Barcamp Liverpool

I took in the first day of BarCamp Liverpool. It was Liverpool’s first, and my second, and went off well I thought. I learnt some things, saw some new and familiar stuff and felt it was time extremely well spent. It was great to see people coming out of the woodwork and talking about what they are doing.

There was much talk of iPhone apps, and the economic opportunities (or not) that presents for the developer, lots of startup hobnobbing and general feel-good about being in the industry. Something was missing though, and I’ve been trying to put my finger on it. In the evening there was a partly-for-fun “pitching” event in which people presented startup ideas to a panel. I think it was significant that the idea that got everyone most excited about was a hardware project - to monitor power consumption of a device at the socket and chart and aggregate data to build consumer awareness of energy usage and perhaps drive usage and purchase decisions. The Web2.0 narcissism is wearing thin I think - the web is maturing as a platform for real work and useful stuff to take place, but it needs more of this grounding in the practical, tangible and meaningful. I hope future barcamps and other events are able to draw more from the “fringes” of the web community, where it less about web technology and culture as a topic in itself, and more about the internet as a component in projects that touch peoples lives in tangible and practical ways.

My talk (in direct contradiction to all that) was on maturing client-side development techniques and practices, to introduce more rigour to the discipline. It was a response to the need for repeatable, reliable client-side output that is highlighted by ever more complex demands in web-based UIs. The front-end is a part of a product development process that needs just as much attention as server-side development, and as Steve Souders has being pointing out, in lot of cases, when you actual break down the experience from the user’s point of view - warrants more.

I introduced a few techniques and tools for testing and profiling client-side tech, but the topic was too big to fit in the 45 minute slot and probably left more questions than answers. I need to either break it out into complementary pieces or take a different approach to a high-level overview. My slides are posted to geekup though, and if you were there or have thoughts, please comment.