SXSW – Day 2

I skipped the opening party but heard my fellow SXSW attendees stumbling into the hotel at 2:45am! Guess it was another great party by Frog Design!

I started Day 2 by attending iPad Design Headaches. Unfortunately the sound quality in the room was bad and it was hard to hear. Although 10 minutes in and the presenter really hasn’t said much: iPad is winning, has superior design, iPad users are mellow…..

Did warn developers to be aware of “greedy pixel syndrome”. The iPad and tablets have more space and designers and developers often strive to use it but should be aware of keeping designs clean and uncomplicated. Use space wisely to ask questions of user about what data is desired and provide that data. Tap quality trumps tap quantity.

Strive for Media quality and avoid overkill. Gave ABC news as a bad example with the globe paradigm. The Globe is a unique way to display article titles but users can’t get entire article title until they actually click on one of “globe pieces”. The goal should be to showcase the content and not make the user work to reach it. On a side note, another iPad design session showed off the ABC news site as a unique design paradigm.

Marvel comics was given as a good example of using space. User can see three “lines” of a comic on one screen or can drill down and see only one “line” at a time in a larger format. However, in the other iPad Design session I attended the Marvel comic app was shown as a bad example because it was not intuitive to get the single line version to display (you had to double tap). Just proves that beauty (and design) is in the eyes of the beholder! NYTimes was given as a good example to maintain brand familiarity. FlipBoard showcased as a reorganization of twitter and FaceBook feeds – plenty of room for new and old, focuses on content and let’s user explore at their own pace.

Suggested that page flip paradigm is a pathetic lack of imagination. Although familiarity and intimacy invite touch. When designing apps want to honor brand identity. Always ask if different is always better when designing an app. Used the term FrankenInterface and gave the Apple contacts on the iPad as a good example of this bad interface. If you open the contact on an iPad it is presented as a book and you would expect swipe to go from page to page – it does not, you must use the navigation icons at the bottom of the screen. The session was interesting but I really didn’t feel that it provided much new information. I also had to leave early to prepare for my session which was next.

I hosted a core conversation on Inclusive Mobility. It was well attended and had great participation. I was a bit nervous about hosting this conversation as, unfortunately there isn’t too much to say on Mobile Accessibility at the moment. I had some notes in case I needed to keep the conversation flowing – I will post those in another entry. I didn’t take any notes during the session as I was busy đŸ™‚ I did, however, have several folks approach me during the rest of the week to let me know they enjoyed and appreciated the session!

Was very disappointed in the Inclusive Design Session. Had good information but was not presented well. The speakers were not very dynamic and they could have done a much better job at providing good and bad examples to make their points. They talked about developing a plan when designing to consider:

  • Brand custodianship
  • user experience
  • content stragety

Gave a list of important design elements:

  • user centered
  • beautiful
  • on brand
  • accessible
  • usable
  • interoperable
  • open
  • meaningful
  • universal

Basically just common sense, in my opinion. Also, went through 10 principles of design. But, I was starting to lose interest at that point. Too bad since this is an important topic – we really need to educate mainstream developers on inclusive design.

I attended a 2.5 hour workshop on Building Native Apps Across Platforms. It started with Jonathan Stark basically giving the same one hour talk he gave at SXSW last year – that is a fail in my opinion. He demo’ed CSS transistion, animations, and transforms. Then did his JQTouch demo. You can find the demos at

David Kaneda talked about Sencha Touch. This was a good overview and interesting pitch for Sencha Touch. 1.1 will be coming out soon and will support Blackberry 6 and Playbook. Other interesting tidbits: Sencha uses base64 encoded icons for icons and also makes use of SASS and Compass within the CSS. Version 1.1 is adding a charting package. It is SVG with fallback to canvas as necessary. Sencha definitely seems worth looking into. I know folks are also working on Dojo Mobile – hope we can see that demo’ed at SXSW next year. I was really disappointed to not hear Dojo mentioned much at all at SXSW this year.

Brian LeRoux gave the pitch for PhoneGap. Gave a brief demo using xCode. PhoneGap schedule is 0.9.6 in April and PhoneGap 1.0 in the May/June timeframe. Indicated that Samsung is going to be contributing Bada work. I work on the open source PhoneGap project. For those who don’t know what it is- PhoneGap is an open source project that bridges the gap between Web and mobile devices. Developers build apps using Web technologies such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript and PhoneGap provides a JavaScript api to access native device features. The developer packages up the Web app with the PhoneGap code to create a native application. The beauty is the developer builds the app with web technologies they know and that work across platforms, then uses the PhoneGap code with the native SDK to build the app for each platform. The developer using PhoneGap doesn’t need to know the native language for each device. IBM has several developers contributing to PhoneGap.

Brian also demonstrated, weinre, a remote debugger for mobile devices. One of my IBM colleagues created this! We also got a video demo of which allows you to submit the Web content for a PhoneGap app and have it built for different devices in the cloud. No magic bullet to work around device specific (ie apple and blackberry) licensing agreements – there are mechanisms for you to submit them into the build process. Brian also suggested search for “sounders bookmarklets” in google for some useful tools.

Enough for one day! I skipped the parties and went to the documentary, “The City Dark” about how light pollution is affecting our world. Definitely worth seeing! Happy that my badge gets me into both SXSW Interactive and Film AND that I made it to a film!

About Becka11y

Web Accessibility Consultant with 30+ years in the software industry and 12+ years of direct accessibility innovation.

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