Best 1st Day Back Ever: Video Game Award!


If you follow me on Twitter then you've probably learned by now that I've been out of the office at my day job because I had an emergency appendectomy. Today was my first day back, and I have to say I had a pretty good morning because I found out that a video game I made with my web team last spring — Handy Andy 2: The Ampersand Trail — won an award! (So now I can say I am an award winning video game developer. Heh.)

Me holding the award.
The Handy Andy 2 title screen graphic.

Hey, it is a Friday afternoon, you know that you totally want to spend it "researching" this game rather than working. And when you've finished playing Handy Andy 2, you definitely will want to check out the first game, Handy Andy's Key Quest, and play some Handy Andy Bowling.

Congratulations to the Handy Andy 2 team! Kamran Ayub did the graphics and Jesse Mullan did the sound, and both contributed to the overall insanity and level design. The games are written in JavaScript with a Flash bridge for the audio if you were wondering.

So you want to be a web developer...


Chris McMillan wrote to me with a good question that I've gotten before, and he agreed to let me share it:

Zach, as someone who I would consider an expert, I'm interested in your opinion. I'm a big fan of Nettuts. What language would you recommend I learn for web development. I would like to develop web 2.0 ish stuff, great sites, learn good coding habits and ultimately be able to make some money doing it. I've bounced between C#, Python, Ruby and Php.
What are your thoughts?

I can definitely remember just getting started out with web development, and I like to hear myself talk (heh), so I'm quite happy to give some advice here. Also, I've been thinking a lot lately about the state of web developer education. There's not a lot out there in terms of formal education, so everybody is left to try to figure out what online advice is good and what advice is bad. If you're just starting out, that isn't so easy to do.

Human Interface Guideline Resources


The follow documents are great resources for understanding HIGs or starting your own:

Come See Me Speak at MinneWebCon


Update #2: Here are the slides from my April 6, 2009 presentation:

Update #1 (April 6, 2009): Here are my three goals for my presentation:

  • Share some examples of ways common web user interfaces (UI) can be standardized.
  • Discuss how user interface standardization benefits users and developers.
  • Raise awareness and support for web user interface guidelines.

I've put a couple draft posts for my blog here on hold as I work on my presentation for MinneWebCon 2009, held April 6, 2009 in St. Paul on the University of Minnesota campus. In 2008 I had the pleasure of speaking at the first MinneWebCon about the Business Benefits of Semantic HTML, and I'm very happy to have the opportunity to speak again this year. Here is a description of my topic, titled "Standardizing Web User Interfaces":

Standardizing Web User Interfaces

Modern desktop and mobile platforms come with Human Interface Guidelines that outline for developers how to build applications that function consistent with user expectations. In this session, Zach will discuss how developing a standard UI model and functionality guidelines for your organization's web forms and applications will benefit you and your users. Use these guidelines to consistently maintain user expectations, usability, and accessibility when building your web sites or using techniques and tools like AJAX, Yahoo User Interfaces, or jQuery UI.

There are going to be a ton of really great sessions and speakers this year, including my friend and colleague Paul Armstrong. There is limited space available, so register online today, and I will see you there! Now back to tweaking my presentation…

JS "Game" - Viking Jesse


When my friend Jesse moved out to California, I made him a little venturing-west game (in the loose sense of the word "game") as a safe journey gift. He was just in town visiting for the last week, which reminded me of the game so I thought I'd post it. The game is built with JavaScript, and I did the graphics except for the flying manatee, which was done by Kamran.

To play, use your right and left arrow keys to move the Viking Jesse and blow up as many flying Manatees as you can. Click the image below to start.