Archive: March 20th, 2005

Going up

My latest submission to the Mirror Project does quite a job at capturing the spirit of South by SouthWest.

What's hot in Austin

Plenty of people have been writing about the contents of individual panels and presentations from South by SouthWest. I thought it might be interesting to give a broader overview and take a look at some recurring themes.

Microformats were definitely buzzworthy. Partly that’s down to the great delivery by Eric and Tantek but I also got the feeling that people liked the rootsiness of it. There isn’t a spec and there isn’t a committee. It makes for a welcome respite from the Atom/RSS debacle. Microformats have a much more calming, zen-like process of evolution.

Jason F-bomb Fried got a lot of people excited when he talked about working in small teams. I think a lot of that excitement had been building since the Building of Basecamp workshop hit the road. It’s certainly exciting to see what can be achieved with a quick, almost haphazard methodology.

That said, I’m not sure the same process can be applied to every kind of project. Basecamp, for instance, is a centralised application that is effectively a closed box. If you were writing an application and an API, you’d almost certainly want to do plenty of planning right from the start. Starting over from scratch won’t be an option once the API is out there being used.

Then there’s CSS. There’s still a lot of interest in CSS but at this stage, it’s less about evangelising the benefits and more about fine-tuning and best practices. This is a good thing. It’s heartening to see that table-based design has become very, very uncool.

Lastly, there was a lot of buzz about JavaScript. There weren’t any panels on it, but there was plenty of hallway chatter, as noticed by Molly.

Some of that is down to the “wow!” factor. When Chris Wetherell demonstrated his JavaScript version of tagging photos on Flickr during the Flash vs. HTML Gameshow, many a jaw was dropped (mine included).

There’s also a great hunger for resources on using JavaScript (and the DOM) correctly. I met a lot of people who know their semantic XHTML inside-out, are superb CSS designers, but are frustrated by a the shroud of mystery surrounding the behaviour layer.

My prediction for SXSW 2006 is that there will be at least two, but probably three, panels somehow related to JavaScript.