Barcamp London in Review

BarCamp London 7 is a free-to-attend weekend unconference for designers, developers and geeks of all types.

Sounds like a fun weekend eh?

I didn’t know anything about BarCamp until a week or so before but it sounded very interesting so I thought why not? My boss (Iain Scott) was also lucky enough to grab a ticket in the final 15 giveaway and successfully beat me to writing the what is BarCamp? blog post (it was my turn this week!) so instead I’m going to focus on the interesting talks I attended.

After a pleasant welcome the first talk I attended was:

(I tried to note the name of every speaker and their website and twitter name etc so forgive me if I’ve missed some details. There were also a few talks that went straight over my head (like the Google Wave discussion) but they were none the less very interesting.)

iPhone App Statistics

iPhone app development is something that intrigues me a lot, not least because I spend most of my free time messing around on my iPhone. This was a really informative talk on the process of building and distributing an app.

It was interesting to learn how the Apple review process works. It can take over a year to finally get approved. Apple stop testing apps immediately after finding the first problem and treat every submission, even it it’s an update, as if it’s a completely new app.

Sounds like an unforgiving process!

CSS Nuggets

Presented by Anna Debenham(@) CSS Nuggets was an interesting little presentation on a few very useful CSS3 features, with some practical examples (slides available here.) I was pleased to learn of the nth-of-type selectors as they can solve some very common problems and also have some clever uses such as “faux-random” as Anna demonstrated.

New Fonts for the Web

Web typography is my favourite subject at the moment. Tobs(@) gave a comprehensive guide to how @font-face works and the current state of support in browsers (slides here.) There were two significant points that I think were well raised during the discussion:

The first of which was choosing a font that is legible on screen. The subtleties of many fonts don’t render well on low resolutions (i.e. computer screens) and browsers don’t render fonts with any hinting.

The second point was on the importance of unicode support. Many fonts only support basic Latin characters. Accented letters and other languages like chinese aren’t going to appear in the font - or probably not at all. This is important especially with “social” websites where anyone can comment, and when using tools like Google page translate.

It’s important to remember that choosing a font is more than a design choice! Weighing in the accessibility issues is just as important.

Design in Lost

Inayaili de León(@) gave the only purely design related talk. Design in Lost looked into the use of “fake” branding in the TV show. It was surprising to see just how detailed and in-depth Lost’s Dharma Initiative brand is (I gave up on Lost during series 2.) I also enjoyed seeing the fan-made Dharma packaging labels. Just goes to show how powerful little details can be in marketing.

And finally…

Two other talks that I eagerly attended were Mark Stickley‘s CSS talk “Don’t break my stuff“, and “Writing a tech book“ by Adewale Oshineye. Both of which continued the high standard of information, discussion, and fun that all the BarCamp talks had in common.

Whew! What an exhausting day.

Thoroughly enjoyable would be my two-word summary, and I can’t wait for next year. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t give a talk and I know being a “newbie” is not an excuse. Next time around I think I’ll prepare something design-related to compliment the slight developer bias.

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