On the 11th of September, my lovely colleague Tina and I flew over the small pond to attend Generate – the first conference organized by .net magazine.

It’s been a while since I’ve attended a conference, so I was very much looking forward to a day of inspiration and practical input.

The evening before the conference we went to the pre-event that .net Mag had set up for the attendees and speakers.

It took place at the trendy Foundation Bar, and fortunately a lot of the attendees and speakers had decided to show up. It was a night of great fun, and I got to meet a lot of lovely people – something that definitely had a positive effect on the atmosphere at the conference the next day.

Tina, myself and Oliver Steinberg at the Foundation Bar
Tina, myself and Oliver Lindberg, editor of .net magazine. Photo courtesy of .net magazine

The fact that you actually see a few familiar faces in the crowd when you walk into the coffee area on the morning of a conference is really, really nice. Especially if you are there by yourself, it makes a great difference. But also in terms of making new contacts, it’s extremely valuable that the ice has been broken first. So well done on organizing such a successful pre-event.

Now for the main conference:
It took place at the gorgeous Grand Connaught Rooms, and everything about the venue just worked. Steady wifi, lovely food, comfy chairs – and if you think things like that don’t matter, think again. It makes or breaks the overall experience.

The main conference hall at Generate in The Grand Connaught Rooms
The beautiful main hall at the Grand Cannaught Rooms, where Generate was held

The talks were all 30 minute long, which gave the conference a nice pace, but for some speakers it seemed a bit too short. There were two tracks, so you always had an option (or in a couple of cases, a dilemma, as sometimes I would have loved to be able to be in to places at once!)

The best talks for me were the following:

Stephanie Rieger’s talk “Beyond progressive enhancement” – a really high paced and interesting talk about where we need to take the web in the future. I especially found her walkthrough of the possibilities NFC technology fascinating.

Stephen Hay provided the second high-point of the day. His talk about CSS flexbox was practical and useful. Stephen suggested that despite flexbox not being supported fully yet, it’s a great idea to use it for prototypes if you can decide on which browser the prototypes are displayed in. Great and valuable point – and a good way to learn a new area of CSS that is going to be fully supported very soon (according to Stephen).

One of Stephen Hay's amusing example slides
One of Stephen Hay’s example slides – notice the conversation going on :)

Gavin Strange’s talk was probably the most entertaining talk of the day. An energetic walk-through of his personal projects spiced with the simple message of “make more stuff!”. The audience couldn’t have asked for a better post-lunch session. On a personal note, I found Gavin’s slides absolutely amazing, and he has later on been kind enough to tell me where he gets his material from. So my students are in for a treat in my future lessons :)

After some lovely talks by Leisa Reichelt, Jonty Sharples and Mark Boulton, it was time for the closing session: Festival of the spoken nerd. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and a beer might have softened up a somewhat tough crowd, but I was hugely amused.

The afterparty took place at another trendy spot, this time at Jewel in Covent Garden. At this point I was all conferenced out though, so Tina and I had a drink and said our goodbyes and went back to the hotel.

To sum it up: Generate was great. Professional, high quality and with attention to detail. Well done .net mag!


2 Responses

  1. I agree, I thought it was a great conference. I went on my own also, and it was my first conference as a web designer. The pre-drinks offered a way to get to know people in a fun, relaxed environment. Unfortunately I missed the afterparty though :( I look forward to .net magazine releasing the videos very soon so that I can finally see the talks that I unfortunately had to miss!

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