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Web Technologies We're Excited About

The landscape of technologies you can learn in the development world can be overwhelming if you don't know where to go next. In this episode, we discuss the technologies we're most excited about. From CSS to GraphQL, Django to WebAssembly, and design to augmented reality - we cover it all.


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Web Technologies We're Excited About

This player's code is loosely copy and pasted from Syntax.fm. Thanks Wes and Scott for keeping your site open source!

Show notes

CSS

GraphQL

  • Helping simplify Shopify API calls
  • Using it with Gatsby for Frontmatter fields
  • How it simplifies building a rest api

Gatsby

Python / Django

Design

  • Sticking to what’s tried and true
  • Psychology of Visual and User Experience Design
  • User Research
  • HotJar
  • Figma
  • Sketch

WebAssembly

  • Diversity of Languages in the Browser
  • Performance wins when using lower level languages
  • Doing art with code
  • Lin Clark - a great WebAssembly Advocate

Augmented Reality

  • Potential in the ecommerce space and seeing products before you buy them
  • Makeup apps using it with your face before you buy makeup
  • Lots of languages doing it - including JavaScript
  • Helping with accessibility in the long term?

Wins!

  • Congrats Monica on your data scientist job
  • Ali’s win - Speaking at OSCON and CodeLand!
  • Kelly’s win - The Taproom is now a Shopify Plus Partner!
  • Lindsey’s win - Getting her engagement pictures!
  • Emma’s win - She got married!

Help us out

Transcript

Ali [0:00] One of the beauties of programming is that there’s always something new to learn. And in this episode, we’re going to talk about all the new and shiny technologies that we’re all excited about. We’re going to talk about Gatsby, augmented reality, web assembly, design, and some other older stuff that we’re just really excited about, like CSS, and Django. So let’s go ahead and get started.

Kelly [0:28] Welcome to the Ladybug podcast. I’m Kelly.

Ali [0:31] I’m Ali.

Emma [0:32] I’m Emma.

Lindsey [0:33] And I’m Lindsey, and were debugging the tech industry.

So there’s some new and cool things about CSS. And I know Emma, you are a CSS wizard. So you want to get started about what you’re excited about with CSS.

Emma [0:52] I just am excited about CSS being a thing. I really just enjoy styling things, I think there’s nothing more rewarding than taking a blank HTML page and turning it into something really beautiful. And there are so many cool things that you can do with CSS other than just slap floats on everything. Right? So what are the some of the cool things we can do? We can use CSS variables to kind of reuse pieces of code throughout our style sheets and make sure that if… maybe I don’t like this primary color, [and] I want to update it and have it propagate everywhere. CSS variables are really cool for that! You don’t have to go updating a ton of hex codes or RGB values or whatnot. So that’s one thing I really like. Animations is another! I love animating things I’ve always looked up to Sarah Drasner as kind of like the mother of SVG animations. Because she’s been so prevalent in this industry with animating things. She has a great course on… [well] she has many great courses, if you want to go check those out on front end masters. But animations are really cool, because we can do a lot of good things on them. It’s not just to make things look nice, right? With animations, we can actually prolong the amount of time that users are willing to wait for a process to finish loading or whatnot. We don’t even need these cool animation libraries…[like] green sock, [or] other animation libraries, you don’t need it? Right? We can do these things with just plain CSS and keyframes. And one other hot thing that people are talking about that I have put off learning for no other reason, than I’m just overwhelmed with all the things I have learned. But Houdini, right, what is Houdini, I’m not an expert on it. I don’t actually know much about it. But it seems to be just a collection of browser API’s that let you gain more access to your CSS engine in the browser. So this is something cool that people have been talking about. I want to learn more about it. What about y’all like, Is there anything in CSS that you’re pumped about?

Kelly [2:30] Yeah. So for me, one of the things I’ve kind of noticed the trend towards is, browser support seems to be picking up much more quickly now and cool new things are coming out. And as somebody who often has to… I want to try out these cool new things that are available. But in my space, I need to continue to support old browsers. So the faster these things come out, the better off I am.

Lindsey [2:58] Yeah, I’m super excited about things like CSS Grid and subgrid. I finally started playing with CSS Grid, which isn’t exactly new. Subgrid’s more new. But CSS Grid, I finally started playing with it. And I am so confused why I waited so long to play. It’s so fun. Another thing I’m super excited about is it looks like we’re kind of… [well] with all the new things coming out in CSS, it seems like we’re going to be able to soon to migrate off of using preprocessors, like Sass or LESS. And that’s super cool to me, because I mean I like all of them. But there’s also nesting that I think is starting to come into it, which is super neat. So I’m excited about all that. Just because sometimes, when I build a new project, I don’t want to have to set up all the NPM packages for setting up Sass compilers and all those things. To be honest, I’m really bad at figuring out all the things I want to do. I think I just use like node-sass or something could get more granular and I’d never do. so Lazy Devs.

Emma [4:04] One thing to your point about grid is that people who maybe aren’t as versed in the world of CSS, maybe don’t know the fact that CSS flexbox and grid are ingrained, you can use them in a lot of places. And if you have specific browser concerns, you can head over to caniuse.com to check that out. But people are always often confused about like the use cases for each. And I think if we could do a whole episode on positioning elements in the UI, right? But really quickly, for those who don’t know, flexbox and grid are built into CSS, and flexbox is used to lay things out across a one dimensional axis. So let’s say a good use case for that would be spacing elements evenly with a top navigation bar. How do you space elements evenly there. Versus CSS Grid is all about two dimensional layout. So we can think about the entire composite of a web layout. So you have your nav bar that spans the entire left side, you got your main content area, maybe like a header across the top and a footer, right, that’s two dimensional layout. And that’s where we’re grid really shines. But the common misconception here is you can use them together, right? You don’t need to pick and choose, you can certainly use flex box to do these two dimensional layouts. It is a lot of Div nesting, and maybe not the most efficient way to do things. But you don’t need to pick and choose. They each have their use cases. And you can use them together super exciting. I’m pumped about it

Ali [5:17] As somebody who was raised on bootstrap and learned bootstrap before I learned actual CSS. Like I knew the CSS fundamentals, but I didn’t know how to use it. And so adding grid into the browser has been really great for me, and it fits in the way I kind of think about things, especially for actually units, those are total game changer for me.

Emma [5:40] Well, now we don’t have to rely on bootstrap or other heavy UI frameworks like Zurb, Foundation. And while these things are great, I heard a lot within companies that I’ve worked at, ”oh, well, we use bootstrap for the grid system.” Well, you don’t need to now, which is really great. You don’t need the performance overhead of including this entire bundle for UI framework when all you need is the grid, right? It’s easy to make your own. And one other thing I’m really pumped about in CSS is specificity rules. Because we kind of take these things for granted. I hear a lot of people who are like CSS is is difficult, and I don’t understand how it works. And I just put importance on everything. When in reality, specificity isn’t that hard. We just continue to learn that is a thing. I wrote a blog post on this, if you want to go check it out, it explains how you calculate these things. But the more specific your selectors are, the more point values they gain. And that’s the style that’s going to be applied. It’s really fun. And if you’re into math, it’s a really cool way to use your math skills with CSS. So that’s what I’m excited about with CSS. Kelly, what are you excited about?

Kelly [6:37] I am really excited about GraphQL. It’s been a major focus of my life for the past probably three to six months now. I spend a lot of time digging into like rest API’s. And especially in the Shopify space, when you’re having to make a certain API call to to grab product data, it could require 2-6 API calls. Whereas in GraphQL it is one single call in the flow of GraphQL. It’s so much easier to understand. And once you start digging into doing things with mutations, it’s just… there’s so much you can do with it. And I swear, like every single time I start to work on a project that involves GraphQL, I’m learning something new. I absolutely love it.

Emma [7:21] Can you give us a ”explain it like I’m five” definition of GraphQL? And why would use it?

Kelly [7:26] That’s a really good question. I cannot

Emma [7:27] Okay.

Lindsey [7:29] Yeah, GraphQL is kind of interesting, because it’s built into a lot of ecosystems. But when I say ecosystems, I mean, frameworks… words [are hard]… but I think that the fun thing about GraphQL is the beautiful way that it’s transforming like headless CMS’s and stuff like that, making it super flexible. But I admittedly, whenever I play with GraphQL, I am very much the ”I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just trying things. And sometimes they work” [mindset]

Emma [7:57] It kind of eludes me too. Yeah, it’s like, I think one of the benefits is you can query for exactly the data you need. And you don’t get back all this other crap that you didn’t ask for. I think that’s one of the good things. I think, also, the graphical URL, where you can actually go play with these things in the browser is really useful, although admittedly, again, I don’t fully understand it. And so what I use it for specifically is is in tandem with Gatsby, which we’ll talk about a little bit later. But Ali, what were you going to say?

Ali [8:23] So I have been using GraphQL on and off since the really early days of it. So I can kind of say that it takes away a lot of the detail that you need in order to build a REST API. So normally, you have these RESTful routes and you have to build different ones if you want different data. You have to secure different types of data as well. Whereas GraphQL allows you to do that more on the client side rather than when you’re architecting your API. And so it just changes the way that API’s are written. So it’s definitely grown a huge amount in the last couple of years, too. I remember it being like, incredibly buggy and dealing with so many difficult things, especially because I was using Python on the back end for it. And really, really tricky. So it’s made huge strides just in the last couple years. And I agree that working with it in Gatsby has been really great as well.

Emma [9:19] One of the things that I use it for specifically with Gatsby is I built my own blogging site. And as such, I’ve got all these markdown files that I want to then query and dynamically populate a blog on my personal site. And it’s been very useful for those instances. But admittedly, yeah, I still feel like a beginner every time I have to go in like set these things up again. And I think a lot of us are super pumped about Gatsby. And so who wants to start? I think we’re all excited. So Lindsey, do you want to start talking about it?

Lindsey [9:48] Sure. So Gatsby, I built my blog in it. Basically, Ali recommended it to me, and I’m like, this is cool. And then rest is history. But yeah, I love that it gave me a little bit of an intro to react. I think the beautiful thing about Gatsby is it takes away a lot of the anxieties of server side rendering, because one of the major setbacks with using react is that, I mean, I’m not an expert on this. But because we’re not rendering things server side, we’re rendering them client side, it can sometimes have implications for SEO and stuff like that. But because upon [the] Gatsby build it generates all these static pages, that problem ends up going away, which is a beautiful, beautiful thing. And yeah, with GraphQL, too with that you can create your own fields. And something I personally want to play with is building out WordPress sites for the content and then having Gatsby rendering the front end. I think in the long run, that’s really where things are going. We have our headless CMS’s and then we’re going to have our static site generators. Some people don’t like the fact that it has to rebuild everything when you update content. So it’s not as automatic. But I’ve definitely been really having a desire to play with that I just haven’t gotten a chance to.

Emma [11:15] I think really quickly, for those who don’t know what Gatsby is. They define themselves as like a blazing fast static site generator for react. And there are others in the industry who do this for other frameworks, I believe Nuxt is one for Vue. It’s Nuxt? Next? I don’t even know they all have the same name. Yeah. So Nuxt is for Vue. And Gatsby is super fast. It’s easily configurable, the documentation is great. It’s open source, the team is fantastic. And I think that’s why so many of us are really excited about it. That and the fact that you can integrate with like a CMS. And you can access your markdown and your data very, very easily.

Kelly [11:50] And one additional thing to note, Lindsey keeps on name dropping headless, which is definitely a newer concept that’s definitely getting traction now. To kind of explain what the headless component is, I’m doing air quotes here, is basically separating out your infrastructure. So you’re not using the same thing for the front end and the back end. It gives you the opportunity to use whatever tools that you need to do to come up with the product that you you need to create in the end. So personally because I’m in the Shopify space, I’m doing a lot more with headless commerce.

Lindsey [12:23] Headless is something that I was noticing in the Drupal space. People didn’t really want to do… [well] a lot of the times people didn’t want to do Drupal as the front end anymore. And so in Drupal 8, like they created their own rest API’s. I haven’t been in the space for about six months. So I don’t know what’s come about since then. But it was definitely a big push. And I’m very curious to see how these other CMS frameworks evolve. I know WordPress has created API’s for all their posts. Which is super cool, because that makes it a lot easier to use these framesworks to start getting those pieces of content. And the nice thing about those CMS’s is that they have the content editor experience. So it’s really cool for us with Gatsby, because we all are developers, so we know markdown pretty well. But give your non technical client a code editor and they’re like, ”what do I do with this?” So that’s the really cool thing about headless to me is that that flexibility of having a non technical client, and being able to just give them a very modern and fast front end, but they still get that user experience of the content, like the WYSIWYG, which stands for what you see is what you get, which is basically a text editor with a bunch of little like bold and alignments and all that stuff like a Word document. So they’re very familiar with that. And this is a space I was in for a long time. So that’s why I’m very excited about it.

Emma [13:54] That’s really cool. I didn’t know much about headless. So it was it was really cool that you guys to find it, Ali, what we’re going to say?

Ali [14:00] yeah, so I think that there are two main reasons why I am excited about Gatsby. The first is the plugins. So you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There’s a lot of common functionality that you’ll have from application to application. And that’s already built in. And you can just do NPM install this instead of rewriting it yourself, like you may have to for some other applications. So that’s really cool. There’s a lot of awesome ones out there, such as ones for image processing, and for plugging in markdown documents, and to even connect to Instagram, which is something that I did this weekend. So that’s one really cool part of it. The other part is that it really optimizes for performance right out of the box. So when we talk about blazingly fast, that’s what we’re talking about. Not that it builds super fast, which it does for the most part, but that it actually builds an end site that’s really fast, and follows a bunch of best practices for that. So you can build a progressive web app for one example, really simply with Gatsby, which is something that can be more difficult using other technologies. But a progressive web app is is this an application that you can download and save on your phone, or on your desktop and access it that way instead of always going to your browser. And it also makes it so that some content can be available offline. So even if the user isn’t connected to the internet, they can still browse parts of your site. So that’s really, really cool that Gatsby has that there’s other awesome performance things built into like, if you’ve heard of web p images that are more performant, but only work in certain browsers, there are plugins that you can use that will automatically sense the browser and whether you can use that or which image sizes to use and to lazy load images, all those things. And so if you’ve used Google lighthouse testing, which is a really great way to test the performance of your site, specifically so that your site ranks well on Google. Gatsby sites are optimized to do really, really well on those out of the gate. You can get one hundred on your lighthouse score without even doing too much work yourself.

Emma [16:13] That’s really cool. One other thing that I want to mention too, is that they make it really easy to get started. They have Gatsby starters, which are really cool. So like if I just want to do a blog, they’ve got a Gatsby sorted for that. They’ve also got these new things that are coming out. It’s not templates. It’s what’s the other thing that they’re doing?

Lindsey [16:34] Gatsby themes?

Emma [16:35] Themes! Yeah and so on the eighth of July, Jason Lengstorf and I did a live stream, where I learned to code a theme from scratch. So if you want to learn more about that, go check that out. But apparently, what’s really cool about this is that similar to a starter, it provides functionality, so you don’t have to like rewrite all these things. But it maintains a link back to like the upstream theme in general. So his updates are published, I believe that you can, you know, maintain this relationship back to upstream versus like starters is like you use the starter and then it’s done. Like there’s no connection or backup, I believe that’s the difference. But again, not positive. That seems like that’s something really cool. And then they you know, how the competition for the community to contribute their themes that they wanted to develop, and they’re very active in the community. I think that’s one of the reasons why people love them so much. Is if you get stuck, they’re very active in helping you. And then it’s open source, you can go contribute. But I want to switch gears, let’s talk about something that’s maybe not super React or front end focused. Ali, you are really involved in back end development and other things like augmented reality, what are you excited about?

Ali [17:39] Yeah, so one thing that I wanted to talk about is Django. Django is not new whatsoever, but it’s a Python web framework. And it has a lot built in out of the gate for you, such as authentication. And there are great libraries for building API’s really quickly. And it’s still all these years later, my favorite framework for building web applications, just because it makes it very simple. But it’s not overboard. It doesn’t have a lot of magic involved, like some other frameworks. So I think for me, I just wanted to mention that because on my Twitter, at least I see almost all JavaScript stuff, and CSS and people really excited about front end stuff. And I don’t necessarily see as much about Python. And so I wanted to do a quick shout out to that community and say that Django is really incredible. And put that in front of people’s eyes if they haven’t seen that already.

Lindsey [18:37] One thing I actually think is super neat about Python. And this is also coming from somebody who doesn’t write Python, but even just like looking at Python code, it’s very, very, …like it almost looks like pseudo code, which I think is super friendly for beginners, because it’s very readable. There’s not a lot of syntax gotchas, like there are JavaScript. So I think it’s such a great language, especially if you’re interested in backend to get started with and from what it sounds like Django, I always say it wrong. Wait, how do I say it?

Kelly [19:08] The D is silent.

Lindsey [19:11] ok. Django, like the thing that’s really cool about is it seems like with frameworks, it’s actually like something that helps people start to learn about it, too, because it’s a little bit more approachable.

Ali [19:22] Yeah, agreed, I would highly recommend the Django girls tutorial. And if they have a meetup in your city to check that out, too. It’s really great. And then on top of that, I think Python, in general is a great language, because you can use it for so much. So the data science ecosystem and Python, which is kind of actually where I started my career, and we can talk more about that at some other point. But the ecosystem for that within Python is just absolutely incredible. It’s a great language for the reason that you can do a lot of different things with it, not just web development, but also outside of that.

Emma [19:59] So I used to work at the IBM quantum team, and the IBM q website and the network and whatnot. And we had Jupyter notebooks that people could actually run their quantum code on. But you could actually run code from a Jupyter notebook on a quantum computer. And like, you can’t do this with other languages. I mean, Python is so robust, and we kind of take it for granted. And at first glance, it It might seem easy, right? Because like Lindsey said, it’s it looks very beginner friendly, very pseudo code-ish. But that can also pose problems too, right? Like, I think I spent, like, a lot of time… I used to do web spear test automation in Python. And I remember I got an indentation or something wrong with a loop. And like, it just took me forever to debug it. I was also kind of a beginner. But we shouldn’t look at this and be like, Oh, well, you know, it doesn’t look as robust as maybe like a JavaScript or a Java. And as such, it’s not as powerful. It’s like, No, you can do some pretty cool stuff with this

Ali [20:56] Fun fact. Jupyter actually has different notebooks for different language’s now. It’s a great tool for teaching.

Emma [21:02] Oh, cool.

Ali [21:03] I really appreciate it Jupyter notebooks.

Emma [21:06] That’s awesome. Should we switch gears and talk about the complete opposite from the back end? Which is design! Because as developers, we kind of take this stuff for granted. I think a little bit, right. I don’t know how how much design knowledge Do you three have?

Lindsey [21:22] Mine? So mine is super Elementary. To be quite frank, the best thing I did for my blog was hire a designer to help me design my logo and get my color scheme. And yeah, so I’m very elementary [in my design skills]. I’ve gotten a little bit better at knowing things like white space, and spacing and overall layout and stuff. But I’m definitely more minimalist. When I try to do a lot of things with my personal designs, it ends up looking like crap. But I’ve gotten a lot of help from tips like, Oh, my God, I’m blanking on the name. What’s that book that just came out?

Ali [21:58] Refactoring UI?

Lindsey [21:59] Yes that one!

Emma [22:01] Such a great book!

Lindsey [22:02] Yeah. So like, even just the tips that were coming out before then, in their blog posts. I was using a lot of those to add little pieces of polish to my site. But I think something that I’ve actually been learning is that a lot of design principles are not necessarily about going all over with the trends, but going with things that are tried and true. And not trying to hack the system and trying to be overly fancy. Even with things like circling back to animations. One of my friends here in DC, Alexis, she taught me that animation should actually be used to add very subtle things, like you shouldn’t even notice them. And stuff like that. Just learning about those things have helped me conceptualize design, because I always was super scared of it and thinking it was this super big deal thing. And while it’s very difficult to design, there’s a lot of concepts that are very, very centralized.

Emma [22:58] Well, I think a lot of this is rooted in psychology. I know Kelly, you have some roots in psychology as well. But when we think about design, we often can make assumptions that designers aren’t as smart as engineers. Subconsciously, we have these biases, right? And I think that’s so backwards, because when you start looking into things like color theory… the color wheel, for example, this is something I’m really excited about. We’ve got different color palettes, how do you generate a color palette that doesn’t look like crap? There are different methods, right? When we look at this color wheel, we’ve got things like analogous colors, which are three colors, for example, who are side by side and on a 12 part color wheel. But then we’ve got things like complementary color schemes, which are colors that are directly opposite. So learning about the psychology of how colors work together. We’ve also got like type scale and how we use math to kind of differentiate architecture in the UI. We’ve got things like the golden ratio, and then perfect fourth and whatnot. These things are a lot more technical than we give them credit for. And a lot of them, again, are rooted in psychology. Kelly, I’m not sure if you know about the heuristics, like when you think about UX design versus visual design. So everything I just talked about was based in visual design, right? When we talk about UX design, it’s all about the psychology and how people use and navigate our products. And we’ve got these things called heuristics. All the information should be readily available and accessible in the UI or don’t give the users too many options to choose from, it’s going to confuse the heck out of them… little things like this. Are you familiar with UX heuristics? Or like, what’s your take on this?

Kelly [24:25] Oh, yeah, I mean, I spend more time on the UX side than the UI side more than anything. So you know, I have a couple of designers on our team who take the reins on coming up with the actual store design for our clients. But I often will jump back in when it comes on the UX side, as Lindsey said, the goal here is not to reinvent the wheel and try all the newest trends and see what’s going to work. When you’re when you’re building a product, the end goal is somebody needs to use it and you are trying to make money from it. You’re not trying to get as creative as possible. You’re trying to do what you know works. And that’s so falls under the user experience side of things. The button placement, the micro copy on the buttons, how much content you can see above the fold, whether you’re using a mobile device, or you’re on desktop, and just the way that your customers will actually navigate the websites and use your product. All of this is so important and it lies very, very deeply in design.

Lindsey [25:24] Something I came across recently is [an app that] I love that I usually use on my phone, I was on it on the desktop, and the sign out button was on the bottom left corner, which is the exact opposite place. And I remember being a little frustrated by that… which I’m a developer. So like I try to give some slack. But it’s just one of those things. It’s just put it where I expect it to be. And it’s not revolutionary or anything. It’s just a literal placement.

Kelly [25:52] I have so much I can say on this topic. And very, very quick tangent here. For people who are designing the signup form your navigation, I know is really important to get people to sign up. But please do not hide the login button. I’ve been on so many websites, I’m having to hunt down where I just signed into their website, because I’m already a customer.

Ali [26:14] I think the really interesting topic is that a lot of UX design isn’t dealing with interfaces or how things look, but it’s just doing user research. Like how do users actually use this site, taking surveys from them, what do they want, and looking at that research and then implementing it into the design. So for me personally, I have worked for mostly startups. And so as a result, you end up wearing a lot of hats. And some of that includes design from time to time. But what I’ve really learned about myself is that I enjoy doing design for my own personal sites, because I know my aesthetic and can work really well within that. But I professionally don’t love doing design for other people site because their design or their aesthetic is very different than mine. And I’m not as good as that. Because I’m not a trained designer. I’m just somebody who does it for fun. So I think people see my stuff and are like, Oh, you know, she’s really into design and can do all this. And it’s like, yeah, I can do it for myself, I know what I like, but not for other people necessarily.

Kelly [27:16] I do want to drop a resource real fast here, as you’re talking about doing user experience research. A really useful tool is called HotJar, you can sign up for a free account, and you can do heat mapping. So you can see what people are clicking on on your website. Are they clicking on the things that they should be clicking on? are they missing what they should be seeing, you can see how far they’re scrolling down on to a page. And you can also even record their sessions. So you can watch them navigate through your website and find the holes that you need to be filling.

Lindsey [27:45] That’s super cool. I didn’t even know about that.

Emma [27:48] I didn’t either. So kind of going along the same lines. Lindsey, I vaguely remember you talking about Figma and being excited about that? How does that kind of tie in with design.

Lindsey [27:58] So I think the reason why I like Figma is because I’m not a designer. And I don’t really know how to use most of these tools. And I think one of the biggest things like sketch is super popular. But the thing that I like about Figma is you have to get started, you can get started for free. So Figma doesn’t require you to put your credit card down. And as somebody who is not very design minded, it’s a little bit more anxiety inducing to put my credit card down on something…and I’m not sure if it’s going to work well, for me, especially since I’m more of a developer mindset. So Figma I think is a really good tool to get started with. I think I’m going to actually end up paying for it because I like it. But getting started with it for free was super helpful.

Emma [28:43] Let’s quickly take a step back, though, because let’s define it real quick. Well not define it. But like, let’s explain what it is. And really, really, really quick intro to design tools. We’ve got sketch, which Lindsey mentioned. It’s a very cool tool for prototyping, creating UI designs and whatnot. It is Mac specific, which is a barrier to entry because you cannot use it on Windows. And it is very expensive. We’re talking like several hundred dollars for your subscription.

Ali [29:08] A hundred dollars a year. Yeah.

Emma [29:10] Which you know, can be a lot, especially if you’re a freelancer or whatnot. Figma is browser based as far as I know. I don’t know if they have an app you can download. But at that point, you can use it cross operating system. And yeah, it’s free. It’s pretty simple use too I think.

Lindsey [29:25] They do have desktop apps, at least for Mac, which I’m on. But yeah, I didn’t even really play with that until I knew for sure that I was going to continue using it. So yeah, you can totally use it in your browser. And the thing I like about it is I’m primarily using Figma for graphics. Like for example, for my blog, I design the Twitter cards or whatever. So designing those to the specification. They already have a lot of social media templates, in the sense of the size of the frame. And I’m sure they do a lot of the similar things that sketch does. So like centering fonts, all the things that you would expect. But for me, it’s just super… because I need a design tool for very simple things like just social media sharing. And so like for me, it’s super helpful to have because creating graphics, I was creating them in Canva before and they weren’t quite as polished as I’d want them to be. And now it’s actually pretty, pretty nice and really happy with most of my graphics.

Emma [30:28] Yeah, that’s nice. So Ali, what’s one more thing that maybe you’re like super pumped about

Ali [30:34] Something I’m trying to learn right now is WebAssembly. So WebAssembly is a technology that is being developed, that will allow you to use programming languages that are not JavaScript in the browser. So I am excited about this for two reasons. First, I think that having diversity in the languages that you can use is really important and will lead to some revolution on that front, especially I built my career on JavaScript to some extent at this point and love that language. But I think that allowing other ones to flourish is really important as well. Then my second thing with it is that it’s highly, highly performant. So you can write browser code in C or in rust, which are two languages that are way more performant than JavaScript. And the cool thing about that is that if you’re doing something really cool, like art, with code that can take up a lot of your processing power. And so doing it in a more performant language is going to be really, really beneficial there. And doing art with code and generative art is one of my personal passions. And so if web assembly allows me to do that in a way that’s more sustainable, that’s really exciting to me. So something that I’m trying to learn. Definitely rust and C have really high learning curves. And I’m trying to go back to my college stuff to refresh myself on some C stuff. But it’s a definitely a really cool forefront for web development. I think

Emma [32:04] I think Lin Clark is super into WebAssembly, too. She’s someone that’s on a lot of podcasts that I’ve heard talk openly about WebAssembly. So if y’all want to learn more about that, I would recommend checking her talks out for sure.

Kelly [32:16] On a completely other note, I am also just really excited about where we’re going with augmented reality. I think there are so many opportunities for using it in so many different situations. Of course, in my e commerce space, being able to use your phone to view what our product looks like in see it physically right in front of you, like on your desk… I just think that’s the coolest thing! And it shows you like the proper dimensions to scale. And just the technology behind this and the way we’re moving forward with 3d modeling and being able to do these kinds of things. It blows my mind.

Ali [32:55] Yeah, there are a couple companies already doing that, too. So IKEA has something where you can just try furniture in your room. And then some makeup companies have it where you can try on makeup before purchasing, so you know what things look like on your skin tone. So one of my big conference talks, and I’m kind of traveling around the world to talk about this year is augmented reality in JavaScript, I recreated snapchats filters in 47 lines of JavaScript, and you can run it in your browser. And that’s so cool to me that you don’t need to learn another language to do it. You can just do it with these web languages that you’re already doing. And there are libraries already built into JavaScript that are making this way more accessible. And it’s not incredibly hard to do this. So I’m really excited about it, too.

Lindsey [33:39] That’s super cool. Oh my gosh,

Emma [33:42] I mean, IKEA already takes all my money, I spend it all they’re like on their meatballs and hotdogs and furniture. So now. Sorry,

Kelly [33:50] I just love that you prioritize meatballs over furniture.

Emma [33:53] Well, I have my priorities in line. But no, I think augmented reality is really cool. When I was working at IBM for one of the South by Southwest events a couple of years ago, there was an installation that I worked on, around augmented reality, but it was for the elderly. So they were living in assisted living, they let them maintain their sense of independence by not living in like a really assisted living home. Like they were still independent. But what was cool about the augmented reality, it allowed their loved ones to kind of check in on them and make sure that like, hey, they didn’t leave the stove on or like, hey, they forgot to take their medicine, things like this, that, I mean, that’s life changing, right. And also going back to this IKEA thing, that’s what I was going to suggest is like, I want to try out this 1200 dollar couch in my apartment and make sure it looks good and fits before I go and invest in it. So that’s super cool.

Ali [34:39] They’re also doing some cool stuff for people with disabilities with augmented reality as well. I am not an expert on this whatsoever. But apparently people with some certain vision impairments if they have images flipped, so that they’re different colors, and maybe they’re black and white instead of in full color, then they’re able to see the scene better. And so there’s augmented reality apps that will allow people to visualize scenes in different ways to which I think is really cool. And then there’s the artistic realm as well, which is also very cool.

Lindsey [35:13] So I never had any, [desire to play with it], but now I kind of want to play with it. I’m like, Okay, now there’s one more thing thing on my list. Because I honestly have been hearing a lot about it, but haven’t put it on my to learn list. I’ve definitely been convinced just from talking here.

Emma [35:27] That’s awesome. And speaking of really cool things, we want to give a shout out to Monica because she got a job as a data scientist for AFSCME. I don’t know what that stands for. But it is the largest union servicing public sector. And she’s been in the private sector for a while and she’s super excited to do more fulfilling work. So congrats to you, Monica, what a big win. If you want your win featured on one of our podcast episodes, please submit it to us. We send out a newsletter where you can go and learn more about that. But give us your wins. We want to shout out to you.

Ali [36:00] Yeah, so as of the time is released, I will be speaking at two different conferences within a week and a half span. So I’m going to be at OSCON in Portland and then Codeland in New York, and I’m super excited about both of those.

Emma [36:16] Codeland is the one run by free…no code newbies?

Ali [36:19] But yeah, it’s gonna be really cool. Kelly, what’s your win?

Kelly [36:24] Yes, that’s something I’ve been working on for the past year has finally happened. My agency, the Taproom is officially a Shopify Plus Agency Partner. There are 78 Solutions partners in the United States. And I think there are now three of us in the southeast. And we are the only one in Atlanta, which means Shopify recognizes that we do awesome work and will be recommended to the more enterprise level clients. So very excited.

Emma [36:52] Congratulations, Kelly.

Kelly [36:53] Thank you,

Emma [36:54] Lindsey. What’s your win?

Lindsey [36:56] Oh, yeah. So this is more of a personal win, or more just something I’m really excited about. So at the time of this recording, my fiance and I have taken our engagement photos, which is really, really cool. And also, we were thinking about not doing it just to save money. But neither of us are very good at taking pictures of us as a couple and I’m really excited to have a bunch of pictures of us celebrate the future.

Kelly [37:22] You won’t regret that!

Emma [37:23] Yeah, where are you taking them?

Lindsey [37:25] We’re taking them in my hometown, actually, which is a very cute, old school downtown area. So like kind of got a lot of independent businesses, a lot of brick. It’s super, super cute. And I’m really excited about it. So it’s more personal versus tech or career, but I’m really excited about it.

Emma [37:44] That’s awesome.

Kelly [37:44] Emma, you also have a personal win.

Emma [37:47] Yeah, I got married. So I’ve been married. [laughs] I’ve been married before. No. We got married last year, right. We had our legal wedding. And at the time, this is released… Yeah, our big wedding that we’ve been planning for you and a half will have been celebrated. And my family is flying over from the US. And we’re having it in the Alps in Bavaria an hour south of Munich. And I’m super excited.

Lindsey [38:10] That is so cool. Congratulations, Emma.

Ali [38:13] Awesome. So thank you all so much for listening to this episode. If you enjoyed it, please go ahead and tweet about it. Each week we’ll select one person who tweets about the episode to win ladybug stickers and they’re super, super cute. So tweet about us. And while you’re there, while you’re online, go ahead and subscribe to our podcast so that you’re notified about each new episode we’ll be releasing every Monday morning. And if you loved it, like it and also leave us a comment because we love it reading your feedback. Thanks