Chicago Web Conf

Some time ago I put Chicago Web Conf on my calendar, not really sure what it was. A few weeks ago I checked in, and found a two track schedule with design and Javascript. It was located at the TechNexus (can’t get much more convenient from Union Station) and pretty well priced for a one day conference. TechNexus is space better sized for user groups, and with the conference sold out, rooms were often crowded.

I must be attending too many conferences – I often I found myself going tot he design track since I figured I knew enough about the JS topic, or could easily read the docs on a library. The first session, however, just got the room assignment backwards (I think the conference used the opposite A/B names a the TechNexus). It was a crowded room and I’d met Shay Howe before, so I got another overview of HTML5/CSS3. There were some things I wasn’t really aware of – <figure>/<figcaption>, <time datetime=”">, <meter>/<progress>, and some of the new input types. Under CSS there are some background stretching modes (contain, cover). At the end people mentioned some websites, css-tricks and CSS3, Please!.

Getting back to the developer track, Ben Rady gave a well executed overview of JavaScript Testing with Jasmine. He established his testing criteria – Fast (< 1s), Informative (at the the user level), Reliable, and Exhaustive (confidence, not necessarily certainty) He also went over Jasmine, an RSpecish framework with spies (mock/stub), custom matchers, and an autotest-like runner via Jezebel.

After lunch was mostly design again. In “The Right Way to Wireframe”, Ross Unger talked about a scientific (or as close as you can get) experiment having four separate designers document their processes in isolation. The basic flow is to sketch (quantity over quality), wireframe, and then create the finished style. On the theme of “sketching is thinking” he is organizing SketchCamp in Chicago, October 27.

The visualization talk got out a bit early, so I snuck into the tail end of “Into to CoffeeScript and FinchJS A/B Testing” I was hoping to catch some FinchJS, but mostly got some overview of CoffeScript. I did the motivation for Finch: It allows them to do A/B test cases beyond the Content Delivery Network, allowing them to scale despite per-user customization.

To close things out, Ryan Singer gave us his thoughts on User Experience. His main thrust is that design and form should highlight the information that the user most needs – “The screen pushes the information straight into my brain” Evaluate what the UI really tells you – “People are not reading when you give them software” He also observed that a theoretical discussion with clients rarely works.

Posted Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 under Conference.

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