SitePoint at Web Essentials 2005

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As I write this, I’m rushing to prepare for Web Essentials 2005 in Sydney. Being based in Australia, SitePoint isn’t at many conferences, so it’s especially exciting to be at this one. Can’t be there yourself? Listen along to the podcasts.

Speaking from my own extensive conference-going experience (hah), with any mass gathering like this it’s very easy to get swept up in the social atmosphere and lose track of just what you’re getting out of the whole thing (besides an awesome bag with a free SitePoint book in it). So in issue #123 of the Tech Times, I’ve summed up my current thinking and expectations for each of the sessions I plan to attend at the conference. For your reading pleasure, I’m reproducing that run-down here:

State of the Web, 2005, Molly Holzschlag

Molly’s the expert reviewer on the Dreamweaver 8 book we’re launching today, and given her work on the book as well as her position on the WaSP steering committee, I expect Molly will see the Web through the lens of standards compliance.

That said, Web standards are cooler now than they have ever been. Uptake of Web design techniques based on standards like CSS and the Document Object Model (DOM) has reached fever pitch, and the stable footing offered by these standards is what is enabling developers to push the Web to become more than a collection of formatted hypertext, but a platform for delivering rich applications and experiences (commonly termed Web 2.0).

The Elements of Meaningful XHTML, Tantek Çelik

Either this will be a run-down of XHTML elements and how they should be used to achieve a semantic markup (e.g. blockquote should be used for quotations, not indenting), or it will be a discussion of what genuine support for XHTML across all browsers would mean to Web developers. I’m hoping for the latter, but expecting the former.

Beyond Usability: Designing the Complete User Experience, Jeffrey Veen

With AJAX slowly taking over the known universe, Web designers are spoiled for choice when it comes to building Web user interfaces. Whereas once it was sufficient to measure the usability of a Website, today’s Web designers must consider how to make the experience of using a site as cohesive and comfortable as possible. Hopefully Mr. Veen will have some examples of very good and very bad user experiences to show us.

From Comp To Code: Pulling A List Apart Together, Eric Meyer

This one’s all in the title. CSS guru Eric Meyer will take us through the process of implementing the new design of A List Apart. I expect so see CSS hacks new and old, but probably fewer than the end result would suggest. If nothing else, it’ll be interesting to see how another CSS expert approaches the daily business of implementing a site design.

Accessible Forms, Roger Hudson

Keyboard shortcuts, as well as the <fieldset>, <legend> and <label> tags will no doubt be the order of the day in this session. But how do you maintain the accessibility of Web forms when you pepper them with cutting edge amenities like client-side validation, autocomplete, and modifying the form fields
themselves on-the-fly? Fingers crossed, we’ll get some more practical advice than “don’t do that.”

SVG – the power and the passion, Dean Jackson

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) has been ready to revolutionize graphics on the Web for years. With Firefox 1.5 set to introduce this format to the mainstream, it’s time to see just what it can do. I’m expecting more than the standard gallery of SVG examples, like mixing SVG into XHTML, but if I can see how to achieve that kind of thing without sacrificing document semantics I’ll be really excited.

Zooming Out from the Trenches, Douglas Bowman

Not really sure what to expect here, aside from some Web design eye candy achieved without sacrificing standards compliance–and I’m always up
for that.

Web Standards Workflow, Molly Holzschlag

Running your completed Website through the XHTML and CSS validators at the W3C website isn’t nearly enough to ensure standards compliance. The later you leave things, the longer it will take to fix later; and many usability and accessibility standards can’t even be checked with a validator. Molly will no doubt give plenty of advice in this session on how to take standards into account throughout the site development process.

Rapid Design Prototyping With Standards, Eric Meyer

Having just finished work on Build Your Own Standards Compliant Website Using Dreamweaver 8, I know that Dreamweaver today is an eminently practical tool for quickly assembling prototype designs of standards compliant sites. I’m curious what tools and methods this CSS guru will recommend.

Designing for Accessibility: Beyond the Basics, Derek Featherstone

The conference website gives this session a “Geek-o-meter rating” of 5/5, so my expectations are pretty high. Hopefully, Derek will go beyond the W3C guidelines for accessibility and present some non-obvious accessibility issues. If he can demonstrate how our Web design choices affect real people with disabilities, I’ll walk out happy.

AJAX, Tim Lucas

The acronym on everybody’s lips, AJAX can be used as a simple usability tweak, or the enabler of an entire application. For my money, I want to see the state of the art of AJAX, which to be fair is changing daily. With Web server technology beginning to adapt to service the needs of heavy AJAX use, I’m hoping this session looks at the architecture of such truly revolutionary applications.

The title attribute – What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!, Steven Faulkner

From the title of this session, it sounds to me like the title attribute isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for accessibility purposes. Could this be because most people with impaired vision use screen readers that don’t support this attribute in any meaningful way? That’s my best guess, but I’m prepared to be completely wrong.

JavaScript and the DOM, Cameron Adams

Cameron’s actually writing our sequel to DHTML Utopia right now, so when it comes to JavaScript and the DOM I know Cameron’s got the goods. Rumour has it he’s got a pretty impressive demo planned for fans of Web interfaces that look like desktop apps.

Microformats: Evolving the Web, Tantek Çelik

Microformats are specialized applications of flexible features in standard languages (like XHTML) that have become de facto standards in their own right. A simple example of a microformat is the Technorati tag link, which allows Web pages to be tagged with topics. A survey of current microformats will be mandatory here, but I’m curious what addition insight can be gleaned.

Designing the Next Generation of Web Apps, Jeffrey Veen

No doubt this will be a condensed version of the full day workshop (which I won’t be attending). I’m not sure if this will be really hypey (i.e., “here’s how to build the Next Big Web App!”), or a practical exploration of the themes Veen will present in his day one session. Hoping for the latter, braced for the former.

Keep an eye on the SitePoint Blogs for the next few days to find out how it went!

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  • http://www.deanclatworthy.com Dean C

    Wow they really are pulling out the big guns for this conference. Wish I could go :(

  • http://www.fixpert.com sallycarson

    Jealous! Thanks for the Cliff Notes though!

  • TheLunchBox

    Too bad I’m on the wrong side of the planet, this looks like a fantastic conference.

  • http://www.designity.nl peach

    when are you all coming to Amsterdam for a conference? :P

  • http://www.waterfallweb.net/ RockyShark

    Day One was great… Mid morning, at the end Tantec Celic’s presentation, the fire alarm went off and we all had to evacuate the building!

    I think he just didn’t want to answer the question asked of him by one of the audience members! ;)

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