Today I presented at WDCNZ 2011 in Wellington. The details of my presentation are below! I had a great time and if you were there I hope you enjoyed the day.
“CSS sucks! Can we please go back to intuitive tables?” – Anonymous developer
“Why does CSS make me want to kill myself? How do I make it OBEY me?” – Anonymous aspiring dictator
“I’m having a bad day. CSS ate my brains.” – Anonymous zombie
CSS may seem unreliable, but actually it’s just a bit dumb. We’ll take a look at the dumbest bits of CSS, and we’ll check out CSS’s optional, shiny new brain, SASS and Compass.
“You call that development?”
“Well, yeah,” I say.
“I mean, it’s just a string.”
“What’s a string?”
“No, it’s a string in chaos. That’s the logic, a string of chaos.”
“We speak different languages,” I said.
Why do developers refuse to learn CSS? Do they find it boring? Does it pale in comparison to other languages?
I think of it as the icing on a cake.1
If you find CSS hard, chances are you haven’t implemented stuff to make it easy. Here are a few quick tips.
- Use a reset stylesheet. These styles lay the foundation of your website.2 Paste this CSS from Eric Meyer or this CSS from Yahoo at the top of your stylesheet
That’s all you need to make CSS easy.
1. Icing is the best part, too.
2. Some developers are against them. Ignore those guys. I think most of them play the devil’s advocate to get page hits.
3. This JS forms the foundation for Yahoo’s JS library, Ext. It’s very good, better than Prototype.
4. You do not need to use conditional stylesheets for Internet Explorer nowadays.
Unlike normal web conferences, Webstock is cool. The speakers are competent, the presentations are almost perfect and the lessons are memorable. (And thankfully Webstock is not a sausage fest1 like most web & technology conferences. Does anyone actually enjoy networking at TechEd more than networking at Webstock? But seriously, gender aside, Webstock is unique because it attracts an equal amount of designers, developers, usability gurus, etc.)
This conference is special, which is why I volunteered my time for the entire week. I’m helping the Clockwork team ensure the event runs smoothly. This is how useful I am:
“Excuse me, where’s the loo?” she asks.
The loo! Your strange word2 intrigues me, colonial! “Down the hall and to the left,” I answer.
“Is the wireless network down?” they wonder.
“Well it certainly isn’t up! I’ll find out 3 when they expect to fix it, no worries.”
So on and so forth. I do feel helpful, usually. But down to the nitty-gritty, for the first three days I attended workshops by:
- Amy Hoy, who showed me that people are oblivious. She was lovely, but her personality was more powerful than her presentation (I remember her more than the content of the workshop). She’s a fan of exposing information (e.g. display a list of links instead of using a select menu) and her vocabulary was refreshing, too. I can’t remember the last time I heard someone say egregious.
- Kelly Goto, who gets shit done! (e.g. she stood on an American highway stopping truck drivers because she needed them for a usability test). She focused on iterative application development (agile development) and the importance of usability testing (painfully obvious to knowledgeable designers). Her presentation was too high-level for me, but it was appropriate for the workshop audience. I would like to see her speak about product management methodologies.
- Luke Wroblewski, who knows how to make the most of a bad conversation between a user and a form. I met Luke in 2002 because I helped produce his first book, Site Seeing: A Visual Approach to Web Usability. Yea, he didn’t remember me (after all, it was six years ago). His workshop on form design was excellent because it’s based on research,4 instead of opinion (research always makes a presentation interesting for me, because design and development practices are often expressed as opinions).
- Jill Whalen, who showed me my website through the cold, heartless eyes of the Google. Did you know that search engine bots ignore the title attribute in images or links? I didn’t. After the workshop I felt that search engine optimization is vague, and possibly fruitless.
My coworkers can expect a presentation about this juicy information next week. The workshops learned me well, they did!
A note to my readers: Hi! If you read this thinking “what the hell,” I’m sorry… (hello, family!). At least now you see the geek in me.
1. Sausage fest: when the number of males in an environment overwhelmingly exceeds the amount of females present. For example from the urban dictionary, He told everyone he was bringing 50 hot bitches from Arizona State to his house Saturday night. But it was just a bunch of dudes watching “The Matrix.” We blew that sausage fest right away and never went back.
2. I guess it makes sense, considering loo’s rhyming word.
3. The team communicates through radio headsets. The first day I felt like a member of the secret service. I said, “Mission Control we need a bucket of ice up here A.S.A.P., over.” They didn’t laugh. I did. The next day they called me “cheeky monkey.”
4. This is why Kathy Sierra’s 2006 workshop was enthralling. She made sense of the research about how our brains work, and applied the findings to product design. Holy shit.
HTML 5 is more semantic. For example, the DIV element, which “represents nothing at all, and achieves nirvana with the Buddha in web documents” is replaced with specific elements, like HEADER, FOOTER and NAV.1 For example, instead of this:
HTML 5 markup looks like this:
Naming these elements is a good move, but it doesn’t address confusion about markup, which is sad. For example, should logos and company names use an H1 element? Some say yes, others no. So why not include a LOGO element in HTML 5?
And almost all websites have search fields, search results, a registration form, a log in form, tags or categories, etc. Why not include these elements as well?
They could even include an ADS element too. Imagine, a magic button that can hide advertisements at will!1
Also, there are specifications in the current document I don’t understand. They’ve created the NAV element and stated “The nav element represents a section of a page that links to other pages or to parts within the page: a section with navigation links.” If it’s just a list of links, why isn’t it grouped with lists like UL and OL? Nesting a UL or OL in the NAV element seems redundant.
The document is still under discussion so anything can change. Browser support is probably a few years away anyways.
1. I imagine this would never work, as we’re all greedy.
In first place we have the Kiwis’ website:
And in second place we have the Koalas’ website:
I was awake for the duration of the competition and the awards ceremony (about 36 hours without sleep) and then crashed until the morning (about 18 hours sleeping). My brain is fried from coding so quickly.
I’m still recovering (hence the late blog post).
New Zealand won by a small margin, but more importantly our client has a new website for their charity. Hopefully it will help their cause and change someone’s life for the better.
Before the competition, I saw the Sydney Opera House, and the beach at Manly.1 Then the teams ate together along CockleBay.2 Sydney’s a beautiful city, and not what I expected.
My team members kicked ass, and the Australian team rocked as well. It was great to get together for good causes, even if it was under the guise of competition.
You can read the reactions of my team members too:
- Ali’s blog (the all-rounder)
- Mark’s blog (the programmer)
- Peter’s blog (the writer)
- Steve’s blog (the designer)
- T-dog’s blog (the project manager)
- Zef’s blog (the usability guru)
The next FullCodePress is before Webstock in February and any country can participate.
1. I felt manly after leaving Manly.
2. Cockle Bay? Manly? Sydney seem to favor one gender over another.
This morning we walked to the Opera House (the competition begins tomorrow and seeing this building is an obligation):
Seeing the Opera House reminds me of the first time I saw the Statue of Liberty in New York City. Describing this feeling is like explaining orange to a blind man.
We’ve been setting up our networks this afternoon and the competition begins tomorrow at 9:00. This is exciting
Today’s I leave for Sydney to compete against Australia in FullCodePress. FCP is a competition to “build a fully-operational website for a non-profit organisation in 24 hours.”
My team is awesome, and we’re going to win. The competition starts on Saturday. Here are some details:
Can I see the event online?
The two teams will be building their websites online, and you can watch the progress on the two websites in real time. The web addresses will be announced at 9.30am on Saturday at http://www.fullcodepress.com.
The New Zealand team
Photo and video action:
Who is running the event:
24 hours without sleep! I’m going to feel like a student. Wish us luck…
I’m going to Australia in August to compete against the Aussies for FullCodePress 2007!
Each team (New Zealand and Australia) will build a website in one day for a non-profit organization.
“At the end of 24 hours, a team of judges will review both sites and select the winner. International pride, bragging rights and a trophy will follow for the winning team.”
Wish us luck!
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