YUI for control freaks – a presentation at The Ajax Experience

The last three days had about 300 developers come to Boston, MA to listen to an impressive array of speakers about everything JavaScript and Ajax related. The Ajax experience conference had the who's who of JavaScript world available for Q&A: Brendan Eich, inventor of the language, Douglas Crockford, spokesman for the "Good parts of JavaScript", John Resig from jQuery, Andrew Dupont of Prototype and Dylan Schiemann of Dojo to name but a few.

The Ajax Experience Browser incompatibility panel

When the organizers asked me to come around and speak about something YUI related I was very flattered and happy to take the 6 hour hop from London to Boston. In terms of weather there is no difference between the two anyways.

I managed to sneak into the 'Top 10 Cross-Browser Issues' keynote panel moderated by Peter-Paul Koch of Quirksmode.org on day one to represent YUI together with the other experts of jQuery, Dojo and Prototype. Despite the four of us looking like we're candidates on the dating game there was a lot of consent on the panel and I hope we managed to hammer the message home that whilst there are many different libraries with different APIs and ideas, all we really want to do is make life easier for developers.

I was scheduled to speak in the last track of the three day conference, which is a bit of a drag as the attendees would be quite worn out from the amount of information and refreshing after-party beverages, but all worked out fine.

In my talk I wanted to make very clear that while YUI is a library much like the others, the real power of it lies in the control it gives you over the whole frontend development process from start to end.

  • The CSS components make sure that creating CSS based layouts and typography are as easy cross-browser as libraries make JavaScript development
  • The YUI DOM control allows you to monitor the size of the browser window, the position of the document in the window and the dimensions of any element. You can use this power to control things like fixed positioning and element overlap and even monitor font resizing.
  • I explained the concept of Custom Events and how the -debug versions of YUI will notify you as a developer at any moment of execution about the internal happenings.
  • I showed the development tools - the YUI logger, profiler and test suite and how they make your development process much less random.

The slides are available on slideshare and here are the code examples mentioned in the slides for browsing and to download as a zip.

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All in all I am very proud to have been in Boston and part of a great conference. It was interesting to meet a lot of developers you normally don't meet in Europe or at the West Coast and there was an amazing amount of knowledge and experience sharing going on.

Chris Heilmann
Yahoo Developer Network