Archive for February, 2007

Spry/Dreamweaver at SXSW

Of course I’ll be at SXSW this year- presenting on the Spry framework (showing some cool upcoming features/updates) as well as giving the first extended public sneak peek of the upcoming release of Dreamweaver on the day stage from 11:30am-12:30pm on Monday (3/12). I’ll show many of the cool new features in the next release of Dreamweaver – coming both from a hand-coder’s perspective as well as a designer’s perspective – and some under-the-hood peeks at Spry, both the current release and addressing some of the recent feedback and criticism we’ve received on Spry with demos of upcoming enhancements we’ve got planned for the framework. Chock full ‘o fun. If this piques your interest at all, please swing by and check out my demo session, then catch up with me offstage afterwards – if you’ve got good comments, suggestions or feedback I’d love to record a few snippets for a post-SXSW podcast, so you can be a radio star, too!

See you in Austin!

swfIR Image Replacement

I love it when standards and Flash play nicely together, and the release of swfIR today really illustrates how Flash can be used to progressively enhance images in your standards-compliant markup- and in a nicely unobtrusive manner. Inline rotations, drop shadows, rounded corners, dynamic resizing and flexible borders are now yours for the price of a svelte JS include and ‘shim’ SWF file, at the expense of a simple <span> wrapped around your image. And of course, like sIFR before it, should your user agent not support swfIR the original image – with it’s pristine and standards-compliant markup – is shown as expected, sans the glitzy effects. Kudos to the swfIR team – Jon Aldinger, Mark Huot and Dan Mall – for this tasty morsel of progressively-enhanced joy.

You can read more at the swfIR site, and find additional commentary at both Jeffrey Zeldman and Mike Davidson’s weblogs (as they cued me in on swfIR to begin with). Good stuff.

Browser Wars- Episode II: Attack of the DOMs

Ever wondered what it would be like to get three of the key browser manufacturers together in a room to hash out the state of the Document Object Model between their respective products? Next Wednesday from 6-9:30pm (PST) at Yahoo! headquarters, you’ll have the chance to witness it first hand (should you be in the area).

Douglas Crockford of Yahoo! (also of JSON reknown), will lead a discussion with browser experts Chris Wilson of the Microsoft IE team, Mozilla ecosystem development director Mike Shaver, and Opera’s CTO Hakon Wium Lie. You can expect subjects such as downstream DOM Level 3 support, Acid2 compatibility, microformats and more to get microphone time, and it’s bound to be an amazing discussion.

Registration is free:
http://browserwarii.eventbrite.com/
And for more information on the event, follow this link:
http://www.svwebbuilder.com/

This is worth juggling my own travel schedule for, so I’ll likely see you there. Make sure and bang that link above and register early for the event, I suspect this one may fill up quickly. Awesome.

Adobe & Photobucket – Video Editing for the Masses

Well, it’s been speculated for some time, but Adobe just announced it’s partnership with Photobucket, to integrate Flex-based video editing capabilities into the popular photo and video hosting site. As noted in the release, this should be the first of many such partnerships over the coming months, and I’m really looking forward to digging into the Adobe RIA-powered editing experience, myself.

TechCrunch wrote up their assessment a couple weeks ago and JD has pointers to more current discussions/screenshots, but you can read the official press release as of this morning, fresh off the wires. Enjoy!

Podcast 03 – Jeremy Keith’s Javascript Kung Fu

After a long hiatus, I’m back on a mike- and one of the best conversations I had at Web Directions North was with DOM Scripting guru Jeremy Keith- we talked for darn near an hour on everything from Javascript, getting started with the DOM as a web designer, the pros and cons of Ajax frameworks, the WaSP DOM Scripting Task Force, and his upcoming book (a sequel of sorts), Bulletproof Ajax.

I’ve posted the first ~35 minutes of our uncut (and a bit noisy- apologies) conversation as of today, you can either listen in via the handy Odeo embedded player or snag the source MP3 directly from the RSS enclosure/link below.


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Direct MP3 Download

I’ve got another 30 minutes or so of our conversation on disk that’s much more free-form, which I’ll post as a ‘sequel’ of sorts later once Bulletproof Ajax is out. Much thanks to Jeremy for being such a good sport!

Web Directions North – Closing Day

It needs to be said – Jared Spool rocks. Hard. Mr. Spool just got offstage from delivering the closing keynote at Web Directions North and literally slayed the audience with his rapier-sharp sense of humor and unbelievably-deep sense for experience design. If you ever get the chance to see Jared speak, drop everything and just do it. You will get schooled, make no mistake about it- and enjoy every minute of it.

But the closing keynote was just one part of a fantastic day in Vancouver- I missed part of a great opening keynote on iterative application design by Kelly Goto due to catching up with Molly in the foyer (always a pleasure) discussing life, travels and her new role with Microsoft as contract standardista.

I also recorded two ‘wild’ (i.e. no mic setup) interviews today- which if the quality holds, I may podcast next week after a cleanup pass. Otherwise they may get transcribed and posted for your reading pleasure.

The first was with Derek Featherstone, and we talked for about 20 minutes on accessibility from a grassroots perspective. If you’re not in a government or educational institution that requires compliance, it’s easy to overlook designing for disabled viewers, and Derek had some great insight into both how you can approach accessible development as well as the recent state of the industry. I can’t think of a better guy to help illustrate why – and how – you can start making your site projects as viewable and accessible as possible. Keep posted for details.

Jeremy Keith sat down with me for darn near an hour later in the afternoon (after we both caught Steffen Meschkat and Kaitlin Sherwood‘s mashup session, yet another stellar presentation). And this interview, I’ve gotta tell you, was a great one. We covered everything from Ajax frameworks, to visual tools, to scripting best practices, to web standards, you name it- Jeremy’s a brilliant guy with a lot to say and had I not checked my watch we probably would have chatted straight through Jared’s closing keynote. It’s clear that I’m going to have to pare that recording down to a smaller size, but I’m not sure what to trim (except for a few sections in which we discussed some software under development and the expected NDA ‘cone of silence’).

I also ran into Tantek Çelik in the hallway and quickly talked microformats – I’m going to have to get back with him in San Francisco and spend more time on the topic as that’s another area that we (as well as Jeremy) could have spent easily another hour or two upon.

Right now I’m cooling my heels before the Media Temple party (those guys are notorious for their closing-night blowouts), so I’d better get this posted and head on over. More soon, but after tomorrow’s ski/snowboard excursion to Whistler. Lots of work, now it’s time to play. ;-)

Vancouver WDN – Day 1 Hijinks

Day 2 of the Web Directions North conference is kicking off in less than an hour, and sketchy network connections have relegated my liveblogging aspirations to after-the-fact catchups like this. But in retrospect, day 1 was well worth the recap, as it was jam-packed with great sessions and people.

Molly’s keynote – CSI:Vancouver, Crimes Against Web Standards – had both Molly and ourselves participating in a group confessional and absolving ourselves of our past sins against web standards. My confession (much thanks to Mols for having me lead off the participatory part of the program, of course!) was for both writing several articles on table-based layouts back in the mid-90’s during the Netscape 1.2 era, which – of course – featured the now-hated nested table design techniques. I also took confession for Dreamweaver’s early transgressions in rather densely obfuscated code (a sin even Molly had to admit we’ve been doing our best to absolve for some time now!), as did Internet Explorer, GoLive and other maligned software vendors. It was – to be honest – a great excursion into the sordid history of web design and the many folks confessing their own sins (including Molly’s own) made it a bit of a group bonding experience to boot.

Jeremy and Derek presented the next session I attended, “Web Apps – Ajax Kung-Fu Meets Accessibility Feng Shui”, a fantastic overview built up from Jeremy’s Hijaxian techniques for progressively-enhancing web experiences and applications, through Derek’s discussion of how designing (and planning design) for assistive technologies and accessibility. The two really did a great job of tag-teaming this subject, one I expect I’ll be posting more thoughts on going forward as I’m becoming a bit obsessed with the subject of late.

Session three on my dance card was the Microformats talk, with John Alsopp and Dan Cederholm building on Tantek’s earlier (alas, during the Jeremy/Derek session- so I missed it) overview of Microformats. John talked the audience through the specifics of hCard and hCalendar as well as some of the draft specifications such as hReview, and showing examples of some of the commercial and public uses of Microformats, such as LinkedIn‘s newly-released support for hResume (awesome). Dan delivered the finishing blow with an amazing discussion of design principles for Microformats, styling a vCard with us (here’s an example that John published a month or so ago) using his cutting-edge CSS kung-fu and showing some practical applications he’s used in his wine review site, Cork’d, with both hCard and hReview. Great stuff.

The closing keynote session was delivered by Joe Clark in his razor-sharp style, and centered on designing for accessibility. Joe also dropped a bit of a bomb on the audience, announcing his open letter to Tim Berners-Lee to drop WCAG 2 (which prompted much discussion, including this nod from Derek on the WaSP site). Joe then walked us through a design project-in-process and their thought processes around it, a very interesting view of the methodology he uses when approaching projects indeed.

The evening wrapped up with the welcome reception hosted by Adobe, in which drinks flowed and finger foods were consumed, and much conversation and merriment ensued. It was great meeting Veerle and Geert after such close calls as SXSW 06 in the past, and doing what I usually do- talking to just about everyone I can.

Today’s conference should be equally as jam-packed, but I’d better get my schwerve on as it starts in about 45 minutes. Coffee is required. More soon.

Web Directions North – Day One

Today kicked off the Web Directions North conference in Vancouver, being the pre-conference (optional) workshop day. Kenneth Berger (Dreamweaver PM) and I attended Derek Featherstone’s ‘Accessibility 2.0′ session, a full-day exploration into the state of developing accessible websites, and supporting assistive technologies. And boy, did I get a schooling. Derek really knows his stuff, despite the occasional flakiness of JAWS and some tough questions from the peanut gallery he lead us quite capably from the basics of accessible web design well into the complexities of building rich Ajax-based web apps that support assistive technologies.

I’ve struggled in the past with both justifying the extra development required to truly build accessible web apps to (former) clients, and one of the rather difficult bits of overhead involved with this is getting hold of assistive technology like the aforementioned JAWS to test sites with. Derek recommends – and I can’t disagree it’s a great approach – that as opposed to becoming an expert with assistive technology that it’s more effective to contract help from real users to test your sites and applications. Another great pointer from Derek was the Firefox extension Fangs – which although is not a screenreader per se (nor a replacement for one), allows you to review a text-based representation of how a screenreader may interpret your page and looks to be very handy indeed for baseline checks of sites in development to flag and correct accessibility issues. Check it out, if you haven’t already.

Hijax was covered liberally in regards to accessibility – which I won’t go into in depth but if you’re not familiar with the concept, is the Jeremy Keith-coined phrase used to describe best practices in developing progressively-enhanced and gracefully-degrading Javascript applications. I’m looking forward to Jeremy’s session tomorrow (with Derek) to go deeper into the subject, as well as getting some time to chat with him on the subject for a possible podcast. It sounds like he may have as many questions for myself as I do for him, which should make for a lively conversation. I also plan to get more details about his upcoming book, Bulletproof Ajax – which is releasing next week, and looks to cover Hijaxian methodologies quite definitively (and I’ve got on preorder at Amazon as we speak).

Anyway- we’re off to a great start at what looks to be a fantastic conference – Adobe will be sponsoring the evening welcome reception tomorrow after a full day of breakout sessions (in two tracks), but for now I’ve got pages and pages worth of notes from today’s session and my hallway conversations to wade through and clean up. Great day- and I’m sure I’ll have more to talk about tomorrow, too. ;-)

Vancouver- Pre-WDN

I’m just shaking off last night’s flight to Vancouver and preparing to hit the first day of workshops at Web Directions North. I’ll be in Derek Featherstone’s “Accessibility 2.0″ workshop today, getting a schooling in the latest in building accessible sites and leveraging assistive technologies. Kenneth Berger (Dreamweaver PM) and I flew in last night, and were able to meet up with some of the usual suspects in the hotel bar last night- Molly Holzchlag (fresh off a nice stint of time off in the UK), design superhero Andy Clarke, CSS guru Stephanie Sullivan, not to mention the cool guys from co-sponsor Media Temple along with a bunch of conference attendees. If the off-hours conversations have been any indication of the depth and range this conference will cover, I can’t wait to get started today.

Pull me aside and say hi if you catch me in the hallways- I’d love to hear what you’re doing with Adobe software these days, and get some soundbites for the soon-to-be-resurrected podcasts. And please keep posted- I’ll be updating with snippets from the conference as we go. This is gonna be a GREAT conference, too- even if we weren’t all hitting the Whistler slopes afterwards. ;-)

Web Directions North

I’m tying up loose ends in the office today, and making my way to Vancouver next week for the Web Directions North conference, which looks to be an absolute blast. I won’t be presenting at this conference – sponsors do not take speaking roles at WDN and Adobe is a key sponsor – instead I’ll be roaming the sessions, soaking up the wisdom, and talking with as many attendees and speakers as possible on the subject of where you want Adobe’s design and web tools to head in the future. Oh- and I’ll also be getting my share of quality time in on the Whistler slopes, a very fortuitous benefit of attending the conference in and of itself. :D

In particular, I’m really looking forward to seeing Jared Spool‘s session- if you’ve not caught the usability guru’s speaking engagements before they’re a not-to-miss opportunity. All the speakers at WDN are truly top-notch however, it looks to be a great conference. If you see me at the conference, pull me aside and give your thoughts about Adobe’s products and such- I’ll be recording podcast fodder throughout, but really just love meeting customers and fellow web developers/designers whenever I’m offered the chance to get out from under my rock/desk here in San Francisco. I’ll do my best to ‘blog highlights from the conference and shoot lots of pictures, too.

See you in Vancouver- and don’t forget to bring warm socks. :)