Archived entries for Design

London and Amsterdam

Update: Slides for these talks have been posted: Professional Frontend Engineering in London and High Performance Web Sites in Amsterdam.

Next week Tuesday I’ll be presenting an updated “High Performance Web Sites” talk at the inaugural Kings of Code conference in Amsterdam. From there I’m headed to the second half of London Web Week and will be giving a talk called “Professional Frontend Engineering” in the Friday plenary slot at the outstanding @media conference.

Kings of Code logo

The Kings of Code conference is shaping up to be a great event. I’m excited to hear what fellow speakers John Resig, Peter-Paul Koch (PPK), Folke Lemaitre, Nate Abele, Mark Birbeck, and host Robert Gaal have to share with us.

@media conference logo

The @media conference is equally impressive. It’s consistently been one of my very favorite events for the last few years. The speakers are insightful and generous, the attendees are smart and engaged, and Patrick and the rest of the organizers put on a warm, welcoming, and action-packed event with lots of time for networking, hallway conversations, and a wee bit of pub-based debauchery. Spread over two days it promises to saturate us all with inspiration and insight.

Please email me, leave a comment below, or shoot me a note of Twitter (follow me) if you’re going to be in the area and want to catch up. If you let me know in advance that our paths will cross I’ll be sure to bring you a little gift.

Now if somebody could please do something about the #$%#@$# exchange rate…

Five Taipei Events

I arrived in Taiwan a few hours ago and am settling into my hotel room in Taipei trying to figure out what time my body thinks it is. But regardless of my body’s ability to keep up with me I have a busy few days ahead.

Tomorrow afternoon I’m presenting an internal Tech Talk to designers and engineers at the Yahoo! Taiwan office, hosted by my friend and colleague Aaron Wu. I love the chance to talk to designers and engineers in the same room, and so I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity.

Taiwan magazine iTHome article

On Saturday I’m offering the keynote at the Open Source Developers’ Conference here in Taipei. My talk is titled “An Insider’s Tour of the YUI Library.” I’ve been experimenting with video clips in my talks lately, and so even though I’m the only member of the YUI team on this trip, I’ll have the video and voices of many from the team with me on stage. I’ve done something similar once before, and it went well then so I’m hoping it goes well again.

Here is some local press coverage of the conference. It’s a trip to see my face surrounded by words I can’t read. If anybody can translate for me, please send me a note or leave a comment (click the images for higher-res copies).

University talks in Taipei

The third event is an interview for that same publication scheduled by Yahoo!’s local “tech PR” team. I’m not used to giving in-person interviews, let alone via translator, so it should be a fun and unique (and flattering) experience. They sent over a few of the questions in advance to set expectations and I gotta say the questions are thought provoking and interesting. (Though I am a little worried about how to translate some of the more fuzzy terminology.)

The fun continues on Monday and Tuesday with my fourth and fifth even is as many days: I have the distinct privilege of address engineering and CS students from both National Taiwan University and the National Chiao Tung University. Each two hour session is part presentation, part on-stage interview with professors, and part question-and-answer. My message is that Frontend Engineering is a first-rate engineering discipline, that industry is hungry for more skills practitioners in the field, and that it’s quite likely the most interesting and stimulating role to play in web and internet development.

I’m exceptionally humbled to be able to speak at such esteemed institutions. I will do my best to live up to the honor. Taiwan: Thank you!

Liveblogging Google App Engine release at Campfire One at Google

Liveblogging on Twitter at http://twitter.com/natekoechley

everything in this article is my paraphrasing of speakers’ presentations. not my own words.

(Video coming soon.)

  1. We run web applications. We’re only focused on this narrow goal.
  2. We handle the entire lifecycle of an app.
  3. Apps are run on Google infrastructure.

“It’s hard, but it’s worth it for us.”

“For the first time you can use the same infra we use…Auth, GOS, BigTable”

The Stack

  1. Scalable serving infra
  2. python runtime
  3. SDK
  4. Web based admin console
  5. DataStore

Demo: App from scratch in 8 minutes.

More details

  1. Scalable Serving Infrastructure: fault tolerant (redundant). Fluid: don’t need to schedule needs up front… more servers come online dynamically.
  2. Python Runtime and Libraries. All tools are generic, so new languages can be dropped in later. Python used in same python available otherwise. Goal: you can use any language eventually. We don’t want to limit you.
  3. SDK: Environment to develop apps locally. Avail for Linux, Mac, Windows today. (But can probably work anywhere.)
  4. Admin Console: web-based admin console. (Looks like google finance meets google analytics.) Tools for request logs. Data explorer. Usage/quote numbers. App-version balancing. Can hook up domain (don’t need to run at *.appspot.com).
  5. Scalable Datastore. Schemaless object store. Not a clustered sql thing. Instead based on BigTable. (Whitepapers online.) Horizontally scalable. Reacts to hotspots. BigTable instead of SQL is a big change, and may take some time to get used to. But we think you’ll come to like it. Schemaless means you can add a new datatype or entity whenever – no need to update your schema.

Now we’re looking at a Datastore Model Class.

GQL Query example

SELECT *
FROM Story
WHERE title = 'App Engine Launch'
AND author = :current_user
AND rating >= 10
ORDER BY rating, created DESC

Other Notes

Mail Sending API

no setup needed.

Make HTTP Requests

Authenticate with Google Accounts

Frameworks

The whole Django framework.

Guido van Rossum: Creator of Python and member of Google App Engine team

My passion is making life easier for developers. With python i’ve done that for decades. Now i’ve joined GAE team. Excited by potential. (and that python was first picked)

First time that GOogle has let third-party people run software on their infra. That’s fundamentally a big deal.

8:13 PM “We’re offing 100% of the python lang.”

8:14 PM – we don’t offer threads, but you won’t been it because of our scalable arch.

GAE uses a quota system so nobody monopolizes the infra.

me: if it’s so scalable, why do they need the quotes?

What’s Next?

  • large upload/download support
  • purchase additional capacity
  • other language support
  • offline processing.

More small pieces fit together more ways

In early February Todd Sampson wrote that The API is the Product. I think he’s right on. Behind the exciting buzz of sites and services that make getting bits of info online easy are some very cool APIs that let anybody and everybody create entirely new ways to input or output that same data. (The apparently trend to smaller pieces of data is interesting too, and part of the ease.)

Here are a few of those sites: FireEagle for location data (a single geocode), TripIt for travel data, Delicious for links data (a single URL+ tags), ThingFo for experience data (in 30 chars), Twitter for vitality data (140 chars).

These APIs make possible an undeniable wave of creative hacks within the small orbit of any of the services even individually. This growth testify to the mass variety of niche needs and personal priorities. It seems the ocean of data is really a petri dish.

When these hacks cross-pollenate — when the ins and outs of the data sets start sharing and talking with each other — things get even more interesting.

Those that dismiss mashups as simply “things on a map,” “widgets on a blog,” or “applications on facebook” don’t see the full power. I don’t claim to either, but important coolness seems inevitable when data becomes small and abundant while APIs become prolific and potent. More small pieces fit together more ways.

(Perhaps this is a small part of why Douglas Crockford says that “Mashups are the most interesting innovation in software development in decades.”)

Speaking at Web Design World in Chicago

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be giving two presentations at the Web Design World conference in Chicago in May. My first session, the plenary on Tuesday, defines and discusses Professional Frontend Engineering. The second explores way to enhance web sites with the YUI Library. (Full descriptions of both talks below.)

Speaking at Web Design World, Chicago, May 5-7 2008

You can save up to $300 on registration when you register online (or via 800-280-6218) and use my special promo code SPKOE. Plus, using that code is worth a couple drinks on me after the sessions!

Here are longer descriptions of the two sessions. I’m still creating both of them, so please feel free to leave a comment below with feedback or requests for stuff you’d like to hear about.

Professional Frontend Engineering

“In 2001, most web developers simply pushed pixels. The Web was pieced together by print designers and back-end engineers – almost no one was deeply focused on the front-end. Today, in 2008, as front-end engineers we author complex and efficient software and bend reluctant browsers to our will. And we are broadly recognized and respected as a first-order engineering specialization.

In this talk, I will define the characteristics and important practices of our discipline. I’ll discuss the key challenges we still face. And I’ll offer 13 tactical tips from the front lines that you can put into practice today.”

Enhancing Web Sites with the Yahoo! User Interface (YUI) Library

“YUI is chock full of more than 40 utilities, widgets and tools that make web development and browser-wrangling less painful for small personal sites and heavy-duty industry-leading applications alike. This all-new talk covers what’s new in 2008 (lots), what’s coming next (some very cool stuff), and some practical tips from the trenches. If you’re a seasoned YUI pro, you’ll learn about hidden features and optimization tips. If you’ve never heard of YUI, you’ll learn how to get started. And if you use a different library, you’ll learn about YUI’s library-agnostic tools for things like compression, profiling and unit testing. It’s gonna be fun.”

Meet Up?

I’m looking forward to meeting designers and developers from all around Chicagoland. Please drop me a comment or email if you’re gonna be at the show — or even just in the area — and want to catch up for a drink or dinner. (I’m also planning on being in Madison, Wisconsin — my hometown — the weekend before the conference. So give me a shout if you’re in that neck of the woods.

The Details

See you there!

HTML Slicers

I’ve heard about various services that charge a flat rate to chop Photoshop (etc) files into clean (X)HTML and CSS, generally for a flat fee and quick turnaround. The topic came up today when a freelancing application developer buddy asked me about this type of service.

So this morning I asked my twitter followers (follow me!) which services they knew of. Here’s what came back (in a matter of minutes – gotta love twitter!):

Then @jasonw22 pointed out that Jonathan Snook (a hero of mine) has a list of about 20 such services, and just this week posted a review of his experience auditioning the psd2html service.

If you’ve used any of these services, I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below (and of other services you may know of or recommend).

I’ll report back on my friend’s experience.

(I must mention, in closing, that I’m skeptical of such services. I’ve spent the last several years of my career promoting the professionalism of frontend engineering, and so I have a twang of fear that these services are a step in the wrong direction. Then again, perhaps services such as these — if, in fact, the quality is there — prove that some aspects of “professional grade” web development are now par for the course. Jury’s still out.)



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