d.Construct 2006

Last Friday (2006-11-08) I was at d.Construct, a web conference held in Brighton. The official tag line was …an affordable, one-day conference aimed at those building the latest generation of web-based applications and discussed …how new technology is transforming the web from a document delivery system into an application platform.


To summarise, the day included discussions on API’s and web services, tagging and mash-ups with a bit of accessibility and usability thrown in for good measure. This post aggregates any slides that are available, along with the small amount of notes I took during the day (attendees were left in pitch black for the first lecture, so I was jotting blind). It is by no means a comprehensive account of each session, but notes of what I found to be most interesting and useful for the future.

The actual schedule and speaker information is available.

1. Web Services: Fuelling Innovation and Entrepreneurship

This seemed, to me, to be a free advertising slot for Amazon Web Services. Amazon have released a set of API’s to access their content (as people had started to ‘screen-scrape’ their data, they thought it was better to release these API’s to encourage different use of their data and so increase traffic).

API usage examples:

2. Web Services for Fun and Profit

2 enthusiastic young guys from Yahoo speaking mainly about mash-ups using their own API’s.

  • Retreivr – draw colours into the pad and get back a set of photos from flickr with those colours in those locations
  • ColrPickr – similar to above but choosing a single colour
  • Flickr Maps – type a tag name and shows the location of that photo (Yahoo ended up hiring the guy who originally developed this for fun!)

Slides for “Web Services for Fun and Profit”

3. The Joy of API

Using API’s to gather all your social bookmarking/tagging into one area – mainly useful for individuals rather than companies. Jeremy’s example was on his Elsewhere links

  • Overplot – google maps + overheard in new york = overplot
  • Programmable Web – keep up to date with the latest mashups
  • Dappit – configure your own screen scraper

Slides for “The Joy of API”

4. Mash My Flex Up

Using Flex to create richer applications than are possible with AJAX. It was quite in depth, looking at JavaScript code that went slightly over my head.

Slides for “Mash My Flex Up”

5. Accessible Web Applications in a Post Web 1.0 World

(Note post web 1.0 rather than web 2.0 :) )

Problem with buttons that are actually images plus javascript

  • Screen-reader: “Link, Login”
  • Links are known to go to a new page, user wouldn’t know that this submitted a form

Putting focus on an input box, javascript clears the box ready for user input

  • Screen-reader will focus out and back to check they’ve spelt it correctly and it clears it!
  • Users have found this impossible to understand/use

Create linear flows using javascript to put focus into next action (more for AJAX when page changes without a new page loading)

Ensure users can see error messages as they occur

  • Ping, change page colour, position message near incorrect field
  • Emulation of alerts using XHTML2 (not 100% known yet)
    • roles = “alert”
    • causes browser/screen-reader to treat div as an alert box

6. Understanding Folksonomy (Tagging that Works)

Amazon now uses tagging on it’s product pages

7. Designing the Complete User Experience

Making sure that the company’s “Stuff” doesn’t get in the way of users achieving their goals. Seemed to be about usability studies and how to improve a site’s navigation/structure.

Experience = Users  Stuff  Goals

Slides for “Understanding Folksonomy (Tagging that Works)” – no longer available.

In the End

My main interest was the accessibility stuff, but it’s got me wanting to know more about tagging – especially as Amazon have started using it on their product pages. Honestly I thought the conference wasn’t of much use for business but catered more for the individual blogger/geek. I’m glad I went as I learnt some useful things about how the web is shaping up in a “Post Web 1.0 world”.

Tagged: dconstruct06

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One Response to “d.Construct 2006”

  1. Candice says:

    Interesting point on screen scrapers, For simple stuff i use python to screen scrape, but for larger projects i used extractingdata.com screen scraper which worked great, they build custom screen scrapers and data extracting programs

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