2015 in Review

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The year started with my launching Web Animation Weekly (which I wrote about previously) and giving a live rendition of my online course Practical Cartooning for Technical Folk for several classes before setting it up as a standalone workshop (which I’m having a sale on right now). The process helped me create better offline web animation workshops, which I gave at conferences around the world. My new workshop on storyboarding and motion design for UXers was warmly received at UX Week. Now that I’ve got the hang of it, maybe I could put some of these workshops online, too?

I always bring my workshop attendees treats, but this time, a Web Animation Weekly reader brought me a treat!


In the summer I worked with the wonderful people at Salesforce to bring motion to their Lightning Design System I did so much more than just coming in and giving a workshop or talk. I connected departments to find ways they could work together better, dispelling misconceptions and helping build a sound animation foundation everyone could move forward with. I also ended up doing quite a bit of research into accessible animation, which you can learn more about in this screencast I made with Greg Tarnoff. This work was incredibly gratifying: I have a stockpile of niche information from years of focusing on web animation, and using it to help other people catch up fast is very rewarding.

a three panel storyboard depicting a sliding list element
An example of a storyboard, just one of my deliverables while working with the Lightning Design System team.

Kudos and Confs

I was nominated for a Developer of the Year Award by Net Awards, which Sara Souiedan took home (to be sure, it was hers from the start!) Motionographer interviewed me about web animation, and I got to meet the curator in person at Blend Fest, a conference for motion designers and animators (I ended up testing DevTools Challenger out on them—more on that later!)

I also felt inspired to make this illustration for Motionographer. 2015 was a teal and squid ink phase for my art.

Speaking of non-web development events, I went to XOXO this year, which had me dancing to Dan Deacon and meeting Tony Zhou of Every Frame a Painting (go watch it all) for the first time. My friend Nicky needed to practice their talk in the greenroom, so I provided an audience. Nicky, of course, nailed it.

Nicky Case, nailing it.

Internationally, I was invited to speak at Beyond Tellerrand in Düsseldorf, At the Frontend in Copenhagen, and Web Directions Code in Melbourne where I was interviewed by Paul Kinlan (bucket list!). I met old and new friends and friends I’ve never met in real life before like fellow web animation wonk Petr Tichy.

My last conference of the year took me to southeast Asia for the first time: Manila. Form over Function was quite the adventure! When I was stranded due terrorism complications for an extra week, I and the organizers turned lemons into lemonade by holding a web animation workshop, visiting a local comics convention, and going to the beach.

selfie taken of Rachel Nabors on a beach in the Philippines
Stranded in the Philippines with only fried chicken to eat.

Along the conference circuit I got to meet some of my favorite people contributing to the web animation world for the first time including Sarah Drasner and Rachel Smith. I’ve been enjoying reading their posts and watching them speak all year long. Can’t wait to see what they get up to in 2016!

Commanding the Challenger

At the end of the year, in a brilliant, highspeed collaboration with Firefox, we built and launched DevTools Challenger, a one page site that teaches visitors about Firefox Developer Edition’s animation and design tools while they explore the ocean’s deepest depths.

a black dragonfish poses with the DevTools Challenger logo
That was my favorite fish growing up.

The development had six weeks before its reveal at Mozilla’s View Source Conf. Yes, you read that right, six weeks! (Well, I had twenty days before project kick off to come up with the concept and interactions.) I was art director, talent organizer, copywriter, CSS animator, designer—after awhile I lost track of my hats!

Despite all my hats, such a massive effort could not have been completed on time without serious delegation—local illustrator Kory Bing provided the illustrations and designer Jessica Paoli designed the logo. Mozillians Jennifer Fong and Matthew Claypotch provided sound design and JavaScript development respectively. We were quite the crew.

an anime vignette of Rachel Nabors as a ship captain
That’s Captain Rachel Nabors to the likes of you. (Outfit was inspired by Captain Amelia and Utena.)

It was a fun challenge to bring everyone’s contributions together to make this happen. DevTools Challenger really is greater than any of us, and it even earned a feature in Net Mag and a Special Kudos from the CSS Design Awards.

It was a wild year, my most successful yet. But that success got me thinking, and that’s for a more introspective post, the last in this New Year’s trifecta. For now, this puff piece is over. See you in 2016!


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