Staffs Web Meetup February 2015

Posted by Andrew McCombe on Sat Feb 21, 2015

On Thursday night I attended the Staffs Web Meetup, a monthly event aimed at providing an informal environment for people involved in all aspects of the web industry to meet up.

The event is sponsored by Campaign Monitor, Connect Group and iWeb, and held at the Bean enCounter in Stafford.

February’s meet-up featured four lightning talks and was hosted by Natasha Allsopp.

Talk 1: WebGL: The Future of web maps? by James Milner

James explained the history behind WebGL and how he’d used it at UCL to build a 3D Mapping system. WebGL is based on OpenGL which is used in the computer games industry to provide 3D graphics. WebGL runs natively in the browser dependant on browser support which avoids the need to use a (soon to be deprecated) NSAPI plugin.

He showed sample code in pure WebGL and explained how vanilla WebGL can be tough to learn, with hundreds of lines of code needed to produce simple scenes. James then introduced Three.js which is an abstracted library making it easier to produce and work with WebGL.

Talk 2: Thymeleaf and Thymesheet by Ruth Mills

Ruth Mills is a Senior Java Web Developer at Connect Group and her talk was an introduction to the Thymeleaf, a java XML/XHTML/HTML5 templating layer.

Ruth demonstrated how Thymeleaf uses HTML5 data- attributes to inject information into an otherwise-plain HTML file. Thymeleaf supports the usual control structures (loops, conditionals etc) and allows their development team to separate the front-end from the date.

Connect Group then took this further by creating Thymesheet which is a CSS-inspired Pre-Processing extension to Thymeleaf. The idea is that the HTML page links to a .tss file which contains selectors that target the DOM and then injects the data. A very neat solution that enables the designers to produce complete vanilla HTML designs without needing to know the Thymeleaf syntax.

Talk 3: Active Agile by Jamie Pollock

Jamie’s talk discussed their recent introduction of Agile development into their web development. He introduced the concepts of Agile and explained how they fit in with their processes.

By starting with User Stories and moving into sprint, stand-up, demo and retrospectives, Jamie showed how this process benefitted the team by allowing the members to concentrate on their specific tasks but also allowed communication to flow between them, improving the development process.

Talk 4: Rubberduck Debugging by Sam Bennett

Sam began his talk explaining how he got into web development at school, thanking (or blaming) Microsoft Frontpage. He then explained how he started tutoring students in development and how he uses Rubber Duck debugging to clarify code and help identify issues.

Sam finished by distributing his bagful of squeaky ducks to the attendees!

rubber duck development


I really enjoyed the evening and will definitely be attending again. The next event is on March 19th at the Bean enCounter in Stafford and the theme is ‘Show n Tell’. You can find out more on their Lanyrd page