My trip to, and HTML5 presentation at, FOSDEM, Brussels, february 6th-7th 2010

Last weekend I had the pleasure of going to FOSDEM to give a presentation about HTML5 and to experience a very big open-source conference.

First evening

After sharing a flight with my fellow Swede Stefan Hermes, we eventually got to our respective hotel. I was sharing a room with Fabrice Desré, and as it turned out, there was one big bed, and one pull-out sofa. Being true men, we decided to decide in a macho way who got the bed and who got the sofa – the decision was made playing Rock, paper, Scissors. After four (!) ties, I eventually won in the 5th round. 🙂

FOSDEM 2010, Brussels

We then went to the welcome beer at the Delirium café where we met lots of Mozilla friends, and had quite a nice evening!

FOSDEM 2010, Brussels

My HTML5 talk

I had put a lot of preparations into my talk, trying give as good an overview as I could, while delving a little deeper into certain parts. There were quite a number of different areas I wanted to cover, and another thing I went for was presenting in a new way: no bullets points whatsoever; bullet points makes me just read the text, and the crowd will have read it before me. Instead I was trying to use fitting images depending on the current subject and then talk about that to instead complement my slides, making it a more loose and dynamic presentation.

Having people like Mitchell Baker (Chairperson of the Mozilla Foundation) and Christopher Blizzard (Evangelism Director for Mozilla) in the audience while giving this presentation for the first time, I must have been cray to attempt something like that! 🙂

On top of that, the room was PACKED! In the Mozilla dev room there were 200 seats. They were filled, both aisles to the brim as well, people sitting on stage so I actually had to watch out not to trample them while walking back and forth during my presentation. And as if that wasn’t enough, both big doors were practically blocked by people wanting to get in, and they had to apply the one-in, one-out rule, and outside, within two meters of the doors, you couldn’t get closer.

I met a number of people who just couldn’t get in, and I also saw a photo of the packed corridor outside. And, not trying to fool myself, I know the big interest was for the topic and not me as a speaker, but still, it’s pretty awesome to get on stage when there’s such a big draw.

Luckily, though, I’m very happy, and relieved, to say that it seems to have gone down well. 🙂

My talk was meant as an introduction to HTML5 and also as the first steps into using it, and then have Paul Rouget of Mozilla follow-up with some outstanding demos of things you can achieve with various parts of HTML5 and its APIs (and man, his demos are amongst the coolest I have ever seen!).

Proud and happy, it really made my day to read feedback like this on Twitter:

Just seen the most amazing HTML5 presentation ever! (by falkowata)

@robertnyman … amazing fun filled presentation…(by eSuNnY)

The HTML5 talk is really quite awesome – especially the feature demos! (by welp)

Just saw an html5 presentation @fosdem, VERY nice! (by mvdkleijn)

the introduction to #html5 in the #mozilla dev room at #fosdem is really interesting and the demos are amazing (by naderman)

My presentation slides are available at SlideShare
, but without the actual presentation to go with it, the experience is not as good as if it were complemented with my words to go with them.

Meeting Mitchell Baker

Another thing I have to bring up is naturally the chance to meet Mitchell Baker, who is truly an amazing woman. In 2005, Time magazine listed her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and she is behind a lot of good things in the open-source world. I spoke to her a few times at the conference about various things, but you can just imagine my joy at the Saturday night dinner, after my presentation, when she wanted me to tell her more than myself. Thinking I had about 30 seconds before she’d lose interest in little boring me, I rambled as much as I could… 🙂

I have to say, though, that it is quite comforting to meet someone like her, and to see that she was completely down-to-earth, and just a very good person with great opinions.

Saturday night events

Tristan, Gandalf, Mike and more - FOSDEM 2010, Brussels

In Saturday evening, there was a huge Mozilla dinner followed by games of bowling and laser tag. I bowled with Lukas Blakk, Alex and Edu, and apparently being on a high after my talk, my first roll was a strike. 🙂 Thing is, I’m not very good at bowling, although I ended up with a good (at least in my eyes) series of a 106.

Lukas and Edu - FOSDEM 2010, Brussels

The sad thing about the evening is that Edu accidentally fell during the laser game, broke his foot and was pretty badly damaged. Really too bad – he’s a very nice guy, and this just happened before his upcoming week of vacation.. Get better soon, Edu!

Meeting people

Like at all conferences, there are a lot of great people to meet and always to little time to properly talk to them. Here’s a rough list of people I met (I’m certain I’m missing a lot of you here) that aren’t mentioned above, and I was very glad to see them in Brussels (listed in no specific order – using an unordered list, ok?):


  • Congrats on a successful presentation. Great to see HTML5 getting this kind of interest.

  • Paul Irish says:

    Robert, your slides bring up an interesting question that I've had…

    is <nav role="navigation"> redundant for screen-readers?

    Would the nav element on its own be okay?

    (I really hope so, else this whole *extra semantic-ness* is all for naught)

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Thank you!


    That is a great question! To be honest, I don't really know; and, at the moment, I guess currently the level of WAI-ARIA support varies in screen readers.

    I agree, though, that with more semantic elements, I also hope we can avoid redundant mark-up in the future.

    PS. Thanks for your inspiring work! DS.

  • Mark Thomas says:

    Looks like a very entertaining presentation from the slides… did a video of the presentation ever become available?

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Glad you asked. Unfortunately, I just got to hear that apparently the camera n the Mozilla room broke down, and the couldn't recover the videos… 🙁

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