The SVG path

The last W3C working group I participated in, Multimodal Interaction (MMI), is at the periphery of the Web and is unlikely to make much of an impact on it in the foreseeable future. However they have produced a few interesting specs (and a few uninteresting frameworks), one of which I will return to in much greater detail later.

The most obscure one may be InkML. The name might imply a language for tagging with paint, but is really describing the set of movements registered by a touch-sensitive tablet or screen so that the scribbles you make can be processed and enhanced by someone more clever than the tablet driver. Unfortunately this specification is made by a tablet-maker subgroup that like Schrödinger's cat is living or dead depending on your perception, and the spec is progressing at a less than vital speed. …


Dele, ikke stjele?

Denne uken kom det et opprop fra kunstnerdypet, iallfall noen av dem, som sa seg forfordelt, eller var det forforstjelt? At bransjeorganisasjonene ikke er velvillig innstilt til fildeling er knapt nytt, men denne gangen var kampanjen frontet av forfattere og utøvere. Gitt det 20. århundres historie gir forfatteropprop meg mange assosiasjoner, ikke alle like gode. …


“How XML Threatens Big Data”

Minimal markup seen from a data point of view rather than a document point of view.

I wouldn’t say it is XML’s fault as such, but it being used for a purpose it is less than ideally suited for, a consequence of early oversell (those who remember 2000 would know what I talk about).

There is another lesson that is web-relevant. Big dataset like these shouldn’t be naively be tagged into an XML format and presented as is on the Web. This is because in a web setting the overhead for each element is rather large as the DOM will be applied to it, allowing arbitrary dynamic mutations. It is easy to overwhelm even the most powerful processor this way and zap all available memory.

How clever are smartphones really?

Last issue of New Scientist published a paean to IPhone named Appland: How smartphones are transforming our lives. It follows a traditional NS pattern of being ahead of the curve for science and behind it with technology. The author was elated, and there is a crucial distinction between things that make you happy and things that don't. …


Minimal Markup

I have earlier proclaimed markup an [necessary] evil. A more constructive way of putting it is to say that markup should always be minimal. You should use as much markup as you need, and no more. Markup is something we add to aid machines. Too much or wrong markup can do more damage as too little or too vague.

This design principle determines how to standardize markup. Unless the author knows something the user doesn't, the markup should not be there.

This principle obviously caters to the author's laziness, the admirable human trait not to do more than necessary. It is less obvious, but no less important, that it also empowers the user. More minimal markup means more flexible and accessible markup, assuming that the user agents do their job and actually act on their users' behalf. …


Conditional Comments in HTML5?

Where we are

Four years ago I wrote a small piece on conditional comments in IE7, and whether there should be an institutionalised Opera CSS hack, in the style of @opera or @browser opera. While IE's standards support isn't stellar, it is still better than it was four years ago, and the desire to make specific hacks for the shortcomings of IE, Opera, or any other browser hasn't gone away and is unlikely to go away in the next decade either. This entry is triggered by a comment this Friday asking for Opera conditional comments. For all the talk about the ills of browser sniffing, and using capability detection instead, it is not going to go away. In that case wouldn't it be better to make browser sniffing less bad? …


SVG 2.1: Foreshadow support

Well over four years ago Opera made the first native SVG implementation, with the first useful implementation the following year, and Safari and Mozilla got into the game. By 2007 SVG became a browser business and earlier limited use of SVG faded into the background. Roughly at the same time Safari came up with Canvas. Then as now SVG was commonly seen as the more conscientious but awkward elder brother of Canvas. …