight, look at the picture which I took when we were over the Alps and I do love the Alps. Lovely or? I mean what could possibly go wrong after such a nice flight.

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My original plan was to take a taxi to the Hotel but when I left the airport, the Taxi were on the left side, on the right was the Areobus. I had a very good flight and decided to turn right. Taking the bus offered me some opportunities. First getting a bit to know the public transportation system as well as getting a bit more insight into the area itself. Google Maps told me to leave at Mille and take another bus line with the number 24c to a bus station close to the hotel. I realized soon that the public transportation system of Bologna is incredible, there are apparently hundreds of lines all with some letters at the end which apparently are variations of the route, so you had e.g. 24a, 24b, 24c, 11a, 11b, 11c and so on. I also saw a 12t. There were hundreds of busses and on some stations busses arrived every minute. Also if 11c drove to Rizzo this doesn’t meant 11b did either. It might decide to drive in a kind of same direction but then also not. Confusing. But I had Google Maps. My deep respect for the people in Bologna who were apparently able to understand that system.
Later I found out that it was only 3km by feet from the city center to my Hotel which let me walk a few times also because I like walking and this is also a great opportunity to get the city and atmosphere to know.

I was super satisfied with my Hotel HC3 in Bologna, after checking in I tried to resolve point 1 on my list and go the venue. This was quite easy as my hotel was only 200m from the venue and according to Google maps I apparently already crossed it during the walk from Istituto Aldini where 27a/b/c / (I don’t remember anymore) dropped me off. So a no-brainer, but I wanted to be sure. While going back from where I came from I passed a kind of backery / store / whatever. Time for a coffee I thought. A bit outside the city I hope I could get along with english, but who should not know what a coffee is? Remembering my Italian colleagues who are always drinking espresso from small cute cups I entered it and told the waiter to bring me a coffee. I’ve added a regular / normal coffee. I waited for my 150ml cup of coffee. But I received a cup in a size which I never expected that something like this exists. It looked like 1cl in a miniature cup. I was disappointed. I’ve received another super small glass, so I thought nice I get strong alcohol on top, but it turned out it was just water. Disappointing. The 1cl tasted well, but come on. I thought ordering 10 more but they also seemed to be very strong. I didn’t want to have a caffeine overdose.

I passed by the venue. All good, super easy to find that in the morning. Speaker dinner was at 20.30 and I had to use public transportation to get there and I still had plenty of time.

I entered Bus 11c to Rizzo. One of my colleagues gave me some hints on what to visit and as I had some time on Sunday morning I wanted to know how to get there. On the way back to the Hotel I tried to get another (proper) coffee but again I received a small cute cup with 1cl compressed coffee. I’ve complained on Facebook about that and my colleagues told me I need to ask for a Americano to get my coffee. I decided to try to make use of that information at a later time. I still hadn’t resolve point 2 on my list about the coffee, but I made a checkmark behind 3 and 4. I didn’t find any super market but dozens of shops & restaurants, so eating and drinking (coffee excluded) was possible nearly everywhere.

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The dinner was at Ristorante Pizzeria L’amafitana. A super nice place and I do love Italian food. I got the organizers and other speakers to know – such lovely people – but I was also very tired. After some tortellini and Pizza and approximately one liter of beer I decided to leave soon also because I became really nervous and normally I tend to not sleep so super well before talks. I went to toilet and the water tap was somehow broken so that the water ended up on my pants instead of on my hands and it looked like I have peed in my pants. How embarrassing. I said good bye and followed the Google Maps instructions.

I had to take 27b at a station 800 meters away which should drop me off 1.2 km from the hotel away. What should I say, the confusing transportation system seems to be very reliable, the bus came on time and I was back in the hotel at 11:30pm. Good night.

At breakfast I’ve realized that the coffee machine offered a option “Americano”. Omg I was relieved. Finally I was able to resolve point 2 on my list: a proper coffee <3. This is exactly what I need before a talk. I had 3. Also I’ve realized that the breakfast was more sweeties, cookies and cakes but I’ve also found some bread and cheese. I’m vegetarian btw.

The hours before a talk I’m always in a kind of a tunnel. I went to the venue, the most critical things to solve now was finding out asap whether the beamer connection as well as the internet connection works. People were so lovely and helpful. At 9am I was confident that the whole thing seems to go in right direction. Beamer worked, Internet was incredibly stable and fast. The trivago hotel search application was smoothly running on my local machine. Nevertheless I was really nervous. I let my colleagues now everything is good and I’m ready. See this conversation of the slack channel that I had created for the conference.

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Omg I was so nervous, you can see that a lot of my responses where just “haha” or “ahaha”. But I had to do this thing. So I started with my session. First I’ve introduced myself and a bit of what I’ll doing the next 45 minutes. Kicking off the feature starts with a task.

So as you can see after 5 minutes I was good in time. Also I don’t know every time I’m on stage I always have to make side notes of Agile (note the capital A). As you can see “noEstimates” is highlighted and not a valid entry for story points. But we didn’t had time for planning poker games.
Before going into coding itself I’ve explained a bit of the architecture and tools we use.

I started to create the feature, added a modal box from our Pattern Library and implemented this as an multi variant test with a feature toggle. What could possibly go wrong, yes something went wrong. The modal box component was somehow really broken as you can see later, but ok, the audience didn’t seem so much front-end / UX focussed. So I just told them the layout is broken and we don’t care. But I did care a lot, I fired up the inspector but soon realized this was not the right moment to fix / investigate some nasty markup / CSS issues, so I’ve just continued as nothing has happened. This was the most critical point of the presentation.

Also I didn’t had another choice. Later I found out that it was just a class mismatch. Damn! All other stuff went to super smooth. Unbelievable, no nasty typos, nothing.
While implementing the feature I did several reloads of the application to prove that my changes are working, e.g. after creating the feature toggle, I showed that I can activate and deactivate it. Also after pulling in the new UI component from our pattern library I had to rebuild the assets to get the component styled.
After approximately 30 minutes I was able to push the feature and created the pull request. I had changed 9 files, and had written around 100 lines of code in PHP, twig, Scss and XML.

I let my colleagues know it is ready for code review after 30 minutes. You can’t do a deployment until someone has approved your code.

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I’ve added some easter eggs like an unnecessary !important to trigger some comments. It has worked.

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Now everything was ready to start the deployment. I started to trigger it with our build systems and explained to the audience what is happening. The deployment went through without errors in 6 minutes.

After around 40 minutes I was done, the feature was deployed to an internal staging systems. It looked a bit broken, but YOLO. I did the final show case of activating and deactivating the feature and told the audience that I forgot to implement the close button functionality and finished after 39 minutes at 10.24am my session. WOHOO!!!

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Yes and I did mention that there was a small issue with the layout. See here:

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I’ve answered a couple of questions which is normally the most exhausting part for me after a presentation because I’m then completely out of energy. Nevertheless I’ve answered some really cool questions. After the presentation there was coffee break, but guess there was no Americano only this 1cl coffee.

I enjoyed the rest of the day with other really amazing live coding session with a lot of diversity in topics. What a cool concept for a conference.

I went to bed at 10pm because I was terrible tired and I wanted to use the Sunday morning to visit the city center before I had to catch my flight in the early afternoon. So I set my alarm clock to 6.30am had a few delicious Americano at breakfast and went to the city center.

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I visited the area around Piazza Maggiore. What a beautiful area of Bologna with a lot of old buildings.

What a great but exhausting weekend. Looking forward to the next noslidesconf.

 

 

Conference Recordings

And here we go. Most of the recordings of my conference talks in 2016 related to Project Ironman / Pattern Library at trivago have been published. I’m looking forward to the last one to be released hopefully soon. It is the recording from ScotlandCSS which is not online yet.

Let’s start with my first conference talk in english ever. OMG. You need to read my The Junior Speaker article to understand what happened here. Nevertheless although I’ve been stuck in a “Umm…. bascically”-mode at the end people really liked it and the feedback helped me a lot to understand where I need to improve the talk and myself.

The next one in chronological order of the conference tour is my talk at the Symfony Live 2016 conference in Cologne. What an incredible amazing audience. They’ve appreciated and got all my (stupid) jokes. Thanks to my colleague Jan van Thoor for assisting during this talk. I love it. No speaker notes were needed for this talk in my native language. A bit sad that the quality of sound and video is so bad.

Codemotion Amsterdam. The most exhausting talk on my conference tour. I had such a bad night but my performance is way better than in my remembrance. Unbelievable what I was able to do after 90 minutes of sleep in a hostel and 2 liter of coffee before the talk.

In case you watched them all (I hope you didn’t) you might have seen an improvement in performance. I do at least. At Frontend United I sticked completely to my speaker notes and I didn’t walk miles on the stage. Might be related to the fact that I needed my speaker notes.

Looking forward to the recording of my talk at ScotlandCSS. Although I did 7 talks in 6 weeks and had only a few hours of retrospective after some talks I tried to improve with every single one. And the ScotlandCSS was the best one. At least in my remembrance.

The junior speaker

I have been very lucky. I have to admit. But maybe I also worked a lot for what I have achieved.

A lot of things happened in the last weeks and months, I have travelled around a lot, talked a lot, thought a lot and learned a lot.

It is time for a retrospective.

What happened. After we have been very successful with various things we do to our frontend at trivago, like refactoring our CSS or introducing a Pattern Library I wanted to share our experiences not only with articles but also with speaking at conferences. I did my first talk at the PHP Usergroup Düsseldorf in the beginning of 2014. The experiences there empowered and motivated me to continue speaking. I refined my talk and were lucky enough to have my first conference proposal accepted at the code.talks conference 2014 in Hamburg. I talked in german about our very successful adaptive responsive design which we had implemented in 3 weeks in the end of 2013.

It has been amazing. Standing in front of 400 people, being recorded and blended by all those lights. I wanted to continue but 2015 was a year of a lot of groundwork, e.g. for implementing a Design System at large scale. But I used the chance to speak at the LeanUX Meetup in Düsseldorf at an event where also Brad Frost was invited. I talked about our experiences with code and design inconsistency and our first steps adapting a pattern library.

In the end of 2015 we made huge steps forward with rebuilding our UI at large scale. I wanted to share our experiences. After I have done a talk at the Open Tech School Meetup in Dortmund and people enjoyed my talk, I started to apply for various conferences in Europe.

I didn’t expect organizers to accept my talk, so I did 5 CFP’s and hoped maybe one of them will be accepted. I was wrong. 4 of 5 CFP’s have been accepted.

My talks were selected for Symfony Live Cologne, Codemotion Amsterdam, Frontend United and ScotlandCSS. I was a bit surprised and overwhelmed. But I like to get things done, so why not speaking at all of them.

Preparing, training and performing a talk costs a lot of effort. At least for me. It took me hours to come with a first version, which I then performed at a local Meetup – The Webworker NRW. A very nice meetup with a lot of very kind people. I didn’t even know the order of my slides, but I was still able to get my story transferred to the audience. People provided me with a lot of valuable feedback. I was still in the opinion that I don’t need any speaker notes but to do everything spontaneously.

The JSUnconf came in between. A good opportunity for me to propose my talk in the voting session. People liked the topic very much and voted a lot. So it happened that I had the first session with my talk proposal. I should have said that I didn’t had a good night and only very few hours of sleep but this didn’t stop me. My talk performance was I would like to say OK. In regards to less sleep and still don’t using speaker notes I maybe did even quite well. But in the end I have been stuck in a “Umm, basically…” mode. I have been out of vocabularies.  Nevertheless feedback was overwhelming and a lot of people asked questions and I was even asked to do a Q&A session on the next day. At the end – again – I have received very valuable feedback from the attendees.

The week after there was Symfony Live in Cologne. This was a blast. The conference was in german and entertaining the audience in your native language is way more easy than in a foreign language. I realized I don’t need speaker notes in my native language, but when I do talks in a non-native language. The talk was quite entertaining and the audience was so lovely and laughed a lot about my jokes which made it very easy for me to get my talk done in a very entertaining way. Hope to see the video cut soon.

I had a break of 12 days. Then Codemotion Amsterdam. A very lovely and diverse full-stack conference. But I made a mistake, first of all I have learned that you should always take a day off before a talk to be more relaxed and not distracted by other things that can happen e.g. at work. Second, it is not a good idea to try to save some money for your accomodation and so next time I will think twice whether it is a good idea to choose a hostel before doing a talk. To be honest I think I slept 2h. Also because I tend to be nervous but the noise level in the hostel was way higher than expected. But who cares. I had to get my talk done anyways. So I performed, not excellent but I got my message across. Again – shame on me – without speakernotes.

I never did the same talk but always tried to adapted my talk for the audience as well as based on the feedback I got. The challenge for Frontend United and ScotlandCSS was now to get it into a 20 minute and 30 minute slot and make it a bit more technical and use a technique called speaker notes 😉

I did so. Frontend United was a blast. Such a lovely small conference. I am very grateful to be part of it. My talk has been successful. Having speaker notes helped me to keep focus but I was still able to keep a bit of authenticity. I hope my video will be published soon.

Only 3 days later I was in Edinburgh, the showdown of my Project Ironman tour. I have never been that nervous before a talk. It was always a dream since I started with doing talks to be a speaker on a CSS conference. I was very proud and so grateful. But also very nervous. I went on the stage and according to most of the audience I delivered a great talk. I still have to wait for the video but for my personal interpretation this has been the best talk I ever did in english.

Thanks a lot to all the people involved in those weeks, be it with cheering me up, motivating me and supporting me. A special thanks to my colleagues at trivago. You are awesome.

I have also experienced some bad things. It might be natural that people get envy and show you that with words and actions, but those people will always exist. I didn’t expect it would hit me so hard. If 99 people cheer you up and 1 person tries to let you down, the latter will be the winner. I have to work on that.

Also I have learned that you have a lot more responsibility as a speaker than I have initially imagined. With great power comes great responsibility. Especially if you are authentic and love to make jokes about everything including yourself It can be very easy to offend people. This gets worse if you are not a native speaker. People might get your words wrong. On the other hand you might have a great power while being on stage which you should be aware of and choose your words wisely, but you are also very vulnerable in this moment. Every word, every gesture, every facial expression might get tracked and there is no chance to revert any of your actions and words whether they were intended or not.

All in all it has been such a great time. I have done 6 talks on conferences, unconferences and meetups in 6 and 1/2 weeks! Still don’t know how I was able to get all this done. I’m very grateful especially to the organizers and attendees of the mentioned events. I have met a lot of wonderful people. Hope I’ll stay in contact with them.

THANK YOU!

 

 

 

 

Interviews

Recently I am doing Interviews.

It happened that I was approached by the lovely team that organizes the ScotlandCSS conference whether I would like to have an interview with them. Why not, I thought, and did a very nice skype call with Varya which ended up in this the interview you can read on the ScotlandCSS Website.

I really enjoyed doing the interview.

My company asked me a few days later whether I want to do an interview for a new employer marketing project called “tech diaries”. Why not. And I chose Project Ironman as a topic and they asked me whether I can do a short 2-3min Interview about one of our most successful projects at trivago. I did so.

Last but not least I was approached by Cristiano who started a side project about the BEM methodology with interviews with various developers who work on large scale projects. I was very pleased to be the first person being interviewed. You can read the interview here.

Doing interviews is fun. Looking forward for more to come.