Sunday, 16 September 2007

MySource Matrix User Conference 2007

I've just returned from the first MySource Matrix International User Conference, held on the Gold Coast. I presented two talks at the conference, including the first public preview of MySource4. Being the first conference, nobody was really sure what to expect, but overall I really enjoyed the conference and got a lot out of it.

Obviously, I was mostly focused on the preview of MySource4, which went pretty well. I was a bit worried that we wouldn't have enough to show, but the focus on the inline content editing interfaces, including our new WYSIWYG editor (Viper), was pretty much all I could get into the 45 minute presentation anyway. With the preview past me, I'm really looking forward to digging back into the product and shifting focus onto some new interfaces, including configuration screens and design editing.

The conference had a few case studies from MySource Matrix users, which was a really great thing to see. It's been over 3 years since I first started work on Matrix (it must be close to 4 now) and I've been removed from end-users for most of that time. I only really deal with the specification phase, clients that are having problems or clients with large amounts of development. It was great, really great, to see people who have used Matrix to improve their business, and to talk to people who really love it. I particularly liked reflecting on the Tourism Tropical North Queensland project (presented by Angus Sprott) and seeing the Australian Sports Commission system (presented by Pat Birgan) that I've only ever read about in emails.

The presentations I was really looking forward to were "Website Accessibility - Can you buy your own can of beans?" from Bruce Aylward and particularly "Access to websites - how design makes all the difference" from Neil Jarvis. Watching Neil use a screen reader to navigate websites was an eye-opener. You can't understand the reasons why you strive for accessibility without seeing how it affects the user, and that goes for application developers as well. I had a chat with Bruce after the presentation and spoke about the ways in which a JavaScript-rich web application like MySource4 can be made accessible. It's certainly possible, providing the development team is committed to the goal and understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. I'm very confident that MySource4 will be an accessible web application; one of very few.

Congratulations to everyone involved with the conference and thanks to everyone who attended and made it a great couple of days.