First day of SWDC 2010

I have this nice habit now to write down bits and pieces from the conferences I attend. It is a good way to remember what actually happened. This time I am at Scandinavian Web Developer Conference in Stockholm. About a hundred web hackers (as Mark Wubben called us) assembled at the old almost ancient movie theatre Skandia at the most popular shopping street in Stockholm. Quite a sight actually. Despite one late cancellation the schedule was absolutely packed. The conference is one track only so you don't get anxiety over choosing but on the other hand might get stuck with something boring. That was not a problem the first day. An uninteresting talk was also welcomed due to the need for some relaxation in between the very interesting stuff.

The first day was about web development leaving mobile development for the second day. It started out with Robert Nymans talk about HTML5. I saw it a couple of weeks ago at geek meet so nothing new really. (Although it was refreshing to see the presentation evolving a bit since then.) HTML5 is obviously happening and due to its backwards compatiblity it can be used right away. Not all browsers support it but even a rather bad browser can be javascript shocked into liking the new tags of HTML5. This new version of the standard was brought up several times during the day in different context. The common consensus seems to be that it is a good step forward but there are still lots of pieces missing. The most serious critic came from Chris Heilmann in the ending talk of the day. It was a great talk on giving users what they really want. Not many users care at all what version of HTML that runs in their browser - even less what javascript framework we used to write it. They just need it for some non technical purpose. In this business we have a habit of extrapolating our own behaviour to that of our users. We all install new browers as soon as they appear and have modern smart phones in our pockets. Not so with our users. Some of them hate computers and have learned to change as little as possible to make sure that it doesn't break. This is a big failure of our industry. Obviously there are reasons users feel this way. It is not nice to tell users that they need to install another browser in order to use a site. Chris jokingly suggested that instead of just turning users away if they have IE6 we should use directx to blur the pages for them. This would cause user head aches and would eventually lead to corporations having to abandon IE6 in favour of modern web browsers. Chris talk was possibly the best of this day. CSS3 guy Daniel Glazman also talked a bit about HTML5 in his talk called "Browser War 2010". Actually the talk lacked mentions of the war but was nevertheless an interesting history lesson with some forward looking in the end.

Another theme was code organisation. Dylan Schiemann held a hilarious but a bit unstructured talk about dojo and motools showing how to work with encapsulation in Javascript. Sergey Ilinsky presented the Ample SDK and argued for a declarative way to describe user interfaces. Apparently declarative most often means XML which is a bit strange to me. Couldn't any language be used for declarative style programming? And Rik Arends of ajax.org showcased a web based IDE for web development in the cloud. Pretty impressive but not totally obvious that the tool is truly useful. Stefan Pettersson also touched the subject of code organisation when talking about large scale javascript web sites. He gave us some good pointers about where to look for performance gains.

More interesting was Alexander Langs talk on document databases. The examples he used were a bit naive perhaps but still made the point clearly. There are many use cases where document databases is preferrable. This subject is kind of a neighbor to node.js. Malte Ubl held a great introduction that yet again made me want to try it out for real. I may even have to reorganize my list of new technologies for spare time exploring. The huge selling point for node.js is its performance characteristics. It is such a simple and beuatiful idea - to get away from processes and threads waiting for stuff to complete and instead have a truly asynchronous solution.

Patrick Chanezon of Google walked us through Googles cloud offering and showed how to create a web site using GWT and app engine. It felt strange to see someone actually compiling something not to mention running eclipse. It was a strange sensation in this context. Another Googleoriented talk was Mark Wubbens brilliant introduction to building Chrome extensions. With a couple of really nice and thoughtful examples he guided us through the important features of Chrome extensions. It is actually similar to Greasemonkey scripts for Firefox and it is apparently the same guy now working for google.

All in all - the first day was great. Thanks a lot to Peter Svensson and his crew! Looking forward to tomorrow.


Old comments

2010-06-02Robert Nyman
Glad to hear you had a good day!
2010-06-03Chris Heilmann
Splendid writeup - thanks for taking the time. I just uploaded the slides and audio of my talk: http://is.gd/cAdzZ audio http://is.gd/cAdBX
2010-06-03Hardy Ferentschik
As always your are taking the pulse of the current technology development. Time for you to hit the stage :)