Coding with Jesse

The Ajax Experience Wrap-up

October 26th, 2006

I had a really great time at The Ajax Experience, and got to meet a lot of really cool fellow JavaScript hackers. The sessions were all very interesting, but what really stuck with me was the difference that a good JavaScript library can really make in your development.

John Resig's talk on Choosing a JavaScript Library showed how much cleaner and faster development can be when a library offers elegant solutions to very common problems. And I assume John used some kind of Jedi mind trick because his talk made me choose his own library, jQuery. I even rewrote my talk's examples in jQuery to make them shorter. I'm sure I'll be writing a lot about jQuery on here in the future.

My "Unobtrusive Ajax" talk went pretty well, I thought. I realised afterwards that I hadn't pointed people at my examples for download. So if you attended and want to take a second look, or if you didn't attend but still want to see what it was all about, go check out the downloads below:

And please, contact me if you have any questions or comments about any of this stuff.

Unobtrusive Ajax at The Ajax Experience

October 10th, 2006

I'll be presenting at The Ajax Experience. This is an Ajax conference taking place in Boston from October 23-25, 2006.

My topic will be "Unobtrusive Ajax", which I've described as so:

Learn how the separation of content, presentation and behavior can not only make your web applications more accessible, but also easier to develop and maintain. See how to implement modern web interfaces so that they are enhanced by JavaScript and still work fine without JavaScript.

Jesse will walk you through lots of examples and show you solutions for some common problems in Unobtrusive Ajax development. Although some of the examples will use a bit of PHP, Jesse will focus on the JavaScript and HTML, so you'll be able to apply the lessons learned to any server platform.

I'll mostly be talking about the practical benefits of separating JavaScript, CSS and HTML, as well as why you shouldn't assume people have JavaScript, and how to design (or re-design) some common Ajax interfaces to avoid this assumption.

I'm a bit worried I'll be the party pooper at the conference.. everyone'll be so excited about using JavaScript, nobody will want to be reminded about the minority that doesn't have JavaScript. But I think the presentation will be a lot of fun and I'll hopefully show people that it's not a big deal to support non-JavaScript users, and it may even make your code more stable and easier to manage.

If you'll be attending, please, let me know. I'd love to meet some fellow Ajax hackers.

Update Oct. 26, 2006: Click here for a write-up and links to my slides and examples.

Back from JAX

May 14th, 2006

I had a really nice time in Wiesbaden, Germany at JAX 2006. Apart from being in a gorgeous city, the conference had some interesting content. Most of it was about Java technologies and I won't bore you (and myself) with too much of that, but I also attended sessions on Ruby on Rails, Groovy and AJAX.

It was interesting to get a sense of where the industry is moving. Dynamic languages are becoming much more important, although I find "real" developers are hesitant to move in that direction. Personally, I love the concepts behind Groovy and Ruby. They speed up development and take away much of the painful grunt work involved in regular programming. They might be slower, but in the future as servers get faster, I don't think this will be such a problem.

Another striking trend was an overwhelming buzz and a sense of confusion and mystery around AJAX. Remember, this was a Java conference so many of the participants don't work directly on the web. Some only heard of AJAX for their first time at JAX. There seems to be a big divide between programmers and designers, and neither seems to understand advanced JavaScript programming. Programmers have avoided JavaScript, considering it a simple scripting language. Designers have avoided it for being a programming language. Now that some really sophisticated user interfaces are possible on the web, both sides are starting to get really excited.

Until now, I've totally hated the term AJAX. It's just a buzzword slapped on to something that JavaScript developers have been doing for years, and you know how much I hate buzzwords. Now, I see that it has helped to create awareness and get people excited about the possibilities in the browser. I don't think we will be using the term AJAX for many years, but at the moment it has gotten many people to take web applications more seriously and to start thinking about how they can improve the web. This is always a good thing.