Chicago Camps

Front-end Camp

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Columbia College Film Row – Chicago

Photo: Bhaskar Peddhapati


If you want to ramp up your HTML, CSS, Javascript, and throw in a bit of UX and Design for good measure, Front-end Camp is the event you won’t want to miss!

It takes a lot to stay current when you work in front-end design and development, and Front-end Camp will bring you presentations that help you level up. We’ll provide you with a full-day of presentations on the topics that are important to you, from speakers who bring the front-end knowledge and all for a great price that includes your lunch.

Interested in Sponsoring Front-End Camp?

We’re actively looking for sponsors for Front-End Camp. If you’re interested, or if you know someone we should talk to, please let us know!

Sign up now–these tickets go fast!

Meet Our Awesome Sponsors

These fantastic sponsors are helping us bring this great event to you.


Jen Myers

Jen Myers
Curriculum Director of Software Developer Content, Pluralsight

Jen Myers is a technologist, speaker and educator, and currently a Curriculum Director of Software Developer Content at Pluralsight. She has been involved with Girl Develop It, an organization that provides introductory programming classes for women, as a chapter leader, instructor and advisor since 2011 and founded a series of mother/daughter coding workshops called Code and Cupcakes Chicago. She has spoken widely about design, development and diversity, and focuses on finding new ways to make both technology and technology education accessible to everyone.

For more, keep up with Jen at or on Twitter as @antiheroine.

Move at a Reasonable Speed and Balance Things

We know that the rapid pace of technology makes a challenging task for its creators and practitioners to keep up with its perpetual innovations. Those of us who inhabit the nebulous front-end design/development world, with its constantly changing tools and complexity, know this truth twice over. All of which suggests that it’s worthwhile to pause from time to time to think about how we think about it all. Let’s consider how the speed of technology affects our product quality, our continuing education and our community connection, and whether or not the philosophies we often use to navigate this world are likely lead us to the result we really want.


Call for Speakers

Are you interested in speaking at Front-End Camp? We sure hope so! Submit your talk and let us know what’s on your mind to share.

First time speaker, or have limited experience? Let us know—we welcome new speakers and have been known to help folks round out their proposals.

Submit your talk—come hang out with us in Chicago and share what you’ve learned!

Arlo Bryan Guthrie

Arlo Bryan Guthrie
Lead Design Developer, Sprout Social

Arlo Bryan Guthrie is Sprout Social’s Lead Design Developer, focusing on the design system for our flagship web application and other online properties. He’s a devoted family man and an amateur whiskey snob. His parents were too young to name children.

For more, keep up with Arlo at or on Twitter as @arlodesign.

So They Agreed to a Design System. Now What?

You demonstrated the benefits, you gave several presentations, and they gave your design system proposal a +1. Where do you go from here? In this presentation, I’ll talk about the early steps Sprout Social took to ensure their design system got off to a strong start. Identify your stakeholders, set their expectations early, and demonstrate empathy for their needs. Learn from our mistakes and successes. We’ll even dive into a little code to demonstrate how our specific needs helped us determine when to use a third-party solution and when to build something ourselves.

Brad Larson

Brad Larson
Founder of Waterfall Media & Co-Founder of BannerWave

Brad comes from a background in Flash, animation, and video and originally made his living through Flash work. Several years ago, his company made the transition to HTML5. Right now their focus is high-end HTML5 advertising and marketing.

For more, keep up with Brad at or on Twitter as @panguino.

HTML5 Animation & Advertising

Brad will be discussing some of the challenges of digital design and animation. He will show how they solve some of those issues at BannerWave. In doing so, he will cover display ads and how BannerWave is innovating advertising on the web.

Chris Courtney

Chris Courtney
Director of the Design Program,

Chris is the Director of the Design Program at, an online education startup based in San Francisco, California. At Bloc, he draws upon 20 years of design experience building brands and products to prepare the next wave of designers how to push beyond how something looks and focus on why it matters. When he’s not busy building design students, he can be found trying out new tech gadgets, consulting with media startups, and running marathons.

For more, keep up with Chris at or on Twitter as @designhawg.

Beyond the Show: The Making of Job-Ready Designers

Every year thousands of designers graduate from our educational institutions, yet many are not hired even though thousands of open positions go unfilled. Why is that? At Bloc, we’ve had conversations with hundreds of design program graduates and the design leaders who have hired them. This gives us a very good read on how graduates successfully land jobs as well as what design leaders see in these graduates that makes them want to bring them on. This talk will break apart what the ideal design graduate looks like to industry and investigate how we as educators can prepare the next wave of graduates to have a greater chance of success.

Don Bora

Don Bora
Co-Founder & Principal of Technology, Eight Bit Studios

Don has been a professional software developer in Chicago since 1990 during which time, he has had the great fortune to work at many types of companies employing varied technologies.

A few years ago, Don decided to give back to the Chicago community. He sought out opportunities to lend his experience to those who might benefit. He began mentoring at the Founder Institute and then The Code Academy (now The Starter League). In the summer of 2011, Don co-founded The Mobile Makers Academy and was the Chief Instructor for four years, ushering much needed iOS development talent into new careers.

Don has been an outspoken advocate for women and girls in tech, seeking to bridge the technology gap by exposing the fun and creative side of programming. He frequently mentors both high school and college students who display an interest in technology and coding.

Don is also a partner and co-founder of Eight Bit Studios. He loves meeting new developers, seeing their tremendous potential, and giving them the opportunity to be great. At Eight Bit Studios, Don develops software on various studio projects, careful to learn something new with each one.

For more, keep up with Don at or on Twitter as @dbora.

Hiring & Cultivating Junior Talent

Want to hire junior talent but are scared about the business and bottom line repercussions? Worried about all of these bootcamp students and how to vet them against classically trained, degreed professionals? Listen to Don Bora as he shares his stories from the trenches. Don has co-founded a bootcamp, mentored at several others, and hired lots and lots of junior talent. He continues to be passionate about growing junior talent and has learned a lot about fostering passionate beginners, channeling that eager energy into killer project work.

Jessica Bertling

Jessica Bertling
UX Deveveloper, NewBoCo, & Code Instructor, DeltaV Code School

Jessica Bertling is an avid gardener and loves to help things grow, especially ideas. After receiving her degree in Digital Media and Design she spent eight years in e-commerce, specializing in user experience design and front end web development. She now works for NewBoCo, parent organization of the Iowa Startup Accelerator, where she works with startups and local corporations to build innovative products. She’s also an instructor at DeltaV, Iowa’s premier code school, where she teaches front end web development.

For more, keep up with Jessica at or on Twitter as @jbertling.

Tale of Two Redesigns

As we move into a world of continuous deployment, divided work, fast moving ops teams and agile time boxes, how does something like a full responsive site overhaul or site redesign get accomplished without a mess of conflicts or new development freezes? What happens when you take two sister companies, both on the Internet Retailer Top 500 list, and try two completely different approaches? We’ll talk about what we learned, show you some pitfalls to avoid, and how we ultimately completed a successful full site responsive redesign in "bite sized" pieces, independent of other development, without disrupting the customer experience.

John Polacek

John Polacek
Lead Web Developer, Gesture

John Polacek leads front end at Gesture, the mobile fundraising platform for charity events, and is the author of many open source projects like Expressive CSS, Stacktable, Responsivator, BigVideo.js and Scrollorama.

For more, keep up with John at or on Twitter as @johnpolacek.

Rethinking CSS: Go Functional for Scaling, Performance and Simplicity

We can be our own worst enemies when it comes to creating CSS architectures. Functional CSS is a simple approach to creating and following consistent design patterns that lead to performant web applications at scale. If you do it right, the older a project gets, the less CSS you write. The only catch is that you may have to change the way you think.

We will look at real world applications of this technique, and show how you can apply it, from prototypes to large scale mature web applications.

Kurt Cunningham

Kurt Cunningham
Co-Founder, Made by Munsters

Kurt is a motivated and adaptive innovative thinker who enjoys data-driven design and development. His passion for finding the best possible experience is matched by only his love for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

For more, keep up with Kurt at or on Twitter as @KurtCunningham.

Let’s Refactor That Sass

Sass is a powerful pre-processor. That’s a given. Since it’s release Sass has helped designers and front-end developer’s create more modular stylesheets. But it’s so much more than just variables and nested selectors. By using functions, mixins, and yes, even extends, we can write powerful design architectures in less code and better prepare our systems for future feature development.

Let’s take advantage of all that Sass provides us. Over the years, I’ve seen—and made—many common mistakes in Sass that could be cleaned up with some refactoring. “Let’s refactor that Sass” is a phrase my co-workers are sick of hearing. But, it’s something I find myself saying on a daily basis. And something, hopefully, you’ll be saying too.

Rebecca Miller-Webster

Rebecca Miller-Webster
Practice Lead, DevMynd

Rebecca Miller-Webster is a software engineer, conference organizer, and educator. She is the founder of Write/Speak/Code and Practice Lead at DevMynd. Rebecca has been developing software professionally for over a dozen years, previously organized GORUCO, and was the founding teacher at Dev Bootcamp NYC. Rebecca’s hobbies include drinking Cherry Coke Zero, wearing trousers, telling computers what to do, cuddling pugs, and wearing all the colors.

For more, keep up with Rebecca at or on Twitter as @rmillerwebster.

All About the Client & Server

New JavaScript frameworks and libraries popping up everywhere. Code that was once only on the server is now performing beautifully on the client. Data that once only lived in one part of your application is needed everywhere.

But the truth is that the internet — its fundamental protocols and constraints — hasn’t changed much in the last couple decades. We’ve just gotten better at working within those constraints. Maybe we’ve gotten too good.

Let’s discuss the fundamentals of interacting with the client and the server. We’ll discuss the basic ways to connect JavaScript with a web application using examples in Ruby on Rails and other web frameworks. You’ll leave the talk able to assess the best approach for your app’s needs, communicate with your backend team and a deeper understanding of how the libraries and frameworks you use work under the hood.

Rudy Rigot

Rudy Rigot
Lead Software Engineer, Salesforce

Rudy is brand new to Chicago, and loving every bit of it! In a previous life, he was a software engineer at Apple for a while, founded his own startup (Holberton School, a 2-year software engineering school in San Francisco that is still running today), wrote a technical book in French about responsive web design before it was cool, is currently writing a second one about the Go language, and gave a lot of conference talks when he was in France, where he’s from. Today, he is a lead software engineer at Salesforce (proudly the only product engineer sitting in the Salesforce Chicago offices!), working on Salesforce’s in-app user assistance features.

For more, keep up with Rudy on Twitter as @rudyrigot.

Human Scaling on the Front-End

Your product (or your client’s product) is kicking butt, and the userbase is ever growing, allowing to hire more engineers to build more experimental features, more interactions, more experiences in your product. Soon, a dreadful problem starts arising: how do you ensure that one team’s work in your crowd of engineers doesn’t unwillingly break or impact another team’s front-end work? How do you scale humans on the front-end while limiting risk?

We’ll briefly look at how that problem is being solved on the back-end in large companies (Google, Apple, Uber, Salesforce) to see what we can learn from it for the front-end, and then we’ll dive in the opportunities that current front-end framework are leveraging. We’ll discuss component-based approaches in particular, since they’re designed as a solution to that problem, and will review the solutions they bring, but also the new challenges, and what future we can expect to them.

Stacy Kvernmo

Stacy Kvernmo
Senior Interaction Designer, OddBird

With over 15 years of experience, Stacy takes the lead at OddBird on interface design and development, architecting accessible and maintainable front-end code using a styleguide-first process. She enjoys experimenting with new design processes and tools as well as new web technologies like CSS Grid Layout. When she isn’t at her computer she is at the gymnastics gym training for her first gymnastics meet as an adult.

For more, keep up with Stacy at or on Twitter as @stacykvernmo.

The Great State of Design with CSS Grid Layout & Friends

For far too long we’ve been forced to reuse layout patterns that have worked in the past, creating a web full of sites that all look the same. Lack of browser support, no true layout system, and designers who are forced to make safe decisions for budget or timeline reasons have led us to create work that is rarely creative nor inspiring.

I’ve spent years exploring how we can make the web a more unique space. Many CSS properties have been overlooked, but support has grown and many of these features are available now or can be used as enhancements. One of these new features is CSS Grid Layout, which will play a major role in layout design. Having a true, 2 dimensional grid will give our layouts much more flexibility and it is on us to explore the possibilities.

Taylor Poulos

Taylor Poulos
Designer, Moment

Taylor is a designer and writer, currently working at Moment in New York, New York. He started making software when he was twelve, eventually focusing in UX design and research.

At Carnegie Mellon University of Pittsburgh PA, he majored in Information Systems, Human-Computer Interaction, and Creative Writing, and was heavily involved in the hackathon community. As a hacker and a hackathon organizer, he worked to make the hacker community more diverse by running a hackathon that was accessible to people from underrepresented backgrounds and running workshops that introduce technical skills to a broader group of students.

Since then, he’s been obsessing over type on the web and thinking about how crowdsourcing techniques can be applied to creative tasks.

For more, keep up with Taylor at or on Twitter as @twpoulos.

Ironing Pixels – How to Achieve Perfect Type on the Web

Designers are an obsessive group of people, especially where type is concerned. 18th Century type designer John Baskerville famously ironed each sheet of paper and brewed his own ink to achieve darker, more uniform letters. This attention to detail produced books that noticeably advanced the state of the art.

However, as design has become more digital and less tactile, designers have become removed from the process of setting type. Few understand how the bits on their hard drive get turned into letterforms on the screen. As Mig Reyes pointed out, modern interfaces are 90 percent typography, and it is more important than ever to set type effectively. By learning more about the process of how type gets rendered on a screen, we’ll be equipped to sweat the details and build beautiful, typographically pristine websites.

In this talk, we’ll get into the nitty gritty of how type is rendered. We’ll cover:

  • What information goes into a font file, and how to tell if a font has been built to work effectively on a wide variety of screens
  • Web font loading and rendering, and how this process is different than what you might be familiar with in Sketch or Illustrator
  • Emerging standards—like variable fonts—that will change the way we set type on the web in the upcoming years


Columbia College Film Row

We are big fans of our venue and sponsor: Columbia College in Chicago. Columbia is a great place to learn and upgrade your design skills and we’re excited to partner with them!

Columbia College

About Columbia College

Columbia College Chicago is an institution of higher education specializing in arts and media disciplines, with nearly 12,000 students pursuing degrees within 120 undergraduate and graduate programs.

Check out Columbia College.

Where to Park?

There are several easy-access parking garages available in the surrounding blocks.

Where to Stay?

Coming from out of town? We recommend staying at The Congress Plaza Hotel on Michigan Avenue in the heart of Chicago.

Chicago Sponsors Camps

  • Rosenfeld Media
  • Simplecast
  • Columbia College Chciago
  • MOMENT Design

Code of Conduct

All delegates, speakers, sponsors and volunteers at any Chicago Camps, LLC event are required to agree with the following code of conduct. Organizers will enforce this code throughout the event.

The Short Version
Full Version

Be respectful of other people; respectfully ask people to stop if you are bothered; and if you can’t resolve an issue contact the organizers. If you are being a problem, it will be apparent and you’ll be asked to leave.