Monday, March 19, 2007

AjaxWorld 2007 Day One (NYC)

I'm here at AjaxWorld NYC which starts today (3/20/2007):

SWAG review: I received a black bag which contained the following items....
  • 1 AjaxWorld DVD (2-discs - very nice)
  • A couple vendor CDs
    • IntelliJIdea - 30 day trial
    • Oracle Fusion Middleware
    • Flex 2 SDK (which is free), Flex Builder 30-day trial
    • unlabelled CD-R
      • Turns out it has all the presentations - that's nice. Would be nice to label the CD
  • Some glossy product sheets

A copy of the book Real-world Ajax would've been a nice surprise (hint!)

WiFi in the hotel needs a password....Password is "AJAX0307". And if the WiFi is down - go across the street to Cosi - grab a coffee - and enjoy their free WiFi (it's more stable than the Roosevelt's)

AjaxWorld is supposed to start at 1:30 -- but we don't start until 1:45. Jeremy Gleelan explains to the crowd that we're starting late because he told the people in the registration line that he wouldn't start without them. Nice for the people in line, not so nice for the thousand people in the room waiting.

The keynote, Douglas Crockford didn't take the stage until 1:50pm....and then he only got a chance to speak until 2:15.

AjaxWorld: Ajax, the Browser Application Platform
My hero, the JavaScript god himself, Douglas Crockford, was the keynote speaker (creator of JSON). He surveyed to crowd to see who was in the audience, about 20% of the crowd appeared to be beginners, the remaining had some level of Ajax experience.

Although Douglas didn't break any new ground, he gave a very polite and organized introduction to why we were all here at AjaxWorld. Some interesting comments....

  • First he covered, where we've been...."Java Applets - Flop"
  • What we want out of Ajax..."Apps without installation"
  • A quick shout-out about JSON: "JSON is the X in Ajax:
  • "Best thing to happen after the browser wars...Microsoft did nothing" -- this resulted in stability which allowed applications using Ajax to grow
  • We want open systems, but we miss the advantages of proprietary systems and lack a single vision
  • Stability
  • "apalling standards" -- not enough web standards exist to cover everything necessary to build a modern browser
  • Lack for Foresight - web wasn't originally designed to be used for application delivery
Current Situation
  • 200+ Ajax Libraries
  • Too many - we need a shake-out phase
  • Security is a concern
    • "whitelist filtering"
    • Server's responsibility not to send confidential info to unauthorized agents
    • Server's responsibility not to accept data from unauthorized agents
  • Ajax Wow Factor -- Need to keep at a minimum. "Dare to be dull"
  • Mobile Ajax lags.
    • Java failed on mobile
    • Future: Web apps on mobile
    • Mobile Ajax is here
  • Ajax Competition
    • Adobe Apollo
    • Microsoft WPF/e
More Douglas Crockford! More Douglas Crockford!

In the 2:30pm timeslot, I chose Ryan Stout's presentation "JavaScript Performance: Speeding Up Your Ajax Apps". I really enjoyed Ryan's presentation, and found it to be 45 minutes very well-spent.

He gave some great tips from the trenches, and talked about various techniques he uses to improve Ajax performance. So rather than parrot back what he said - Ryan posted his slides here...

Some key points:
  • slow apps lose users
  • focus on user experience, not resource use
  • profile javascript using firebug - latest firebug has lots of profiling tools
  • profile network activity using firebug
  • avoid things that cause page reflows (redraws or shifts)
  • Keep users informed - use timeouts to provide a chance for the browser to breath
  • interactivity beats response time
  • Set Expiration Date - take advantage of caching.
The 3:40pm - 4:40pm timeslot was filled with 2 Ajax product presentations...neither are open-source...

"Enterprise Web 2.0 - Programming with Levers, Dials and maybe Switches"
A product presentation for Nexaweb. Their key message is "Enterprise Web 2.0 (Enterprise IT + Web 2.0) + switches/levers = business agility". So an application architect needs to balance the needs of the users to help determine where the code resides. Everything from a modern fat-client, to a thin-client is possible today. And Nexaweb appears to make it easy to move between a lightweight thin-client all the way to a fat-client concept....and a couple levels in-between.


"AJAX Best Practices"
A product presentation for BackBase. BackBase appears to be a polished Java-centric Ajax framework that works well with JSF and Struts. The price is steep though -- I spoke briefly to the Backbase rep in the vendor room and developer seats are $2000 each, and server licenses are $8000 per cpu.

The last speaker of the day for me was Ajit Jaokar...his presentation was titled: "Deploying Web-Based Applications to Mobile Devices Using AJAX Techniques". Ajit is the author of the book "Mobile Web 2.0". We didn't get a copy of his slides, but his presentation was well attended and he was asked many questions throughout the speech. The key theme of this topic was Mobile Ajax is driving widgets. He went on to describe WCID (W3C Web Integration Compound document) which is like Ajax++ (Ajax plus audio and video).

He also gave props to Apple..."apple practically invented widgets", "apple is best poised to take advantage of mobile widgets". And Ajit claims Apple is not using Java or Flash in their upcoming iPhone - they are using Ajax technology.

Mobile Ajax is not Google Maps or Netflix. Ajit is Mobile Ajax is widgets. Hopefully we'll get his slides later, because he spoke VERY fast, and covered a lot of material.

I thoroughly enjoyed this presentation and wished Ajit had more time to speak. More information about his talk can be found on his own blog...

...and that wraps up Day One at AjaxWorld 2007 for me!

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