Between February 26th and 28th, the EBI will play host to Javascript Tips & Best Practices: A hands-on workshop. Over the course of three days, participants will learn about Javascript for modern web development, as well as have an opportunity to talk about how they’re using Javascript in their work.

Since the summer of 2013, I’ve been working with my colleague, Rafael Jimenez, to take this from an idea to reality. Though we hope to have lots of interest from staff at both the EBI and the Sanger Institute, the event is open to anyone.


Inside the European Bioinformatics Institute

Can’t people just go to Javascript courses elsewhere?

Sure they can, but from the perspective of an institute like the EBI, that can be a fragmented experience and the learning isn’t necessarily shared in any way. Plus, for people working in science, the costs of external courses can often be prohibitive. More than anything, though, we wanted to create an event that would be tailored to the needs of our developer colleagues.

I’m really enthusiastic about creating and supporting communities, and bringing people together so that they can learn new things and make new interactions. That was a big part of the thinking behind EBI Interfaces when I first discussed ideas with Nils Gehlenborg and Eamonn Maguire a few years ago.

Better than that, though, I have friends who are responsible for running great events for developers and geeks, and I was able to go to them to help us get trainers (Tim Ruffles and Ben Howdle) and figure out the schedule. Arran Ross Paterson and Charlotte Smith are the people behind Event Handler, responsible for events like London JS Conf, Geeky Science, and UX Camp London. We’re very lucky to have had them involved since early on.

We’re also very pleased that Joe Parry  will be there to give a talk about Javascript and data visualisation. Joe is a researcher, tech lead, architect. Founder and CEO of Cambridge Intelligence, he specializes in designing visualization systems for intelligence analysts.

Why is a UX designer bothered about Javascript?

Good question. I’m a UX (user experience) designer, not a web developer (not for a few years, now!), so it might not be immediately obvious why I would be involved in creating and promoting a Javascript event.

As I see it, though, UX design is a process. Not a recipe, not UX-by-numbers, but some kind of process. For the projects I’m involved in, that process includes the expertise of developers; developers who make decisions that will affect user experience; developers who often use JavaScript. In order to be able to work together to craft great solutions to the design challenges apparent within biology and bioinformatics, it is in everybody’s interests that we are all on top of our game.

So, in a roundabout way, working with clever, clued-up developers is going to make my life easier and by extension, make us better able to design positive user experiences. A little bit of strategic UX? Maybe. Maybe.


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