FLDC Featured Speaker Aubrey Sambor on CSS Color Innovations

A Journey Through Web Development, Accessibility Advocacy, and Color Innovation in Drupal

Aubrey Sambor stumbled upon Drupal in 2008; we're thankful she did. Since then, she's been deeply engaged, crafting themes, contributing to the core, and delivering talks at numerous camps and conferences. With over 17 years of professional experience as a Front-end developer, Aubrey specializes in crafting clean, standards-compliant CSS and HTML. She leverages the magic of preprocessors and post-processors to organize styles meticulously. Aubrey's fondness for JavaScript adds another layer to her expertise. Above all, she's driven by her passion for giving back to the Drupal community, actively participating in events and contributing to its growth.

"Ever since attending my first Drupal camp in 2009, I’ve been drawn to the community. I’ve met so many amazing people in the community and I love talking to people about their experiences,"

says Aubrey. 

Aubrey Sambor is set to deliver an engaging session at Florida Drupal Camp 2024 titled "Color in CSS: Using New Saces, Functions, & Techniques to Make Your Site Shine." Aubrey will share insights from her session in this exclusive interview with Kazima Abbas, sub-editor of The Drop Times. During her presentation, Sambor will delve into the latest color options introduced in the CSS Color Module Levels 4 and 5, offering practical examples of how these new colour spaces and functions operate. Additionally, she will discuss how these innovations simplify existing methods for manipulating color on websites.

She will be offering a glimpse into her journey within the Drupal community. Reflecting on her transition from building custom PHP web portals to embracing Drupal in 2009, Sambor will shed light on her evolution into a front-end developer specializing in crafting accessible websites using clean and modern CSS. Aubrey is the lead engineer at Lullabot. We will better understand Aubrey's professional journey and her contributions to the Drupal community.

TDT [1]: Can you tell us about your role as a Lead Engineer at Lullabot and your journey to becoming a front-end developer specializing in creating accessible websites using clean and modern CSS?

Aubrey Sambor: I’ve been building websites on the internet since the late 90s, learning the basics of HTML and CSS while still in high school. I first got into HTML and CSS after learning that you didn’t need a college degree to host a site on Geocities (yes, I totally thought this), so once I realized I could make a website for free, I was hooked!

I’ve worked in a wide variety of positions in my tech career, including Java developer, web designer, and front-end developer. I’ve worked primarily on writing JavaScript as a Vue.js developer, and I’ve written a LOT of backend PHP! I’ve done it all, but front-of-the-front-end development is my true love.

I discovered web accessibility in 2004 after reading Mark Pilgrim’s Dive into Accessibility series (site on archive.org), but started focusing more on accessibility after my dad had a freak accident in 2010 that left him a quadriplegic for the rest of his life. After seeing him struggle with accessing the internet using voice assistive technology, I knew I wanted to try to work to make things more accessible to everyone.

TDT [2]: With a computer science degree from Indiana University and experience building custom PHP web portals, what inspired you to transition to Drupal in 2009?

Aubrey Sambor: It’s funny, actually! I had always heard of Drupal but never got into it because I participated more in the WordPress community. (I even created a few WordPress themes that were used by a LOT of people way back in 2004!) I didn’t know anyone who used Drupal, so it stayed outside my realm of knowledge for a long time.

However, while working as a web designer in 2008, we needed to build a boutique website using a system outside of the existing .NET codebase. We did some research and came across Drupal—the Feeds module, in particular, solidified the choice as we needed to pull products in from the main site to display on the new site. This was in the Drupal 5 days, and I knew nothing about the community or Drupal coding standards, so I sadly admit that I hacked core (don’t worry, I haven’t done it since!).

This experience motivated me to pursue Drupal jobs, and in 2009, I landed my first job at a Drupal agency. I attended my first Drupal camp in 2009, Design4Drupal, and meeting the community for the first time solidified my commitment to such an amazing group of people. Since then, I’ve spent most of my career in the Drupal community, writing themes, contributing to core, and speaking at various camps and conferences. I’m so glad I discovered Drupal, and I hope to be part of the community for years to come!

TDT [3]: We understand you're passionate about contributing to the Drupal community and frequently attend Drupal events. What draws you to these gatherings, and how do you see your involvement impacting the community?

Aubrey Sambor: I've been drawn to the community since attending my first Drupal camp in 2009. I’ve met many amazing people in the community and love talking to people about their experiences. People in the Drupal community love to work together to build great things, plus they love getting to know each other as people. I’ve always returned from camps and conferences feeling inspired and motivated, and building connections with others has always been something I enjoy.

As a front-end developer speaking primarily about CSS and HTML, I talk about things that aren’t heavily discussed in the Drupal community. The talk I gave at many different camps last year, “Do you Still Need SaaS in 2023?” is a prime example. So many people use SaaS in their Drupal projects, so it’s a good question to explore and to get people thinking about their front-end processes. It’s also why I’m speaking about colour this year—there are so many new options to define colour on your site, and I feel like it’s interesting to anyone building on the web today.

TDT [4]: You'll be a featured speaker at the upcoming Florida Drupal Camp, presenting a session on Color in CSS. Could you tell us more about your session and what attendees can expect to learn?

Aubrey Sambor: My session will be about all things color–information about existing color spaces today, new colour spaces introduced in Color Module Level 4, such as hwb(), lab(), and oklch(); new colour functions introduced in Color Module Levels 4 and 5, and some ways to use some of these functions to help make your site more accessible.

I’ll have a few examples of how these new color spaces and functions work, and I’ll be going over a couple ways these new colour functions simplify existing ways to manipulate color on your site. If you’re interested in what’s new with color and how to implement new techniques in your work, definitely attend my session if you are at Florida Drupal Camp!

TDT [5]: Your session explores new color options introduced in the colour level 4 specification. What motivated you to delve into these new color techniques, and how do you envision them shaping the future of web design?

Aubrey Sambor: I’ve heard so much about new color spaces and functions in both the Color Level 4 and Level 5 specifications but realized I knew nothing about them. They honestly sounded so complex, which meant I needed to dig in and learn more! I’m glad I took the time to read about the new specifications and play with some of the new functions, and I’m excited to show them to everyone attending my session at Florida Drupal Camp.

The big thing these color techniques add to the front-end web development and design space is a wider range of colors to use! Using color spaces other than RGB opens up the opportunity to use much more vibrant colors in designs, and now front-end developers can implement these colors using the new color functions. Some of these techniques also introduce simpler methods of manipulating colors, making color palettes for design systems much easier to maintain.

TDT [6]: Aubrey, as someone deeply involved in the Drupal community and passionate about web development, how excited are you to attend the Florida DrupalCamp? What aspects of the event are you most looking forward to, and what do you hope to gain from participating?

Aubrey Sambor: I’m so excited to attend Florida DrupalCamp for the second year in a row! I live in the northeastern United States, where we experience lots of snow and cold weather in the winter, so I always look forward to spending some time in warm and sunny places to escape the winter weather for a bit.

I’m looking forward to attending so many fantastic sessions, eating tasty tacos, and hanging out with all my friends in the Drupal community. I had such a great time last year and fully anticipate this year being a blast!

TDT [7]: With your vast experience in web development and design systems, what are your expectations from the Florida Drupal Camp, and what do you hope attendees will take away from your session?

Aubrey Sambor: I expect this year’s Florida Drupal Camp to be even better than last year’s! I’m expecting to see a lot of great sessions put on by some of the best people in the community.

As for my session, attendees will come away from my talk knowing about the new color spaces available today, when to use them on your site, and how to use some of the new color functions to simplify your CSS. Hopefully, color gamuts and spaces make sense to attendees after my talk! Either way, I look forward to diving into color and teaching others what I’ve learned.

Disclaimer: The information provided about the interviewee has been gathered from publicly available resources. The responsibility for the responses shared in the interview solely rests with the featured individual.

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