Matt Gemmell

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NSConference 2010 Workshop

conference, general & speaking 3 min read

This post is aimed at those attending my World According to Gemmell workshops at NSConference 2010, in either the UK or the US. If you’re already a confirmed attendee, you may very well receive an email to similar effect shortly. I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at NSConference, and particularly at our workshop.

My thinking regarding the workshop is that the best format is to work through several different discrete topics, much like my World According To Gemmell segments in the MDN Show podcast, exploring each one using examples and finding some best practices along the way. My feeling is that this way we can maximise the breadth of material covered and thus the benefit to everyone, without getting stuck in a narrow single exhaustive case-study or such. This willingness to cover plenty of topics in a discussion format was the main thing that was quoted as valuable from last year’s workshops.

My main focus here, as with the show, will be on issues relating to application design (in the sense of core features for the application’s purpose, not the actual engineering side of things), interaction design, user interface and usability. I don’t see this being a code-focused workshop at all, but rather a chance for us to really explore some issues we’ve all come up against when deciding what to include in an app, what the user’s workflow will be, and how to make our user interface the best it can be. I envision this being a discussion-driven situation, which I think everyone can get maximum benefit from.

The structure of the workshop will be loose and modular to accommodate the various things we may wish to talk about. I’ll keep us on-track and make sure we’re getting through plenty of interesting topics, and we’ll all be contributing our thoughts and ideas (I hope). Expect far more talking and sketching than compiling. I don’t see this as being an everyone-tied-to-a-computer workshop either; I think the atmosphere to aim for is a directed group discussion on user-focused and app-design-focused issues. By all means bring along your laptop, of course, but don’t feel you need one.

In keeping with the above, the main way that we can all derive value from the workshop is if we can talk about our own actual projects. To that end, I’d like you to submit some of your own content for us to discuss, if you wish to. Here’s an example of the sorts of things that I think will work well:

  1. A tricky decision you're making regarding the functionality of your app.
  2. A UI problem you're having.
  3. A question about the best way to integrate (from the user's perspective) a new feature into your app, or whether you even should.

This is by no means an exhaustive list; indeed, it’s just to give a flavour of the kind of thing that I think the workshop environment can help us all with. I’d like to invite you to submit any such possible topics regarding your own work to me via email, to be possibly brought up during the workshop. This applies even if you’ve already solved your issue but still feel it would be interesting to get a second opinion, or just a valuable topic to discuss. Indeed, even if the issue doesn’t pertain directly to your own projects but is just an interesting point for the group to discuss, that’s great too.

You can include anything you like, be it screenshots or such, but please do at least include a brief summary of the topic/issue/whatever, and a brief description of what you’d like to get from the discussion. If you’re talking about an actual app of yours, please bring a copy with you to the workshop too, so everyone can take a look at it.

Please send your submissions to me via email to matt.gemmell (at gmail) or to matt at this domain, using the subject “NSConference 2010 UK workshop” (or use “US” if you’re attending the US conference). Don’t be shy about submitting anything, and feel free to suitably anonymise your application if it’s still top secret! I’d rather you submitted something that you weren’t sure was appropriate, rather than holding back.

The point of any workshop is for everyone who attends to benefit from it, and by discussing issues that we’re all facing in our own work, we can maximise that benefit. I look forward to seeing your submissions soon, and to seeing you in person in a few weeks!