- Flexbox: changes since the previous spec
- Don’t use <picture> (most of the time) by Jason Grigsby. TL;DR: if you just want resolution switching (smaller image to non-“retina” devices, big image only to high-dpi screens), just use
<img src="lores.jpg" srcset="hires.jpg 2x">
- Using ServiceWorker in Chrome today and, indeed, other Chromium browsers. Excellent article by Jank Architect.
- Better @font-face with Font Load Events by Zach Leatherman
- The initial work for Manifest in Chromium M39 is done, and will hopefully be in Firefox OS 2.2. (Explainer article.)
- A Greater Voice for Individuals in W3C: Tell Us What You Would Value
- Primary Key issue on iOS8 implementation of IndexedDb. “when you have two different object stores in the same indexeddb, primary key values appear to be “shared” across all stores.” hurray.
- Accessibility issues with html5 <footer>: not exposed; should be exposed with an IA2 footer role and xml-roles/implicit aria role of contentinfo in some circumstances – fixed in Chromium.
- Brum Tech Scene – That nice @sil came round to my house and videoed me answering his questions about the Birmingham tech scene and biscuits.
- When can a High Court grant an injunction to trade mark holders against ISPs to block access to “infringing” websites? – Open Rights Group on an important test-case
- Support the independents “If you use a product that has a free version and a paid version, paying out for that “pro” or commercial license even if perhaps you could get away with not doing so, puts cash into the company, helps to ensure the survival and development of the product” says Rachel Andrew.
- LULZ: “JSONx is an IBM® standard format to represent JSON as XML.” – for those who want the joys of JSON with the piquant frisson of XML. Who doesn’t?
- EXTRA LULZ: Even Apple didn’t want my iPhone 6 Plus – unusual satire piece from The Verge, spoofing a cryPhone user whose emotional rollercoaster (caused by the new device being slightly bigger than his other one, which is why he bought it) culminates with the hilarious “I spent all this money on something that I thought would make me happy, and instead I felt like trash”. Genius.
Archive for September, 2014
- Web Components punch list – “Considerations for web component and custom control design: If your control has the stuff below covered, excellent! If not then please implement it before shouting to the world about it being the next big thing.” by Steve Faulkner
- Brum Tech Scene – On Monday, Stuart Langridge launched a series of interviews and conversations with interesting people doing interesting things in the Birmingham tech community. First is Simon Jenner, Head of Oxygen Startups and co-founder of Silicon Canal. He videoed me, too; coming soon.
- Who is “Joe Developer”? asks @johnfoliot. The background is the “living standards” vs “W3C snapshot” holy war. It’s a good question.
- What next for HTML? – now HTML5 is a W3C Proposed Recommendation, how should the language be further developed? Put your questions to editor Robin Berjon for an HTML5 Doctor interview
- The URL mess on the competing standards for defining how URLs work, by Larry Masinter
- Chromium: Web Application Manifest implementation chugs along (@marcosc & I wrote an explainer)
- All You Need To Know About Vertical-Align – “vertical-align can be a real scumbag sometimes. I set myself the target to clarify the behavior once and for all”
- Opera Mini to be pre-installed on all upcoming Micromax Android devices available in India, Russia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal
- Getting Started with Sass by Laura Kalbag
- iOS 8 and iPhone 6 for web developers and designers: next evolution for Safari and native webapps – they kept it quiet, but there’s a new phone and OS from FruitCo. Maximiliano Firtman does some testing so you don’t have to.
- Life Changed Much? – “Occasionally, new technology changes lives. But mostly it doesn’t.” by Tim Bray
I was lucky enough to visit Berlin very briefly for the Extensible Web Summit. It was organised, it seems, by members of W3C (but was not an officially branded W3C) and hosted by Beuth University, Berlin. Lunch was provided by Google, beers afterwards by Yandex (although I missed those as I’d taken the inexplicable decision to fly back straight after rather than hobnob with the great, the good, and Chaals.) Thanks to all organisations.
This isn’t a record of the day; the event notes were crowd-scribed. It’s my preliminary thoughts about the concept of the “extensible web”.
As far as I can deduce – because the term “extensible web” wasn’t actually defined on the day – it’s about giving/ exposing primitives so developers can extend various parts of the platform. (Read The Extensible Web Manifesto for a longer description and statement of intent.)
In the current world, we wait for something like Appcache to be specified, then implemented and then scoffed at. This can take a long time, and we might not get what we want; Hixie told me “The appcache API is another big mistake. It’s the best example of not understanding the problem before designing a solution … Appcache works great if you want to do what it was designed for, but it turns out most people want to do something different enough that appcache feels horrible to them”.
But while it’s good to explain magic, I feel we need to be careful about using the word “magic” pejoratively. A lot of the success of the Web was that simple HTML tags (<a>, <input>) made magic happen. You write <img src=”vomiting-otter.jpg”> and a vomiting otter appears; you don’t need to worry about how it gets there over the network, its caching, its format, etc. Similar with <input> – you just code a reasonably obvious word in angle brackets and it works.
As Steve Faulkner notes, a lot of the success of accessibility on the Web is/was that simple HTML elements makes accessibility happen.
Service Workers, and the spec that I’ve been closer to, <picture>, are great examples of listening to developers (partnership). Service Worker came out of a meeting between Opera, Mozilla, Google, BBC, Financial Times etc and was specified by Google, Mozilla and Samsung (and many others). <picture> came about because developers demanded it, even when the browser vendors and standards bodies didn’t care.
How can developers make their voices heard? It’s true that browser vendors are OBSESSED with solving developer’s problems. If we don’t, you’ll make native apps, and then browsers disappear, we default on our mortgages, our partners leave us for Apple employees and our hamsters starve. None of us want this to happen. So we try to listen.
Then there is the question of how developers can participate. The bravery barrier to entry for many of the mailing lists is already too high – I periodically get emails from people asking me to propose a feature or ask a question on a list as a proxy because lists are scary places.
W3C has set up a Specification forum where you can ask questions about specs/ propose a feature. Read around it to see if anyone else has a similar proposal, and if appropriate, add comments to that before you set up a new thread. Use Mozilla’s guidelines WebAPI Design Guidelines and please remember that use-cases are much better than a fully-worked out proposed syntax.
I’m enthused about the Extensible Web manifesto and the progress we’ve already made, eg baking popular jQuery-like syntax into browser engines via the Selectors API, getting our hands on the network with Service Worker, and the heady new world of Web Components. We need to ensure that all devs who want to can participate by allowing ease of collaboration, courteous discourse. And it would be perilous to forget that the declarative web reduces the barrier to entry and enhances accessibility.
- A feature history of the modern Web Platform When and where selected new Web-platform features were first specified, post-HTML4 and post-CSS2.1, by @zcorpan (Opera’s Simon Pieters)
- Grid by Example – simple usage examples for the CSS3 Grid Layout Module, by Rachel Andrew.
- How a new HTML element will make the Web faster (arstechnica). First article about <picture> in the wider tech press?
- Now that <picture> is almost there, RICG is turning its attention to Use Cases and Requirements for Element Queries.
- “our own inability to make accessibility engaging, interesting or even exciting to people outside our field” – mail to WebAIM mailing list. I entirely agree.
- OS Battle – Porn by the Platform – “11% of Pornhub desktop users arrive using Apple’s Mac OSX while Net Applications reports that only 6.64% of desktop computers currently run OSX.” (No naughty images, but maybe NSFW if your boss is silly.)
- Responsive Web Design podcast: Capital One’s redesign – “We saw within the first two months an 8 percent increase in product conversion on mobile devices and 17 percent on tablets.”
- Opera chums become members of Chromium Security Group – the first external company to be accepted.
- Making the web “just work” with any input: Mouse, Touch, and Pointer Events– Imagine a crazy world in which developers didn’t have modality-specific code just to listen to input!
- Notes on notes (of smart people) about web components by the Henry Kissinger of Accessibility diplomacy, Steve Faulkner. (Read Jeremy and Alexs’ articles, too.)
- Improving Smashing Magazine’s Performance: A Case Study. good stuff. But it makes me long for a “fuck off with your massive webfonts” setting on mobile phones. I just want the words.
- Changing The Shapes with Sara Soueidan – The Web Ahead podcast. (transcript)
- HTML Semantics with Bruce Lawson – I didn’t know The Web Ahead published transcripts (yay Jen Simmons!) so here’s the transcript of the edition I appeared on.
- Firefox Add-on Enables Web Development Across Browsers and Devices – I haven’t tried it yet, but anything that makes devs’ lives easier is good, and earns Nyman and Heilmann a big snog each from me (which is probably why they wrote it.)
- PDFy – “anybody can instantly upload and share a PDF. PDFy is free, ad-free, and non-commercial. All public PDFs mirrored to the Internet Archive for preservation.”
- Why you need to care about HTTPS by Tom Morris. Content-only sites matter too; for example, if you use Comcast Wi-Fi, they inject ads into the pages being returned from the server.
- Why Google is Hurrying the Web to Kill SHA-1. (Opera plans to adopt same behaviour.)
A Boy And His Atom: The World’s Smallest Movie, made by moving individual atoms at IBM, magnified 100 million times.
Here’s the eulogy I delivered at my Dad’s funeral last Thursday.
Jeff Lawson, or (“Grandpa Fifi” as my kids called him, as when they were little they couldn’t pronounce “Jeffrey”) was born on D-day to Jim and Elsie. He spent his first few years with his brother Colin up in the North East for a while. One of his earliest memories was of running away from home, and getting on a bus to go and live with his Auntie, who spanked him and immediately put him back on the return bus. When his father retired, the four of them moved way down south to Southampton where he mostly lost his Geordie accent, although it returned after a few on the rare occasions when he’d had too many glasses of beer.
As a teenager in Southampton he developed a love of music, also shared with his younger brother Colin, and won a twist competition at the hop in the early 60s. In your order of service, you’ll see photograph of him and Colin’s wife Barbara shaking their booties at Jeff’ 60th birthday party.
He was the first Lawson male for generations not be a coal miner, and moved to London to join the civil service. After some time being generally groovy (see the photos in your Order of Service), he met Anthea and they married, honeymooning by being posted by the Civil Service to Aden, South Yemen, where I was born precisely 8 months to the day after the wedding. (They told their parents that I was premature).
On returning to the UK, they lived in Hastings where Guy was born, and then they moved to Birmingham where he and Anthea brought us up. Times were hard, so family meals were supplemented with home-grown vegetables that were planted in Party 7 beer cans, empty 7 pint beer cans that spontaneously appeared in the kitchen over the weekend.
Guy remembers that, when he would walk us home from the bus stop where we’d meet him after work, he’d always discover a stash of sweets hidden in the undergrowth somewhere by a mysterious person known as the Magic Man, whose identity is still unknown to this day.
We remember his proud acquisition of a music centre in the 1970s, where he would listen to ELO, Abba and Alma Cogan through headphones and “sing” along.
His singing style was unique – he never believed changing pitch was as important as maintaining a high decibel count. He nevertheless never tired of telling his family that some young girl had once told him he had a lovely voice. And so he had – when he wasn’t singing.
An example of his non-singing voice was when he had to go to a training course in Edinburgh, and he recorded a series of stories about an Octopus named Oscar on his cassette player for them to listen to every night before bed during his absence.
Jeff worked for many years for the Civil Service as a Welfare Officer – a kind of staff counsellor – along with John who later became his next-door neighbour. In his spare time he used to enjoy music, gardening and amateur dramatics, as well as brewing foul-tasting but strong beer.
Tim, a schoolfriend of ours, recalls “Saturday afternoon, I’d peddled to your house to find you and your dad sat in the back garden “testing” the home brew. I remember it getting very giggly. I think we had about 3 or 4 pints each. Guy had to go to bed after 2 pints”. On his way home, Tim was arrested for being drunk in charge of a bicycle. Two other friends of mine crashed their bicycles into a steel gate on a building site – there was no fence around it, just a free-standing gate.
In the late 80s, Jeff separated from Anthea and moved to London, settling in Eltham with his new partner, Big Bruce (so named because I’m “little Bruce”) and his dog Digger of which he was exceptionally fond.
Jeff found life as a Civil Servant dis-spiriting, although he loved the Royal Parks that he helped administer. So, as soon as he could, aged 50, he retired and the last 20 years of his life were full of activity – caring for his mother, Elsie, who moved in with him, holidays (lots of holidays!), acting and directing at the Bob Hope Theatre, listening to children read at a local school, judging gardens and volunteering to use his counselling skills at Stepping Stones, a support service for those with life-limiting illnesses at Greenwich & Bexley Hospice. Ann from Stepping Stones wrote to us saying “we have so many wonderful memories of him over many years working together – in his easter bonnet and dressed up for Christmas and yet so sensitive and compassionate with all our users.”
Four years ago, the day after his mother’s funeral here, Jeff had heart surgery to replace a valve. Once he’d recovered from that, he took us all to a large villa in France where we spent a lovely summer holiday – although the restaurant meals meant he couldn’t indulge his love on elaborate and detailed menu planning.
He remained healthy for most of his retirement – as recently as Christmas he was at our house with Anthea and her new husband for Xmas dinner, and – although he was suffering from leg pain that made it difficult for him to walk – treated the family to a weekend at Centreparcs in June for his 70th birthday. After his admission to hospital, he was still texting Guy and me to arrange to visit Centreparcs again at Easter next year “when I’m better”.
His death was sudden – he’d been discharged from hospital. We were on holiday at the time, at a place he recommended, and using a map he’d sketched for us. We didn’t cut the holiday short; he’d have hated us to, especially as Dalyan was special to him.
We’re comforted by the fact that it was sudden, swift and at home; he was a private man who hated to be seen frail and would have hated to “become a burden” as he would have put it.
We remember him with love, and are grateful that you are all here to do that with us.
See you, Fifi.