XWiki at SmartWeb 2013

Sep 26 2013

Article originally published on xwiki.org

On the 24th of September I had the pleasure to participate to SmartWeb, the "first world class web conference in Eastern Europe", held in Bucharest.

The presentations covered topics such as Responsive Web Design, writing CSS the right way, performance, working with a distributed team, usability testing, etc. (Take a look at the program)

smartweb.png

Some of my favorite talks:

  • Jonathan Snook - he is most known for his SMACSS (Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS) book and my main reason to go to this conference. He had a nice presentation and he is an amazing person. We had a lovely talk about organizing the CSS modules of our project and the downfalls of using a CSS framework (mostly asked about integration with Twitter Bootstrap). The conclusion is that no matter how much a framework will externalize our base styling, we will always need to have custom spreadsheets, so we'd better make sure we create a scalable and reusable system. 
  • Vitaly Friedman and Vasilis Dimos - although they had separate presentations, their session was all about Responsive Design. The 'responsive movement' is not just a hype word anymore, but the industry already developed Responsive Design Patterns and techniques when dealing with responsive projects. You should really check out Vitaly's presentation.
  • Peter Gasston - held an interesting presentation about Web Components (Shadow DOM, Templates, Custom Elements, Decorators). The idea is to write custom, reusable HTML tags, that help developers encapsulate their HTML, CSS and JavaScript so it doesn't interfere with the rest of the page. It is an interesting concept and could be helpful for us to use it for our widgets/pickers/macros (like the datepicker, colorpicker, suggests and even our WYSIWYG could be written as a Web Component). The only thing I didn't like was the Decorators, because I don't think that applying markup with CSS is a good idea since it breaks the purpose of why CSS was build, and that is 'the separation of content and style'.
  • Dan Rubin - had a nice case study about usability testing in action. His presentation holds one my favorites quotes from this conference, and that is:

    Discover what users love, so you can protect it. - @danrubin

    We are constantly driven by change and I always try to find improvements to bring to XWiki, but sometimes maybe we just need to stop a bit and see what are the core concepts that bring users to want our platform. I have some ideas in mind (like extensibility, powerful development features, customizable, etc.) and right now I'm looking for ways to find our most wanted core features (and make sure we don't ever break them).
  • Carl Smith - really nice presentation about 'The Jellyfish Work Model', which "describes a temporary, distributed, decentralized team that creates its own roles and accomplishes tasks together." Everything he presented about his team I could find it in how our community is organized: having the committers ('core team') and the contributors ('friendgineers'), so I'm sure we are on the right path in organizing our team and sharing our common vision.
  • Bruce Lawson - great presentation about standards and what *not* to do on the Web. So glad that we cover many of the things presented by him and that we try to preserve accessibility and quality of the Web, and not destroy it (actually I guess he is really disappointed of us emoticon_smile ). 

It was a really nice conference and the international speakers were amazing. I wish for the future to see more romanian speakers and to continue to have this kind of events in Romania.