What’s the Latest with Refresh Detroit?

We noticed we haven’t posted on the site for a while, gosh, it’s been over 1 1/2 years! Yikes!

So, here’s the latest news.

Nick DeNardis and I took time off last year with Refresh Detroit. Our last 2015 event was the annual Accessibility Summit we held at the University of Michigan.

We relaunched Refresh Detroit in 2015 with a remote talk in February by David Brooks, Designing Against Yourself.

In March, Chris DeMars returned to present Block Element Module (BEM). We had a great turnout, with many new members joining the discussion after the talk, with demos of how they’re using BEM in their work.

Do You Even BEM? laptop sticker

Last night, we held our first Geek Dinner, a casual get-together at Broderick Grille, to chat about our work, design, and catch up with other.

Next month, we’re partnering with Metro Detroit WordPress to host the third annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Detroit to raise awareness of digital accessibility in the products and services we design. We hope you’ll join us!

Plans for 2016

We want to hear from you! What are you interested in? What web and design topics, discussions, or presentations do you want to see happening at Refresh Detroit?

Do you have an interesting case study to share?

Or design problem you overcame in your work that you want to talk about? We’d love to have you speak to the group!

Nick and I are planning to send out a member survey to find out what will bring you to our next Refresh Detroit meetup. Expect to see it in the next couple weeks.

Recap: Share Your Favorite Application Night

At tonight’s Refresh Detroit meeting, we had an excellent time talking about and sharing our favorite tools and applications. While we didn’t have big attendance at the meeting, our discussion lasted almost two hours.

We took time to demo several applications and shared our experiences on how the applications improved our workflow. I know I have a few more tools to add to my work toolbox.

Here’s a list of some of the applications we discussed:

  • Evernote: free note taking application that seamlessly synchronizes your notes on the web, desktop, and mobile. It’s easy to take notes, scan images, capture screenshots with the browser Web Clipper, and share notes with others (premium version only). Not sure what to do with all those business cards you collect at events and conferences? Scan them with your phone, add to Evernote with a note. Evernote uses OCR (optical character recognition) to scan the text in the business card so you can easily search at a later time.
  • EchoSign: online electronic signature application built into the free Adobe Reader application. If you’ve ever had to send hard copy contracts back and forth via post, or scan PDF signature pages, this application is for you. Sign your contracts and other documents in minutes with EchoSign. The Federal E-SIGN Act makes online electronic signatures equivalent to a written signature
  • Trello: online project management application that organizes your work into boards. The interface is all visual, updates in real time, and you can easily drag and drop tasks, lists and archive weekly work.
  • Cleo: Cleo (Compact Library Extension Organizer) is a Firefox add-on that allows you to combine themes and extensions into one package. You can easily share your favorite extensions by creating a package. Or install the package in a new Firefox profile.
  • jsFiddle: An online application that allows you to test your HTML, CSS, JavaScript code. While there are many similar online applications, jsFiddle is one of the best-known and most-used.
  • Axure: Desktop application used to create wireframes, mockups and interactive prototypes. Though the cost might be beyond the freelancer, Axure is the tool of choice for many large organizations and corporations.
  • Balsamiq and Mockingbird: Online wireframe and mockup applications. Many web developers and user experience professionals have moved from traditional desktop applications to online applications for ease of use and cost.

Thanks to Washtenaw Community College for hosting our meeting.

Recap: From Documents to Apps: Evolving an Open Web – Molly Holzschlag

This month we were honored to welcome Molly Holzschlag to Refresh Detroit. Molly is considered one of the godfathers godmother of the Web. Her talks centered around “From Documents to Apps: Evolving an Open Web”. As an advocate for open standards, she outlined how the open web allows for the empowerment of all individuals via global access.

She started her talk with a quote from Hillman Curtis that I am very fond of and wanted to share:

“Be prepared to reinvent yourself. Be prepared to go out on a limb occasionally, and be prepared to do the things that you feel strongly about”
– Hillman Curtis

I’m not going to give you a play by play of her talk because she was kind enough to let us record it. The full audio is available below and on Soundcloud.

A few things that stood out for me while she went through her presentation and interacted with the audience were:

  • Setup a personal advisory committee, no one person knows everything about the web.
  • It’s survival of the most adaptive, not survival of the fittest.
  • On the Web nothing matters, browsers, OS, data format, or language.
  • The definition of “open” often means transparency. But the preference is to mean authenticity.
  • The many things rule: Never look at one thing and thing it is just one thing.
  • Adopt a error forgiveness. We cannot know it all.
  • ARIA is the important piece that most Web sites are missing.

Molly gave us five main points to move forward

  1. Support existing content
  2. Ensure interoperability
  3. Define the user agent behavior (Solve problems from real-world issues)
  4. Better handle errors
  5. Evolve what we have

Some pictures from her talk