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Gary Edwards's List: WebKit and the Future of the Open Web

  • Jan 17, 12

    Steven Witten pushes the envelope using CSS 3D instead of WebGL.  He explains why, arguing parralax, GPUs and his own brand of technofetishism.  Great stuff.  Awesome must read adventure in the future of the Web.

  • Jan 17, 12

    Good stuff going on at!

    Sometimes, you need to see what a technology can do before you can fully appreciate it. Take, for instance, CSS 3D and Three.js. It's one thing to hear about doing 3D elements for Web sites, and another to see them integrated into a well-designed site. Take, for example, Steven Wittens' redesign.

    Visit using a current release of Firefox, and you'll see a nice clean site with a nice header image that demonstrates two-point perspective nicely. But hit the site using a WebKit browser, and you're in for a real treat.

  • Sep 27, 11

    I followed the reader comments for "7 Free CSS Editors", and CodeLobster was frequently mentioned.  Looks pretty good.  The free version includes:  HTML code inspector  CSS editor  JavaScript editor  PHP editor  PHP debugger

    Professional versions focus on Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, Symphony, CakePHP, Yii, and Facebook among others.  Good stuff for PHP work.

  • Aug 09, 11

    Great chart and HTM5 App development advice from pinch/zoom developer Brian Fling!  

    excerpt: In a post on pinch/zoom's blog Swipe, Fling discusses the "Anatomy of a HTML5 Mobile App" and what developers will need to get started, what the pitfalls are and why HTML5 is so difficult.

    HTML5 is a lot like HTML, just more advanced. Fling says that "if you know HTML, then chances are you'll understand what's new in HTML5 in under an hour." Yet, he also says that HTML5 is almost nothing without Javascript and CSS. Device detection, offline data, Javascript tools, testing, debugging and themes are issues that need to be resolved with the tools at hand.

    One of the big challenges that developers face is the need to fully comprehend Javascript. That starts from the most basic of codes on up. Fling says that many developers cannot write Javascript without the aid of frameworks like Prototype, MooTools, jQuery or Scriptaculous. That would not be so much of a problem if all an application consisted of was functionality and theme, but the data and multiple device requirements of apps and working with the HTML5 code means that troubleshooting a Web application can be extremely difficult if a developer does not know what to look for in Javascript.

    Fling breaks down the three parts of the Javascript stack that is required in building HTML5 apps - hybrid, core and device scripts.

    Then there is CSS. Fling likens CSS to the make, model, interior and attention to detail of a car.

    "Javascript definitely influences our experience as well, but they are the machinations out of view," Fling wrote. "We absolutely need it to be there, but as any Top Gear fan can tell you - power under the hood doesn't always equal a powerful experience."

    So, HTML5 can get the job. But can it do the job? Fling says yes, but with these caveats:

  • May 26, 11

    Florian is back with another YouTube video.  This time demonstrating the wonders of ODF, using his LibOPC library to pump ODF into MSWord.  He demonstrates using the LibOPC library to make direct changes to the ODF document that are perfectly reflected in LibreOffice and MSWord, with some noted exceptions.  all of which are carefully explained and visually demonstrated.  Once again, a nice job by Florian.

  • May 26, 11

    Florian Reuter has published another video demonstrating his LibOPC work; this time with his LibOPC library running in WebKit.

    Using the LibOPC library, Florian is able to view the contents of an Open XML OPC "parts" package.  Very cool.

  • May 11, 09

    In 2004 Ian Hickson attended the W3C workgroup on XHTML and CDF. He notes the fact that, as Steven Pemberton pointed out, six year ago (1998), the W3C decided that HTML was dead, and the way forward was a host of new languages (what is now XHTML2, XForms, MathML, SVG) that would lead the world's population to a clean new world.

    Then he has this to say: <i>".... The truth is that the real Web, the Web that authors write for, is the Windows IE6 Web. The only way to change that is to reduce the IE6 market share, and new technologies don't do this. Marketing does. Once users are primarily using a browser that is being regularly updated, then we can start introducing radically new technologies. Until then, such technologies simply aren't going to become popular.

    There were a lot of rather confused statements during the meeting. For example, it is clear that a lot of people think that the browser is dead and that the way forward is transparent "runtimes" that execute remote applications securely. But then these same people demand to know why Mozilla, Opera and Safari don't support XForms and SVG, saying that their lack of support is crippling their standards' adoption.

    Surely if the browser paradigm is dead, it doesn't matter what we implement?

    What I think most of the people at the meeting actually want is a standard that combines XHTML, XForms, SVG, and SMIL (and CSS, DOM, and ECMAScript, although they rarely if ever actually mention those by name), and then adds enough APIs to make the host into a platform in its own right. ..."</i>

  • Apr 09, 09

    KODAXIL To Replace XML?\n<br><br>\nFile this one under the Universal Interoperability label. Very interesting. Especially since XML document formats have proven to fall short on the two primary expectations of users: interoperability and Web ready. Like HTML+ :) Maybe KODAXIL will work?\n<br><br>

    The recent Web 2.0 Conference was filled with new web services , portals and wiki efforts trying their best to mash data into document objects. iCloud, MindTouch, AppLogic, 3Tera, Caspio and Gazoodle all deserve attention. although each took a rather different approach towards solving the problem. MindTouch in particular was excellent.\n<br><br>

    "A Montreal-based software and research development company has developed a markup solution and language-neutral asset-descriptor that when fully developed, could result in a universal computer language for representing information in databases, web and document contents and business objects."\n<br><br>\n"While still at a seminal stage of development, the company Gnoesis, aims to address the problem of data fragmentation caused by semantic differences between developers and users from different linguistic backgrounds."\n<br><br>\nGnoesis, the company that has developed the language called KODAXIL (Knowledge, Object, Data, Action, and eXtensible Interoperable Language), a data and information representation language, says the new language will replace the XML function of consolidating semantically identical data streams from different languages, by creating a common language to do this.\n<br><br>\nThe extensible semantic markup associated with this language will be understood worldwide and is three times shorter than XML.

  • Apr 08, 09

    This is an interesting discussion with lots of good comments, and i had to put in my two cents.

  • Mar 21, 09

    James Gosling was asked an interesting question about the future of Java. Question: "if he had a magic wand and could change anything in the Java ecosystem (platform, language etc) what would it be? His answer was getting WebKit into the Java platform via JWebPane! <br><br>

    One can only hope that Java RiA can successfully the WebKit graphical interface and visual document model with the same multi-touch, multi-modal artistry as Apple's iPhone and Safari. <br><br>

    Adobe is similarly trying to enable the WebKit layout and visual document model in AiR. So far it's just ok. Based on the Flash-Flex runtime engine, AiR does have problems with multi-touch and multi-modal WebKit interface features. How Adobe deals with the inherent conflicts between canvas/JavaScript and Flash SWF also remains to be seen.

  • Mar 19, 09

    Fyrdility asks the question; when it comes to the future of the Open Web, is Apple worse than Microsoft? He laments the fact that Apple pushes forward with innovations that have yet to be discussed by the great Web community. Yes, they faithfully submit these extensions and innovations back to the W3C as open standards proposals, but there is no waiting around for discussion or judgement. Apple is on a mission.<br><br>

    IMHO, what Apple and the WebKit community do is not that much different from the way GPL based open source communities work, except that Apple works without the GPL guarantee. The WebKit innovations and extensions are similar to GPL forks in the shared source code; done in the open, contributed back to the community, with the community responsible for interoperability going forward. <br><br>

    There are good forks and there are not so good forks. But it's not always a technology-engineering discussion that drives interop. sometimes it's marketshare and user uptake that carry the day. And indeed, this is very much the case with Apple and the WebKit community. The edge of the Web belongs to WebKit and the iPhone. The "forks" to the Open Web source code are going to weigh heavy on concerns for interop with the greater Web. <br><br>

    One thing Fyrdility fails to recognize is the importance of the ACiD3 test to future interop. Discussion is important, but nothing beats the leveling effect of broadly measuring innovation for interop - and doing so without crippling innovation. <br><br>

    "......Apple is heavily involved in the W3C and WHATWG, where they help define specifications. They are also well-known for implementing many unofficial CSS extensions, which are subsequently submitted for standardization. However, Apple is also known for preventing its representatives from participating in panels such as the annual Browser Wars panels at SXSW, which expresses a much less cooperative position...."

  • Mar 19, 09

    Apple has posted an interesting page describing Safari technologies. Innovations and support for existing standards as well as the ACID3 test are covered. <br><br>

    Many people think that the Apple WebKit-Safari-iPhone innovations are pushing Open Web Standards beyond beyond the limits of "Open", and deep into the verboten realm of vendor specific extensions. Others, myself included, believe that the WebKit community has to do this if Open Web technologies are to be anyway competitive with Microsoft's RiA (XAML-Silverlight-WPF). <br><br>

    Adobe RiA (AiR-Flex-Flash) is also an alternative to WebKit and Microsoft RiA; kind of half Open Web, half proprietary though. Adobe Flash is of course proprietary. While Adobe AiR implements the WebKit layout engine and visual document model. I suspect that as Adobe RiA loses ground to Microsoft Silverlight, they will open up Flash. But that's not something the Open Web can afford to wait for.<br><br>

    In many ways, WebKit is at the cutting edge of Ajax Open Web technologies. The problems of Ajax not scaling well are being solved as shared JavaScript libraries continue to amaze, and the JavaScript engines roar with horsepower. Innovations in WebKit, even the vendor-device specific ones, are being picked up by the JS Libraries, Firefox, and the other Open Web browsers. <br><br>

    At the end of the day though, it is the balance between the ACiD3 test on one side and the incredible market surge of WebKit smartphones, countertops, and netbook devices at the edge of the Web that seem to hold things together. <br><br>

    The surge at the edge is washing back over the greater Web, as cross-browser frustrated Web designers and developers roll out the iPhone welcome. Let's hope the ACiD3 test holds. So far it's proving to be a far more important consideration for maintaining Open Web interop, without sacrificing innovation, than anything going on at the stalled W3C.<br<br>

    "..... Safari continues to lead the way, implementing the latest innovative web standards and enabling

    • "..... Safari continues to lead the way, implementing the latest innovative web standards and enabling next-generation Internet experiences. With support for HTML 5 media tags, CSS animation, and CSS effects, web designers can create rich, interactive web applications using natively supported web standards. A standards-compliant browser, Safari renders current and future web applications as they were meant to be seen...."
      - Gary Edwards on 2009-03-19
  • Mar 17, 09

    A historically significant article from Caly Shirky discussing the end of print media newspapers/journalism as we knew it.

    .....That is what real revolutions are like. The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place. The importance of any given experiment isn’t apparent at the moment it appears; big changes stall, small changes spread. Even the revolutionaries can’t predict what will happen. Agreements on all sides that core institutions must be protected are rendered meaningless by the very people doing the agreeing. (Luther and the Church both insisted, for years, that whatever else happened, no one was talking about a schism.) Ancient social bargains, once disrupted, can neither be mended nor quickly replaced, since any such bargain takes decades to solidify.

    And so it is today. When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.

    There are fewer and fewer people who can convincingly tell such a lie.

  • Mar 17, 09

    Reactions to the death of a once-wildly profitable 200-year old business model have been mixed. 

    Some people equate newspapers with journalism and say that the end of newspapers is the end of civilization.  Others celebrate the creative destruction that has disintermediated gatekeepers and allowed sources to speak directly to readers.  Some shrug.  Some yawn.  Some yell.  Some cry.  Some have barely noticed.

  • Mar 17, 09

    There is a good article at ZDNet about "Skype for Business". I've posted my comments here.

  • Mar 14, 09

    The NeuroCommons project seeks to make all scientific research materials - research articles, annotations, data, physical materials - as available and as useable as they can be. This is done by fostering practices that render information in a form that promotes uniform access by computational agents - sometimes called "interoperability". Semantic Web practices based on RDF will enable knowledge sources to combine meaningfully, semantically precise queries that span multiple information sources.<br><br>

    Working with the Creative Commons group that sponsors "Neurocommons", Microsoft has developed and released an open source "ontology" add-on for Microsoft Word. The add-on makes use of MSOffice XML panel, Open XML formats, and proprietary "Smart Tags". Microsoft is also making the source code for both the Ontology Add-in for Office Word 2007 and the Creative Commons Add-in for Office Word 2007 tool available under the Open Source Initiative (OSI)-approved Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL) at and,respectively.<br><br>

    No doubt it will take some digging to figure out what is going on here. Microsoft WPF technologies include Smart Tags and LINQ. The Creative Commons "Neurocommons" ontology work is based on W3C RDF and SPARQL. How these opposing technologies interoperate with legacy MSOffice 2003 and 2007 desktops is an interesting question. One that may hold the answer to the larger problem of re-purposing MSOffice for the Open Web? <br><br>

    We know Microsoft is re-purposing MSOffice for the MS Web. Perhaps this work with Creative Commons will help to open up the Microsoft desktop productivity environment to the Open Web? One can always hope :)<br><br>

    Dr Dobbs has the Microsoft - Creative Commons announcement; <a href="">Microsoft Releases Open Tools for Scientific Research ...... Joins Creative Commons in releasing the Ontology Add-in</a>

  • Mar 13, 09

    ptsefton continues his rant that OpenOffice does not support the Open Web. He's been on this rant for so long, i'm wondering if he really thinks there's a chance the lords of ODF and the OpenOffice source code are listening? In this post he describes how useless it is to submit his findings and frustrations with OOo in a bug report. Pretty funny stuff even if you do end up joining the Michael Meeks trek along this trail of tears.

    Maybe there's another way?<br><br>

    What would happen if pt moved from targeting the not so open OpenOffice, to target governments and enterprises trying to set future information system requirements?<br><br>

    NY State is next up on this endless list. Most likely they will follow the lessons of exhaustive pilot studies conducted by Massachusetts, California, Belgium, Denmark and England, and end up mandating the use of both open standard "XML" formats, ODF and OOXML. <br><br>

    The pilots concluded that there was a need for both XML formats; depending on the needs of different departments and workgroups. The pilot studies scream out a general rule of thumb; if your department has day-to-day business processes bound to MSOffice workgroups, then it makes sense to use MSOffice OOXML going forward. If there is no legacy MSOffice bound workgroup or workflow, it makes sense to move to OpenOffice ODF.<br><br>

    One thing the pilots make clear is that it is prohibitively costly and disruptive to try to replace MSOffice bound workgroups. <br><br>

    What NY State might consider is that the Web is going to be an important part of their informations systems future. What a surprise. Every pilot recognized and indeed, emphasized this fact. Yet, they fell short of the obvious conclusion; mandating that desktop applications provide native support for Open Web formats, protocols and interfaces!<br><br>

    What's wrong with insisting that desktop applciations and office suites support the rapidly advancing HTML+ technologies as well as the application specific XML formats? HTML+ after all is th

  • Mar 12, 09

    InfoWorld's Tom Yager makes the case for the WebKit visual document model over AJAX. The problem with AJAX as he sees it is that it's JavaScript heavy. And that breaks precious Web interoperability. He makes the point that if something can be done in CSS, it should. He also argues that WebKit is the best tool because the document model is that of advanced HTML5 and CSS3.<br><br>

    "... These [WebKit] browsers also share a stellar accelerated JavaScript interpreter that makes the edit/run/debug cycle go faster. They are also the only browsers that deliver on CSS4 and HTML5 standards (with some elements that are proposed to the W3C standards body). Sites that are visually rich may start sprouting "best viewed with Safari" banners until other browsers catch up. The banner would also let users know that your site is optimized for iPhone....."<br><br>

    Humm. Did you catch that? CSS4!!! I guess he's referring to the WebKit penchant for putting advanced graphical transitions and animations into CSS instead of relying on a device specific or OS specific API.<br><br>

    Placing the visual interface instructions in the documents presentation layer (CSS4) is a revolutionary idea. The WebKit model will go a long way towards creating a global interoperability layer that rides above lower device, OS, browser and application specifics. So yes, by all means let's go with CSS4 :)<br><br>

    • You’re still waiting for me to explain what I meant when I referred to JavaScript as a last resort. I hinted at it in the preceding paragraph. Not the part on JavaScript debugging, but my reference to CSS and HTML. These do a lot more than paint screens. They are a browser's client-side framework. Everything they do is handled as native code. In other words, they're fast. CSS3 and HTML5 are too inconsistently implemented (if at all) across browsers to design to unless you're specifically targeting Safari, iPhone, or other WebKit-based browsers.
  • Jan 31, 09

    slide presentation featuring the Alfresco Share collaboration protocol that is based on a reverse engineering of the MSOffice-SharePoint Collaboration Protocol. Good set of slides. Has some nice screenshots of the collab working inside MSWord.

  • Jan 14, 09

    Cisco is making some really important moves to reposition itself in the enterprise. And it's all about the desktop. The conventional wisdom has been that Microsoft has the inside track of the Unified Communications race because it "owns" the user desktop in most enterprises. And the argument is that it "owns" that desktop because its e-mail client and office applications dominate those desktops. But what if those two applications -- e-mail and office apps -- aren't actually the key to winning the desktop in the future?

    That's what Cisco is betting with Xobni and its earlier purchase of PostPath, together with its emphasis on social networking. Xobni and PostPath seek not to replace the Exchange-Outlook combo, but to mitigate their importance.

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