@media 2007

The @media conference this year was as good as ever. Slickly organised by Patrick and crew, it all seemed to go without a hitch. Even the queues for coffee and food were quicker this year. Talking of such things, Islington proved a good location for a conference, with plenty of pubs, places to eat and pavement space. I wasn’t so convinced about the Business Design Centre, great building as it is, but it worked well enough and I know how hard it is to find the perfect venue. There was no wifi either, something many people complained about, but I found it a pleasant escape.

As everyone will have blogged, it was great to meet up with friends old and new, and it was also a good chance for some genuine networking with potential clients (more so than other conferences).

The conference content was more design-orientated than before, which was a savvy move. The @media audience seems to be particularly standards-aware, and there’s only so much actual new stuff in that arena which can be learned at a conference.

A few tidbits taken away from the conference include Jesse James Garrett’s description of what Adaptive Path does as “finding out what people want and designing products for them” which maps very closely to what we at Clearleft does.

Jason Santa Maria’s excellent talk on Diabolical Design included screenshots of Butterflies and their colour palettes, the new Spiekermann Partners site (lovely simple grid), Trout (more clever gridness) and shout out for Ellen Lupton’s book Thinking with Type. Jason’s talk was particularly good for the sheer amount of examples – good and bad – to demonstrate his words in action. See Joe Clark’s liveblogged notes.

Drew McLellan asserted that We, the people of the Internets, say there is no fold. See Joe Clark’s liveblogged notes.

Richard Ishida gave a fascinating presentation on internationalisation (i18n). He made it clear that internationalisation enables localisation. So, localisation is translation (and more) and internationalisation facilitates this. Of particular difficulty to translators are composite messages, such as “You made 15 mistakes in file test.html”, where ‘15’ and ‘test.html’ are inserted by the software. This could not easily be translated in other languages as the order of the sentence is likely to be different. A more bullet proof, if less friendly, way to present the error message would be “File: test.html. Number of errors: 15”. In his slides, Richard writes about other ways of dealing with composite messages – essential reading if you think there’s a chance the website you’re building will be translated in the future.

I hadn’t seen Tantek Çelik talk about Microformats since he first brought up the subject at SxSW in 2004, so I was keen to see how things had moved on. One of the best things to happen in the Microformats world is the development of the Operator extension for Firefox, which is useful both for consuming (add to Address Book) and developing Microformats. Tantek also pointed out that Satisfaction may become the first site to make full use of Microformats for importing contacts. This is achieved by pointing to a page of existing contacts marked up in hCard and XFN, such as those on Corkd. If you have control over the markup of your blog, then hAtom is the Microformat for you, and pingerati.net the place to go to share your Microformatted pages. Finally the response to the much talked about abbr date/time accessibility problem is being disussed on the wiki.

Thence to Joe Clark, who gave us examples of when accessibility is not our problem, chiefly pointing the finger at the text resizing capabilities of browsers. Joe also urged the audience that there is no need to use <abbr> or <acronym> for every single abbreviation on the webpage – just when clarification or explanation is needed. There was also the announcement that the WCAG Samurai are for real and have done their job (more on this another day).

Jon answering questions

Jon Hicks opened up Friday morning with a great presentation on being a Creative Sponge. Jon pointed to newletters from font foundries such as T26 and Font Font as great places for inspiration. Also mentioned was Chris Messina’s awesome (in the proper sense) Flickr collection of design patterns and the fabulous Dorset Cereals packaging. See Joe Clark’s liveblogged notes.

It was great to see Håkon Wium Lie talk, he being a co-inventor of CSS. He gave a sneak preview of the $100 laptop (tiny, orange and only running open-source software) and mentioned a few appearances in HTML 5 and CSS3, including the <video> element and forthcoming support for CSS web fonts, more on which later this week. See Joe Clark’s liveblogged notes.

Finally I plumped for a bit of JavaScript-Fu with Dan Webb, whose martial arts analogies worked a treat. Using event delegation for click events was an eye-opener, and the “bastard child” of using innerHTML with a DOM-created node was a treat.

As usual, the conference was wrapped up by Jeremy chairing a hot topics panel with aplomb (albeit with a broadside at Patrick for not including a woman on the panel). Being on the panel, Joe Clark picked this opportunity to announce his retirement from web accessibility, although he’ll still be looking in on the Samurai and practising accessibility in a different field. Thanks for your input Joe – it’s been invaluable.