Implementation Focus: Confirmit
Einar Paul Qvale works as a front-end developer for the Norwegian company Confirmit, an online survey software provider.
What is Confirmit? Tell us a little bit about the company.
Confirmit has been around since 1996, and we are now over 250 employees globally, with offices in Guildford, London, Oslo, New York, San Francisco, Moscow and Yaroslavl.
Confirmit targets Global 5000 companies and Market Research agencies worldwide with a wide range of software products for feedback / data collection, panel management, data processing, analysis, and reporting. Customers include British Airways, Countrywide Financial, Dow Chemical, Experian, GlaxoSmithKline, Halifax Bank of Scotland, Hewlett Packard, Intrawest, Ipsos, Nielsen, The NPD Group, Safeco Insurance, StatoilHydro, Symantec and Virgin Media.
The goal of Confirmit as a company is to revolutionize the survey, panel and reporting process through automation and integration. The goal of the R&D department is to support this by creating a high quality product that is capable of tackling current and future challenges in the market.
From a frontend engineering perspective, what are the core challenges you face in your work on Confirmit?
The core challenges we face from a front-end engineering perspective would have to be the fact that most of our developers are in fact not front-end engineers. YUI helps us a lot in this area, and does so in a manner that in most instances are transparent to the developers. The less they need to know about how for instance attaching events differs from browser to browser, the better. We can't all be browser geeks in the R&D department, but we should not have to be in order to be productive.
Now that browsers are evolving so quickly (as opposed to the first half of the decade), having a code-base that is ready for the current and future browsers is definitely the biggest challenge in creating a rich web interface.
How are you using YUI in your site today?
We are using YUI in almost every area of the product. The core library is deeply integrated into the survey authoring and reporting platforms (Yahoo, Dom, Event, JSON, Selector), and we are also using the Connection Manager a lot for XHR/Ajax.
Confirmit Express (the entry-level product for survey authoring) is also using the Animation Utility heavily.
In using YUI for these projects, what aspects of the library have been particularly pleasing to work with and powerful in solving problems?
My personal favorite components would have to be Event and Connection. Dustin Diaz has a great article on how and why you should use the Event Utility; it should be very educational for anyone who hasn't had the time to get to know the Event Utility in detail.
When it comes to the Connection Manager, I love the fact that it does exactly what you need, and nothing more. Make a request, specify the http method, specify the form to send if needed, and provide a handler for the response. It’s not doing anything too fancy, but it’s all very nice and clean, resulting in very readable and maintainable code.
What's the most innovative thing you've done with YUI in the current release of Confirmit?
What would you like to see YUI developers improve on in upcoming releases of YUI?
It would be great to have some chaining functionality in YUI. We are using DEDChain internally as a chaining wrapper for YUI, and it does the job. But I would really like to see what the YUI team could come up with if they put their brilliant minds to it (since this will be included in YUI 3 I guess I will get my wish).
Some more skins would also be great. The SAM skin is excellent, but it would be good to have more than one to choose from, especially a darker blue one and perhaps a white on black skin.
I am also really looking forward to seeing the lazy load syntax in YUI 3, it seems like a very nice way of working with the different YUI components that you don’t want to have preloaded in the initial page delivered to the browser.