Photography, Cycling and the Internets

Three Days of Everything Ajax

After three days of the web development community talking about anything and everything Ajax, the Ajax Experience conference came to a close. Overall, it was a good time, and it was fun to catch up with everyone from the last couple TAEs.

The conference was held at The Grand Hyatt on Union Square in San Francisco. The rooms were quite nice, however the layout of the social areas of the hotel made it difficult to meet up with people by chance. This is something that the Boston TAE was awesome at. Luckily I run into Brent Ashley on the night before the conference, and I had a chance to get a drink and find out about the projects he has been working on.  I think this was the only chance meeting that I had outside the main conference area and in the hotel.  I did run into Brent again the following night while a few of us were at the Starlight Room on Wed. night following the TAE cocktail reception.

The conference got into swing with Ben and Dion’s State of Ajax talk that highlighted the growth that Ajax has seen over the past year. It was a good talk, but it was missing some of the great back and forth that Ben and Dion are masterful at delivering.

Some of my favorite sessions included both talks from Bill ScottJoe Hewitt’s talk on IUI,  Doug Crockford’s talk on the good parts of JavaScript, and Steve Souder’s talk on YSlow.

Bill Scott’s Anti-Patterns talk had some great points. One of my favorites was the Borg Idiom pattern that cautioned on having one strong pattern, such as a tree structure or drag-and-drop could set an expectation with users that the pattern be carried across the entire site. This could unintentionally start driving the way other pages are designed, and if not carefully thought out, could end up painting a web UX architecture into a corner.  Bill’s experiment that he is calling ProtoKit looks promising for doing quick interactive prototyping.

While I was leaving Bill’s Anti-Pattern talk, I did come across on one of the tables, a note. Apparently Bill has some serious fans out there. 🙂

The panel discussions were pretty good, and very deep on the future direction of JavaScript, complete with strong disagreements on how things should move forward.  It makes me wonder, at what point should I really worry about how JavaScript will work in 8 years.  How different will the web be at that point, and will a proprietary technology such as Silverlight change the game again?  Doug did make it clear that the group of people gathered in the main room at TAE were working to change the web, and the work is important.  I wish the rest of the conference was able to carry that same message.

Steve Souder’s  YSlow talk was my favorite of the conference.  It has been a long time coming for a book devoted entirely to front-end performance and it was exciting to hear that  High Performance Web Sites will do just that.  It details 14 best practices for making web pages faster.  Also, the new YSlow FireBug plugin gives one-stop shopping for monitoring the 14 client-side performance indicators.   I hope that this tool will help the web get faster by making performance techniques front-and-center to daily development, and not just occasional checkups.

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