Webinar for Developers: Modern Apps using Client-Side RenderingApril 2nd, 2014

 

Marius webinar for blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A word from Marius about his session:

In today’s reality, the proliferation of a large variety of devices in the enterprise, from tablets to smartphones,  raise additional challenges for web designers and developers to provide unified user experiences. The Microsoft product team from SharePoint and Office 365 have understood that, and the latest version of the SharePoint platform empowers both designers and developers to use their own familiar tools and techniques (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) to adapt or extend SharePoint’s user interface to their needs.

One particular feature is a technique called Client-Side Rendering, which provides web developers with hooks into the output rendering process for list Forms and Views. Web developers now have the possibility of totally replacing SharePoint’s default rendering mechanism with their own. This opens up endless possibilities for web developers who are not familiar with SharePoint development to quickly get up to speed in customizing user experiences.

In this session delivered as part of the MVP Mentoring program on 28th of March, 2014, participants are walked through this process via a series of practical examples which include using modern web development techniques, such as the use MVVM pattern via Knockout and creating a masonry wall from the otherwise boring Tasks list by using Isotope plugin.

Hope you enjoy the presentation.

Marius Constantinescu, MVP SharePoint Server


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Exclusive Event with Salesforce: Improving Efficiency of Sales, Customer Service and Marketing.March 28th, 2014

 

Join us for this exclusive event on Thursday 15th May 2014 in Lausanne.

Speakers include Zenith Watches, Berdoz Optic, Evian and Edwards Lifesciences. 

 

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The Responsibility to Govern: Maximizing SharePoint ROIMarch 19th, 2014

 

 

ethan

Voltaire said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” He was talking about the responsibilities of aristocrats towards oppressed workers and peasants, but the same principle applies to IT teams implementing SharePoint within the Enterprise. 

 

 Ethan Maehl, Head of User Experience, talks about the importance of information governance with SharePoint.

 

SharePoint is a powerful tool for enabling collaboration, information management and integration of disparate business processes and systems, but as a recent Gartner Webinar points out, in order to generate a return on investment, that power must be managed responsibly.

The Webinar, Maximizing SharePoint ROI Through Better Information Governance, presented by Debra Logan, points out that many of the organizations that contact Gartner about SharePoint are looking to “…improve the governance and adoption of their Microsoft SharePoint deployments …many mid-market organizations find that a weak governance plan, together with inadequate planning for the quality of enterprise content, results in poor user adoption, which in turn leads to low usage and ROI.”

Like Gartner, at blue-infinity we’ve found that spending the time to develop robust information architecture and taxonomy at the beginning of the engagement is critical to success, as is defining the governance model for both content and SharePoint sites themselves.  Identifying and developing re-usable templates for the most important content and document-types is another important up-front investment of time and resources.

Some key questions that should be answered from the start:

  • Who will be responsible for creating (and eventually archiving) SharePoint sites within the organization?
  • What workflows and roles will be required to create, review and publish files and other content?
  • What policies will govern long-term retention and storage of content?
  • What metadata is necessary to enable users to find the content they need?

If your organization doesn’t have answers to these questions, you probably aren’t going to get the maximum value out of SharePoint.

 


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emaehl

Written by Ethan Maehl

March 19th, 2014 at 7:29 pm


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Mobile Banking – La révolution est lancéeFebruary 19th, 2014

 

P-A picture 2Banque et Finance

 

Article de Pierre-Alexandre Riera, pour BANQUE ET FINANCE    

Dans le Hors Série du Magazine Banque & Finance, Pierre-Alexandre Riera, Business Development Director chez blue-infinity,  évoque le mobile banking comme une révolution discrète mais profonde dans le monde bancaire. Il explique cette apparition grâce à la démocratisation des smartphones et l’existence des tablettes tactiles.

Les transactions bancaires s’effectuent, selon lui, de plus en plus depuis les applications mobiles. A la différence de l’e-banking, qui tient davantage de la plateforme unifiée et commune à tous les clients et ne tient pas compte de leurs spécificités, le moblie banking se veut à la fois adapté et polymorphe à la situation du client (profil de client, localisation, habitudes, etc.).

De nos jours, les principales banques sont dotées à la fois d’un système e-banking et d’une ou plusieurs applications mobiles. Leur mise en place soulève toutefois une série de problématiques fortes, car le besoin de qualité de ces applications est bien supérieur au besoin de qualité pour les systèmes e-banking. La bonne combinaison d’une ergonomie simple avec une maîtrise technologique forte ainsi qu’un design attractif permettent à la banque de fournir une application efficace à ses clients tout en étant attractive.

Techniquement, le mobile banking implique de nouvelles exigences en termes de sécurité, ce en quoi, elle se démarque de l’e-banking. Malgré les difficultés, la quasi-totalité des banques de détail propose une offre mobile banking complète. Quant aux banques privées, elles présentent leur solution de mobile banking à leurs gérants. Les éditeurs de logiciels bancaires fournissent eux aussi des modules prêts à l’emploi.

Le mobile banking fait ses premiers pas, mais de nombreuses innovations sont encore à prévoir, annonce Pierre-Alexandre Riera.

Lire l’article complet

 


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Responsive Design and Accessibility: Viable solutions to digital nomad-ism and population ageing?December 5th, 2013

  

The Boston Globe, and award-winning example

The Boston Globe, an leading example of responsive design and accessibility

 

UX specialists Nathalie Raux-Copin and Marie Kuter were featured in the November issue of the ICT Journal on the much debated topics of Responsive Design and Accessibility. We’d be happy to hear your thoughts…

Read the full article in French

 

Synopsis:
Two major social phenomena have recently emerged and are  impacting how we access data:

  • population ageing 
  • digital nomad-ism (the increased need to access data in a mobile context)

In this article they address the following questions:

  • What are we doing to adapt the digital landscape to a pervasive ageing population?
  • How do we make our web publishing methods cater to an ever growing number of eclectic devices?
  • What is responsive web design and would this become a viable solution for digital nomad-ism?
  • Finally what does it take to become a little more inclusive by applying web accessibility rules?

Read the full article in French.

 


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Notes from C:\>Marius – Microsoft MVP Summit 2013November 22nd, 2013

 

I’ve just finished the MVP Summit in Redmond and I feel even more privileged and excited to be one of the 300+ SharePoint recognized experts in the world, and one of the 4 SharePoint server MVPs in Switzerland.

Being and MVP means I get the opportunity to be in the front-line of product reshaping, through direct contact with the product group. I also now have direct access to unprecedented high volumes of content and information only available to other few privileged individuals. Most exciting for me is now being able to get my customers and co-workers voices heard all the way up to product teams. 

 

How do you become an MVP?

Being awarded an MVP does not come with any prize or financial benefits.  It is  recognition of your involvement, dedication to excellence and how much you share all that accumulated expertise with peers. The status is under scrutiny the whole year, and gets renewed yearly based on contributions made the year before. So the bar gets set continuously higher.

What is was like at the MVP summit

THE most important event in the life of an MVP, the summit takes place on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Seattle…  The core of every single product or technology you have been using or will use  from Microsoft.

This is  a conference where the guys next to you are world-renowned experts in the same field of expertise. The presenters are members of the product team. For us geeks, it sounds like being in El-Dorado…… and it actually is. This year more than 1,400 MVP attended.

Being there, made me feel (lack of other analogy) like professor Landon being in Vatican’s archive in the Dan Brown’s book “Angels and Daemons” – you swim in an ocean of knowledge, suddenly within your reach…

…just pick up a glass of wine, beer or whatever you fancy, and go ask any expert of your choice about the issues you are facing. I also connected with peers and people in the product group. It was our chance  to ask those burning questions we had in the back of our heads, as well as  get information on strategy and roadmaps for specific products. By the way, I’ve also learned cool news about _____ (cannot share sorry, is under NDA), but I promise that as soon as it becomes public, I shall share all the gory details I learned in Redmond. 

To sum it all up, I had a great time.  I met a lot of wonderful people (not just on social networks) and spent enriching days and fun evenings. I must say that such an experience changes a person by motivating you to deliver excellence, attain new levels of expertise and most importantly, share the knowledge – the most fulfilling facet of our activity!

More soon.

C:\>Marius

 

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EVENT – OFFICE 365 SATURDAY EUROPENovember 18th, 2013

 

Invitation from Marius Constantinescu,
blue-infinity, MVP Sharepoint
______________________________________________

Office 365 Saturday (Europe)
Date: Saturday 30th November 2013
Time: 9:00 to 17:00
Via: Lync online
Full agenda: http://lanyrd.com/2013/o365eu/schedule/

_____________________________________________________

It”s a great pleasure to announce the 1st Office 365 Saturday Europe event organized by Rene Modéry (MVP Office 365) & Matt Hughes (MCTS, MCITP) – great initiative for the Swiss technical community missing out on deep cover of technical events.

The event will take place via Lync Online you’ll have the opportunity to interact with renowned speakers, most MVP covering multiple topics on SharePoint Online, such as Governance planning, Document Management & Migration best practices, Hybrid deployments, building collaboration & social knowledge management with NewsGator, Yammer, integration with Windows 8 app), Exchange Online – Data Loss Protection (DLP), Management & Administration, Power BI in Office 365.

Find entire schedule available at Office 365 Saturday Europe (http://lanyrd.com/2013/o365eu/schedule/)

 

Join me for my presentation on “Self-service business intelligence in Office 365 using newest Power BI features” 
Time: 11:30 AM- 12:30 PM
More info: (http://lanyrd.com/scrkpy )

Synopsis:
Recently released for Office 365 the Power BI enables unprecedented self-service scenarios using SharePoint Online. Join me in this session consisting of end-to-end scenarios, highlighting important steps & exposing coolest features available – to get you started today benefiting from the most awesome BI features available.

In this session I’ll be demonstrating how easy it is to build advanced dashboards, while exposing prerequisites, limits and boundaries and provide setup and configuration instructions, as well as insights into the great components (such as excellent Power Query, Power View, data usage analytics and more…) that make self-service business intelligence possible today…. Basically everything to get you started on your route to becoming the hero of Power BI in your organization.

 

Hope to have as many of you as possible online and look forward to a very interesting exchange of knowledge!

C:\>Marius


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Why companies need to gather good requirementsSeptember 24th, 2013

 

It’s common knowledge that companies throw small fortunes on IT development in the trash, without ever seeing a proper return on that investment. The numbers are public and speak for themselves.

This is one of the major concerns of decision makers who either buy software development externally or develop it internally. They are becoming aware of the need to implement a common framework for evaluating IT projects. This can be done by adopting common methodologies to gather requirements early in the projects. Keeping track of requirements from the source to the final output is the only way to control the money spent on IT.

But one thing is sure, integrating only Business and Technology requirements is not enough, if most of the time the requirements are based on assumptions and extrapolations. That’s where we,  UX specialists, can help companies by also integrating requirements from the User perspective. Involving the users right from the start increases the chance of success for the IT development process:

  • Because the Business frequently has many misconceptions about what the user want;
  • Because this process brings final users on board, making them also “accountable” for the result;
  • And because some of the key users can become “evangelists” among their peers when it comes to adopting the new tool.

 

How can UX fit into Requirements Engineering?

Requirements gathering lead by Business Analysts often turns out to be a succession of (endless?) meetings with business teams. A group of people sit together during several hours and try to explain to analysts the way they work, what would they like to have in the future, and so on. What happens normally is that a lot of assumptions and extrapolations are made in these sessions. Assumptions about what final users want and how they really work. And this is a normal phenomenon as IT professionals working in house gain years of experience in their fields, they also lose some fresh perspective on their business and on their end users.

So, the work of the UX specialist is basically to “validate” all these assumptions (rather than “discover”) against real world scenarios. In the process you can be sure that many requirements will be dropped, others will be changed, and new ones will be uncovered.
Our aim, as UX specialists, is to design correct usable things, (rather than wrong usable things) and a big part of this is achieved by conducting correct user requirements gathering (commonly known as User Research) by applying the correct research tools to each project. These can include Contextual Inquiries, Field Studies, Cultural Probes, Focus Groups, etc, depending on time, budget, scope and availability of people. Different approaches require different resources.

In conclusion, the sooner a project is correctly aligned with the real user needs, and the requirements are traced from the beginning to the end of all projects, the higher the chances are of having a good return on the money invested in software development.

 

User Requirements 


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  1. So true and yet unachieved in many organisations – I’m still fighting for proper RE/RM and see the tracing of decision making one of the long-term benefits which unfortunately are often overlooked in a short-sighted profit making cycle instead of investing into a good robust base. Nice article Bruno!

    Thorsten

    27 Sep 13 at 6:06 pm

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Please don’t move our coffee machineJune 7th, 2013

 Relocation

 

PROXIMITY, PERMISSION, PRIVACY: The three axes of workspace design.

Surrounded by people moving boxes, laptops, cables, desks and monitors. :lol: That’s been our experience over the last few days, as b-i is renovating  its Geneva headquarters.

That reminded me of an article I read a few months ago in the Harvard Business Review, called “Who Moved My Cube”, where they talked about some important aspects that should be considered so that workspaces can help to foster collaboration and creativity, but also respect privacy between colleagues.

The authors explore 3 main points, like signals that a design of a workspace should send to collaborators:

  • Proximity – it’s about the ability to drive people to public shared spaces, like water coolers or coffee machines;
  • Privacy – it’s all about people feeling confident enough to have conversations without being interrupted or overheard;
  • Finally, Permission  – it’s about letting people feel free to start conversations and by that, to share ideas with each other.

This is also one major concern for some of our clients as they try to change organizations from inside. Not only through digital tools (e.g. collaboration platforms that we are happy to design for them), but also through physical spaces.

Looking at companies like IDEO, a design firm and innovation consultancy, the authors of the HBR article explain how they allow Permission, by having Open-plan offices, portable furniture and, of course, a company policy that encourages people to move around to collaborate with whom they are working with.

 So, wrapping up….

 If you want to “move your cube” think of three main pillars: digital platforms, well-designed offices and a company policy to support all that.

… Meanwhile renovations continue at b-i’s headquarters. But please don’t move our coffee machine and water cooler. That’s where we meet colleagues to talk about different projects and pitches going on. 

 


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Treat your “e-customers” like real customersMay 16th, 2013

 

E-Commerce: blue-infinity’s experts detail must-have features and functionalities to maximize customer experience.

As a large percentage of the global economy is focused online, it is up to e-marketers to provide a comparable experience for online consumers to the one that they would have in going to a physical store. Online shopping experiences must provide crucial levels of interaction and engagement that mirror the physical realities communicated to consumers at the store.

In order to promote their Analytics product Google has recently released a series of video clips that allows one to imagine what the in store shopping experience of a consumer would be if they were treated in the same way as most e-commerce sites treat them. Within seconds one is able to see the absurdity of this proposition. The videos show how cold and automated this experience can be in real life and makes one question the satisfaction level of consumers who shop online frequently.

blue-infinity experts Fabrice Perrin and Rémi Gauthier weigh in on this topic by detailing out a list of must have features and functionalities, as well as directions as how to implement them in order to create a more engaging and satisfying online shopping experience.

Read the full article in the French here.

Treat your e-customers like real customers. Features to optimize online customer experience.

Treat your e-customers like real customers. An in-depth guide from blue-infinity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Your User Requirements include 400 features…April 23rd, 2013

 

Capture1Dilbert

From the Dilbert series

In the current world of software development clients want deliverables to be turned around as fast as possible, time is money, and the software development company that can deliver the fastest is usually the one that gets the contract. Traditional methods of software development/project management such as the “waterfall methodology” have increasingly become antiquated due to the time constraints that are placed upon the process, and this very much so because of the way requirements gathering is conducted.  In this article we take a look at how Agile, combined with User Centric Design processes, can significantly improve the accuracy and delivery time of software applications.

Read the rest of this entry »


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  1. Thank you Guillaume for this excellent post.
    The Dilbert reflects how difficult it is to manage customer expectations.
    I clearly understand the advantage of the method in custom developments. I am curious to understand if you did successfuly apply the same to Off-the-shelf products implementation projects (like CRM or ERP).

    Vincent

    5 Sep 13 at 9:07 am

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Deemed “most valuable”: Part 2 – Rocking in RedmondApril 8th, 2013

Part two of Jamie McAllister’s Journey as a Microsoft Sharepoint Most Valuable Professional (MVP).

 

 A hair-raising start 

My journey to Seattle had an inauspicious start. After the 747 had left Heathrow an apologetic captain announced that the airplane couldn’t be pressurized and we had to return to London to fix it. There were a few hair raising minutes as the airliner dumped its excess fuel, and five hours later we were heading to Seattle again, this time without incident!

  Read the rest of this entry »


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  1. Well Done Jamie, congratulations!
    Now to share the photo’s of the event, but not the sound clips of the karaoke :)

    Jacobus

    22 Apr 13 at 10:27 am

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Tip for mobile developers – A look at Codename One, and an exclusive interview with founder Shai AlmogFebruary 27th, 2013

Bertrand Cirot from blue-infinity takes a look at this java-based platform and interviews Shai Almog, one of its founders. 

Codename One (CN1) is a java-based platform allowing mobile application developers to create real native mobile apps across multiple platforms with a single code base. It provides all the necessary tools to build, theme, debug and simulate in java.

Many platforms are supported, in order to allow real cross-platform development: iOS (iPhone & iPad), Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7 (8 and RT to come) and J2ME (for older devices, with some obvious limitations).

It allows the developers to build rich user interfaces through lightweight component and access hardware such as camera, GPS, Etc. The SDK and Tools are open source and can be used for free, but they also provide premium services (Cloud storage, Cloud compilation, Support, Etc.)

The founders, Shai Almog and Chen Fishbein, have worked for Sun Microsystems for a while. Chen was the creator of LWUIT, a widget toolkit for building user interfaces for devices (mobile, TV, Etc.). They decided to create their own project without having to deal with bureaucracy and started from scratch with their mutual experience. Just out of the beta phase, it is now quite stable and quite powerful.

Read on for an in-depth look at the platform and read our interview with Shai Alog.

Read the rest of this entry »


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Mobile: plurality for some, heterogeneous for othersFebruary 21st, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was privileged to be interviewed by the ICT Journal on a topic that is very close to my heart. In the article, I discuss the challenges of deploying mobile devices within organisations, the convergence of screen size between smartphones and tablets and the possible pitfalls in mobile development.

Click here to read the full article in French.


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Deemed “Most Valuable” – Part 1, the surprise emailFebruary 15th, 2013

 

Share Jamie McAllister’s Journey as a Microsoft Sharepoint Most Valuable Professional (MVP).

————————————————————————————————————————————–

On the first of January this year, 2013 seemed to be getting off to a slow start. Everything was shut for the holidays, the sky was grey, and my children seemed a little jaded with their Christmas presents.

SURPRISE!
Things were set for a big change however because later that day I received an email from Microsoft to tell me that I’d been awarded the MVP for SharePoint.

This was a very pleasant surprise indeed. The MVP Award, or Most Valuable Professional award is given to people who in Microsoft’s view are “exceptional community leaders who actively share their high-quality, real-world deep technical expertise with the community and with Microsoft. They are committed to helping others get the most out of their experience with Microsoft products and technologies”.

Now, I can’t pinpoint exactly why I was singled out to receive the award this year. For several years I have been involved in the SharePoint Community through Blogging, Speaking at the SharePoint User Group meetings in the UK, and have recently done a couple of global webcasts about SharePoint. These contributions must have been a factor, though MVP award or not I’m happy to give them and will continue to do so.

  Read the rest of this entry »


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EU accessibility regulations and adaptive web designFebruary 13th, 2013


Disability affects 1 out of 6 Europeans. EC mandatory accessibility rules for public and government sector websites are expected to be applied in the EU by June 2014.  What will be the impact of emerging technology such as  “Adaptive web design” in shaping Europeans standards?

Article by Nathalie Raux-Copin, Senior UX
 
___________________________________________

some facts about accessibility in Europe

My brother being suddenly affected by a disability made me realize even more how much we all live in an inaccessible environment. And when it comes to user interfaces, it surprises me to note how far we are from being inclusive.

The reality is that less than 10% of all websites in the EU are fully accessible according to Monitoring e-Accessibility in Europe. To counter this disaster, the European Commission is working on a new set of mandatory accessibility rules for public sector and government websites – the European Commission Mandate 376 which could be available in 2014. The rules are based on the Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements Level AA in version 2.0 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The proposition will go to the EU’s Council of Ministers and the European Parliament for adoption and it is expected that European Union member states put national rules and regulations in application by June 30, 2014.

Let’s hope these new regulations will translate in a better web within the Eurozone but will this help shifting our mindsets in regards to the accessibility matter?

I observed that we, user experience specialists, designers, developers and other web professionals often make the mistake to approach accessibility too simplistically by considering two categories of users either fully disabled or not at all and we tend to either dumb interfaces down to make them accessible to the ‘disabled’ or ignore all standards depending on the kind of project we’re working on (e.g. government websites versus FMCG websites).

Instead of this binary approach, shouldn’t we adopt a holistic design approach by accepting and supporting the various levels of cognitive skills or expertise? Disabled or not, users shouldn’t be expected to spend time making an interface usable to them by playing with the settings or by using assistive technologies. Web user interfaces should be ‘adaptable’ just as some games are designed and change how each user needs it without compromising neither the needs of ‘advanced users’ (e.g. more controls and features) nor the needs of users with some kind of disability.

 

Fortunately such approach has already been adopted: it is called ‘adaptive web design’, as coined by Aaron Gustafson, and it’s rapidly gaining popularity in our industry.

Adaptive web design is about “creating interfaces that adapt to the user’s capabilities (in terms of both form and function) and takes into account varying levels of markup, CSS, JavaScript and assistive technology support” (A. Gustafson). It goes beyond responsive web design and is based around five principles:

  • Ubiquity – the power of the web lies in its capacity of being everywhere
  • Flexibility – what we create should be device-agnostic
  • Performance – let’s not forget users expect a fast loading experience, performance is design
  • Enhancement – progressive enhancement is helping laying down a solid foundation
  • Future friendly – acknowledge and embrace the unpredictable because ‘the more compatible a website is with today’s landscape, the better chance it has to work in tomorrow’s landscape’ as said by Josh Clark

So let’s focus more on being inclusive and innovative at the same time by overcoming design challenges holistically through web accessibility standards, responsive web design and adaptive web principles for a more accessible web in the Eurozone.

For more information about adaptive web design please refer to:

 http://easy-readers.net/books/adaptive-web-design/

http://fr.slideshare.net/bradfrostweb/beyond-media-queries-anatomy-of-an-adaptive-web-design

 


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  1. Nice to see games mentioned Nathalie, are you familiar with http://www.gameaccessibilityguidelines.com?

    Just to be clear though the 10% quote isn’t correct, it’s actually 0% of sites globally that are ‘fully accessible’. You can’t make a site that is accessible to every person on the planet (eg both blind and unable to understand spoken word due to aphasia), it’s more about avoiding unnecessary exclusion. The 10% thing is an arbitrary ‘acceptable’ level of accessibility, even WCAG AAA let alone AA still excludes people.

    To my mind the big problem with WCAG isn’t less profound impairmebts, they’re in there (eg. Contrast VS screenreaders) its the abysmal support for cognitive impairment, low reading ability in particular. Despite it being by a considerable margin the most prevalent condition that affects web use they declined to include anything about it due to testability concerns. Testability concerns dont help people who are excluded from using websites.

    The other side of it is that partially due to the nature of some of the conditions involved and partly due to the huge stigma attached, there is no powerful vocal lobby, unlike blind for example.

    Its not a total disaster, there are some very rare examples to learn from like the excellent gov.uk work, the following doesn’t look much like a typical government website eh?

    https://www.gov.uk/vat-rates

    Ian Hamilton

    14 Feb 13 at 11:14 am

  2. Thanks Ian for your comment. gov.uk/vat-rates is an interesting example indeed, the architecture is well suited for users looking for informational content, it may become challenging to navigate when users need to interact more with a system.

    I applaud the game accessibility guidelines initiative – have you thought about making it a collaborative platform for designers and developers? This way, it could become a point of reference with practical examples of best practice implementation. As you mentioned accessibility standards aren’t addressing all kind of accessibility issues and it seems that more collaboration is required from users with disabilities and the designers/dev communities.

    As for accessibility figures, I rely on monitoring authorites for their accuracy.

    Nathalie Raux-Copin

    19 Feb 13 at 10:14 am

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WHO – Fighting Polio with TechnologyJanuary 30th, 2013

 

Technology is playing a key part in the fight against Polio. Collecting, analyzing and reporting on the masses of polio-related data generated globally on a daily basis is a significant undertaking, particularly when data about new cases must be distributed as quickly as possible to allow global, regional and local partners to coordinate a response. 

- Article by Kevin Crampton

_____________________________________

If humanity en masse could make a New Year’s resolution this month then we could do a lot worse than aiming for the complete global eradication of poliomyelitis (polio). 

Once polio is eradicated, the world can celebrate the delivery of a major global public good that will benefit all people equally, no matter where they live.” – World Health Organisation

The disease’s effects can cause limbs to atrophy, severe muscle weakness, paralysis and leave sufferers crippled, dependent on an “iron lung” to mechanically aid their breathing, or dead. It’s a virus that’s lived alongside man successfully for a long time and is first depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics, causing untold suffering throughout our history since it primarily attacks children under 5 years old and there is no known cure.

Our resolution would have a good precedent too since a concentrated global effort coordinated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) led to the eradication of the smallpox virus in 1979 and the Rinderpest in 2011. 

A Polio-Free World
It’s clear what an enormous benefit the extinction of these diseases represent, once gone they are gone forever and every future generation benefits from improved health. The economic saving is estimated in the 10’s of billions of US Dollars.

More good news is that we are also very close to a polio-free world. The WHO and its partners have been working towards this goal since 1988 when the World Health Assembly, comprised of Ministers of Health of all countries of the world, resolved to eradicate polio. This launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and polio cases have been reduced by 99% compared to 1988 levels thanks to the use of vaccines. In 2012 for example there were just 223 cases, the lowest level ever reached, and the disease remains endemic in only three countries Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

But there are significant challenges; polio symptoms only become visible in about 1% of cases which makes targeting immunizations difficult and the disease can quickly re-establish itself due to its aggressive rate of infection. Also the last strongholds of polio are political sensitive regions as the murder of vaccination workers in Pakistan at the end of 2012 attests.

Solution delivered
Technology is playing a key part in the fight against the disease. Collecting, analyzing and reporting on the masses of polio-related data generated globally on a daily basis is a significant undertaking, particularly when data about new cases must be distributed as quickly as possible to allow global, regional and local partners to coordinate a response.

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  1. Excellent post Kevin…
    Glad that you are part of this great effort!

    Phil

    4 Mar 13 at 2:37 pm

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Tips for developers: Vert.x – a new generation Java web frameworkJanuary 16th, 2013

Quite recently, there have been several new lightweight Java web frameworks which are becoming more and more popular within the Java developer’s community. It is interesting to notice most of them borrow ideas coming from other ecosystems (Python, Ruby, Scala, Javascript…) and therefore they do not always adopt the usual Web Application Archive paradigm we are used to.

Introducing Vert.x

One of those frameworks is Vert.x

 This framework is the Node.js counterpart in our JVM world… I refer to JVM (Java Virtual Machine) and not only Java, because the framework has been designed to handle applications development with many JVM compatible languages (such as Groovy, Jython or even JRuby)

Like its counterpart Node.js, it supports the reactor pattern but in a slightly improved version called multi reactor : application units (called verticles) can be instanciated on several event loops and since each verticle will always be assigned to the same thread, it simplifies greatly concurrency handling in your application code.

Vert.x provides several nice features such as :

  • Http/Net server implementation
  • Websocket support
  • Can be used standalone or embedded
  • Cluster support thanks to Hazelcast

Vert.x creator, Tim Fox, published a benchmark of Vert.X against Node.js (available here), and even though results were in favor of his project, some developers do not share his opinion because methodology because especially :

  • NodeJs version was not the last one
  • Test client was home made (whereas existing recognized tools could have been used)
  • Client and Server were on the same computer, which is not a good load testing practice

This debate is not going to end soon since Vert.x is still quite young compared to others frameworks.

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Five guidelines for feedback messages in Rich Internet ApplicationsNovember 29th, 2012

Feedback messages and effects should not get overlooked in the application development process or be added as an afterthought, since they are at the core of the user / application interaction.

In an earlier posting, I outlined five guidelines to help improve communication with the user: The first is to give feedback upon interaction. The next is error prevention, followed by easy error recovery if an error could not be prevented. You also need to make sure that you communicate consistently across the application and, finally, provide help or more information where necessary.

Here are some more details on each point:

1. Give feedback

We all thrive on receiving feedback. Take the example of radar speed signs: they not only show you whether you are under or above the speed limit, but also give you a smiley or a frown. We have one close to home and my kids always urge me to make the sign smile – so of course, I slow down to a snail’s pace! This is a lot more enjoyable than “real” radars, which are punitive and not at all playful.

 When it comes to applications, these personal speed signs are a good example to follow, and the more immediate the feedback, the better. This includes simple things like :

  • Roll-over effects on clickable items such as icons, images, buttons, links, rows (I know, basic stuff!)
  • Visually showing focus on form fields
  • Validating errors line by line and
  • Providing additional progress indicators, such as checks for accomplished task or indicators for password strength.

Once the user has finished a task, it is important to show system progress (if needed) and success confirmation. For example, when clicking the save button, a little animation can show that the information is actually saved (when staying on the same page). If the action is tied to a workflow, it makes sense to display a clear success message that will also communicate what will happen next.

2. Prevent errors from happening

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julia.borkenhagen

Written by Julia Borkenhagen

November 29th, 2012 at 11:16 am


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Technology update: Java architecture for mobile applicationsNovember 22nd, 2012

 

You can also read this article in French.

The“mobile app” is becoming indispensable. At the start of 2010, there were 200,000 mobile applications. By the end of 2011, the one million mark was reached.

Driving this rapid market growth is both an increasingly complete offering from leaders such as Apple or Google but also, and above all, an increasingly high demand from users. As shown in a diagram produced by MDG advertising, by late 2010 more time was spent on mobile applications than spent on the web itself in the United States. A trend that should also catch up in Europe.

With richer user experiences, integration with specific hardware (camera, GPS, accelerometer, etc) and offline access, it’s easy to understand how mobile apps have taken such an important place in the lives of mobile users. However, this brings with it changes and new demands, especially in terms of applications for communication.

Java, originally intended for business applications, naturally finds its place in mobile development; services created for the web are transferable to mobile, provided that needs have been correctly identified and the right solutions found. 

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