Future of Web Apps (quick summary and thoughts)
04 October 2007
Even though every second app on the expo and many of the talks are about social networking I found it really hard to network here. I had some decent chats with the expo people but not much with the fellow guests. They few who aren't head-down stuck in their mac laptops were being cliquey and hard to approach.
A blind talker from AbilityNet taught gave me a few thoughts:
- he likes that Gmail has a plain HTML alternative
- AJAX is generally bad news for him
An interesting company there was XCalibre. After 3 years of development they've come up with a virtual private server hosting solution which looks cool. Unlike us, when a virtual server outgrows a physical machine they can move the virt. server from one machine to another with less than 1 min downtime and without loosing any packets or stuff in RAM. They currently support Windows and some Linuxes for operating systems Currently not Ubuntu due to a tricky kernel bug but they're working on it. The cost model is cost per usage. Ie. by megabytes, data transfers and time. The name of the product is Flexiscale.
A few things I learnt from one talk by a lady called Heidi who is an expert at mobile web development:
- don't use the
strongtag, use the
btag because it's smaller in size (5 bytes)
- Don't use
H2or maybe even
H3. They're almost always too big for mobile screens and the mobile browsers make them too big. Content wise, a bold is enough.
- Use the xhtml-mobile10.dtd DOCTYPE.
- Navigation links are over-rated. Use search instead!
- Mobile acid test: http://jwtmp.com/a
One of the most interesting talks was that of Kevin Rose. The Digg founder. It was nice to hear that he's no genius God. He's just another regular bloke who likes to put together websites. He started everything up from scratch and made lots of misstakes and had to learnt lots as they grew. A few random points I can remember:
- invitation features such as address book import and email invites has been very good for their user growth.
- on the "send an email to a invite a friend", instead of using a
mailto:link, use the mail program icons like the Outlook, Firebird etc logos to very quickly explain what it's about
- Their second project, Revision 3 was done in Python and the latest was done in Django and they were very happy with it. Digg is done with LAMP(hp).
- Don't (even try to) go for VC until you've got a working app
- Plan for success! One of the biggest mistakes he confessed. However, at the very earliest stage his aim was to get something working and earn a few extra bucks to reduce his rent.