The Rich Web Experience – day 1

I am currently at The Rich Web Experience 2007 conference. It is interesting to compare it to JavaOne conferences I have been to in the past.

To start, RWE is much smaller. It is about 400 people as compared to 15 thousands at JavaOne. This obviously makes scheduling logistics and eating arrangements simpler, but there is also a very different feel in the air. It feels that it is much harder to walk around without bumping into speakers and/or other moderately famous web people. At JavaOne, it is all about learning, here it is more like sharing.

Another interesting thing I noticed is that a lot more people than I expected were coming from Java server side background. In fact, we had a round of introductions at Web design Birds-Of-Feather session and more than half of the  people in the room had some (often strong) background in Java. To me, this is a great sign as it shows that the path I am taking (adding HTML/CSS/JavaScript to my Java skills)  has already been done by multiple people before without too many problems.

I have gone to the following sessions:

  1.  Secure application development with Ajax (by Dean H. Saxe)  - The presentation itself was great and covered interesting topic in details. I did not understand all of the advanced concepts and consequences, but the core message was very clear and the slides give enough hints and terms to do further research on my own. I would have liked a more detailed example (e.g. ‘This is why SOP is not applicable’ ), but overall it was great.
  2. Merging Ajax and Accessibility (by Mark Meeker) - Another great presentation. I heard before that designing for accessibility actually has beneficial side-effects of increased general usability and better design practices, but it was good to see it confirmed with large commercial sites. Mark also had great examples and talked about Hijax a bit as a way of building accessibility into the process, rather than trying to bolt it on at the end.
  3. Web Design for Server-Side Developers (by Greg Murray) - This one I have found somewhat disappointing. I knew that covering good HTML, CSS, Javascript,  modular design and supporting tools in one presentation might have been too ambitious.  Still, I was looking forward to some sort of high-level view consistent story tying together the bits together with some best practices thrown in. Unfortunately, Greg was not able to deliver that. He spent too much time jumping between the topics. He also talked about jMaki’s  implementation a lot. That might have been useful, but given that some very important issues (Internationalisation, classes vs. IDs, etc) were still not implemented correctly (by Greg’s own admission), I felt jMaki was not yet ready to be shown as an example of best practices.
  4. Web design/architecture Birds-Of-Feather session with Aaron Gustafson, David Verba and couple of others. It was actually interesting, because I sat with them at the dinner table without realising who they were. But you could see they were really smart and interesting, even in their unstaged moments. True geeks, in the good sense of the word. The session itself was a very interesting discussing and somehow I even managed to hog the floor for a while with my questions. Hopefully, it did not annoy too many people.

I am looking forward to the second day.