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WebDD ‘09 – Saturday 18th April 2009 – Registration Open!!!

March 30, 2009 01:47 by Andrew Westgarth

Yes folks, WebDD is on Saturday 18th April 2009 and REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN for this great community event, it’s free to attend and held at Microsoft’s UK Campus in Reading – register now -

I’ll be delivering a session on the Web Deployment Tool and there is a great line up of speakers and sessions –

There are limited places so don’t miss out – register now!!!

Book Review: Web Accessibility - Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance

September 21, 2007 15:37 by Andrew Westgarth

One of the areas of Web Development and provisioning for the web that is of great interest to me is Accessibility and access to the same information across multiple technologies, devices and user capabilities.  This originally stems from research I undertook whilst completing my final year project for my degree at the University of Sunderland, but now has become of interest when developing solutions for the web in my daily career and life.

Earlier this year at WebDD, I had the great pleasure of attending Bruce Lawson's session, entitled "Web Accessibility: What, Why, How and Who Cares" and I recommend anyone who gets the opportunity to listen to this presentation by Bruce to do so.  I have been aware of a number of web standards and guidance relating how to build accessible sites and the whole subject of Accessibility for a while and still found some great information I can use to express to others why it is so important.  Indeed the key example I remember Bruce telling me was of a blind friend, who because of Tesco's Accessible Online Shopping System, was able to purchase a birthday present for her husband for the first time, and the joy of being able to have that great user experience. 

Whilst at this session, Bruce highlighted a book on which he was a Technical Reviewer, Web Accessibility: Web Standard and Regulatory Compliance published by friends of Ed.  We recently purchased a copy of this book at work, and I have just completed reading it for the first time and thought it was important to let you all know what a great resource and excellent addition to any Web Developers Library it is.  In the past and in my research at University I found it difficult to find good books on the subject and indeed still do.

This book is structured with chapters by leading experts in the individual fields, there are seventeen chapters in total, covering three distinct sections - "The Impact of Web Accessibility"; "Implementing Accessible Websites" and "Accessibility Law and Policy".  Each chapter concentrates on a specific area and gives and overview and clear examples to back up statements and arguments.  The book gives a great grounding to anyone who has questions about what accessibility it is, what it represents and how it can be implemented.

The large section on implementing accessible websites covers multiple pertinent issues which Web Developers, Architects and Designer face daily.  Covering content, navigation, data input, CSS, JavaScript, Flash, PDF each chapter raises issues with certain methods used by many with good clear examples of how to go from an inaccessible solution to a good accessible solution, and where there are a number of solutions gives clear arguments for an against each method.  There is also sections on automated testing, and retrofitting a website to be more accessible.  These are situations I have had to deal with heavily after working in the Public Sector for a period of time.  Often retrofitting a website can be increasingly frustrating and time consuming, but it can also be very rewarding to see the end results.  Automated machine testing is possible for certain sections of the standards guidance however it can never be the answer for all testing, this is highlighted and a selection of tests are critiqued and reasoned as to whether they are suitable for automated testing.  The book also covers an introduction to WCAG 2.0 and guidance on how to start understanding the changes that have been made.

A lot of concepts and ideas which I had gained were challenged by this book and it was very refreshing to find that I was completely engaged by it and couldn't put it down when I had the chance to read a little bit more.  I am involved in a project at present to provision multiple sites for publication in multiple countries and languages and part of the reasoning for purchasing this book was to complement my knowledge and raise that of my colleagues and employer.  The sections on implications and legal requirements gives a great entry point and overview, with links to further information, on how accessibility is treated by individual nations and governments, a great starting point in my work.

Overall this book represents excellent value for money, Computer Manuals are currently selling it for ?25.49!!!, and it is certainly a book I will be ordering another copy of for my personal library.  I recommend anyone involved in provisioning services, content, sites and applications for the web read it and take in the messages and guidance offered.

WebDD - Review

February 4, 2007 21:07 by Andrew Westgarth

Yesterday I attended the first WebDD event at Microsoft Campus, Reading, UK. Once again this involved a 600 mile plus, roundtrip from my home in the North East of England. Was it worth it?

Oh Yes! This was another great event and big pat on the back must go to Phil, Dave and the rest of the team for organising such a great day!. Big quodos for getting Scott Guthrie to attend and speek on so many interesting topics. He was a big pull and I haven't seen crowds like there were, pushing to get into his sessions, I likened it to crowds at a footie match to one delegate! Unfortunately for the speakers in the other two rooms they had a hard time of it from what I hear as unfortunately some of their attendees only attended some sessions because they couldn't get into Scott's. That said seeing as the sessions in Chicago One were being recorded all day, I took the opportunity to see a session by Bruce Lawson who covered "Web Accessibility: What, Why, How and Who Cares?"

Bruce gave a very interesting a humourous session discussing an area which I feel very passionate about and one which I do try to work towards. I have been interested in Web Accessibility since the final year of my degree, indeed I covered Web Accessibility for a research chapter in my degree, and also have an interest in Human Computer Interaction since being introduced to the concept in my first year of Uni. Bruce outlined reasons for having accessible web sites and even provided a couple of examples of where it has yielded results for businesses by enabling all users to use a company's site and also the legal requirements of a company to provide an accessible site. This was an excellent session and gives me more knowledge for my work. Thanks Bruce!

I attended a session by Hristo Deshev, of Telerik, after lunch on Developing ASP.Net AJAX Components. This looked to be a very interesting session and compelling viewing, however Hristo was clearly nervous talking to such a larger audience, I think Chicago 1 was pretty much full, and as English was clearly not his first language his presentation, which was highly technical, was very hard to follow. That said as the session was being recorded I am looking forward to reviewing the session again when I can download the video, and indeed working through the example. This is a very interesting area and one which I would like to experiment with and use in my applications. Hristo works for Telerik and they provide a very extensive series of ASP.Net controls which I have been using for years very successfully.

Of Scott's sessions I attended the first part of End to End Web Sites, Sneak Peek at "Orcas" and WPF/e. I only attended the first session of End To End Web Sites as I saw a similar session at Tech Ed Europe last November so I chose to use the second session to see Bruce's session. Scott's session was great, however I will look at the slides when he posts them on his blog, so I can pick up the new things added which are different to the version given by Matt Gibbs. I enjoyed the session on "Orcas" and I am really excited to see the new tools in Visual Studio "Orcas" and will be looking to cover this more in the coming months. A public beta is expected in the Spring! With a release of sometime later this year. The last session of the day which I saw was on WPF/e, the essential idea behind this is the hosting of WPF content in the browser by ustilising a player downloaded once by the client, an idea which is often compared to Flash. This looks to be a very exciting area and expect to see a WPF/e version of my Code Monkey appearing here very soon.

The mix of clientele was again very different however there were a lot of familiar faces at the event and it was great to mix with designers and have a little insight into their interests, especially as a lot of us work alongside them day by day. Microsoft Event staff did a great job once again. Sausage/Bacon/Egg sarnies as soon as we got there brought massive brownie points, they went down very well with all attendees, along with the rest of the support staff who helped make this a great event.

Overall this was an excellent day and I'm looking forward to the next one already! Now we have two great community events in the form of WebDD and DDD. Make sure you keep an eye on those feeds to keep up to date with what's happening! It was also great to spot quite a few attendees who made the trip down from the North East, I recognised a lot from VBUG. Let me know what you thought of the event too.

WebDD a great event and big thanks to Phil and Dave!

WebDD - It's almost here!

February 2, 2007 01:30 by Andrew Westgarth

Well WebDD is tomorrow, and I am really looking forward to it. The list of speakers is great and I'm really looking forward to seeing Scott Guthrie speak. Scott's Blog is immense and a great source of information for ASP.Net Developers such as myself and he regularly posts in the ASP.Net forums and even finds time to answer many many emails, mine included, wow!

I saw a talk similar to Scott's two parter delivered at Tech Ed - see my post earlier - delivered by Matt Gibbs and it was great, I'm interested to see the differences in Scott's Talk. Also I am looking forward to seeing talks on Accessibility and Usability, two areas of great interest to me since my University days. WPF/E is being covered too and this looks very interesting and definitely worth a look, in fact there is so many good sessions I'm still not sure of what I'm exactly going to see. The schedule is on the WebDD site. If you're attending say hi.

WebDD BackNetwork

January 9, 2007 23:30 by Andrew Westgarth

For the WebDD there is a Backnetwork setup. This is a social networking site and has been set up to accompany the WebDD Conference. More details can be found on the WebDD website. You can register yourself on the Backnetwork and create a profile and contact network. Also any posts you make on Blogs and images you put on flickr should be tagged WebDD so that the Backnetwork site can scan and link to them.

WEBDD - 3rd February 2007 - Registration Now Open!

January 9, 2007 00:59 by Andrew Westgarth

As previously posted on this blog, Phil Winstanley announced Web DD. This is a FREE event run on a Saturday at Microsoft in Reading. Sessions and speakers have been announced and some of the headline speakers include Scott Guthrie, Dave Verwer and Hristo Deshev.

The great news is that registration is now open, it is expected that this will fill up as quickly as the DDD events, so register quickly to secure your place at this much anticipated event! I'll be there so say hello!


December 4, 2006 21:30 by Andrew Westgarth

At DDD4 on Saturday it was announced that there is to be a Web Developer Day held at Microsoft UK, Reading on Saturday 3rd February! This is going to be a days event for all Web Developers and Designers and will cover topics such as CSS, AJAX and User Experience. This should be a great event and I am really looking forward to it! As a web devloper personally, I'm really looking forward to mixing with the community and learning from their new experiences. Phil Winstanley is organising it and from what he's told me it is really shaping up to be great. More news will be released and I'll post the registration details as soon as I hear about them. In the meantime why not subscribe to the rss feed - to keep up to date with announcements.


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