Takeaways from Dot All in Mon­tréal

25 September 2019

Dot All 2019 recently wrapped up and it did not disappoint!! Dubbed the JAMstack conference” by attendees, there were some big announcements like Craft CMS 4 and Craft Cloud. All in all though, this conference was about the people, their stories and the community.

Dotall 2019 walking tour Walking tour of Mon­tréal

There were too many amazing presentations to mention them all, so below are the main events and some of my personal highlights. Videos of all of the presentations will be available at dot​all​.com in the near future.

State of Craft 2019 #

Brandon Kelly kicked off the conference with his keynote presentation, the State of Craft 2019 (slides), in which he brought us up to speed on the growth of Craft, the plugin ecosystem and the community. To date there are 627 plugins in the plugin store and $700,000 (apparently this number wasn’t rounded up or down) has been paid out to plugin developers. That is pretty huge growth considering that $135,000 had been paid out as of September of last year.

There are now 148 Craft partners and Pixel & Tonic recently hired 4 new people including Nathaniel who will be working alongside Luke Holder on Craft Commerce. Pixel & Tonic is looking to make 4 new hires in the future which would make them a 15-person team.

Pixel & Tonic Team

Craft CMS 4 #

The big announcements came next, but first, a new logo! The lower-case c” looks like a cut-out from a keyboard key and is transparent, so not necessarily white. 

New Craft CMS logo

Craft 4 will add some solid and much requested features including:

  • Accessibility: full keyboard control, mobile drag-and-drop and responsive improvements in the control panel.
  • Collaboration: alerts when the same element is being edited by multiple authors and delta merging of changes.
  • Content Modeling: fields that appear/​disappear conditionally, new field layout types, nestable matrix fields and the ability to create multiple instances of fields (each with their own instructions and settings).
  • Element Index Views: user-defined views of element listings with new view modes and access controls.

To get a better understanding of these features (as well as of the conference in general), check out the rowdy in-studio DevMode podcast, Dot All 2019 Conference Recap & Analysis, Live from Montréal!

Craft Cloud #

Craft Cloud, expected to arrive in 2020, is headless Craft as a service. Think server-less, template-less, plugin-less Craft. That might sound like a lot of lesses”, but what you are left with is the Craft control panel without any of the DevOps (hosting, configuring, updating, etc.). Getting your content out of (and eventually also into) Craft will be a matter of using Craft’s in-built GraphQL API.

To stay in the loop about Craft Cloud, sign up for email notifications at craft.cloud.

Craft Cloud logo

Oops – I guess we’re full-stack developers now #

Chris Coyier (CSS-Tricks and CodePen) took the stage to give his take on front-end developers, or browser-people” as he calls them. He explained how the field has broadened to now include front-of-the-front-end as well as back-of-the-front-end developers. It was a fascinating dive into how the field that traditionally dealt with HTML, CSS and JavaScript can now include frameworks, APIs and even server-side languages (Node.js).

Chris Coyier

Photo credit

Testing with Craft #

Giel Tettelaar, the mastermind behind the testing framework introduced in Craft 3.2, walked us through writing unit and functional tests in Craft (slides). He did a live demo of running tests which worked flawlessly and really added to the effect (I guess it would have been ironic had he not tested it beforehand, but as we all know, one does not simply expect the live demo to work”).

As Giel put it, you can’t sleep well if you are not confident your last commit didn’t take down the whole application” and I couldn’t agree more, especially when dealing with distributed plugins that could literally take down thousands of sites and applications. Our Campaign plugin and Craft Commerce are 2 plugins that currently have automated tests in place and hopefully more plugins will soon follow suit.

Live demo quote

LAMPstack vs. JAMstack #

Andrew Welch, the Jack of all things Craft, delivered his presentation on LAMPstack vs. JAMstack that he had prepared while rescuing dogs banished to an island following the outbreak of canine flu off the coast of Megasaki, Japan (that may or may not be true). In this delightfully illustrated presentation, Andrew tells the tale of Lammy and Jammy, along with their other dog friends (slides).

In a nutshell, JAMstack is for you if you hate devops and you love JavaScript. LAMPstack is for you if you are happy with the way things have been done for the past 30 years (my words, not Andrew’s). The key takeaway from this talk however, is that Lammy and Jammy are buddies. You don’t have to pick only one or the other. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages and your interest and project requirements should dictate which one you use. The point is that these stacks are just marketing terms and that whatever you build, your focus should be on building something awesome. In the words of BK, it’s all just code, man”.

LAMPstack versus JAMstack

The Stoic Developer #

Sam Hernandez of Pixel & Tonic shared his interest in the ancient philosophy of Stoicism and the wisdom that it has to offer. He explained the benefits of Stoic practices as a pattern for living, including the four Stoic virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance.

I was extremely grateful to hear Sam share his personal journey and insights along the way with such humility. Doing this at a developer conference takes courage and I feel that it is a testament to the holistic and inclusive nature of the Dot All conference that there was space for such a presentation. After all, it doesn’t matter how good of a developer someone is if they can’t figure out how to live their life and create happiness for themselves and others.

Sam Hernandez

The Community #

The Craft CMS community is hands down the most welcoming and helpful developer community I have ever been involved in and the Dot All conference is the biggest community event of the year. Friendships, partnerships and long-lasting working relationships are forged during the few days that we are together and their importance cannot be overstated. 

Besides meeting old friends and making new ones, I had an absolute blast in Montréal and feel motivated to do more awesome work and to continue contributing to this amazing product and community. My thanks go out to Pixel & Tonic for organising such a wonderful event and to all the speakers and attendees for making it so much fun to be there.