Atalasoft at AJAXWorld 2008 East
This year's AjaxWorld Conference & Expo was somewhat of a disappointment. After experiencing the problems that I outlined last year, I anticipated a better overall conference. They did appear to take a few things into consideration, such as the lunch breaks (this time you might have been able to sit down), and the communication of the free wireless access in the ballroom. Very few of the sessions I attended were informative beyond scratching the surface of a particular topic or product. I felt like this conference was still trying to sell me the idea of using AJAX, rather than show us what we (as an AJAX community) have been able accomplish since the last conference. Here's a run down of the problems I saw with this conference, in frustration level order (1 being the most frustrating):
- This venue is too small. Nearly every single session room was too small for the number of attendees that wanted to attend in any particular session (that I went to). I missed three potentially interesting sessions because I couldn't even get into the room. The sessions where I made it into a seat, still had anywhere from 5-20 people standing in the doorways or sitting on the floor.
- Wireless access was still not communicated, but we knew to ask about it this time. There was no way to connect to the internet unless you were in the grand ballroom, most sessions were not in this room.
- If you didn't get to lunch or the snack break within the first 5-10 minutes, you might not get any food.
- Even though they improved the size of the dining area, there were many people standing and waiting for tables, even some sitting on the floor.
- Most session slides were provided online, and not given to us beforehand on a cd (like last year). Without wireless access, this was nearly useless.
- They did not enforce the badges at all, everything was open to everyone, regardless of what ticket you paid for. (except meals)
Sessions I attended:
- Comet: The Web That's Instantly On and Always On by Jonas Jacobi (Kaazing): This was a fairly vague session on Comet. Jonas went over the Bayeux protocol, which is used to do server push(s) to a client browser without plugins.
- ASP.NET AJAX Design & Development Patterns by Joe Stagner (Microsoft): This was a great overview on ASP.NET and ASP.NET AJAX design patterns. Joe explained that the UpdatePanel is not always the best way to make an AJAX app, even though it is one of the easiest, because it sends the entire page state back and forth from the server. He covered several models, two of which I found interesting: The Service Model, and the After Processing Model. I recommend taking a look at his slides, which he has provided in his blog.
- Improving ASP.NET User Interfaces with the AJAX Control Toolkit by Robert Boedigheimer (The Schwan Food Company): This was a good overview on the ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit. He demonstrated several of the controls, but since there was no internet access, he couldn't demonstrate everything that he wanted to.
- Can We Fix the Web? by Douglas Crockford (Yahoo!): This was the keynote I was looking forward to, Douglas usually has something good to say. He discussed that security is the main problem with the web. He outlined a three pronged approach to fixing it:
- Small browser improvements, like JSONRequest, and vats (where only part of the dom is accessible)
I agree that the Internet and it's components were not designed for many of the things we are doing with it today, but I don't believe that we need to start over. The new and exciting applications that come out every day will push the technology toward where it needs to be.
- An Introduction to the YUI Library by Eric Miraglia (Yahoo!): This session was a great look into YUI. I've been using YUI in several of my demos, but I've only scratched the surface of what it's capable of. Some good take-aways were the YUI compressor, css base and reset, YUI CSS Grid Builder, and the YUI profiler.
- Enterprise Comet: Real-Time, Real-Time, or Real-Time Web 2.0? by Jonas Jacobi (Kaazing): This was pretty much a condensed version of the previous presentation. We found out that they aren't showing any examples or demos because they are in private beta right now.
- Understanding the Top Web 2.0 Attack Vectors by Danny Allan (Watchfire): This was another session where there wasn't enough room for everyone. We didn't bother waiting in the hallway, as we couldn't even hear the speaker. I look forward to seeing this one on the DVD.
- Writing Large Web Applications Using the YUI by Christian Heilmann (Yahoo!): I had to stand outside in the hallway just to listen to the speaker on this one. It sounded like a great session, but I couldn't take notes or see what he was going over. Hopefully I'll be able to see it when the DVD comes out.
- OpenAjax Gadgets & Widgets by Stewart Nickolas (IBM): This was my introduction to the OpenAjax Alliance. They appear to have the same goal as jMaki, only this is an effort to get everyone to collaborate and contribute. Stewart showed us a really slick mashup and gadget editor that was oriented toward developers. I'm not sure where to find this editor, although I did find this.
- Now Playing: Desktop Apps in the Browser! by Coach Wei & Bob Buffone (Nexaweb): This was another mildly entertaining ping-pong keynote from Nexaweb.
- DreamFace: The Ultimate Framework for Creating Personalized Web 2.0 Mashups by Olivier Poupeney (DreamFace): I think this was the first session where the speaker actually put together a demo in front of us. Not only was this refreshing, it was a very informative. The framework is looks impressive. I might try making a DreamFace gadget using some Atalasoft controls in the future.
- The Digital Black Belt’s Guide to Building Secure ASP.NET AJAX Applications by Joe Stagner (Microsoft): This was the most informative and beneficial session that I went to these three days. Some great take-aways were WebScarab, Internet Explorer 8's DOM explorer, ViewState Decoders, and ConTEXT. His slides can be found here.