Web Directions South 2007 was held last week and it was awesome!
On Wednesday, I attended the W3C Special Interest Group, featuring presentations from a variety of people on topics including CSS, HTML, Widgets, SVG and RDF. Bert Bos discussed the status of CSS and explained some of the new features that are being introduced into CSS3. In particular, the layout and grid positioning features were the most exciting, since they will make it significantly easier to layout web pages. Marcos Caceres gave an overview of the work he and Anne have been doing for the Widgets specification in the Web API WG, and Chris Wilson talked about the progress of the HTMLWG
There were also some presentations on some topics of which I am not a huge fan. RDF, OWL and other “Semantic Web” nonsense seemed to be given a lot of emphasis in a few of the talks. Personally, I think those and related specs are over-engineered, ivory tower specs that were developed in the hope that some “killer app” would eventually come along in the future to save them. You may find that hard to believe, but consider this:
One interesting piece of information that was revealed was that in the Semantic Web Layer Cake diagram, the top layer (“User Interface & Applications”) wasn’t actually considered until around 2006. That made me wonder, if applications weren’t actually considered during the development of a lot of these technologies, do they actually solve any real practical problems. I don’t think they do. In fact, I’m yet to see any problem that RDF really solves, which couldn’t be solved using simpler technologies like Microformats.
I met Chris Wilson for the first time during the conference and took the opportunity to discuss several issues about the HTMLWG and IE. We had discussed a lot of the issues over email previously, but it was good to be able to sit down and have a reasonable discussion without getting as heated as it did previously. I also met up with Charles McCathieNevile and David Storey from Opera. I’ll be working with these guys when I move to Norway and start work at Opera in a few days. (I’ll write more about that later.)
The main conference was held on Thursday and Friday and featured a range of fantastic presenters. By far, the most entertaining presentation was Mark Pesce’s hilarious closing keynote, which featured video clips from Robot Chicken! Although, his presentation was actually informative too: Meraki is awesome! I want to set up or join mesh network of my own.
I wasn’t too impressed with the food that was provided this year during breaks. It would have been nice if there was some basic things available, like, for example, sandwiches or rolls, rather than just the fancy gourmet food which I don’t like too much.
There were information booths set up by several sponsors with lots of information. Adobe had a Nintendo Wii set up, Microsoft was discussing there new products including Silverlight, Expression Studio and Popfly. The Campaign Monitor guys had a competition to win an iMac and the condition of entry was that you had to be one of the first 200 people to collect a campaign monitor t-shirt and wear it before you could put your name in the draw.
Sadly, I missed out on picking up an official shirt, but that didn’t stop me improvising! They said if I arrived on Friday wearing a shirt with “I Love Campaign Monitor” written on the back, I could enter. So I did! 🙂 (I’d link to a photo, but I can’t find one on Flickr yet.) Unfortunately, however, I still failed to win and ruined a perfectly good white polo shirt. 🙁