Archive for May, 2011

CSS Regions, CSS Exclusions

At Web Directions and Opera’s very own pubgeekmeetupaganza standards.next, Stephanie Rewis and Peter Gasston discussed some of the new proposals for layout in CSS, including the CSS Regions and associated CSS Exclusions specs written by Adobe. For the first time, layout is “unboxed” and text can flow in (or around) arbitrary shapes.

Part of me thinks “yay, cool!”. The other part of me thinks that it’s a shame that some designers still haven’t yet come to terms with the idea that the Web’s not print, and still hanker after pixel-perfect layouts that mimic highly-designed magazines rather than design for a new medium.

CSS Regions are doubtless coming for iPads and other such devices where glossy magazine publishers feel safely DRM’d away from the nasty open Web, so we might as well get used to them.

At the moment, the regions have to be manually expressed as a series of points, but it’s easy to imagine some sort of CMS that allows the page author to upload a page’s background image which is then overlaid with a canvas/ SVG-based app that allows the user to trace arbitrary paths on the image (like Photoshop’s lasso tools) or choose primitive shapes such as circles, rectangles etc, and then the paths can be exported as CSS declarations.

Another useful feature that people have suggested would be the ability to tell the browser via CSS to wrap text using the alpha channel of an image so you wouldn’t need manually to define paths.

You can try Adobe’s prototype. It’s all clever stuff.

I’m looking forward to debugging pages laid out in a combination of floats, absolute positioning, grid layout, template layout, flex-box, CSS tables, multicolumns, regions and exclusions. And I bet you are too.

Happy birthday, Amnesty

Happy 50th birthday, Amnesty!

Since meeting loads of quakers on CND marches in the mid-80s, I’ve always shared the aims of Amnesty and, since becoming financially solvent, I’ve always made sure they get a hearty share of my pay packet.

But I do wish that Amnesty would drop its campaigns on abortion and the death penalty.

Personally, I’m in favour of a woman’s right to choose, and completely opposed to the death penalty. (Saying “killing people is so wrong that if you do it we will kill you” seems morally and logically indefensible.)

But I know dozens of people who left Amnesty, or tell me they can’t support it because of these campaigns. I hope that the organisation will get back to its core message of freedom of conscience and return to a position of neutrality on abortion and the death penalty so that it ceases to alienate potential supporters.

Reading list

HTML5

Other Web

Lulz

Opera Dragonfly

The big news was that Opera Dragonfly was released. I made a video to introduce it to you (best viewed full screen):

Opera Dragonfly tour (8 mins) from Bruce Lawson on Vimeo.

On the death of Bin Laden

I’m increasingly uncomfortable with the whole sordid story.

  • If the Pakistani military didn’t know he was hiding in a garrison town for years, it’s terrifying that they have nukes as they’re way too incompetent to look after them.
  • If the Pakistani military did know he was hiding in a garrison town for years, it’s terrifying that they have nukes as they’re obviously no friend to us. They’re also a danger to neighbouring India, a democracy with 20% of the world’s population. (I had originally written “we should take their nukes off them”, but with the current fad for invading countries, it’s a dangerous thing to call for!)
  • If Bin Laden was unarmed (as the Americans say) what type of resisting arrest did he need to do to make it impossible for 20 highly-trained special forces members to incapacitate him and take him alive?
  • Where’s the evidence it was him as there are no photos and he was buried at sea? Surely the aim is to demoralise his supporters, but without proof that he’s dead it’s less effective.
  • I object to the phrase “justice is done”. The desire for revenge is an understandable emotion, but it’s a destructive one. Summary execution is not the same thing as justice; it’s murder. The triumphalism is ugly and misplaced.
  • I fear that the world is more dangerous after the murder of Bin Laden by the USA rather than safer. And I have to fly to the USA next month.