Our HalfStack 2022 speaker lineup will get announced in mid-late 2021. For now our HalfStack 2020 speaker lineup is listed below! HalfStack starts at 10am, includes breaks, lunch, dinner, and an interactive afterparty with a JS pub quiz and a retro-tech movie screening. Plan to arrive before 10am and stay late!

09:30 AM

Doors Open

Arrive, get your conference swag, enjoy a coffee or tea, and meet other HalfStack attendees!

10:00 AM

Welcome to HalfStack Phoenix!

A warn welcome and introduction to HalfStack Phoenix. Information on what to expect for an amazing day.

10:15 AM

Hacking loops and programatic patterns into Age of Empires

Alex Blom (@AlexBlom) Isle of Code

Before Minecraft there was Age of Empires - and the scenario editor. The editor allowed players to create custom maps for single and multi player use. What was originally a simple system for map design was wildly extended by players - to include flying dragons, health and management systems, RPG style games and even rudimentary source protection. The engine supported none of this.

As JavaScript developers we’re used to extending tools beyond their intended use. This talk will be a fun reflection on the lengths early mapping communities went to create crazy workarounds - such as while loops - in tools never designed to support such complex logic.

10:45 AM

Communicating Through Code

Emma Brillhart (@emmabrillhart) Formidable

We've all looked at a chunk of code and had no idea what it does - only to realize that we were the ones who wrote it, six or so months ago. If we can't read our own code after a few months, how can we expect anybody else to? This talk will go over techniques for making your code more readable to you and others, from good old documentation to specific, increasingly popular technologies like GraphQL and Typescript that can be leveraged to make your code easy for new developers to onboard to or for yourself to pick back up a couple of months down the road.

11:10 AM

Getting SASSy with Pixel Art

Jacque Schrag (@jnschrag) CSIS

The practice of "pushing pixels" to create simple, iconic art has been used in everything from classic video games to cross-stitch. In this talk, I'll demonstrate how you can level up your CSS knowledge by creating your very own pixel art using Sass (and a single line of HTML).

11:30 AM

Exploring the hidden potential of sound data

Charlie Gerard (@devdevcharlie) Atlassian

Even though we don’t really think about it, sound is a very rich source of information.

Leveraging the properties of sound with machine learning, we can gain insights about an environment or an activity performed.

Acoustic activity recognition has the potential to create new interactions and better smart systems, and in this talk, we explore how to experiment with this technology in JavaScript, using the Web audio API and Tensorflow.js.



Enjoy lunch with the HalfStack Phoenix community. Options for anyone with dietary restrictions are available.

12:40 PM

Raise Your Voice

Christian Heilmann (@codepo8) Microsoft

We're living in a confusing world of web development. In the past we knew the evils to fight. We wanted to standardise the web and we wanted to be competitive with closed platforms. Now we have most of that and we take it for granted. But things can only get better when browser makers and tool creators build things that people need. This is a great time to get your needs heard, and take ownership of the tools that enable your work.

1:10 PM

Coding Accessibility: Best practices from the front lines

Bekah Rice (@bekahble) True Matter

Accessibility is no longer something we can ignore – it’s a legal requirement. We’ll tackle the biggest accessibility pitfalls, talk about how to make the tough decisions, and go beyond the code to understand the real people who benefit from accessible sites, apps, and software.

1:45 PM

What developers can learn from Soviet space program failures

Andrey Sitnik (@sitnikcode) Evil Martians

The space industry is very similar to software development. Human mistakes, a big project with a lack of communications, insane complexity. So there are a lot of things, which we can learn from them: not blame users, but change UI; report about issues in open source libraries; use linters. Especially, when all these best practices are wrapped in funny and real stories.

Andrey Sitnik, the creator of PostCSS and Autoprefixer, will talk about how he uses his passion and knowledge of space industry mistakes in PostCSS development.

2:10 PM

Making Art with WebAssembly & WebXR

Andrés Cuervo (@cwervo) Movable Ink

Curious about WebAssembly, WebXR, or creative web tools? How about all 3 rolled into one‽ In this talk we'll go through a web app I created that allows people to draw in 3D using a custom web browser that uses both WebAssembly & an experimental WebXR API implementation. We'll go through an overview of all the bleeding edge & experimental stuff, get into how these enable new UI or speed up interactions, & by the end you should be able to experiment with all the same tech yourself!

2:30 PM


The first of two afternoon breaks to stay refreshed and meet other amazing members of the HalfStack Phoenix community!

2:50 PM

A step into virtual reality

Paul Shannon (@developerPaul) SitePen

Virtual Reality is a medium that allows us to transcend time and space. With the recent release of capable and affordable consumer-level headsets, VR is assured to grow from a niche market to one with almost limitless potential to connect us.

3:20 PM

IsThereAGame.Today: How a Decade Old Joke became a Serverless Inconvenient Baseball Empire

Mica Alaniz (@_micada) Democratic National Committee

It is 2009. Microsoft releases Windows 7. Justice Sotomayor becomes the first Latina on the Supreme Court. Balloon Boy had never been in the balloon at all. And if your commute was routinely impacted by a baseball game and you happened to live on Chicago’s north side, you were in luck. launched to absolutely no fanfare by someone who was not a coder and had no aspiration to be. Despite the fate of other single-serving websites of its time (RIP YTMND) and the occasional lack of attention, it proceeded to become both SEO gold and a nigh-indispensible public service, even (sort of) winning an award.

3:55 PM

Rethinking Game Controllers in Augmented Reality - No Touching!

Jyoti Bishnoi (@methodiva) Not A Bot Studio

Somehow everybody only seems to be talking about the possibilities of AR, instead of the constraints and what those constraints mean for your game. One of the biggest constraints that we came across as we launched Mobile AR game titles to public and beta users, was that it's really hard to use touch on the screen as a Control when you're using the same screen as your View.

This made us go back to the drawing board and completely rethink how to do controllers in Augmented Reality. We prototyped a string of crazy demos to explore this space. This talk covers those outlandish demos, and how those possibilities panned out in our games. It also features the gotchas that are unique to AR, and the sweet spot that innovates new game controllers for the era of Augmented Reality. We will share demos of the new game controller ideas we propose, and have been used in our games: AR drummer, facial gestures to vaccum an after party room, and hand gestures and real world objects to interact with virtual world for storytelling.

4:20 PM

Stranger Things than Web Bluetooth

Luis Montes (@monteslu) IcedDev

Details to be announced closer to the event.

4:50 PM


The last of two afternoon breaks to stay refreshed and meet other amazing members of the HalfStack Phoenix community!

5:10 PM

JavaScript On Microcontrollers

Niels Leenheer (@html5test) Salonhub

Microcontrollers have become powerful enough to run JavaScript. With just 30 lines of code, we can build a connected lightbulb, and within seconds we can wirelessly deploy it. Write a couple of lines more, and you can even remotely control a car. And that is precisely what we are going to do.

5:45 PM

Listening to maps

Rene Rubalcava (@odoenet) Esri

Maps can do more than give you directions to the closest coffee shop, Maps are natural story tellers - what if we could listen to that story? We'll integrate the web audio API with map visualizations and statistics to listen to a map's untold story.

6:10 PM

Acid Burn. Web. Trinity

Dylan Schiemann (@dylans) SitePen

Many of today's technologies were prognosticated by movies of the past. As a sequel to Dylan's previous Yoda. Web. Spock talk, this session moves beyond pure sci-fi to explore cinema's influence on the web ecosystem.

6:30 PM


A quick recap of the day, announcements, and information about the afterparty and the JavaScript Pub Quiz.

6:40 PM

Dinner and Afterparty

Enjoy dinner and form teams for the afterparty JavaScript Pub Quiz.

7:25 PM

Afterparty JavaScript Pub Quiz

Jeff Cross (@jeffbcross) Nrwl

Join us for our infamous afterparty JavaScript Pub Quiz including some of the most obscure JavaScript trivia and prizes!

9:00 PM

Retro-tech movie screening

To be announced

We're in an amazing cinema, so we'll watch a classic tech movie together. Learn which movie on the day of the event.

11:55 PM

Afterparty Ends

Thanks for attending HalfStack Phoenix 2020. We hope to see you at a future HalfStack event!