Mark Norman Francis

Internet Boffin

Attending @media 2006

Published on June 27, 2006.

I’m quite late on writing about the 2006 @media conference. Some people covered it live and other people posted extensive reviews. And to top it all, Gareth Rushgrove is doing a bang-up job of collecting everything @media 2006.

So, I thought I’d write what I found most useful. I had hoped that that would be the design panels, since I already know CSS pretty much inside and out and JS pretty well. As a person with seemingly no design sensibilities I thought it might be enlightening to hear Jon Hicks, Veerle Pieters and Cameron Moll talk about great design. In the end I thought a lot of it was great information, if you already understood design or even had some creative leanings. I didn’t get much out of it except a greater appreciation of the point of carefully thought-out typography; and finding some amusement watching Simon fire up OmniGraffle to start drawing squirrels.

I also found Andy Clarke's presentation quite thought-provoking and worthwhile, in terms of getting inspiration for design (and semantic structure?!?) in the world around us, rather than in just copying other sites we like the look of.

But by far the most resonant thing was a single comment made in the Javascript libraries panel, I think from Stuart Langridge (you’d think if it was such a great comment, I’d bloody remember who said it, wouldn’t you?). The comment was that most back-end programmers don’t understand JavaScript, because in their world there’s never a situation where the server’s programs just don’t run but the server is still running.

Now (casually ignoring situations where perl hasn’t been installed on a server so that scripts break, or other such things…) I found this one of those “Of course, now it’s been said out loud, it’s obvious” moments. I always had this niggling annoyance with our engineers writing inline JS. But it often seemed like banging your head against a brick wall trying to explain to them why progressive enhancement is the Right Way To Do It.

I may not be able to get the concept across even now, but at least I have a new angle of attack to come at them from now.