Yesterday's Web DD was a great day. Scott Guthrie was the star attraction, but once I realised that his sessions were being filmed, I started going to the other sessions. Scott's first session was a standard demo about building an ASP.NET site from scratch, using datasets, AJAX controls etc. He went ahead with showing us how to go ahead and use data-binding, and how to go ahead and put a grid control in an AJAX block. This allows you to go ahead and edit data in a grid without having to go ahead and refresh the whole page. Despite saying "go ahead', in every other sentence, it was a well presented session.

I went to the next session by Patrick Lauke on web standards. It turns out that I know an awful lot about this subject, as there were only one or two minor points that were new to me. Patrick spoke very well, and had excellent slides, which clearly showed the before and after alongside the browser examples.

Zhivko Dimitrov's usability testing session was good, but for my interest level was rather too detailed. Having said that, it would be hard to cut it down. The basic premise of doing remote usability testing rather than setting up a lab was good, and there was plenty of detail about setting the whole thing up.

Brandon Schauer's presentation was unlike all the others, and not the kind of thing I would normally go to, but I'd already seen Dave's Ruby on Rails one at the last DDD, and the AJAX one was being filmed, so I'll see it later. Brandon showed how the vague concept of "good design" mapped to business value. Although not a major point of the session, I learnt that the "bottom line" is made better by cutting costs and improving efficiency, and the "top line" is made better by bringing more money in (as in selling more stuff). Good design can improve the top line. I recorded the session on my laptop, as I was sitting at the front. I'm not sure if I was allowed to though.

The last session was Dave Verwer's session on unobtrusive Javascript was interesting. The idea is that websites should work even if Javascript is turned off in the browser. I'm sure I've seen a similar session before - possibly Jeremy Keith at SxSW? Anyway, Dave's slides were beautiful, and he explained everything clearly.

I met a few new people: Glenn Jones, the microformats presenter, agreed to speak at a future Sussex geek dinner. I met some northerners, one of whom seemed to be a squirrel.

After the conference finished, we headed to a bar for a couple of hours. I caught up with some friends from previous events before about 40 of us headed off to Pizza Excess for the geek dinner. Zi Makki organised it, and was the perfect host, making sure everyone had what they wanted - thanks Zi!

All-in-all, a slightly different feel to the DDDs, but just as good. Thanks to the team for organising a great day.

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4 February 2007