I liked the intro, the first ten minutes, of the first keynote speaker. The keynote speaker on the first day of the conference looked at one part of the history of computing, the trade-offs between computing power and accessibility, and ease of deployment and functionality. With mainframes, we had a lot of raw computing power but little accessibility. But apps were easy to deploy to the mainframe. With personal computers, we gave up some computing power but everyone had their own computer. Apps were tough to deploy, though.
Now with the web, we again potentially have access to more computing power (although I personally don’t get to use it, as far as I can tell), with the computer clouds or whatever you call them behind the websites. But you have to do everything through the browser, which is more like the dumb terminals of yore.
State of AJAX
This presentation was fairly good. I’ll write some of my notes from it.
- AJAX is all about giving the user a great user experience, a great user interface. That should be all that matters.
- For a user, a 0.1 second delay is perceptible, and the user will start to lose interest after a 1 second delay. So latency is a huge issue and was a big buzzword throughout the conference. This also gives us a guideline, that if any delays are going to be more than 1 second, you want to let the user know that something is happening.
- Prefer providing an Undo feature instead of warning dialogs, which people ignore by now.
As far as using Undo instead of a warning dialog, the example suggestion was to store the entire form history in the database. So going back to a previous version is easy, just pull the previous data back out of the database. Pretty easy and slick.
Google AJAX APIs
This was a basic introduction to Google’s AJAX APIs, which let you drop in Google Search, News, Video, and so on into any web page. It was exceedingly simple to do any of these, and if any client ever wants anything like it, I’d be all for it. With some JS, you can show search results or news results related to canned searches relevant to your page, basically like Google Ads. Then you can switch the results in the page with some more JS, or let the user type in his own search.
The video controls and the constantly-updating news bar were the most visually impressive. Lots of different options here, all styled with CSS so it can easily look exactly like the rest of your site.
Like someone else mentioned on this blog, Google is also hosting different JS libraries, so we could always link to those instead of serving up our own versions. Should provide some small speed boost.
Google Maps Code Lab
In the afternoon I tried to do this Google Maps Code Lab, which is supposed to be a hands-on coding exercise to get you familiar with an API. It was disappointing. The “leader” just pointed us to a URL that had a list of tasks to complete, and then we did it ourselves. Some Google people were there to help but basically it was nothing I couldn’t have done by myself at work or at home. I got frustrated at not being able to figure some part of it out (I should have asked someone) and left to catch some other talk that didn’t turn out to be helpful either.
Anyways, I now have a basic understanding of what we can do with Google Maps and how to do it. Every website needs a Google map nowadays.