Although the weather made the picnic impossible, 40 alpha geeks and an 11 year old girl congregated in a Leamington Spa bar for 2008’s Geek in the Park. The talks were really good: Jon Hicks on icon design was fun, because it’s always fascinating to see people talking about stuff they’re passionate about. Drew Mclellan was inspiredly wierd when linking Brian Cant to microformats.
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with old chums and local heroes like Owen from fullcreammilk and Mark “fam fam fam” James. One Black Bear bought a round of drinks for everybody (yay!). The event was organised by Trovster. It’s totally free and 100% grass-roots. A brilliant job; I take my hat off to him.
I used four minutes to talk about Opera as we were sponsoring. A few people asked me for links to some of the things I said, so here they are and a rough record of what I remember saying.
The four-minute Opera pimp: test with Opera, please
Opera works best with good, valid code. If your boss tells you it’s not worth cleaning the code to allow Opera users in because they’re not numerous enough, point out that Opera on 135 million mobile phones. Most bosses are very interested in the mobile market—even ultra-conservative organisations like banks. (Barclays, for example, recommends Opera for mobile banking.)
Opera on a phone is the same as Opera on the desktop; we use the same core (called “Presto”) for all the browsers, so if your site works in Opera desktop (and it will, if the code is clean) then it’ll work on Opera phones. Should you need to test a phone application, our developer tool, Opera Dragonfly, allows you to remotely debug a phone from your desktop (typing in test data via a phone keyboard fast becomes tedious!).
I mentioned Web Standards: Opera is the most standards-compliant browser. Some people claim that Web Standards are now the norm. We wish it were so, but it isn’t. We’ve done some research (which we’ll publish in the next couple of weeks): on a large sample, only 0.71% validated in 2001. By 2006 that was up to 2.6%. By January 2008, that was a dizzying 4.13%. Of the Alexa top 500 6.6% validate. Amusingly, of sites that display a w3c “valid” badge, only 50% validate.
So we’re very active in Standards promotion. We help make them: our Head of Standards was involved in the Mobile Web Best Practices guidelines which became a w3c recommendation last month. We’re involved in HTML 5 and CSS (which was invented by our Chief Technology Officer).
We also educate people about Standards; we’ve produced the Web Standards Curriculum which is free, open and available to anyone. If you hire a new developer and you want a crash-course that will teach them the right way, give them that. We do university tours; a UK one is scheduled 13-16 October.