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.