LBA, day 2, ajax experience tutorial sessions

11:25 EST
Just had my first continental breakfast, which was better then what I expected from what I’ve been told about it. Coffee, tee, juice for drinks, toast, donuts, bagles, and, a wafle maker! Someone was so pleasant to explain to me how that one worked, I must’ve made the impression of being quite lost about it.

I’ve also checked how to get to the world trade center, where the AJAX experience takes place. There are quite a few bus and train routes, the fastest takes about 25 minutes.

13:30 EST
Getting to the world trade center in Boston was pretty easy after all. I arrived at the right station, but then went into exactly the wrong direction. On the way I met, as I much later realized, Marc Grabanski, who was just as lost as I was. Finally we both managed to find the entrance to the right building and the registration desk.
The first tutorial I’m currently listening to is by Ben Galbraith, “Intro to Ajax”. While the low-level stuff – he started with some code examples to create an XMLHttpRequest and fill a city field on blur of a zip code field – isn’t particular useful, there are a lot of details and anecdotes that make the tutorial quite interesting, including:

  • Comet is the name of a server-push architecture, that avoids the overhead of the client polling for the state of an event. Cometd was mentioned as an implementation. Ben noted that this architecture is overkill most of the time. I’m planning to attend a few sessions on Ajax applications performance, I hope there is more on this.
  • DWR provides Java method invocation in JavaScript. While the API could be much better when integrated into, say, jQuery, there are some great concepts to check, like batching and Spring integration.

14:35 EST
Just met John Resig for the first time, who is now preparing for his tutorial talk, the JavaScript library overview. I hope to get the chance to talk to him later.

16:15 EST
Being already quite fixed on jQuery, the library overview, focussing on Prototype, Dojo, Yahoo UI and jQuery, wasn’t providing substantial new information. Still, there a few things to take closer look at, like Prototype’s testing framework.

21:30 EST
The last tutorial today was “Designing for Ajax” by David Verba. His focus on interaction design was very interesting. He showed examples of websites that feel ugly or make us feel stupid, and the cause of those issues. Quite a lot of examples were online flight search services. One showed an irritating error message with some useless error code when entering “Bostin” as the airport, the other one provided autocompletion for the same field and helped the user to avoid the mispelling in the first place.

Later I met John Resig, Richard Worth and Marc Grabinski sitting around and chatting and talked with Marc about jQuery plugin development and its downfalls. Just writing the code for a plugin isn’t enough, to find users and keep them you also have to write tests and documentation, update those whenever adding a new feature, responding to support requests. Due to the popularity of jQuery its quite easy to find users: Once you put your plugin on, potential users start pouring in.

Thats it for now, tomorrow the actual conference starts with a keynote and then the first session by John Resig, “The future of JavaScript”.