Pittsburgh Technical Council

Slippery Rock University to Host Global Web Conference

Slippery Rock University to Host Global Web Conference

Article Published: October 16, 2014

What do Paris, France, Winchester, England, Zurich, Switzerland, Toyko, Japan, San Francisco, Calif., and Slippery Rock University have in common? By the end of 2015, all will have served as hosts for the internationally acclaimed, high-tech Graphical Web Conference.

The Graphical Web is an annual, global conference showcasing the many new open source technologies that have become available for presenting visual information on the Web.

David Dailey, SRU professor of computer science, announced the 2015 conference would be hosted by SRU and held in Pittsburgh, Pa. Dailey's announcement came as part of this year's conference in Winchester, England sponsored by the British government's Office for National Statistics.

"SRU, has been involved as a sponsor along with organizations such as Google, Microsoft, Adobe, IBM, NVidia, Canon, Harvard University and the W3C, for the past several years. I had asked that SRU step up and host the conference for next year," Dailey said. "SRU agreed, and I think it will be an excellent opportunity to showcase the innovative things happening on our campus to both some of the heavy-hitters in the high-tech industry as well as potential students, their parents and regional teachers thinking about technology and their futures."

Talks are under way with downtown Pittsburgh hotels regarding specific dates for the event. No theme has yet been set.

This year's Aug. 27-30 conference, titled "Visual Storytelling, - using new technology to produce compelling visual narratives on the Web," was hosted in the historical capital city of England. The event drew nearly 175 experts in the field who attended and presented papers, talks, workshops and panel discussions.

"It was very successful, especially when measured by the level of high-tech experts from some very large corporations who attended," Dailey said. The 2015 conference is expected to draw some 175-200 participants from around the world.

Google, the multinational corporation that specializes in Internet-related services and products based in Mountain View, Calif., has been a platinum sponsor for several consecutive years, Dailey said. "They also operate a large branch operation in Pittsburgh and I hope they will be involved in the 2015 event as well."

The Graphical Web event spotlights best practice, new opportunities and future directions in the fast-changing world of Web graphics and appeals to a wide range of professionals throughout the technology, data visualization and graphics industries. In addition to presentations and keynote talks by industry experts, the conference offered training sessions covering the latest graphics technologies and techniques.

Dailey, Deborah Whitfield, SRU professor of computer science, along with two SRU computer science majors Zachary Petrusch from Pittsburg and Nick Botzer from Bethel Park represented SRU at this year's event.

Whitfield, Petrusch and Botzer presented their paper titled "Rapid prototyping of web site generation."

The paper, co-written by the presenters, Dailey and Tyler Bassett, a recent information technology graduate from Parker, detailed how to represent the structure of a planned website in a tabular format - a spreadsheet, but not the standard way we think of spreadsheets," Whitfield said.

"The 'spreadsheet' is viewable through the computer's browser and allows an individual to get a feel for what the website's layout will be when finished, but simultaneously allows viewers to determine how easily pages within the website can be accessed by site visitors. This allows changes to easily be made before the site is completed. Our research helps designers deal with flexibility in creating the site," she said.

Dailey presented a paper co-authored with Dan Miller, a May computer science graduate, and Hope Koutsouflakis, an information technology major from Slippery Rock, titled "Web Layout Parisien."

He said the paper and associated software primarily offered new ways of structuring Web pages.

"Historically a webpage was a rectangle that was broken down into smaller rectangles with content then placed in those rectangles. But with scalable vector graphics, there is no longer a need to work, or think, or be restrained to think in terms of rectangles."

He said the printing press primarily was responsible for setting work in the rectangular mode, but with SVG all of that can change.

SVG is a graphical standard becoming widely adopted in the world of graphics. The system uses vectors rather than pixels to create graphics. By using SVG, images can be enlarged to any size without loss of clarity. Dailey frequently uses the example of explaining how a postage stamp image can be enlarged to billboard size without distortion.

The SRU professor is a recognized expert in SVG, having written two books on the subject. His first book, "SVG Primer for Today's Browsers," published by the World Wide Web Consortium in 2008, earned him the 2010 SRU's President's Award for Scholarly and Creative Achievement. He also authored "Building Web Applications with SVG: Add Interactivity and Motion to Your Web Applications," published by Microsoft Press.

At the conference he also chaired a panel discussion at the conference on the future of graphical Web standards. Panelists included senior representatives of Microsoft, Adobe, Google, Canon, Nvidia and Mozilla, all well-respected, high-tech development companies as well as from the standards organizations W3C and Khronos, responsible for such open standards as HTML, CSS, SVG, OpenGL and WebGL

"The panel discussed the future of Web graphics, evolution of the associated standards and how various companies will be implementing such graphical standards within their web browsers and other products for both desktop and mobile environments," Dailey said.

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