See me on the (digital) stage talking about my favorite topics of Git, web performance, design systems, accessibility, and frontend architecture.
I don't have any upcoming talks scheduled. Reach out if you'd like me to speak at your event!
Conference talks & podcast appearances
Hard Problems in Frontend Platforms
Imagine you are tasked with building a platform to support a distributed system where your code executes in a remote environments. You don't control the hardware or the software, you have varying levels of API support, the network could cut out at any moment, you aren't guaranteed to have any observability, oh and there's a GUI but you have no idea what size the screen might be, but you must ensure there's always a great User Experience. If you don't run away screaming, then congratulations, you're now a Frontend Platform Engineer!
This talk dives into the world of Frontend Platform Engineering, exploring the unique challenges, strategies, and best practices involved in creating robust, scalable, performant, and reliable Frontend architectures that simultaneously delight users.
You'll leave with a better framework for making decisions about the vast array of Frontend technologies, libraries, patterns, and practices available. And, more importantly, you'll understand why these choices exist and the underlying hard problems that your frontend platform must solve.
Performance as a Feature: A Fireside Chat with Tammy Everts and Katie Sylor-Miller
Join us as Tammy Everts, author of Time Is Money: The Business Value of Web Performance, and Etsy's own Katie Sylor-Miller discuss the business case for satisfying users' need for speed and strategies for ugrading slow tech.
How to be a Performance Detective
When starting on a web performance journey, many companies’ first step is to start monitoring performance metrics over time. But the second step is often much harder - now that you have all of this data, what do you do when you see a regression? How do you sift through the clues to connect a change in a graph to the code that engineers ship to production? How do you become a performance detective?
In this session, Katie will crack open her casefiles to share some real-world examples where performance metrics changed for the worse, and walk through how to find the culprit. You’ll learn what clues to look for to understand a regression in your Core Web Vitals, how different performance metrics influence each other, and when to use data gathered from real users vs. synthetic tests in the lab.
Moon to Mars: Planning and executing for the long term
Tackling complex, long-term, cross-org projects can feel like you are planning a mission to Mars - how do you ensure success when the end goal feels like it's millions of miles away?
In this session, Katie will recount how she successfully led the planning and execution of a Mars-sized foundational rewrite to enable Progressive Web App (PWA) technology on Etsy.com - by taking a page from NASA's book, and first stopping at the Moon. She'll share what she learned about how to collaborate across teams and orgs, how to structure a project so you can measure success and set expectations at every step on the journey, and how to function as a "Consulting Architect" throughout every phase of execution and level up your team in the process.
This Dot Media invited me to co-host this panel discussion and Q & A session with an amazing group of performance experts including Katie Hempenius (Google), Yoav Weiss (Google). and Alex Russell (Microsoft).
Gitting after it with Katie Sylor-Miller
Screaming into the Cloud with Corey Quinn
Join Corey and Katie as they explore the wonderful world of Git and talk about how humans are confused by Git, how Katie’s website went viral overnight and what the experience was like, learning Git to give a talk on Git after said talk had already been accepted, how to teach yourself Git, how to teach others Git after having taught yourself Git, how people think that nothing is fixable with Git and why that’s wrong, how engineers write less and less code the higher and higher they climb at organizations, and more.
[Panel] Static to Dynamic and Back Again
Sentry.io graciously invited me to participate in a panel discussion with Rita Kozlov, Guillermo Rausch, and Ben Vinegar about what the future has in store for web technologies and performance.
[Panel] Sustaining and growing motivation across projects
I participated in a panel discussion with Tanya Reilly, Ale Paredes, and Mohit Cheppudira about sustaining and growing motivation across projects.
Becoming a Front-End Architect
Shoptalk Show Podcast
Katie Sylor-Miller stops by the ShopTalk studios to talk about her new job as Etsy's Frontend Architect as well as her experience learning Git.
Fireside Chat with Tanya Reilly and Katie Sylor-Miller: The Maybe-Great Idea, An RFC Journey
You have a great idea for a software project. But… will it work? Is it actually a great idea? Are you sure that there aren't huge risks you're not seeing that could cause the design to be torpedoed at the last minute? Could other people be quietly solving the same problem? It sure would be nice if your organisation could endorse the idea and say yes, absolutely, do it!
Once an engineering org has more than a few people, making big decisions can be hard. Often there are lots of people who can say no to an idea, but it's hard to find anyone to definitively say yes. So how do we make it easy for people with good ideas to get support and get started?
Join us to hear Tanya share Squarespace’s journey from the popular #YOLO method of software development, through writing RFC [Request for Comment] design documents, writing better RFCs, reviewing designs as a massive terrifying group, reviewing designs in secret smoky rooms, finding a balance that made us happy, and accidentally building a community along the way. It's a journey we're glad we've taken, and it can work for other people too.
After the talk, Tanya will be joined by Etsy’s own Frontend Architect, Katie Sylor-Miller, for a moderated Q&A and discussion of Etsy’s Architecture Review practices.
Happy Browser, Happy User
PerfMatters 2019, WordSesh 2019, NY Web Performance Meetup 2019
Performance is fundamentally, a UX concern. Sites that are slow to render or janky to interact with are a bad user experience. We strive to write performant code for our users, but users don’t directly interact with our code - it all happens through the medium of the browser. The browser is the middleman between us and our users; therefore to make our users happy, we first have to make the browser happy. But how exactly do we do that?
In this talk, we’ll learn how browsers work under the hood: how they request, construct, and render a website. At each step along the way, we’ll cover what we can do as developers to make the browser’s job easier, and why those best practices work. You’ll leave with a solid understanding of how to write code that works with the browser, not against it, and ultimately improves your users’ experience.
Home-brewing frontend culture
Frontend Happy Hour Podcast
In this episode, we are joined by Katie Sylor-Miller, a Staff Software Engineer from Etsy, to talk with us about ways to help build and foster a frontend culture within your companies.
Modernizing Etsy’s codebase with React
I had a great time chatting with Kevin Ball on the JSParty podcast! We discussed migrating OhShitGit to the JAMStack, migrating legacy codebases to modern front-end technologies, and design systems.
Visual Git: Filling in the Gaps
SmashingConf SF 2019
Git is the de facto industry standard tool for storing and editing code for a reason — it's powerful, scalable, flexible… but it can be confusing and intimidating, whether you're a newbie or you use it every day! Because Git is generally used via the command line, it’s hard to develop a mental model of what all of those commands actually do to your repo under the hood. This incomplete understanding makes it all too easy to get yourself into a Git mess on a daily basis!
So, let’s learn more about Git! Katie Sylor-Miller, author of OhShitGit.com, will walk through common workflows in Git, using a visual representation of a repo to flesh out our mental model of Git’s data structures and common workflows. We’ll learn how to avoid getting into Git messes in the first place with best practices, workflows, and tools that will keep your commits in order. Finally, we’ll learn how to leverage Git’s powerful features to save yourself when everything seems to go wrong.
Design Systems + Git = Success (Full day workshop)
Clarity Conference 2018
Design Systems are most successful when they have a solid process in place to manage, maintain, and share component code across multiple teams and codebases. The best way to achieve this is to manage code using a version control system like Git. Git is the defacto industry standard tool for storing and editing code for a reason - it's powerful, scalable, flexible... but can be confusing or intimidating, whether you're a newbie or you use it every day!
In this full-day workshop, Katie Sylor-Miller, the creator of OhShitGit.com, and co-author of The Design Systems Handbook, will teach you all you need to know to use Git as a tool for managing your Design System code.
We'll walk through everything you need to know to create, contribute to, maintain, and share your design system code as a standalone repo in Git. We'll go over how the fundamental structures in Git and how it all works under the hood. We'll create our own repos and get comfortable running common git commands in the terminal. We'll learn about best practices, workflows, and tools that will keep your commits in order and reduce the panic caused by merge conflicts. And, we'll cover some cool features in the Github UI to help you document, manage, and share your Design System code.
Images for Everyone: Making Media Accessible
We developers and designers are obsessed with getting our images “just right” before we display them to our users. We perfect their art direction, selecting images that set the right mood or convey the right information. We fine-tune their performance characteristics and ensure that we serve the right image for a multitude of devices. But what about users who can’t see our finely-tuned images or distinguish between the colors in our beautiful infographics? How do we ensure that our images are accessible so that everyone can experience your site to the fullest ?
In this session, we’ll learn about the different types of visual, auditory, cognitive, and motor impairments that affect how users interact with images and other media, and we’ll cover practical techniques for ensuring that your images are accessible to everyone, regardless of how they experience the web.
Raiders of the Fast Start: Frontend Performance Archaeology
PerfMattersConf 2018, Performance.Now() 2018
There are a lot of books, articles, and online tutorials out there with fantastic advice on how to make your websites performant. It all seems easy in theory, but applying best practices to real-world code is anything but straightforward. Diagnosing and fixing frontend performance issues on a large legacy codebase is like being an archaeologist excavating the remains of a lost civilization. You don’t know what you will find until you start digging!
Pick up your trowels and come along with Etsy’s Frontend Systems team as we become archaeologists digging into frontend performance on our large, legacy mobile codebase. I’ll share real-life lessons you can use to guide your own excavations into legacy code:
- What tools and metrics we used to diagnose issues and track progress.
- How we went beyond server-driven best practices to focus on the client.
- Which fixes successfully increased conversion, and which didn’t.
Our work, like all good archaeology, went beyond artifacts and unearthed new insights into our culture. We at Etsy pride ourselves on our culture of performance, but, like all cultures, it needs to adapt and reinvent itself to account for changes to the landscape. Based on what we’ve learned, we are making the case for a new, organization-wide, frontend-focused performance culture that will solve the problems we face today.
Git-ing out of your git messes
O'Reilly Fluent Conference 2017
Git, the widely popular version control tool that just about everyone who works on the web seems to use, is powerful, scalable, flexible. . .and difficult to learn. If you’ve used Git for any amount of time, you’ve probably gotten yourself into some confusing, frustrating, or downright terrifying situations. But don’t panic. You are not alone. Katie Sylor-Miller explains how to avoid getting into Git messes in the first place, demonstrating how the fundamental structures in Git actually work under the hood and sharing best practices, workflows, and tools that will keep your commits in order and reduce the panic caused by merge conflicts. Katie then shows you how to leverage Git’s powerful features to save yourself when everything seems to go wrong.
Putting the T in Team
As the web development landscape rapidly changes, good communication and collaboration between multiple job functions is key to not just a project’s success, but to a successful career as a front end developer. In this talk, we’ll discuss why it is important to grow yourself into a “T-shaped” developer - someone with deep knowledge in front end development, who can collaborate across multiple other disciplines. You'll leave knowing how to incorporate essential empathy and communication skills into your daily work life, leveling up your career, and the career of those around you.