Twitter’s Dustin Diaz brings unobtrusive JavaScript to the people

News from the conference room: this is a series of blog posts in which blogging experts briefly review key Tech4Africa 2010 talks and panels from Day 1 and 2.

Day 2

The day 2 Tech4Africa Tech stream kicked off with a presentation by Dustin Diaz, the lead Javascript Architect at Twitter, titled “Unobtrusive Interfaces with JavaScript”.

He began by telling us the story of his life, about his 4 dads and how he didn’t do well in school until 8th Grade, where he got straight A’s and discovered a passion for running. He ended up being ranked 13th in the US for the 800m, which got him a scholarship to the University of Sacramento. He has a degree in Spanish, which he says led him to JavaScript, as they are both foreign languages.. go figure.

Dustin has extensive experience in the online space, he worked at Yahoo! and Google before joining the team at Twitter in 2009. He authored the book “Pro JavaScript Design Patterns” with Ross Harmes.

His passions are JavaScript, Photography and Mixology (yes, making cocktails) and he says they overlap as all of them are expressive and allow you to strive for perfection. Dustin likens HTML, CSS and JavaScript to the Holy Trinity. He took us through the evolution of code and in his unique style, allowed the non-techies in the audience to understand why unobtrusive JavaScript is important.

Twitter’s new product ‘@Anywhere’ is his pet project. It is a cross domain API that allows you to embed JavaScript into your site and integrates with the Twitter API to perform a similar function to Facebook connect but, in Dustin’s words “ours is better because, let’s face it, nobody wants to code in FBML”. @Anywhere allows you to embed a tweet box in your site that enables you to tweet from anywhere, as well as ‘follow’ buttons which facilitate what he calls “frictionless following”.

Dustin’s favourite @Anywhere feature is that you now have direct access to the JavaScript API of Twitter, allowing you to write scripts that will find, follow, message, retweet and display the timeline of a user directly on your website without redirecting the user to

Dustin warned us to be careful before entering the world of JavaScript, “jQuery is like cocaine, one line and you’re hooked”. Hmmm, I’m not addicted yet but maybe I should try it because Dustin definitely makes code sound sexy.

For more on how Twitter built @Anywhere, have a look at this presentation.

Heidi Schneigansz