Shiretoko: First Looks

I downloaded the first alpha of Shiretoko, or Firefox 3.1, and I’m delighted to see the text-shadow I have attached to my site name showing up in a Firefox browser.

Not just text-shadow, Mozilla has also added JavaScript query selectors to this release, which means that we can query for all elements of a given class name, such as:

var list = document.querySelectorAll(".elements");

A behavior that we also had with the older, supported, document.getElementsByClassName. However, we couldn’t do the following with getElementsByClassName:

    var first = document.querySelectorAll("div > p:first-child");   
    for (var i = 0; i < first.length; i++)   {    

This code snippet accesses the paragraphs that are directly the first child of any div element, using the CSS selector syntax, and sets the background of each returned element to red. You can see it in action with this simple example containing three div elements, each with three paragraphs, the first of which now has a red background. Well, you can see it with browsers that support querySelectorAll, which are Safari/Webkit, IE8, and now Firefox 3.1a. Opera has also committed to the support of querySelectorAll (as well as rgba, we hope).

Of course, I can do something like this with JavaScript by getting all div elements, and then all paragraphs of all div elements, and then accessing the first of the returned set, but how much simpler, and how my more robust will this process be if this type of functionality is built directly into the browser. Especially since my example is quite simple, but other queries on CSS selectors could be quite complex.

Firefox 3.1a also has support for border images, which means no more nested div elements to achieve specialized borders, which is what’s used in the design of this site. However, support for this CSS3 attribute is limited to Firefox 3.1a and Safari; until support for the option reaches three of my four target browsers, I won’t use it for my site designs.

(I felt comfortable using the text-shadow when only Opera and Safari supported the CSS attribute, because it provides such a nice effect, which degrades beautifully if the attribute isn’t supported.)

Firefox 3.1a also supports the HTML5 Canvas Text API, but I haven’t had a chance to play with the new capability, yet. I had rather hoped that the Mozilla team would add a little SMILe to the browser, but I guess it’s not to be with this browser release. Perhaps our man on the SVG street, Jeff Schiller, can update us on a SMIL timeline for the browser.

Oh, and look: anyone can try the browser and report a bug.


Last of the book and attack of the women

I put the finishing touches to the draft for my current book, and now it begins the technical review process. I don’t want to say it’s my last book, but there is no other on the horizon, as I return to the world of software development and consulting.

First, though, I need to spend time upgrading my own skills. When you write books, you have to let so many new and interesting technologies slide by because you don’t have time to stop, and play. You also end up coding in small pieces, because you’re focusing primarily on book samples, with little time for larger applications. Or that playing, I just mentioned.

I want to spend more time with Drupal, because I’ve only scratched the surface of this application. I am extremely pleased, nay tickled to see Angela Byron from Lullabot win an award for Best Contributor at OSCON for her work with Drupal—affirming that my move to this software was the best move for me. In fact, in sounds like women made significant inroads in the open source community at OSCON this year, aided, in part, I think, because of software communities, such as Drupal, which are decidedly woman friendly environments.

In particular Emma Jane Hogbin’s Form an Orderly Queue, Ladies presentation at OSCON provides details of a dastardly plot to infiltrate women into the ranks of the tech through open source. I love evil plotters, like Dr. Horrible, and evil plots, like women invading open source through innocent seeming applications like Drupal. Drupal and Dojo.



You can stuff your bug

In reply to the IEBlog web post that is asking people to apply for the right to submit a bug:

Why, on earth, when other browser developers provide open and easy to use bug systems, would Microsoft limit itself in this way?

I have a bug in Webkit, five minutes can help me determine if someone had already reported the bug; no more than another five to submit the bug, with test case.

Mozilla created software to make it easy to search on, and submit bugs. Why, I bet even you all could use it.

Opera has a handy, dandy bug form that makes bug submission a snap.

And here is the IE team “If you email us and ask us really nice we may, just may, mind you, deign to let you actually tell us about that bug, which if left in the released product will haunt us until the end of time. If you don’t ask nice, you can stuff your bug.”