–Engage

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

AJAX Summit (hosted by O’Reilly & Adaptive Path)

The AJAX Summit was held this week, hosted by Adaptive Path”>O’Reilly and Adaptive Path. It was by invitation only and included some pretty nice players: eBay, Google, Yahoo (Flickr & Oddpost), to name a few.


There is a Wiki for the Summit with both mundane and useful information. 2 folks seem to be blogging the event as well: Jonathan Boutelle and Ajaxian.

That should be enough to get you on your way.

It is always hard to get a real sense of anything without being there, especially a Summit like this one, but 2 issues that keep arising in the AJAX conversation really bother me.

1. The Back button – People speak about this as if the backbutton is something we have to solve, as opposed to something we need to move away from.

2. Documentation – People act as if people haven’t been doing documentation of complex, dynamic software for the last 30 years.

The reason these areso annoying for me is that it makes Web Design professionals just seem like amateurish. As I said, it’s not like people haven’t been designing software for the last gazillion years. The Back-button issue in particular is annoying because the problem is not the backbutton. If I use Outlook or Word do I look for a backbutton? The problem is that the browser is written in such a way that the chrome around it while mutable is not dynamic to the fit the situation. Wouldn’t it be great if I was able to mutate the chrome on loading the screen (not XUL) which needs to be installed, but more like manipulating an existing DOM, so that I don’t need to open up a new browser window to remove those elements. Maybe in the CSS or XML I can even add buttons, or change file menu structure, just enough to be useful. In my case study for DUX2003 (DUX2005 has been announced)., I spoke about the browser being the #1 barrier to successful thin, network-distributed applications.

As for the documentation aspects, I believe people are doing documentation for complex, dynamic application already. It is different from what traditional, content-based people think about, but it has been going on for quite a long time in the softare universe.

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  • Andrew

    ‘The Back-button issue in particular is annoying because the problem is not the backbutton.”

    I would argue that the “back” button is one of the two or three defining constraints of interaction design. I’d even go so far to say that it’s *more* significant than the hyperlink.

    “Back” doesn’t just mean “go backwards”: it stands for the entire paradigm of user-controlled navigation, arbitrary hyperlinking, and back-as-undo that everyone has come to expect from the behavior of software.

    It’s too late to pull the “Back” rug out from under people’s feet on the web. The back button is a contract web design has with our users.

    I just don’t understand this attitude that the browser is the #1 “barrier” to thin network applications. The browser has been the wedge that has *allowed* thin network based applications to succeed at all. There is no Flash-based gMail, there is no Java-based Google Maps, there is no ActiveX-based Flickr. Or perhaps there are, but no one uses them, and more to the point: no one wants to use them.

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