Epic Web Conf '24 Speakers

Una Kravets

Making the web more stylish @ Google Chrome

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  • Thursday, 9:35 AM9:55 AM
    Less Cruft, More Power: Leverage the Power of the Web Platform


Una leads the UI & Tooling Developer Relations Team at Google Chrome, which focuses on making the web platform more stylish, robust, and easier to build interfaces for by evolving CSS, HTML, and DevTools (with some JavaScript mixed in, too). Before that, Una worked on building scalable and expressive design systems as a Developer Advocate on the Material Design team, as the Director of Product Design at Bustle Digital Group, and as a UI Engineer at DigitalOcean and IBM Design. Una co-hosts the CSS Podcast, as well as the web video series Designing in the Browser. She's spoken at over 80 developer events around the world, and built open source libraries such as CSSgram. Outside of the tech community, Una is an avid calligrapher and loves to travel.


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Hello, everybody. I am joined by my friend, Una. How are you doing, Una? Hi. So good. Very excited for this event coming up. Thank you. I am also really excited. This is going to be a lot of fun. I feel it's been a while. I think the last time we were together was at Infobip in Croatia,

like a year and a half ago. So I'm looking forward to seeing you in person again. Yeah, it should be good. That was a good time, too. Yeah. And Park City is a wonderful place to meet up with people, and it's just a beautiful location at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. It's going to be really awesome.

You know, I have never been to Utah, and it's been on my list. Oh! I've seen a lot of photos. I've seen your photos, too, when you go skiing. Or snowboarding, sorry. Yes. So that's made me very jealous, and I cannot wait to see the scenery. It's definitely been on my list. Yeah, awesome.

In April, it's pretty likely that there will still be snow in the mountains, but it will be really comfortable at the foot of the mountains. You'll want a jacket, probably. But if you're interested in going skiing or snowboarding, then you probably could manage that, and I think there will be a group of folks who do that.

So there's also other really fun things that you can do, like hiking and stuff like that, too. Yeah, I think I'm more for the hiking. I'm there for the vines and the views. Yeah, yeah. Well, then you're going to get vibes in Park City. That is a beautiful place.

And the hotel that we're staying at and the venue, which are really close to each other, but there's a stop for public transportation that's free, and it'll get you through the city and everything, so you can go. There's a really good shopping vibe there, too, just like fun little shops and stuff.

It's going to be great. Anyway, I would like folks to get to know you, Una. Can you give us an intro to yourself? What are you into? Sure. So, hi, I'm Una. I work on the web platform in the UI space, which is usually CSS, HTML, JavaScript,

where it relates to user interaction and user interface things. I live on the East Coast. I'm outside D.C. right now. I love crafts. I'm big into crafts. This is my craft room. So I've got my sewing machine set up behind me. I recently got into that. I like to do calligraphy.

That's kind of like my thing outside of tech, is I try to get crafty with my hands. And I have a dog. I've recently gotten really into bird watching. There's this really cool app called Merlin, where you can record the sounds of the birds around you,

and it'll pick up what birds are actually speaking, kind of like show on the screen what birds are making noises at what time. It's really cool. You can see a bird conversation. Anyway. That is cool. My son is super into birds. For Christmas, we got him binoculars, and he just barely bought himself a bird house

that he hung up in a tree and stuff. And he'll run around with a phone or a camera taking pictures of birds and stuff. He's just really into that stuff. That sounds like a nice app. You've got to get this app. It's a free app. I think Cornell University made it. That is very cool. Yeah, I'll have to look into that.

And you also made me think, with your craftiness, of Shirley Wu. You know Shirley, right? Yes. I'm so inspired by her. Yeah, absolutely. She's really done a good job of taking the digital data viz stuff that she's doing

and applying it to a real world art installations and stuff. Very cool stuff. Yeah. She's been doing physical installations with Arduinos and getting sensor data. That's really cool, I think. Yeah, it's fascinating stuff. Well, yeah. Very good.

I really appreciate the work that you do to push the web forward to the web platform and your participation on committees and then also in the education side of things. And yeah, you're going to educate us at Epic Web Conf, actually. Can you tell us a little bit about what you're planning on for your talk?

Yeah, so I'm really excited to talk about specifically this area with the folks that are coming to this event. I'll be talking all about modern and new UI capabilities that have landed recently in the platform. And there's so much that has landed that really gives developers a lot of power and control

and lets you do things a lot more declaratively. So instead of having to write a bunch of additional scripts or have additional dependencies for things like anchor positioning will be coming down the line, or there's even a lot of ways to improve performance by reducing file size now with some of these new success capabilities.

There's a lot of different features that make your life easier as a developer if you leverage the power of the platform and especially some of these modern UI capabilities today. And I think that this is an area that a lot of folks who are in the JavaScript world

and heavily in the JavaScript space don't tend to follow because it's not really in their circle. So I love to bring this topic to folks who are more in the JS ecosystem and kind of open their eyes on all of these new UI features.

Yeah, you know, I think that for the JavaScript folks, we are so focused on solving problems using JavaScript because the platform originally, when we discovered the problem, the platform didn't solve it. And so we get into this situation where we're just solving that problem.

We've found a solution that we like. We're going to stick with it. And then the platform comes around and changes in a way that the problem no longer exists and we don't like check back in and see, oh, like there's actually a better way to do this now. And so I appreciate people like you who kind of say, hey, everybody,

like, you know, lift your eyes up from the computer for a second. I want to show you a better way to do this. Kind of like that meme of the caveman, like pulling a cart with square wheels. Like the other one is like, here's a circular wheel. And they're like, no, we're too busy.

The web is evolving. And it makes sense, too, because take scroll-driven animations, for example. We didn't previously, three years ago, have the capability to animate based on a scroller, only on a timer in CSS. So you have to use JavaScript to do, you know, observing of the page

and of your positioning on the page to create these effects. And that was pretty heavy because you would have to clutter up the main thread and you'd have to have usually dependencies because you didn't want to write all that from scratch. You're just loading a library that you're then utilizing in your code base.

But now we have declarative scroll-driven animations in CSS. No additional dependencies. The browser does the work for you. It's off the main thread. It's more performant. And you get all of these benefits. But we wouldn't have gotten there if we didn't have people writing it in JavaScript, making these effects on the platform, creating these libraries.

So it's kind of like paving the cow paths, if you will, where we've identified things that developers need, and then they keep rebuilding, like scroll-driven animations, or even like styling dropdowns. Why is that still so hard to do on the platform? And identify those things, like these are the top developer needs that people keep redoing,

especially with select. The more we rebuild selects from scratch, the more accessibility errors we can introduce. The more cruft we have to manage, like all the different states we have to manage, opening, closing, focus, all of that. So as a browser team, it's our job to make it easier and to keep the web evolving.

So it's great to see people building libraries in Polyfill and seeing what they're doing on the platform so that we could then take that as data and make the web itself better. So, you know, while we're at the conference, there are going to be people who want to come and talk with you, and you're just such a friendly person that, like, absolutely, people don't be nervous. Go talk to Una. She's awesome.

What are the sorts of things that you are hoping to talk with other people about? What are the sorts of things you hope people will come and talk to you about? So honestly, I'm really hoping to hear about the things that you wish you could do on the web platform. So complain to me about the things that you're getting stuck with,

or things that are too hard, or any ideas that you have, too, for things that could be better on the web. I would love to hear it, because that's how we can actually make the web better, is when I hear from you all that there are these areas that you're stuck with. Like, Kent, I remember last time we got together, you were talking about how you wanted to style form error messages better,

where you wished that could be an option. So hearing that kind of feedback is how we actually can help prioritize it, figure out a solution, spec it, and then maybe ship it. So that's super, super helpful, but you don't have to just complain to me. You can also come and talk to me about UI, CSS, HTML, things that you're trying to build.

I'm happy to point you in directions or give you feedback for that. So anything is open, free game, again, I would love to chat. And just here we go at it, too. That's awesome. I would add maybe crafty things, as well. If you're a sewer, maybe that could be a fun thing to chat about, too.

That would be awesome. I don't talk about that that much at conferences, so let's change the narrative. Yeah. Like, we're people. This is why we go to events in person, right? It's just because, like, otherwise we could just watch the recordings online later or the live stream.

But being there in person, it just feels like you can connect better. And what I love about it is when there's somebody that I know online and then I meet them in person the first time, my online interactions with that person just improve a lot because now, like, we have this connection, this real-life connection. Yeah.

That's why I really think in-person conferences are so important. I'm super bummed the past few years with COVID. It just really affected the community, and I was pretty sad for a little while. It literally infected the community.

But, yes, I'm hoping that we can come back because I do think that is important. And I think there are a lot of people who really want that, too. So I'm excited that you're helping make that dream a reality by coming and excited for people to come and meet you.

So thanks, Yuna, for giving us some of your time today, and we'll see you in April. Yeah, I can't wait. Bye, everyone. Bye.