Christian Heilmann

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Friday, September 28th, 2007

Stuart Colville and Ed Eliot finally announced their engagement … in writing a book for Apress about coping with hair lossweb site performance to be released later this year. The URL is and the first killer app to use there is the CSS sprite generator that allows batch uploading of images inside zips and several levels of customization of the generated CSS and images.

I am proud to work alongside these two guys, especially as I consider them the best kind of developers: good, team-orientated in their workings and not posh about it. Keep your eyes open for the book, it can help you a lot.

Public Flashing and Live Chat with sexy ladies in Germany

Friday, September 28th, 2007

The first three days of this week were kind of a blur to me as I was back in Germany, specifically in Cologne for the Flash Forum Konferenz 2007 meeting the creme de la creme of German Flashers and monkeying around in front of my Powerpoint.

As I know not that much about Flash I had to come up with something special and gave an inspirational talk about how JavaScript started out as a geek blemish on your CV but now became probably the main criteria to hire front end web developers. The talk entitled “Emancipated JavaScript and the Coming Out of the Flash Community” (well, its German equivalent) went down rather well considering the feedback I got so far and the slides are licensed Creative Commons and are as always available on Slideshare:

I thought I was provoking and edgy having had several mild profanities in my slides but I realized that I am no match for Saban Ünlü, who built a really cool Flex based live video chat system for the adult entertainment market and managed to show around 200 Flash Developers in the audience the admin tool of the system with live data. Live data in this case meant lots of ladies on webcams in various states of nudity, performance and application of props. That said, he also showed how the system works and lots and lots of code. I’d have alternated code and adult entertainment in five minute intervals to keep the audience’s engagement up.

I’d have to thank the organizers of the conference and I was very proud to be the odd one out among and amazing array of great presenters, examples and ideas.

Here’s what I took away as action items for myself:

  • Get a Wiimote and play around with WiiFlash and Papervision 3D
  • Badger both Saban, Sven and maybe some others to come around my office for Tech Talks
  • Get new Moo cards
  • Always sit around hotel lobbies with my stickered laptop (I got to know someone who runs ImageLoop that way and he took Aral Balkan and me to a very nice Sushi place and then a lot of glasses of Wine in a 39th floor restaurant)
  • Look more into Flash and how we can make it work with and improve the user experience of Ajax apps.
  • Maybe start a career as live translator as this is what I did for Aral during some talks.

It was great to meet you all and I am looking forward to seeing all the photos and interviews I gave and had taken.

Now go out there and hug a Flash Developer, they are nice folk and do need to stand up more for themselves.

Friday baffler: the scriptless slide show

Friday, September 21st, 2007

As you may know, I have this thing for slideshows and how to make them as unobtrusive as possible. Now, I just found some code by Adriaan Bouman in an exercise. It does the following:

There is no JavaScript involved and yet it is a slide show that works the way you think it should. I liked the sneakiness of it, but do not necessarily agree with the markup. However, you can take this idea and scatter images over the document and position them absolutely to create the same effect.

Hearing about the problems of implementers and maintainers of libraries

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

Sometimes you get across referers in your log that make you wonder why these people are not more known or their messages are not heard. Eike Pierstorff is one of those. His post about the problem with JavaScript libraries is a wonderful insight into the world of the people who use the stuff we produce and has some very nice imagery to boot:

I often take over maintenance for sites that have been deserted by their original programmers, and usually when one of these web geniuses spontaneously combusts he burns with him all documentation.

He hits the nail on the head when it comes to comments you find in already developed code:

One of the sure signs of a web prodigy is that comments in the frontend code usually fail to tell anything useful. Instead I find little essays on why “Javascript sucks�, which is why they have used this amazing library (usually nebulous 0.1 or the promiscuous 0.0.5 pre-alpha) that allows for otherwise unsurmountable tasks like adding a rollover to an image or toggle display of a named element.

And vents his frustration about the overuse of libraries:

So instead of programming in the one language javascript, [...] I suddenly have to look up documentation for a dozen or so libraries. And sometimes I wonder why my predecessors bothered at all to include a couple of hundred kb worth of Javascript

The sad thing about it is that Eike is not alone, the main difference is that he bothers to tell the world about these frustrations. These are the people we should be listening to when we develop libraries or write documentation as most of what gets produced these days will go through the hands of developers like Eike. It is not at all about how cool your script is or what new trick you found, it is about how much of a mess you leave behind when you leave it to someone else to maintain.

This will also be the biggest topic of my talk at @media Ajax and I am happy to have found this post.

Flickr badge light – no image display or carousel

Friday, September 14th, 2007

After I released the second version of my unobtrusive flickr badge I got pestered by my colleague Marco to create a “light version” that does neither feature the carousel functionality nor the preview of the photos. In essence, he wanted a JSON driven badge to show his flickr thumbnails.

Alright then, here you go: check the flickrbadge light

The usage is as easy as the other badge, but after some more pestering I added some more goodies. To show a badge include a DIV with the class flickrbadge with a link to your flickr feed:

Afterwards include the script (only needed once in the document!):

You can suppress the links to your flickr feed by adding another CSS class called “nolinks” and you can define the amount of thumbs with a class called thumbs followed by the amount of thumbs, like thumbs5.