Browser vendors now own the web?

On the face of it… W3C hands over development of HTML and DOM standards to browser vendors (WHATWG). Sounds like a good idea, right?

I mean the W3C was pushing for the semantic web, more rdf, more linked data and xml structuring.

Down with XML, down with linked data, rdf and the very idea of the semantic web – uggghhhh! (or something like that? I can hear you all say!).

Well hold on, remember how the web started? Remember the foresight which kept the web free and open. Insights like SVG when the proprietary alternative of flash was ruling the web. I for one really liked XML and the suite of technologies which came along with it. XHTML was a joy to use once browser vendors got on board and sorted there act out.

I was there during the fight from HTML4 to XHTML 1.0. Still remember fighting about Microformats vs RDF at BarCampLondon2 and to be fair WHATWG was likely right at the time but they didn’t have the foresight of looking further into the future. The semantic web was a big vision but whats the big vision of WHATWG now?

My fear is handing the web over to mainly browser vendors will lead us back to where the web was at during HTML 4.0. A mix of unspecified bits and bobs which rely on native browser capabilities. Whos fighting for accessibility, i18n, l10n, old systems, etc, etc? My only hope is because the w3c only handed over control of HTML and DOM, they will double down on CSS and ECMAscript?

I want the web to move forward and I know there was a lot of tension between the W3C and WHATWG but they kept each other honest. Handing the web over, I fear will ultimately make things worst for all?

The time traveling web

memento

I read about W3C’s project Memento a while ago but its become a reality recently.

The Memento protocol is a straightforward extension of HTTP that adds a time dimension to the Web. It supports integrating live web resources, resources in versioning systems, and archived resources in web archives into an interoperable, distributed, machine-accessible versioning system for the entire web. W3C finds Memento work with online reversion history extremely useful for the Web in general and practical application on its own standards to be able to illustrate how they evolve over time

Its smart, simple and great because it works on top of http, instead of creating a whole different way of doing the same thing.

I can already imagine memento powered twitter service or memento powered BBC redux service.

Firefox OS on a new phone

Firefox OS upgrade

One of the big things which came out of the Mozilla Festival was the brand new Firefox phone, the flame… I heard about it but to own a version was frankly kind of exciting. I believe they gave out about 500 to the people who attended the festival. You also had to be there early on Sunday morning if you wanted one.

Unlike the previous version which was made by Geekphone and was technically a developer edition, this one was closer to 4.75 inches. The build quality had also been upped from the previous one.  When in my pocket, it feels very much like my Nexus 5 but a little less polished. A little frustrating to move the power button to the top instead of the right hand side to match the Nexus 5.

Firefox phones

When you open up the phones back cover (because you can do that, the novelty!) you find not only a micro SD card slot but also 2 sim slots! 2 Sims in Europe, what on earth? How great is that? I can finally buy a crappy sim from another country and still use my number for everything else. I currently have my work sim and a spare pay as you go sim in place. Another thing which surprised me about the phone also was the NFC support. Now that was something I was not expecting at all. Haven’t tested to see if the Bluetooth is 4.0 LE (looks like it maybe 3.0) or not but everything else looks good. It feels like last years chipset, not quite but comparable to my HTC 1X.

Enough about the hardware how does it work? Well I have to say its not bad. Compared to the previous one, its far more quicker and snappy. Its was pretty much what you experienced on the previous phone but quicker and more responsive. I say it was… because recently I got an upgrade pushed through to the next version of Firefox OS. Now its zippy and looks quite a bit different from what Android, iOS and Windows phone are doing.

Firefox OS upgrade

Now the icons are very big and super colourful. To be honest although Iike it, I would reduce the size if it was my only phone. People like Aral will hate the setup process because there are some gotcha’s which still disappoint, but as a whole Mozilla have listened to the critical feedback and tried to improve the user experience a lot.

The biggest problem I find with Firefox OS is the lack of apps. Its frustrating as it should make grabbing parts of websites or services easy (or maybe I’m missing something).  Don’t get me wrong the marketplace has much more that it use to have but its no where near even the Microsoft app store.

That is the one thing holding back Firefox OS. I do believe the web as a platform for development is a good one but the APIs are not there yet. For example I looked at the Web NFC API spec and found this. I’d love to write something to take advantage of it but its still not there for serious use.

I did notice that some of the things like Ubuntu unity webapp stuff does seem to work with the phone too. So I assume it got supported by the W3C? This brings me a bit of joy, because I can write simple stuff which will have utility across Ubuntu and Firefox phone. My hope is since I have Firefox installed on my Android, some of those features will also happen on Android.

As a whole, I like the Firefox phone, it reminds me how important it is to be free of the clutches of the big 5 stacks who hoover up data for their own means and lock you in forever. Firefox OS can be pretty much run like a feature phone if required but there is the ability to sync and have accounts if you so wish. If the flame really is meant to be a 100 dollar phone, its not value for money. I would happily have paid about that for it, as a 2nd phone. Looking forward to the next update… Good work Mozilla.

Microsoft Joins W3C’s Scalable Vector Graphics Effort

Brendan sent me this one last week, shocking news that Microsoft are joining the SVG working group. To be honest I never thought it would ever happen but hell has somewhat frozen over.

“Microsoft is joining the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C’s) Scalable Vector Graphics Working Group. The company announced its aim of improving future versions of the W3C’s scalable vector graphics (SVG) recommendation, currently at version 1.1. The nonprofit W3C’s SVG recommendation is a document that describes two-dimensional graphics processing using XML. The technology can be used for Web graphics, animation and user interfaces…

Lately, Microsoft has been leaning more toward standards compliance with its browser, especially with IE 8, which still lacks native SVG support. In particular, Microsoft contributed test cases to the W3C’s working group on cascading style sheets as it developed IE 8. In a statement, Microsoft suggested it plans to do more such work with the W3C: ‘Making the Web easier for developers continues to be important and we will continue to contribute to development of HTML5, along with other popular Web standards; and we bring a unique value—the rigor of modern software engineering to the process.

I am getting a little worried about SVG, as a lot of people are pushing not just Flash but VML and Canvas in front of SVG. Its incredible how little people know about SVG and vector graphics full stop.

XSLT 2.0 supported by Microsoft?

At a time when the W3C just announced XSL 2.0 as a official recommendation. Kurt Cagle has the scoop.

Microsoft has formally announced that with the publication of the XSLT 2.0 Recommendation the XML Team has commenced working on a new XSLT 2.0 implementation that will be available as part of the .NET platform, with the very real possibility that it will also be folded into the Internet Explorer browser.

Oh and did you see the new features which are being put into Firefox 3.0? Not only offline application support but EXSLT support too.

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The challenges of validating cubicgarden

Validation

Its one of the dirty little secrets of my blog, I've never been able to get it to validate to xhtml because of a combination of things. So first up lets have a look at how many errors I currently recieve. 127 validation errors to be exact at the moment without this post. But its honestly not that bad, well it is but let me show you the better side first. If I just validate just one post with my current theme/style you will see there is only 4 errors and they all point towards my search box which actually links to Blogdigger.com.

form method=”get” action=”http://groups.blogdigger.com/groups.jsp?search=1″
input type=”text” size=”31″ name=”q”
input type=”hidden” name=”id” value=”1065″
input type=”hidden” name=”sortby” value=”date”
/form

So to solve this problem I need to wrap the input elements in another element first. This is simple as I just added a div with a id around the input elements.

Ok so moving on, lets try another single post entry. The errors are varied, but the first one is Error Line 125, column 167: there is no attribute “border”. Yeah easy to fix, but why would I make some a school boy error? Well I dont its actually my blogging application which automaticly adds it when I make a image element. I just keep forgetting to remove it. So the easy thing to do would be to change blogging client, specially seeing how i've been meaning to change to something more powerful for quite some time. I tried to notify the author but had no reply and theres no forum or bug tracking. Worst still I cant actually change the element properties in wbloggar. So I'm going to try Performancing for Firefox and maybe even pay for Ecto. Till then I'm having to edit my posts to remove that border=0. Oh by the way Error Line 125, column 172: required attribute “alt” not specified is also because wbloggar puts the alt attribute as a title attribute instead. Another reason to move away from wbloggar.

My next error is my own fault. I've forgotten the fact that the Blockquote element should not contain text content only another block level element like a paragraph. So once again I need to go back through my entries and change that. I've also changed my wbloggar custom tag to add a paragraph element inside the blockquote element. When I change to ecto or something else, I hope it does this out of the box.

Ok so were almost there now. But wait here's the big problem. Lets take my last 5 entries including this one which I was typing at the same time as validating.

3. Warning Line 125, column 438: reference not terminated by REFC delimiter
…ojsom%2Fblog%2Fcubicgarden%2F&charset=%28detect+automatically%29&doctype=XHTM
If you meant to include an entity that starts with “&”, then you should terminate it with “;”. Another reason for this error message is that you inadvertently created an entity by failing to escape an “&” character just before this text.

4. Warning Line 125, column 438: reference to external entity in attribute value .
…ojsom%2Fblog%2Fcubicgarden%2F&charset=%28detect+automatically%29&doctype=XHTM
This is generally the sign of an ampersand that was not properly escaped for inclusion in an attribute, in a href for example. You will need to escape all instances of '&' into '&'.

5. Error Line 125, column 438: reference to entity “charset” for which no system identifier could be generated .
…ojsom%2Fblog%2Fcubicgarden%2F&charset=%28detect+automatically%29&doctype=XHTM
This is usually a cascading error caused by a an undefined entity reference or use of an unencoded ampersand (&) in an URL or body text. See the previous message for further details.

So basicly all the URLs need to be converted to include ampersands otherwise I will never be able to get a validating weblog. So I'm looking into my Velocity templates if there is anything which can be done. I thought I'd have a look around at other popular blojsom based blogs, see if the problem is the same. First up David Czarnecki, same problem. Ravensbourne's Mobile learning blog, same problem. IRIS at VeriSign, yep you guessed it same problem. A quick look across the web and the problem seems to be hit and miss. Ben Metcalfe, Robert Scoble, Jeremy Zawodny, Consuming Experience, etc. Geez, theres got to be a way to solve this without actually recrafting urls when blogging?

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