Mobilism 2013 – Day 2

Following Thursday night spent in De Bierfabriek, another great venue w/ good snacks & great beer, Day 2 was never going to start with quite the same enthusiasm. Yet this was something David Featherstone handled very well with his talk on ‘Doing responsive right’.

He was followed by Peter-Paul Koch who spoke in detail on ‘Developing for touch‘, Mat Marquis on ‘Responsible responsive images‘, Martin Kool presented his successful ‘Cross-platform HTML5 game’. After lunch Rob Fawkes picked it up with his talk on ‘The state of WebRTC‘, Sara Wachter-Boettcher on ‘Designing with and for existing content‘, and Jake Archibald on ‘Rendering without the lumpy bits‘ before finishing with Jeremy Keith chairing the panel discussion.

As with Day 1 we were treated to a great day of strong presentations across a broad range of topics including accessiblity, technology, strategy, performance, and the development cycle.

Firstly I’d like a shout out for Mat Marquis for all the work he has done with the Responsive Images Community Group. I have been tracking their progress closely and it was a treat to see Mat recounting the back history in person, offering tips and insight throughout. For undertaking to led a community effort to influence the W3C spec. and the shenanigans that have befallen this effort while not lossing the taste for the battles ahead I tip my hat to all involved in the RICG, and to Mat in particular.

If I had to pick a stand-out talk for the day it was Jake Archibald’s talk on performance in the browser. Performance is such a hot topic at the moment yet Jake spoke about tools and real world metrics in a useful and engaging way. He showed how those tools can be used to measure performance and also to ensure the appearance of instant performance from the users perspective. That and the layer of humour poured over which helped lift a tired audience through the home straight.

So with Day 2 done, Mobilism is over for another year. When buying my ticket many months ago I did feel a bit of a wince at the cost of the ticket. After 2 wonderful days at this great conference I think that ticket fee was incredible value. Now if I could just find a way to open my schedule enough to get back across for the CSS Day.

Mobilism 2013 – Day 1

Mobilism 2013 started under a cloud, not a metaphorical one but an entirely overcast sky which continued to rain on Amsterdam all day. Inside the Pathé Tuschinski was a different story entirely. Wonderful hospitality, amazing venue, a positive & engaging crowd, and a great spread of speakers.

The day started with David Shea speaking speaking about “Mobile Web Design Anti-Patterns“, followed by Stephen Hay on “The Revenge of The Web“, Anna Debenham on “Console Browsers” and John Clevely with “Scale and adapt“. After lunch Remy Sharp spoke on “So you know jQuery. Now what?“, Cennydd Bowles on “Context, Bloody Context“, Max Firtman on “Breaking Limits on Mobile HTML5” and Josh Clark finished out the day with “Beyond Mobile“.

All the talks were really well presented but it was Anna Debenhams’ which stuck in my mind. Leading up to Mobilism I actively avoided anything online relating to this, saving the reveal for the conference itself. However, come the day I was feeling that this was going to be the weakest topic. Yet 50 minutes later I am convinced that consoles offer genuine interest for web developers beyond just playing games in the office. Working within the constraints of the browsers on these machines offers useful input into the process of developing a smarter baseline style. Moreover its a fun gateway to the next generation of UI.

The topics have offered a good spread between practice & theory and inspiration & education. Roll on day 2.

Adapting to a responsive mindset

A recent conversation about responsive web design (RWD) turned into something of an impassioned appeal to work with the web, rather than imposing old mindsets. However, while speaking I realised my thinking was wide of the mark. It was nothing to do with understanding RWD, or how it technically works but how to adapt to a mindset more complementary to working with the modern & future web.

Many comparisons are made with RWD content being like water but I think that this is overly simplistic. This posits that all content should be remade to be as fluid as plain text copy. This potentially steers us towards stripping other content elements of their innate value and purpose.

Herein lies the heart of the challenge.

How to embrace the constraints the multi-device web presents and to adjust to a more flexible, responsive approach which both accommodates and honours content & functionality in as wide a range of contexts as possible.

So instead of water – how about looking at the RWD process as being like food preparation for inspiration to meet the challenges ahead:-

In summary, we need to accept the fact that we need to relearn everything about how we work with the web and galvanise ourselves to that fact. The best way forward from there is to get passionate, challenge old habits and strive to produce the best results through new methods using the same old ingredients.

Maintain energy for the challenges ahead
Responsive design primer
Recommended reading
A bunch of useful resources
Prototyping – Foundation framework
Content – Karen McGrane
UX – Luke Wroblewski
Performance – Steve Souders

Hello Charles


Recently I needed a tool that would help me dissect/debug an ajax implementation. This brought me back to an application I was aware of but hadn’t used in a while. Hello again Charles.

As its’ full title states it is a web debugging proxy, whereby it routes all web traffic through its proxy giving you full visibility of everything that is happening on every HTTP call. Super useful for all sorts of debugging & performance related tasks.

However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. I found this presentation from a Melbourne Web Developer meetup given by Keegan Street where he outlines a whole raft of other features that I wasn’t aware of. Now I find that I have an even more useful tool which I can think of many different situations it can be useful in.

Just a few of those Charles Proxy features:-

  • Throttling
  • SSL proxy
  • Reserve Proxy
  • Port forwarding
  • Cache flushing tool
  • Blacklist
  • Mirroring
  • Markup validation
  • Basic load testing
  • DNS spoofing

Since publishing this NetTuts have published an in-depth article about Using Web Development Proxies including Charles. Well worth checking out for a broader view on tools in this area.