Gareth Rushgrove writes on April 24, Ajax has been a hot topic for quite a while now, and there seems to be a new book with the eponymous Greek warrior in its title pretty much every week. With only odd pages how does he plan to cover such a complex subject you may be asking? Given the client-server nature of Ajax there are server-side code examples in PHP but these are generally brief and serve only to support the examples rather than look at real world usage. Again, it would be useful to have at least a passing familiarity with a server side language and to be able to know if you already have a web server handy to experiment with.

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I tend to be involved in the hands-on, nitty-gritty [activities]: writing the markup, the CSS, the occasional bit of JavaScript.

Frustrating, of course, because dealing with browser issues is always a hair-tearing experience. Still, pretty exciting stuff. The site is based around environmental issues—social networking for environmentally conscious people who want to improve their carbon footprint and their lifestyle. It has a nice feel to it. Jeremy: Quite a few sites are coming out concerning those topics. Barbara: What are some of the recent trends that have surprised or gratified you as web design has matured as an industry?

Tell us a little bit about that, and about the microformats session. When people think about Ajax, they tend to think of sites like Gmail and Meebo, and big application-like things. In a couple of hours, you can learn everything you need to know about the technical aspects of Ajax. Design challenges are a much bigger issue. I can only cover so much in one workshop, but I definitely want to touch on the design challenges, the accessibility challenges—there are quite a few problem areas that I want to mention.

Barbara: Why should someone use microformats in their design? What kind of benefits do microformats bring to design work? Jeremy: Microformats are so simple that the question is not, "Why would you use them? The fact that these predefined class names give you added benefits makes the choice easier. He knew about microformats, and he thought, "Well, I need class names anyway," so he threw in these hCard and hReview class names, with no idea of how they would be used.

As it turned out, they did get used—very much. People were able to mash wine reviews with vendor information and make some cool mashups.

But the benefits are there, especially for the two sort of "flagship" microformats, hCard and hCalendar. If you use hCard, not only can people read your contact details on that web page; they can convert the contact details to vCard, which they can export to address book or mobile phone and take with them.

Jeremy: I see that Joshua Porter is going to be on the bill. We share a lot of interests, about social networking and network theory, and are reading a lot of the same things.

Actually, just about everybody looks good—like at the conference in San Francisco, which was a nice mix of hands-on CSS stuff and blue-sky design thinking.

I think that he and I need to organize a field trip into Nashville to go to a mandolin shop. He plays the mandolin, and I play mandolin and bouzouki. Nashville sounds like a Mecca for mandolins. Will you bring your own instrument over? Jeremy: Maybe Dan and I could arrange some kind of duet. I think that would make it a conference to remember.

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