Last night's Google London Open Source Jam (also here) was on the subject of the 'Web' (didn't they invent that? Oh no, that was Microsoft).

This event has been getting better and better each time I've attended. There were some very interesting lightning talks held together with a tight structure and plenty of chance to chat, drink cold Leffe and eat cold pizza. And nick [transatlantic translation: 'steal'] the Green & Black's chocolate.

An ideal Micro Conference...

I arrived late (it starts at 6pm) and spent some time catching up with ex-Thoughtworks colleagues, so I missed Dion "Ajaxian" Almaer's Google Gears slideset from FOWA. Go there now and check it out.

Thus the first talk I saw was a nifty piece of widgetry by Steven Goodwin called WARP. In WARP, interacting with a page of 'applets' changed the URL to encode those applets' current state. If you link to the current page, it will always show that state. Very long URLs, you can imagine. None of that fancy Ajax stuff. RESTful, dare I say. Nice API server-side for unpacking your applet params.

A trip to the lavatories [transatlantic translation: 'restroom'/'bathroom'] revealed that they are, indeed, doing that Testing in the Toilet project in Google. It works, too! I learned something. Other intelligence on Google's Inner Workings include confirmation of the beanbags and of the high quality, free grub to which I have already alluded.

A nice bloke from Yahoo! (Tom Hughes-Croucher: another spy?) came along to sell his idea that, in the collaborative world of open-minded hackers, we who run websites could help each other with our 404s. If I get a 404, I use the referrer link to tell you, via some RESTful POST, that your link to me is bust (assuming I don't intend to fix it myself).

I think the world is a little more selfish, so you need to decide who hurts more - the site who sends their visitors to a dead-end, or the site delivering that dead-end to a new visitor. I suspect the latter, by a small margin, as it's not exactly a nice welcome. So it's up to them to let the new visitor down more gently, and to notify the publisher of the broken link with little or no cost to them. For example, a really sociable 404-ing site could just redirect the hapless visitor back to the referring page, adding '?broken=links' to the URL - hopefully to be picked up by log scanning scripts at the referring site.

Next up, yours truly taking yet another chance to promote his excellent Micro Web thingy. Couple of people asked about it afterwards - including that nice chap from Yahoo! Also, a smart - and nice - chap called Toby (this one?) got me into a deep discussion on imperative vs. event-driven vs. state-driven programming. He was apparently an old-timer like me, as he was able to engage in dewy-eyed Functional Programming recollections. I managed to give out about four full colour printouts about the Micro Web, and to collect some good calling cards.

However, Joe Walnes, even a pint down in the pub afterwards, still refused to sign up for Micro Web duties. This in spite of over three years of intensive lobbying, including eight months of me working Trojan-horse-like in his kitchen, on The 2005 Implementation.

Another ex-Thoughtworks colleague, Simon Stewart took yet another chance to promote his promising Webdriver thingy. And a very interesting project it is becoming. Still needs more work - on IE support, etc - but I'll probably be using it in my new job at the Financial Times.

Another ex-Thoughtworks colleague, Chris Matts took a chance to promote his and Andy Pols' interesting new Dream Machine thingy. Perhaps a bit like Cambrian House - you put your dreams and ideas into it and people expand on them. Chris is a natural on-stage - and even used the age-old trick of promising lots of money for no effort, to get our attention at the start.

All I could come up with for the Micro Web was 'Cheaper, Wider, Faster'...


Updated: added reference to Dion Almaer, details about WARP, swapped in the picture of TWers that I was waiting for and fixed a minor blunder thanks to that ever-sharp ThoughtWorker, Dan Bodart..