- Chromium: <picture> nearly ready for the debutate’s ball – so coming soon in Opera, Chrome and Firefox too. Yay.
- Apple’s formal objection to reintroducing longdesc to HTML. Among accessibility consultants, opinion is divided. Patrick Lauke and Steve Faulkner tend to agree with Apple; John Foliot and Shelley Powers don’t. I agree with Steve.
- Whither Pointer Events? Browsers, Developers and Pointer Events Meeting Notes – Blink: “If we had Apple on board with PE, we’d still be on board too. The equation has shifted for us.” So Pointer Events wither?
- Google’s retreat on Pointer Events makes life harder for web developers. Yup.
- goog Prefixed Features – Blink-dev discussion about an API
googVendor Prefix which only works some of the time in Chrome (1% of Chrome starts, randomly, according to Tab Atkins.)
- Fortune 500 firms in 1955 vs. 2014; 89% are gone, and we’re all better off because of that dynamic ‘creative destruction’ – 89% of 1955 Fortune 500 companies are gone. This is why the Web & codecs should never be in the hands of one company.
- Opera: Second quarter 2014 presentation (PDF) – 100 million Android users (most in India, followed by China, Indonesia, Russia and Mexico), 4 million iOS (up 30% year on year), Opera Mini now default on Microsoft’s feature & Asha phones, pre-installed on all Micromax Android devices (India)
- Opera Mini for Android delays large downloads until you’re on WiFi – ” Opera Mini detects if you are downloading a file that is larger than 15MB, then asks if you want to download it now or wait until you are on WiFi. Later, when you get to your favorite coffee spot and connect to WiFi, Opera Mini will resume the download and notify you when it’s all done.”
- 10 Questions: Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera – Fortune magazine. “We at Opera want to help ensure that this industry is not dominated by a few large players. We want to secure the industry by being an independent player.”
- Fibonacci Flexbox Composer
- 0.25% of page views click on the Twitter or Facebook share buttons on Web pages says Luke Wroblewski. Is it worth the potential performance hit of such buttons?
- Preloading and deferred loading of scripts and other resources – @Hixie writes an email longer than War and Peace
- Most smartphone users download zero apps per month. Once you have social media, Spotfify, Skype, maps and a fart app, what more do you need?
- A Magna Carta for the web – Timbo’s TED talk to celebrate 25 years of the Web.
- A failed experiment: How LG screwed up its webOS acquisition – “LG had a policy in place to reward managers with bonuses or even promotions if their features were part of the final product. The result was a constant feature bloat, as everyone tried to add on one more thing.”
- The <picture> Tag Is Coming – what happened when Reddit users heard about responsive images. lulz. and omg.
Archive for the 'accessibility web standards' Category
Standards ‘n’ all that jazz
- HTTPS as a ranking signal – Secure sites to be ranked better in Google search results. Related Mozilla discussion: Switch generic icon to negative feedback for non-https sites. As I recently had to get a new credit card sent to me after inadvertently buying a ticket for Sagrada Familia over non-secure HTTP (on the official site), I like the Firefox idea.
- After 5 – “As we approach the point at which HTML5 will become a Recommendation, it is time to think about how HTML would best be handled next.” by Robin Berjon of W3C
- W3C Workshop on the Web of Things – Workshop report
- The Viking & The Lumberjack celebrate the Americans with Disabilities Act’s 20th/24th/25th Anniversary
- Apple objects to an HTML extension for longdesc. In March 2011 I wrote “if I read any more about bloody longdesc in #html5 I’m gonna set fire to my scrotum”. Bloody longdeZzzc.
- Understanding SVG Coordinate Systems & Transformations (Part 3) – Establishing New Viewports by @SaraSoueidan is (er) egg-cellent.
- User-agent string changes for Internet Explorer 11 – the fun continues.
- Looking for a Job? How’s Your COBOL? – “salaries for COBOL programmers are going up. The salary for top talent can reach six figures”
- Slug Solos – “Some guitarists’ solo faces look like they’ve just realised they’re holding giant slug creatures”.
- Meanwhile, on Craigslist, “You Farted During “Boyhood”“
French joke corner
Heard about the French chef who killed himself? He lost the huile d’olive.
“Coders and hackers, ready to change the world, and the hackathon is the perfect place. But things don’t always go as planned…” by @ourmaninjapan
Standards and tech
- reference for whether changing any given CSS property triggers layout, paint or composite by Paul Lewis
- The Web Manifest specification – HTML5 Doctor article by me and Mozilla’s Magical Mr Marcos. It’s an important spec, and a brilliantly witty article full of poetry and erudition.
- Let’s Talk About RTL – a useful guide to making sites with Arabic, Persian and Hebrew text by Ahmad Alfy
- W3C Web Payments – an overview Manu’s actually responding to the Bad Voltage podcast discussion, but even outside that context, this is an excellent overview of the initiative. Scroll down for more comments from Stuart Langridge and yours truly, too.
- filing bugs – Steve “Bogan” Faulkner’s shit is solid in this article about how to file browser bugs
- Understanding SVG Coordinate Systems & Transformations (Part 2) – The transform Attribute by Sara “no sleep til I’ve explained EVERYTHING” Soueidan
- How we make RWD sites load fast as heck by Scott Jehl. Long, detailed, excellent read.
- The Accessibility Tree: A Training Guide – “a single comprehensive explanation of what these layers of accessibility are, and how developers can recognize them during the process of development”
- An Alphabet of Accessibility Issues – a human, humane listing of people not disabilities by @kirabug
- From the Department of “No shit, Sherlock”, The Majority Of Today’s App Businesses Are Not Sustainable
- Why the Security of USB Is Fundamentally Broken – “These problems can’t be patched. We’re exploiting the very way that USB is designed.”
- Animals Sitting on Capybaras – you’ll never guess what this is about.
- New law in Russia: bloggers with more than 3,000 daily readers must register with the mass media regulator (BBC)
- Blasphemy in the Digital Age – Mapping the cases in Pakistan where people have been accused to have committed ‘blasphemy’ on the Internet.
Lonely hearts’ corner
Readers who are single may find this 80s dating video helpful. Invite me to the wedding, please.
News is just in from Microsoft that Internet Explorer on Windows Phone 8.1 Update will support legacy webkit-prefixed features.
Now, obviously I can’t speak for Microsoft or the IE team (Bill Gates despises me since I beat him in a nude limbo competition at Patrick Lauke’s birthday disco a few years back) but this brings a wry smile to my little face. It fell to me to write the blog post announcing that Opera was going to support some -webkit- prefixed CSS and be hated by the Internet for the 2.6 seconds it takes before someone more evil pops up.
Those in the know could guess this was coming. At a CSS Working Group meeting in February 2012 (search the minutes for “Vendor Prefixes”) this exchange took place:
tantek [Firefox]: At this point we’re trying to figure out which and how many webkit prefix properties to actually implement support for in Mozilla … Currently we have zero. Zero is no longer an option for us.
Florian [Opera], Sylvain [Microsoft]: Zero is not an option for us anymore either.
The reason that IE are doing it now, and we did it then, is simple. WebKit browsers, like other browsers, shipped experimental CSS with a prefix. When the CSS property was considered stable, all browsers apart from WebKit removed support for the prefixed version. WebKit browsers, however, did not remove the prefixed version, supporting it in parallel with the unprefixed syntax so that sites that had been made before the “standardising” of the property would not break.
Moreover, lazy developers only tested on WebKit browsers, so didn’t even add the -ms- prefix for Microsoft, -moz- prefix for Firefox or -o- prefix for Opera, so those browsers got a markedly worse experience.
At Opera, we did what we could with a relatively small team to contact site owners and developers and ask them to change it, but there were simply too many to deal with. It was much more effective simply to “support” those -webkit- prefixes that were the analogue of things we already supported; for example, we simply aliased -webkit-border-radius to border-radius.
Magically, lots of iPhone-only sites looked a lot better in Opera. As you can see from the screenshot comparisons in the IE blogpost, the same happens for them. It’s difficult to argue for ideological purity when a simple aliasing makes the user experience so demonstrably better – and one thing I’ve learned at Opera is most users don’t care two hoots for ideology if their favourite site works better in another browser.
It’s tempting to blame the mess on lazy developers, and they are without doubt at fault for enjoying the advantages of the Web without respecting its core principle of cross-browser compatibility. But some of the blame lies with WebKit developers, and (to a lesser extent) with the CSS Working Group for blessing vendor prefixes (though of course, browser makers just did this sort of crap anyway: scrollbar-face-color lurked around for years in IE without a prefix).
I’m very glad that the Blink rendering engine (which Opera, my employer, now uses) has abandoned vendor prefixes (and Firefox appears to have done the same.)
But, as managers around the world like to say when laying staff off because of bad management decisions, “we are where we are”. Legacy -webkit- prefixes hide in the dim recesses of sites used every day, and users deserve good experiences.
So good luck to the IE team; I’d do the same, because I’ve done the same. But I stand by my poetic words of 1 September 2012:
Vendor prefixes are like skidmarks on the underwear of web standards: sometimes unavoidable, but best washed and rinsed out as soon as possible.
- Responsive Images: Use Cases and Documented Code Snippets to Get You Started by Andreas Bovens
- Ten CSS One-Liners to Replace Native Apps a look at some current and proposed CSS (Further comments on Hacker News), by Håkon Wium Lie (disclosure: my CTO). CSS multi-column is already implemented; there is a Blink-dev thread on Intent to Implement: CSS Figures.
- Navigation Transitions Specification – apply a stylesheet to a page when leaving it for another page. Initially I thought this rather gimmicky, but it’s useful in making web UX closer to “native”
- WebVTT Released in Firefox 31 – and the web just got a little more accessible.
- You May Be Losing Users If Responsive Web Design Is Your Only Mobile Strategy by Maximiliano Firtman. Food for thought, although I’m not sure I agree with all his conclusions.
- How I Got The UK Government To Adopt ODF by Terence Eden. Yay, open formats.
- W3C Web Payments Activity Update – “we believe that we have now the critical mass… We will now start the formal W3C process”. If I were worked for a bank, I’d be watching this; better to be disrupted by the web and be a big, incumbent player with a hand in guiding it all.
- Verizon Says It Wants to Kill Net Neutrality to Help Blind, Deaf, and Disabled People .. riiight..
- 10 Tricks to Appear Smart During Meetings
- 31 Adorable Slang Terms for Sexual Intercourse from the Last 600 Years – I think that “Fadoodling” (1611) should be immediately re-instated. However, I’m not sure that “join giblets” counts as “adorable”.
- Hot summer could wipe out Goth population, experts warn – very alarming.
Disclosure stuff: I was sent a free copy of this by the publishers. From 2000-2002 I worked with its author. I currently work with Mathias Bynens, the book’s technical reviewer (but didn’t know this until after reading it).
The book looks beautiful. High quality paper, colour images, with real care and attention lavished on the layout and the words. I’m no quivering aethete designer, but I found it pleasurable to read even though it’s a weighty 600 page tome. Each page (or spread) is its own discrete infolump so it’s easy to out down and come back to.
It starts light – defining events, objects, methods and properties, showing the relationship between HTML, CSS and JS, and with a section on Progressive Enhancement (hoorah). However, I was slightly peturbed that the first worked example uses
document.write. I can see why you’d do this – it allows you to show something, but without having to muck about appending to the DOM or using
innerHTML but it didn’t feel particularly good practice (especially as
innerHTML are introduced soon after, anyway.) In the author’s defence, he does note that this is Considered Naughty.
Elsewhere, we see lots of workarounds and IE-specific aspects of the DOM. I’m comfortable with these being there; we have to live in the real world, and I think that a book that ignores this does a disservice to its readers – it’s right to equip someone to make pages work on IE.wtf or understand what’s happening in older/ inherited scripts.
The book moves briskly after the traditional introduction to loops, variables and other syntax. By page 270 we’re looking at event listeners, including IE5-8, event delegation, mutation events (with a note that mutation observers are coming, but no more than that.)
Chapter 7 begins with jQuery. Again, there are times when jQuery is entirely appropriate. What’s good is that this book teaches JS concepts first, and always keeps the two separate. (I get tired of “JS” tutorials that are actually about jQuery.)
The rest of the book romps through “HTML5″ APIs, JSON, common UI widgets and – usefully – debugging. Attention is paid to pointing out what’s standard and what isn’t, what’s vanilla JS and what isn’t. Progressive enhancement, accessibility and separation of concerns is are kept in mind throughout. This is good. You can see the table of contents.
On dev.Opera, the man we call “Bovo the bachata boss” just published Responsive Images: Use Cases and Documented Code Snippets to Get You Started. It’s excellent; go and read it. (It isn’t a primer to the whole concept; we have one of those in the works.)
We umm-ed and ah-ed about what order to present the examples – “most likely use-case first” or “simplest to gnarliest syntax” order? We eventually decided the second, because the full syntax can be a bit scary.
But don’t that put you off. Responsive images addresses 4 different use-cases. There are also new constructs like
srcset to wrap your bonce around. So the syntax for addressing all four at once is, at first sight, pretty complex.
But, like the most complex of the 24 English tenses, the Future Passive Perfect Continuous tense*, you’ll probably rarely need it.
And if my dull brain can understand it, yours can.
*I used it once, when complaining about how long a repair shop was taking with my guitar. “By our next gig, it will have been being mended for three weeks!”
- “Intent to ship” status applied to the <picture> element in Chromium – HUZZAH!
- <picture> element completed in Firefox Nightly – HURRAY!
- Responsive images:
sizesnow in WebKit nightly (but will Apple turn it on in Safari?)
- m. sites, or responsive sites – which is faster? – “RWD sites can indeed compete with m dot sites in terms of load time”
- Google: Promoting modern websites for modern devices in Google search results – “Starting today, we will indicate to searchers when our algorithms detect pages that may not work on their devices.”
- Clipping in CSS and SVG – The clip-path Property and <clipPath> Element by Sara Soueidan
- Understanding SVG Coordinate Systems & Transformations (Part 1) – The viewport, viewBox, & preserveAspectRatio, also by Sara
- Installing Opera Mini on Your Computer – testing in Opera Mini without a Java featurephone
- <dialog> element demo – HTML has native dialogs, that are keyboard accessible, and don’t require JS focus management or fragile z-index mucking around
- HTML Table Generator
- UK broadband not fit for purpose, says business group (BBC)
- GOV.UK design patterns – “A wiki for people working on GOV.UK services to discuss GOV.UK design patterns and share ideas and experiences. Contributions from other designers welcome.”
- How to Secure your WordPress Website
Bonus video content!
“My job is to make sure that the web wins” – The Awwwards people interviewed me and my extra chins in Paris in February.
I mused about this on stage at Fronteers 2013, and was reminded of it when reading Stephanie Reiger’s excellent slidedeck The future of media queries?, specifically slide 42 which I reproduce with Stephanie’s permission.
Stephanie suggests a mechanism of telling a user agent to render a navigation list as a native component, so it looks native across a range of devices, because it is native. (We could bikeshed about the markup and whether it should be in the CSS, but that doesn’t matter.)
I get that developers want their sites to appear native on the host device. Presumably users like native feel, too; there’s a reason why users show a huge preference for native apps over web apps, and one of those reasons is that native apps
allow the user to use device-specific hand gestures. Android and iOS are gradually developing different conventions for interaction, and a native app responds the way its user expects. User Experience Stack Exchange
So Stephanie’s idea makes perfect sense to me.
But what puzzles me is the fact that for ages designers and developers have also desperately tried to style away native controls. For example, recently Nicholas Zakas said
Full video game engine with 3D rendering and real-world physics in a browser? Yes. Ability to style <select> dropdowns in a browser? No.
— Nicholas C. Zakas (@slicknet) July 2, 2014
and was retweeted hundreds of times. Nicholas isn’t wrong to want this, and this wish isn’t new; when Safari first came out, designers were close to burning their moleskines because they couldn’t make buttons in corporate orange and heliotrope. When I first started showing HTML5 form controls at conferences, without fail I’d be asked how they can be styled. There are endless articles and scripts that painstakingly take real selects, hide them more or less accessibly, then recreate them so they don’t look native on any device.
But why this urge to re-style page elements that end-users are familiar with? You’ll be shocked to learn that I’m not actually trained as a designer – so what am I failing to understand? Or is it that we love native look and feel, except when we don’t?
UPDATE 21 July 2014: Aaron Gustafson wrote an interesting response to my post: The “Native” vs. “Stylable” Tug of War.
- Grid Style Sheets – “GSS reimagines CSS layout & replaces the browser’s layout engine with one that harnesses the Cassowary Constraint Solver — the same algorithm Apple uses to compute native layout”. Imagine if this were not a polyfill, but baked into the browser, with normal CSS as a fallback.
- CSS will-changeプロパティについて知っておくべきこと – Japanese translation of Sara Soueidan’s CSS will-change article
- Net neutrality: what it is and why you should care (in comic – ahem, “graphic novel” – format)
- Resource Hints – draft spec defines preconnect, preload, prefetch, and prerender hints that the developer, or the server generating or delivering the resources, can use
to optimise performance
- Unfashionably profitable – Rachel “Grandma” Andrew explains why her successful business relies on PHP rather than something cool.
- Web 2024 – A response to Robin Berjon’s post – Mozilla’s Magical Mr Marcos Manifest dabbles in dystopian standards visions.
- Native Versus Web: A Moment In Time – “the web represents independence from platform owners. It offers incredible freedom to build what you to want build, and to ship when you are ready to ship, without any gatekeepers.”
- Pinboard Turns Five – “I enjoy the looking-glass aspect of our industry, where running a mildly profitable small business makes me a crazy maverick not afraid to break all the rules.”
- Bad Voltage podcast – “an amusing take on technology, Open Source, politics, music, and anything else we think is interesting”
- School aged children who were lied to were more likely to lie and cheat themselves. via the Useful Science blog
- Lettuce See the Future: Japanese Farmer Builds High-Tech Indoor Veggie Factory – veg grows 2.5 times faster, waste down from 50% to 10% of harvest, water usage to just 1 percent of the amount needed by outdoor fields
- Song: The Ballad of the Printer ♪ by the inimitable @ourmaninjapan