About the Author

Chris Shiflett

Hi, I’m Chris: entrepreneur, community leader, husband, and father. I live and work in Boulder, CO.

All posts for Jan 2009

Putting the Bow on OmniTI

2008 was a marathon year, and in the final sprint to the finish (which included barely pulling off another PHP Advent), some very exciting news for us at OmniTI managed to miss my blog. I'd like to share it with you now and provide my thoughts.

First, the exciting news. Jon Tan has joined OmniTI as Creative Director! Jon shares some of his own thoughts on his blog:

Since 1997, a lot of people I admire — like Chris — have found a home at OmniTI. They've grown in almost the exact opposite direction to most other companies: from operations, to data management, to web application development, and now to interface design and user experience.

Thanks, Jon! He's right that our history is quite different from a lot of other web companies, with our roots in web infrastructure and branches growing in every direction. This gives us a culture that everyone in the company really appreciates, a culture with a gentle blend of humility and confidence.

Jon describes OmniTI as "the most important web company you've never heard of," but with the widespread appeal of his designs, I have a feeling that won't be true much longer. :-)

Jon and I first worked together a few years ago on the new design for shiflett.org, and it was subsequently showcased on more design-related sites than I knew existed, including a birthday surprise for me when my site was featured in 60 Elegant and Visually Appealing Designs, an article that gets a lot of attention to this day.

Another article, Block Quotes and Pull Quotes: Examples and Good Practices, showcases the unique blockquote and note styles. I thought I'd make a note of this to show it off. :-)

I'm also happy to share that Jon Gibbins is joining OmniTI as well! He shares some of his own thoughts on his new role as an accessibility engineer:

I'll be doing the stuff I love: accessible interface design, consulting and training, and quality assurance ("pedant duties"). And I'll be doing it from within the loving arms of one of the Web's cleverest companies.

Jon is the JavaScript and accessibility genius behind the clever archive navigation we created for my blog which has since been featured in 5 Useful Coding Solutions For Designers and Developers:

Jon Gibbins, Jon Tan, and Chris Shiflett combined both levels of navigation — year and month navigation — within a compact two-lines-block.

Although it's a simple feature, Jon's attention to detail makes it a solution worthy of attention:

The markup and JavaScript are quite straightforward: the designer uses unordered lists and definitions lists to markup the year as well a special class to indicate currently chosen year and month. When some year is clicked, a new layer under the year navigation is displayed — there visitors can also define the month they are interested in.

As you can probably tell, I'm very proud of our past successes and giddy with excitement about the ones to come. Welcome to the team, Jon and Jon!

Seven Things

I was going to let the Seven Things meme pass me by, but the generous prodding of Elizabeth Smith, Elizabeth Naramore, and Theo Schlossnagle has managed to convince me that some of my readers might like to know a little more about me. If you're one of them, keep reading.

Some of these things are mentioned on my about page, but here are seven things you might not know about me:

  1. I once ran a marathon. My wife runs them all the time, and she finally convinced me to run one with her back in 2002. Her first marathon was for a good cause; mine was for bragging rights. :-)
  2. I grew up in Tennessee in a small city with a population of roughly 500 people. I now live in a big city with a population of roughly 8,000,000 people. I enjoy both extremes.
  3. I love to play soccer, but I didn't start playing until my senior year of high school. I was the team captain in college, and now I play in Prospect Park almost every weekend.
  4. I haven't watched much TV since the '90s, when I stopped subscribing to broadcast TV. For important events such as the World Cup or the Euro Cup, I spend a lot of time at local bars. I miss a lot of pop culture references as a result, but YouTube, iTunes, and DVDs help.
  5. I haven't been to see a doctor in over 15 years. (I received a mandatory checkup during the summer of 1993.) I did get sick in college, and again last year. I'm also not nearly as young and resilient as I once was, so I should probably start seeing a doctor regularly.
  6. I have a computer science degree and a healthy respect for higher education. I'm wary of those who don't possess the latter; in my experience, those who think higher education doesn't matter are those who need it most.
  7. My first computer was a Commodore 64. I wanted a motorcycle, and my parents thought a computer was a better idea. I guess they were right.

Here are the seven people I'm tagging:

  1. Andrei Zmievski, everyone's favorite white Russian.
  2. Sean Coates, who is probably trying to avoid this meme.
  3. Jon Tan, who will spend longer than anyone writing his.
  4. Jon Gibbins, the world's humblest accessibility guru.
  5. Terry Chay, the PHP terrorist.
  6. Ed Finkler, who is far too cool for this sort of thing.
  7. Helgi Þormar Þorbjörnsson, because I like testing my Unicode support.

My rules are simple. If you're one of the above seven people, please participate by sharing seven things people might not know about you. If you want a gold star, tag seven other people and ask them to do the same.

2008 Highlights

2008 is gone, and following tradition, I'm posting my personal highlights from the previous year. It's hard to believe that this is the 6th time I've done this, but I like the tradition, and I enjoy being able to review highlights from previous years (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007).

A brief recap of this year:

  • In February, I was privileged to attend Kiwi Foo Camp for a 2nd time.
  • In March, we launched a new OmniTI web site, complete with a new logo and beautiful URLs. I was pleasantly surprised by all the attention and praise. Thanks to everyone who noticed. :-)
  • Also in March, I spoke at PHP Québec for a 4th time. I've never seen that much snow.
  • In April, I participated in CSS Naked Day for the 2nd time. I also convinced a few others in the PHP community to participate. (Accessibility guru Jon Gibbins was busy answering questions on IRC that day.)
  • In May, I spoke at php|tek for the 4th time. As I wrote in my blog, "I got to celebrate my birthday at Shoeless Joe's while watching the Champions League final, and I ended the day with a brief stint as a rock star."
  • In June, I spoke at the DC PHP Conference for the 3rd time. (This was also my 3rd keynote.) I missed seeing the Indigo Girls that night at Radio City Music Hall due to a train delay, but I did arrive in time to see Regina Spektor.
  • In July, I spoke at OSCON for the 6th time. The talk I gave with Jon Tan was an entirely new topic for me, and it's something we have continued to explore at OmniTI. We're always trying to perfect our craft.
  • In August, PHP 4 died.
  • Also in August, I spoke at OINK-PUG, my 5th PHP user group talk.
  • In September, I spoke at ZendCon for the 4th time. I gave a new talk that explored the human behavior side of security. It was a little rough around the edges, but it sparked some interesting hallway conversations, and I hope to continue exploring this topic at conferences in 2009.
  • In October, I attended PHP Appalachia in my home state of Tennessee. I gained widespread praise and thanks for introducing the PHP community to the world's most delicious Reuben.
  • In November, I spoke at php|works for the 5th time. I suited up.
  • Also in November, I finally attended the MS Web Dev Summit. I enjoyed this experience and regret not blogging about it.
  • In December, I organized PHP Advent again, this time with its own domain. Sean emailed me shortly before it started, offering to help. It wouldn't have happened without him. Jon Tan and Jon Gibbins helped as well, providing a quick design, valid markup, and even some help editing when Sean and I were struggling. We all agreed to plan better next year, but we managed to pull it off. :-)

Writing this recap has made me realize that I did not blog nearly as much as I would have liked, but I did manage to speak at fewer conferences, and I traveled much less as a result. I love to travel, but everything is best in moderation. :-)

One more thing. In 2008, the biggest highlight is something I've yet to acknowledge or discuss on my blog (but will), which is that Jon Tan and Jon Gibbins have joined OmniTI!

In 2009, I hope to write more. More blogging, more articles, and maybe even another book. :-)

I hope you have a wonderful 2009.