- 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.
The BBC reports that Sex education should start at seven, Lib Dems say.
Of course 7 year old kids should get sex education at school; puberty is from 8 years old for girls, 9 for boys.
The whole point of education is to prepare kids for life, so you have to tell them about stuff first (hint: that’s what “prepare” means.)
Sex education results in fewer sexually transmitted diseases and fewer unwanted pregnancies. This is not only good for the people involved, but is better for the whole nation – which makes it excellent public policy.
However, “parents will retain the right to pull children under 15 out of sex education lessons” according to the Daily Mail. Why? Do we let them take kids out of Maths or Geography classes?
There should be no opt-out from parents trying to foist their religion or sexual hangups onto their children. Education > indoctrination.
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
I really enjoy Brian Patten’s love poetry; he writes of joy and sadness and how the two can mingle, while never using words that you wouldn’t hear in an everyday conversation. He’s the only living poet whose works I regularly raid for my song lyrics. So when my battered old copy of his Love Poems fell apart, I invested in a shiny copy of his new Collected Love Poems.
Curiously, in a volume called “Collected Poems”, one of them is missing. It was in “Love Poems”, substantially revised from a previously published version, and revised for the better. But I can only assume Patten was still dissatisfied and so dropped it.
Because I’m talking online to some people about his poems (and who have bought his newest book on my recommendation), I’m copying the poem here so they have the text. Brian – if you want me to remove it, I will. But I think you’re mistaken; it’s a lovely piece. (And, sorry, but I stole the blue dress image for an unrecorded song called “The girl in the room”.)
The fruitful lady of dawn
She walks across the room and opens the skylight
thinking: “perhaps a bird will drop in
and teach me how to sing.”
She cannot speak easily of what she feels
nor can she fathom out
whose dawn her heart belongs in.
Among the men she knows
she knows few
who understand her freedom.
Baffled by her love and by
how she withdraws her love,
she remains an enigma,
and under the skylight
puts on her red dress calling it a blue one.
She approaches breakfast as she would a lover -
She is alive,
and one of her body’s commonest needs
I have made holy.
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!”
I want to get the men who shot down MH17, and the leaders of Hamas and Israel, and repeatedly punch them in their faces until their noses are smashed. I would enjoy it.
The horrible, bitter irony of this is not lost on me.