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d.Construct: Accessibility in a web 2.0 world

Derek Featherstone on how to do accessiblity now we’re seeing more Applications and JavaScript. Even something as simple as a login form can have many, many accessibility problems. Little things like using an image instead of a button to submit a form. Lack of label tags.

Another one is search boxes. Search boxes often have no external label, so a screen reader doesn’t know how to address the field. And often, JavaScript is used to clear the contents of the search box because the “type your search” here message is in there by default. But when you tab, then shift-tab, it wipes out your search!

Wow, that was a really cool talk. So many ways to think about web sites that are completely non obvious. Thanks, Derek!

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d.Construct: Mash my Flex up!

Aral Balkan is talking about how to do flashing. And flexing.. A brief rant about the openness of data in the UK (more details at freeourdata.org.uk).

Flex examples:

He goes on to explain all the bits of the Flex platform. I like the fact it’s based on Eclipse. There also appears to be a vibrant Open Source community built on top of it, which is a Good Thing.

There was a series of code explanations, but waaay to swift for those of us not familiar with Flash…

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d.Construct: The Joy of API

Jeremy Keith is talking about how much fun APIs can be. He’s bigging up REST, which is fine by me. 🙂

He integrated flickr, delicious, upcoming all into adactio elsewhere.

It’s all about a web of data.

Microformats are the way forward!

Jeremy is a hugely entertaining speaker; I’ve been too busy listening to capture most of what he said…

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d.Construct: Web Services for fun & Profit

Simon Willison and Paul Hammond talking about how web services are helping to make Yahoo work.

As an example, they’re talking about how to build a login form. They’re covering how you can’t just talk directly to a database. You need to use an API to get scalability and reliability.

They go on to talk about Yahoo Hack Days, which sound incredibly cool. It’s a big part of helping Yahoo to innovate.

Showing off all the APIs available on developer.yahoo.com. They talked about Rollyo as a commercial user of the APIs. But really impressive is Matt Biddulph’s use of the term extraction API to find out relationships between politicians.

Summary:

  • Web Services make huge sites possible
  • Web Services help to build new products faster
  • Web Services help to encourage innovation
  • Web Services aren’t just for internal use
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Jeff Barr @ d.Construct

Jeff Barr is Amazon’s Web Services evangelist. He’s talking about all the web services that Amazon offer. Feels like a product pitch, even though the technology is interesting.

Some of the demos that use the E-Commerce API are pretty cool. I love the flash demo that shows band relationships.

The mechanical turk is also a stunningly cool idea. It’s all about creating marketplaces… Well, apart from thesheepmarket.com perhaps. 🙂

I hadn’t seen EC2 before either. It’s kind of rent-a-Xen. It’s still in Beta right now.

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d.Construct is here!

And it’s huge! Compared to last years event, anyway. It’s down in the Corn Exchange, which thankfully hasn’t been fitted out to the max with chairs (unlike the last time I was here). There’s a really nice space at the back with tea, coffee and power bars! That’s something that I didn’t realize how essential it was until I visited YAPC::Europe.

I’ve met a few people so far. The Fotango crew, who are here as a sponsor, pushing Zimki. I love their slogan “pre-shaved yaks”. They have yaks on their stand, which are exceedingly cute.

I’ve also seen Peter Nixey from Webkitchen, whom I keep seeming to bump into. Plus a chap from Elsevier, always good to talk to people in the same industry.

Anyway, onto the intro…

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d.Construct

It’s the penultimate day before d.Construct 2006! If ever you needed an excuse to come and visit Brighton, this is it. The gig is sold out, but come on down anyway; there’s still plenty going on! If you want to know who’s going to be around, check out the backnetwork—a cool app for the attendees to figure it all out.

Even if you can’t make it, you might want to check out the d.Construct podcasts that Jeremy has been making in the runup. Last year, they hosted MP3’s of the speakers as a podcast after the event and I reckon they’ll show up again this year.

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d.Construct 2006

Registration for d.Construct 2006 is now open. Get your tickets whilst there are still some left, by the looks of things. It promises to be a grand day. I’m particularly looking forward to the talks on Web Services and APIs in the morning.

I’m also intrigued by Aral Balkan’s talk on flash. I remember him talking about it at last years d.Construct and being very impressed by the kind of things that are happening in the flash space. It’s really good to try and understand things that are going on outside your immediate sphere.

This is why, even though I’m normally far more concerned with backend software, I’m still curious to hear about topics like accessibility. It might not be what I do directly, but it’s still going to be a part of the product I help to create. Having an holistic appreciation of the product can only help.

It’s a real treat to have an event like this in Brighton. I can’t thank the guys at Clearleft enough for putting this together. Presumably thanks can be purchased in beer, post-event. ;-)

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The Treason Show

I went to see The Treason Show last Friday night. It’s about the fourth time I’ve been and I’m still being entertained. Song and dance satire can’t be beat.

However, I do have a couple of complaints:

  • Too much football. Really. I hate football, despise the world crap and really want to go out and get away from it. Having said that, the finale of “We’re not the champions” was beautifully done.
  • Tables. This is more aimed at Komedia rather than the show. But all the tables were a) really tightly packed in and b) reserved anyway. We got there fairly soon after it opened and there were no free tables (they were empty, just unavailable). Instead, we got to sit on the very uncomfortable stools for the whole show. They really need to rethink this.

Overall though, still very enjoyable, despite the extremely loud and pissed woman two tables down.

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Firework Fun

Speaking of the Brighton Festival, I should mentioned the utterly awesome display of theatrics and fireworks that I saw last Saturday. In preston park at 22:00, Groupe 4 1 put on the most marvellous display. It wasn’t just fireworks. it was also men with suits made of lights, flying through the air to a musical and video backdrop. Absolutely beautiful. Touching, in places. Downright weird in others.

Sadly, most of the photos that I’ve seen so far have just been of the fireworks, so that’s what you’ll have to see.

All culled from brighton fireworks on flickr.

1 Sorry, it’s a horrid flash based site. Completely unknown to google as well. I ended up there almost by accident.