We interview Oli Wood (@coldclimate) on #DIBI12 and his humble beginnings…

We’re back at Design It. Build It. in Newcastle again for April. The Ubelly delegation will be returning sans Sad Keanu, with Ubelly’s Martin Beeby running a workshop on HTML5 and Human Interaction (which is sadly sold out already!). We’ll also have some info about some upcoming Ubelly camps for anyone interested in getting their hands dirty with what Martin’s talking about! Because we’re so excited, we asked DIBI organiser, Oli Wood (aka @coldclimate) a bit about himself and the conference conception.

How did you get into web development?

I first got online back in 1992 (or 3, details lost in the history of time) thanks to a future thinking dad and CompuServe. This was pre-www and I spent a lot of time hanging out in a CompuServe forum called GraphDev, with a bunch of guys who ended up as artists on Toy Story. Graphics got me into an early ray tracer (POVray) and this lead me into coding. Between 6th form and university I picked up my first web development job in 1998, building websites for glass companies (niche market). There’s actually still some of the code I wrote back then out there live. IE5 was the new hotness, separation of content and display was in it’s early days and we were only just starting to get to grips with database backed sites. Things have moved on hugely since.

What project are you most proud of from over the years?

Lots of my work has been behind the scenes on web projects. I was really proud of the work I did for a Facebook based start-up called Wishli.st, introducing version control, deployment mechanisms and a PHP framework (CodeIgniter) which meant we developed faster, smarter and more reliably. Wedding Tales has just passed it’s 15,000th wedding photo this week too, and getting emails from happy brides is really satisfying.

What is exciting you in web development at the moment?

Lots and lots of thing :) On the server side of things I’ve been making a lot of use of Redis this year. It’s a super fast key-value pair store with a really low barrier to entry. I started by using it for storing sessions, then found it handled lists really well. Then I started using it to push data between our live and batch processes (there are better solutions for this by the way). It’s fast, flexible, very easy to get into with driver libraries for most languages.

One of the things that gives me great hope is the rapid adoption of version control over the last few years. When I first left university I ended up running version control and deployment for a massive government project. When I left and came back to the web world version control wasn’t widely adopted and I really struggled to get it implemented where I worked at first. Five years later and it’s more than common place, it’s being used by default everywhere you look.

Service like BitBucket and GitHub have made it far easier to get started, to share and to collaborate. This can only be a good thing.

How and why was DIBI started?

I first got involved because I’d been to the Thinking Digital conference and came away fired up with ideas, but with very little practical I could do. Whilst working with @skipchris we pondered the need for a practical technology conference, ideally bringing designers and developers together. At the time it felt like there was a much harder line between backend developers and those working on the browser side. Over the years this has really changed, especially with technologies like Javascript really blurring the lines. We went to talk to Herb who runs Thinking Digital and 6 months later DIBI came about. Three years later we’ve had thousands of delegates, some really amazing speakers (all of their videos are available) and hopefully helped a tonne of learning and networking to happen.

Tickets for DIBI are still available. It’s an amazing conference and if you’re a designer or developer in the Northern lands you should definitely head up!

What’s more, Oli and the folks from DIBI have offered Ubelly readers an exclusive 15% discount if you use the code ‘ubelly_love_dibi’. Double win.

Published by Luke

Luke is one of Ubelly’s resident social media guys, occasionally switching hats for a bit of design. He is the in-house meme expert, uses foursquare a little too much and gets hot under the collar when it comes to design, usability and gorgeous code.

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