Web Directions North 2008 Recap
Web Directions North has wrapped up its second year and I think the lineup this year was even better than the last (and not because I was in it...I'm not that egotistical!).
I was impressed by the presentations, especially Indi Young's Mental Models. For her session, I started somewhat disinterested but the more I listened, the more I became engaged. So much so, that now I want to buy her book on the subject.
Douglas Crockford presented on Ajax Security, which I originally expected to have more immediately practical advice, turned out to more of a call to arms to revisit the web stack to address security. Interesting thoughts he brought up included the ability to isolate code into vats instead of having all code in the global context, and having any DOM element be able to access any other DOM element. It would seem that either of these cases could be solved or at least minimized by changing how the current system works without needing to redesign it from scratch.
I would have liked to have seen more and also to have joined in on more of the activities. First, I started getting a cold before I made my trip out to Vancouver but it got even worse while I was there. With no medication (mostly due to laziness in finding the nearest drug store), I suffered through what I could. Luckily, my presentation went off fairly well but by the middle of the second day, my sinuses were so congested I could barely breathe. Even eating became a chore. Then, hearing the news of up to 30cm of snow about to hit home, I decided to bail early and miss out on both the Mediatemple closing party and the Whistler festivities.
The trip home wasn't much fun either. The flight from Vancouver to Toronto went off without a hitch but the storm had just hit Toronto and it created some havoc trying to get out. Our first plane had an engine that wouldn't start so the flight was cancelled and I got redirected to a later flight. That flight ran into delays just trying to get de-iced so that we could make the 45 minute trip to Ottawa. It took 5 hours sitting on the plane before we got off the ground. It was great to be home, although, shovelling a foot of snow this morning — while still sick — was no picnic.
Anyways, despite the cold and the troubles getting back home, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Vancouver. WDN is probably one of the most well organized conferences I've been to. And with about 300 attendees, it's a super accessible group to talk to. I chatted up Alex Mogilevsky of Microsoft (he's been doing a bunch of the layout work on IE8) and when I asked him of grid positioning finding its way into IE8, he just gave me a big grin and said, "I'd like it to be in there." So, no scoops there. I should have tried more alcohol, I think. There were plenty of Microsoft employees there, many directly on the IE team but I didn't have a chance to talk to them more about the versioning and long term plans. Not that they likely would have said anything more than has already been said; they're a pretty tight-lipped group.
It was also great to see old friends again and meet people in person that I had up until then only met online. Some highlights include meeting Douglas Crockford (with whom my somewhat awkward exchange nearly rivals the first and only time I met Chris Wilson of Microsoft) and chatting up the ever hilarious nGen guys (yes, more Happy Webbies, please. Oh and thanks for the shirt (I got me an Eric Meyer)).
I hope to see many of them again at SXSW. (I mean, I hope to see ALL of them again but I know many won't be able to make it!)
If you get a chance to hit up Web Directions North next year, I definitely recommend it.