The first speaker, Tom, spoke about the Sahana disaster management system, and how to design for mobile devices. Sahana is an open source web based disaster management system designed to help with the management of missing people, disaster victims, managing camps and other resources, and a range of other functions. In the case of the Sahana system, the application could be used on a PC or on a mobile device. Tom gave an overview of his suggestions of using the appropriate stylesheet and the benefits it brought about.
One of the examples that he provided stood out in my mind – imagine someone trying to use an old computer in some part of India, with a blurry 12 inch monitor, with a pirated copy of Windows, running on batteries (as the power has died). How would your website look on their browser? The key message from Tom’s presentation is that it is important to Important to think about the technology and the standards, but it is also important to keep the human elements of the process in mind.
John’s topic of Web Patterns has been on my “things to do” plate for some time. With some discussion happening around this similar issue at work (actually, this morning!) I was really keen to hear what John had to say. Web Patterns are not templates. They may not be the answer to all of life’s problems, but they’re are way of helping to define the problem, and possible solutions to the problems. In essence, it is about design patterns for web development.
John talked about Christopher Alexander et. al., who in 1977, published A Pattern Language. This brought up the idea of patterns in architecture, which can then be applied across multiple areas, such as the object oriented analysis and design (John mentioned the “gang of four” – Gamma, Helm, Johnson and Vlissides).
Having a common language for things was mentioned. John talked about the Semantic Web and the results from his earlier survey about the use of classes and ids. The results are interesting – there are over 5,000 class values and nearly 5,000 id values. So how do we go about creating a common language?
Also mentioned – the upcoming Web Directions web conference at the end of September. I can’t wait! The last two years (WE04 and WE05) were just fantastic, and from the topics lined up, it’s going to be another great one.