Portrait of Edd Dumbill, taken by Giles Turnbull

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What I make

a conference management web application

XTech Conference
a European web technology conference

New XTech web site, and why we don't sell presentation space

My too-long absence from writing much here can be ascribed to two, differently pleasant, activities. First, a fantastic vacation in Cuba, and second, the redesign and launch of the XTech web site.

Of the first, come to my place for dinner and I'll bore you at length about how amazing it was. Of the second, I'd like to bore you right now!

Thanks to Ruby on Rails and a few late nights, the XTech site now has these new features:

A few more details on the Ajax Developers' Day. As I mentioned before, when putting together the schedule we felt there was a lot of excellent content still missed out (I'm still feeling guilty at having rejected proposals from many good friends and excellent speakers). So, we put together an extra day at the beginning of the conference where we could go further into detail on Ajax technologies.

This day, featuring speakers such as Simon Willison from Yahoo!, XML expert Kurt Cagle and OpenLaszlo's Max Carlson, will allow those working on Ajax projects--either deployment or toolkits--to meet, discuss best practice and move forward on new ideas. Although it's a day-long event, we didn't want to make the price tag as high as a full-day tutorial, so you can register for the cost of a half-day tutorial.

A few implementation details

If that all sounded a little like advertising, here are some technical details worth sharing. The site's CMS is built on Ruby on Rails. Development was done on Linux, with the help of WINE to check out the view from Internet Explorer. The newsletter is managed by the absurdly wonderful CampaignMonitor.

This conference not for sale

Before I went on vacation, there was some debate in various quarters about paid-for plenary and keynote slots in conferences. Though I hope it is obvious, I wanted to state where I, and thus the XTech conference, stand on this issue.

It has always been my policy to maintain a strict separation between the commercial and editorial aspects of XTech. Although each year there's always a company who thinks they can buy a speaking slot, I never let this happen. The content of the conference is formed by editorial selection by the programme committee, who take the scores from the peer review panel as their primary guide.

Aside from what I hope shows in the excellent quality of the talks and generally interesting keynotes (yes, we get it wrong occasionally!), there are two effects on the conference.

  • Sponsors are that much more respected. When a sponsor respects the delegates' time and intelligence, but still attends, you know they're serious about engagement with attendees.
  • A higher portion of the conference cost is in the registration fees than for some other conferences. We're still trying to keep the costs as low as we can, but we're not prepared to compromise the quality of the schedule by letting vendors buy talk time.
I hope this explains a little of my position. As a stance, it often creates more issues for me than it solves, but I believe it preserves XTech's reputation as a conference where you can hear some of the best no-fluff presentations on web technology.
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