Zach’s ugly mug (his face)

Zach Leatherman

Airing Out 2017’s Dirty Laundry

01 Jan 2018 Read in about 11 minutes

2017 was a year of highs and lows.

Previously: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013

I had an incredibly productive year of side projects, learning, and blog posts—I can attribute almost all of that rediscovered time and energy to quitting Facebook very early in the year. It’s also been amazing to see my daughter grow and learn—she turned two this year and I really love being a dad. We now have our own secret handshake and it’s my favorite thing.

Dirty Laundry

This year was also the year that a man who lives close to me, a man that has participated in our local development community, a man whom I have met in real life, a man with whom I’ve shaken hands, a man that I later discovered was a very public white supremacist, a man—by his own words—emboldened by shared values represented in The White House, decided to send multiple death threats to me through Twitter and other channels. The abuse was targeted towards the “feminist” organizers of NebraskaJS and NEJS CONF. To be perfectly clear, I was targeted for agreeing with the accusation that I am a feminist. I am still a feminist.

I was not the only organizer targeted. The abuse continued for about a month. As far as I know, to this day Twitter has taken no action in response to what happened.

I’ve struggled with whether or not to talk about this publicly. I certainly didn’t want to call attention to it. Here we are almost 10 months later and I’m still struggling with the decision to post about it here. But as the year closed, I couldn’t help but reflect and try to take another positive away from it—lessons that I can share that might be useful for others too.

Foremost, the experience gave me just a small sliver of insight into what women have to deal with when they exist in any public capacity online. If we want women to exist—we need to go the extra mile to make them feel welcome. This exaggerated but none-the-less Damore-esque poison existed in a latent form in our community for years—it almost certainly exists in your community too. As leaders and organizers we need to do the preparatory leg work to build rock-solid relationships with underrepresented community members before the poison reveals itself or the community will tear itself apart. That includes level setting expectations about acceptable behavior with an appropriately enforced code of conduct.

Our first meetup back: “Good meetup tonight. Some of you understand why wearing this tonight was important to me.”

The experience has certainly strengthened my own resolve. It has made me realize that I need to be more outspoken as an advocate. It has also strengthened the relationships in our community. We have the best and most supportive organizers. Our members and sister city organizers continued to attend our meetup knowing what was going on behind the scenes. Venues stuck by us and helped with extra security. Nothing but love for everyone that helped—including emotional support. You all were and are amazing. Seriously.

Just donated $5 per attendee of the last @nebraskajs meetup to @GirlsIncOmaha. Y’all know why. Onward, upward!

March 10, 2017

Highs and lows, but onward and upward.

Writing, Speaking, Conference Organizing

This year marked my blog’s 10th anniversary. I wrote more posts this year (*23 posts) than I have in any year since 2008. I did some work to highlight the popular posts on my site.

I did three talks this year—by far my favorite was at CSS Minsk JS in Belarus. Belarus was amazing! The community there was so welcoming and really felt so similar to the community we have here in Omaha. The best conferences are community conferences.

We ran our third NEJS CONF and it was one of our best. The magic theme and the amazing theater venue paired so well. Recap post is still pending but you can catch all the videos online! We’re already planning 2018. Follow along at @nejsconf.

Projects and Blog Posts

I’m really far behind on my blog posts about projects. But… you get a sneak peek since you’re here. (See everything first on GitHub or on npm.)

  • I worked on the font loading for smashingmagazine.com (I’ll likely talk about this more).
  • eleventy is a static site generator.
  • glyphhanger helps you subset web fonts automatically.
  • node-faux-pas tests a URL for faux web font rendering and mismatched web font code.
  • Donald Who?. Follow Donald’s Twitter without following Donald on Twitter. See also @realdonaldwho. A therapeutic side project to cope with 2017. The cool thing about this project is that it’s architected as a completely static site that uploads a new static version automatically every 3 minutes. Quasi-real-time but also completely static. This was surely the catalyst for eleventy.

The Big Font Hosting Web Site

The most exciting thing I’m building right now is a web site with information about self-hosting web fonts with performance comparisons for loading strategies AND information about hosting with 3rd parties. Each web font will have easy code samples that you can use on your own pages! Follow me on Twitter @zachleat for more information about this, as I’ll be iterating on it in public.

Popular Tweets

  1. “as a programmer and as a parent, I’m always…”
  2. “Progressive Enhancement, in a diagram”
  3. “loading six web fonts for a single typeface and…”
  4. “Firebug was a watershed moment…”
  5. “NOT A DRILL, font-display is…”

Thank You Notes

Thank you to all the new friends I’ve made on Twitter, at meetups, barcamps, and conferences. Y’all make it (still) worthwhile.

Another huge thank you to Nick Nisi and the other NebraskaJS organizers; as well as the co-organizers of NEJS CONF: Jerod Santo, John Hobbs, Lindsey Pfeifer, Matt Steele, and Sandi Barr. The best co-organizers on the planet. Thank you to everyone that put in a proposal to speak, to our wonderfully consistent sponsors, and to everyone that volunteered and attended our conference.

Thank you to Filament Group. It really is a special company that understands the long arc of the web and I’m so glad to be a part of it.

And lastly but most importantly to my wife and daughter: I love you both, dearly.