Jack Franklin on the new era of JavaScript

Prolific JavaScripter Jack Franklin tells us about his upcoming Generate talk, how he got into coding and why he's excited about Firefox OS

.net: What are you going to speak about at Generate?
Jack Franklin: I'm going to be talking about all the new libraries and resources that have become available to frontend developers recently. There's been an explosion not only in tools for managing tasks such as minifying your code, but also in libraries to help structure and architect websites. We've got vast selection of frameworks like Backbone.js, Ember.js, AngularJS and more, which literally let you build your entire application in JavaScript.

Along with those complex, fully featured frameworks are a lot of other libraries that deal with just one small part, whether it be templating libraries like Handlebars, visualisation libraries like D3 or script loaders like RequireJS. There's such a vast quantity and it's often overwhelming, so in my talk I'll hopefully be able to give a good overview of the development landscape we're in today and how to go about picking the best bits for the particular project in hand.

.net: What do you think makes a good conference?
JF: Comfy seating! Most of all I find it frustrating when the breaks and lunches are fairly short – often the best bit of the conference is the chatting in between talks. Especially if I've just given a talk, I enjoy having people come up to me and chat about something – whether they agree or have an entirely different view point. It's great to talk to like-minded people. I also cannot stand after parties where the music is loud enough such to make conversations impossible.

.net: How did you get into speaking at conferences?
JF: I first started out doing BarCamps, which are free weekend events. There are no scheduled speakers – the attendees are themselves expected to talk – and I must have done at least five of these events before I submitted a talk to a conference and got accepted, which was the Web Developer Conference in Bristol last year. Once I had one under my belt it was good experience to draw from; I've spoken at a few more events since, with more to come. I've found I really enjoy speaking and hopefully people enjoy listening!

.net: What are you most looking forward to about attending Generate?
JF: I was lucky enough to be at the .net awards – which was at the same venue as Generate, and it was an amazing place. I'm looking forward to going back there and watching the talks. It will be tough choosing which talk to go to with two tracks though!

.net: When you first discovered web design and development, what was it about JavaScript that captured your interest?
JF: I started out just doing HTML and CSS for a year or so before I got stuck into PHP. It wasn't until I'd been doing HTML and CSS for a good two to three years that I started to look seriously at JavaScript. I then picked up jQuery, which, for me – as I'm sure it did for a lot of others – made JavaScript in the browser so much easier and nicer to work with. I started to enjoy that more and more, and spent a lot of time going back to fill in the holes of my JavaScript knowledge that using jQuery had papered over. What I think got my interest was seeing how simple jQuery made it to just add these visual animations, or cues, to enhance an interface. I imagine if I were to look back at my code, I'd hate it, but jQuery made the barrier to entry so low that I kept on trying new things, searching the documentation to find out how to do things, and then picking up a couple of books to push my knowledge on. That was when I realised I wanted to get more seriously into JavaScript. I always enjoyed the server-side development aspect of PHP which is why I think I really enjoy using libraries like Backbone that bring a lot of those methodologies and approaches to the client. For me it's like the best of both worlds!

.net: What projects are you working on right now?
JF: I have set aside some time to work on personal projects for the next couple of months, and my main goal is to try and increase the frequency at which I write on my blog, the JavaScript Playground. It went through a bit of a dry patch because I was so busy but I am slowly finding time to write for it. I'm also continuing to run Upfront Podcast with co-host Ben Howdle, a podcast all about frontend web development and have a number of other things up my sleeve I can't say much about yet, unfortunately.

.net: What are you excited about at the moment?
JF: I've been keeping a close eye on Firefox OS, the new mobile operating system from Mozilla. Some phones running it have just gone on sale and it's really exciting to see an OS built upon HTML, CSS and JS foundations becoming reality. I've got my hands on a preview device and it's really impressive and stupidly easy to develop for.

Use the discount code JF15 to get 15% off your Generate ticket