Ex-Opera colleague and now Mozillian Anne van Kesteren writes a splendid little article today in which he says “I want to change the world so that the operating system is the browser and its app market the web” and describes in a little detail how.
I wholeheartedly agree with his aim, but I express my aim slightly differently: I want to change the world so the browser is the Operating System, the app market the web, and I can run any browser (indeed, any software) on a device I own.
LargeLocalStorage LargeLocalStorage bridges browser incompatibilities to give you a large capacity (up to several GB when authorized by the user) key-value store in the browser (IE 10, Chrome, Safari 6+, Firefox, Opera).
Responsive images – end of year report It’s nearly two years since I suggested a <picture> element as a strawman proposal as a way to solve the problem of responsive images, so let’s have a look at how we’re doing.
The second operating system hiding in every mobile phone – “a small operating system that manages everything related to radio … . Put a compromised base station in a crowded area…and you can remotely turn on microphones, cameras, place rootkits, place calls/send SMS messages to expensive numbers, and so on.”
Talking of unicode, What’s new in Unicode 7.0 ? – Reversed Hand with Middle Finger Extended”, “Reversed Victory Hand” (British equivalent of the finger), and “Raised Hand with Part Between Middle and Ring Fingers” (live long and prosper) and “MAN IN BUSINESS SUIT LEVITATING” as well as many, many others
Streams API (Editors Draft) “provides an API for representing binary and string data in web applications as a Stream object, as well as programmatically building and reading its contents.”
Long Term Web Semantics by Alex Russell. “Something irks me about the phrase “semantic HTML”. TL;DR – semantic elements have to do something; Semantic Web is not going to happen; Web Components are the future.
If Molly Holzschlag has helped you (and if you’re a webdev, she has), please help her pay for her chemotherapy. And then have a think about the morals of a first world society that doesn’t provide this to its citizens.
Exposing privileged APIs to web content – similar to the above: “a discussion on the challenges we face in exposing privileged APIs to web content and a proposal for exposing such APIs to web pages by mitigating the risks inherent in doing so” by Rich Tibbett (Opera)
Enabling new types of web user experiences – “In the court of public opinion, the war between native apps and web apps appears to be over. Even though the web world is valiantly and consistently improving the web platform, the world seems to have moved on, embracing and rewarding native apps.”
What is EME (Encrypted Media Extensions)? asks (then answers) Mozilla’s Henri Sivonen: “soon the video DRM capability will be the only thing that Silverlight and Flash have but the HTML/CSS/JS platform doesn’t”
After convincing my Member of Parliament, John Hemming, of the folly of Cameron’s plan to censor the web in the UK (sorry, I mean filter the web), he’s been doing some digging with the ISPs, writing to them to ask whether they plan to store your opt-ins privately on your router, or centrally.
He’s published the answers to his emails to BT, Sky and Virgin. BT were evasive, and TalkTalk didn’t formally respond, but it’s pretty clear they’ll store them in a centralised database. What could possibly go wrong with the government having access to a list of all those who want to see porn or “extremist” sites? It’s not like we live in a surveillance society, is it?
John and I would like to publish a fuller list. If you are a customer of an ISP that’s not on the list, please email them and ask them if they plan to store your opt-ins on a centralised database, what categories they intend to filter (eg, porn, extremism, alcohol, drugs) and how they will categorise them (eg, who will decide whether BNP/ EDL sites are “extremist”?) and paste it into a comment below. Please include the date and time the reply was sent, and who signed it (so we can double-check before publishing on John’s blog).
Browser vendors agree that srcset + DPR-switching is the right initial step forward (i.e., the 2x, 3x, etc. syntax).
Agreement to then consider srcset + viewport size after some implementation experience (possibly drop height syntax from srcset spec). If not implemented, Width/Height syntax to possibly be marked at risk in srcset spec.
Browser makers acknowledge the art-direction use case, but still think <picture> is not the right solution.
Adding new HTTP headers to the platform, as Client-Hints proposes to do, has had negative impact in the past – so Client Hints might need to be reworked at bit before it becomes more acceptable to browser verndors.
Browsers that have “retina” displays will choose retina.png as they have 2 CSS pixels to one physical pixel. Browsers that aren’t retina, or don’t understand the new syntax, fall back to the good old src attribute.
The Cabinet Office’s Open Standards Board is recommending open standards technology. The first two to be approved are HTTP/1.1 and Unicode UTF-8. Francis Maude, the Minister, allegedly said “open standards will give us interoperable software, information and data in government and will reduce costs by encouraging competition, avoiding lock-in to suppliers or products and providing more efficient services”.
This may not be revelatory to those of us in the web world, but it’s a Good Thing for the nation.
I had the pleasure of hearing Paul Arnett (now of Twitter, previously of gov.uk) talking about the gov.uk initiative at From The Front conference a few days ago, and thought it was a sign of schizophrenia that the same government that can allow subject experts make a world-leading governmental portal is the same government that disregards experts and its own consultation in wanting to censor the web.
I realise now that it’s the old Tory DNA: the belief in encouraging competition by economic liberalism, reducing bureaucracy, while remaining socially authoritarian and reeling from one moral panic to the other. So no change there.
Font Hacking – “primer on extracting, deconstructing, altering and replacing letterforms”. With good jokes.
W3C Launches Web and Mobile Interest Group – “that is chartered to accelerate the development of Web technology so that it becomes a compelling platform for mobile applications and the obvious choice for cross platform development” starring Jo Rabin (John Steed), Marcos Caceras (Mike Gambit), Natasha Rooney (Purdey).
Responsive Web Design is Solid Gold by Jason Grigsby – “I’m now firmly on the side that there is no mobile context. We have abundant data that shows that people use their mobile devices indoors and for a wide variety of things.”
Then, HTML5 came about and changed the definition of the <cite> element to explicitly disallow citing the name of people. This was a mistake: HTML4 allowed it, so it broke backwards compatibility. Millions of WordPress websites used <cite> to mark up the names of commenters, so it made a very common use case suddently non-conforming. Anyway, no validator could possibly know whether <cite>Jane Eyre</cite> was citing the book or the person.
But, anyway, as part of learning HTML5 I was determined to “do it right” so I switched to using
because <footer> is explictly allowed inside a blockquote, and the spec says “A footer typically contains information about its section such as who wrote it, links to related documents, copyright data, and the like.”, which seemed highly appropriate.
However, Hixie nixed this idea; apparently, this was for quoting a footer rather than attributing a quotation. (What about quoting a header?). Also, the metadata about the blockquote isn’t actually part of the blockquote.
As my fellow HTML5 Doctor, Oli Studholme has showed, people seldom quote exactly – so sacrosanctity of the quoted text isn’t a useful ideal – and in print etc, citations almost always appear as part of the quotation – it’s highly conventional.
and that’s fine, but requires more markup, and potentially more complex CSS.
The advantage of cite-inside-blockquote is that it’s obvious what refers to what, because the citation is nested inside the quotation. Without CSS, browsers tend to italicise the citation, so it’s visually obvious that it’s not part of the quotation, but it is indented with the quotation as is very common with print. Also, crucially, it’s a very common markup pattern used by authors, as Steve Faulker has showed.
Once again, I propose that the definition of <cite> be reverted to include the real-world use for marking up names of those cited, and that the spec note that cite-inside-blockquote is one way (although not the only way) to link a quotation with the work or the person being quoted.
WebKit has (partially) implemented a new attribute to our ancient chum <img> called srcset that allows authors to send a high-res image only to browsers that have high-resolution displays. It looks like this:
This implementation doesn’t have the horrible “pretend Media Queries” syntax that sources close to Tim Berners-Lee* called “like, a total barfmare, man”, but this is potentially a great leap forward; it saves bandwidth for the servers, stops people downloading gigantic images that they don’t need, is easy to understand and has graceful fallback.
Let’s hope it turns up in Blink, Trident and Gecko soon.
* “sources close to” is UK newspaper code for “we just made it up”.
Graceful degradation of SVG images in unsupporting browsers
In The Downward Spiral of Microdata, nice Mr Manu Sporny predicts the death of “HTML5″ Microdata and the triumph of RDFa Lite now that both WebKit and Blink have dropped support for the Microdata API (which allowed JS access to Microdata).