Even the mistakes are fun

Anne Van Kesteren:

A new survey reveals that at least Microsoft and IBM think the HTML charter does not cover the canvas element.

I have to wonder, when reading the survey results, how much the people who voted actually used either SVG or the Canvas element. I covered both SVG and the Canvas Element in the book, but I focused more on SVG. Comparing the two–SVG and Canvas–is like comparing the old FONT element with CSS.

The Canvas element requires scripting. The SVG element doesn’t, even for animation if you use the animate elements. In addition, mistakes in SVG can be fun, as I found when I missed a parameter value in mistaken animation. A couple lines of markup. No script. Both Opera and Safari do an excellent job with the animation elements. I’m expecting Firefox to join this group in the next year.

If you use scripting, you can access each element in the SVG document as a separate element. You can’t do that with Canvas.

I still don’t think the Canvas element should be part of a new HTML 5, whatever the grand plans. However, since all but IE supports the Canvas element, it would be foolish to drop it. A better option would be to consider the Canvas element a bitmapped version of SVG and create a separate group to ensure it grows in a standard manner.

I did like what David Dailey wrote in the survey results:

I have considerable ambivalence about <canvas> as I have noted previously. If we were designing HTML 5 from the ground up , SVG and canvas ought to share syntax and ought not to duplicate so much functionality. <canvas> brings a few needed things with it, though it seems rather a bit of poor planning on the part of the advocates of <canvas> that has gotten us to this point. Those historically frustrated with W3C chose to ignore SVG and now seem to want W3C to ignore SVG in favor of a lesser technology. At the same time, <canvas> does enable client-side image analysis by giving the developer access to pixel values, and that alone allows for some tolerance of what otherwise seems to be a curious decoupling of reason from politics. Does it re-invent the wheel? — only about 95% of it is redundant with 20% of SVG.

As for all the discussion about semantic API…years ago I, and others, made a fight for a model and associated XML vocabulary, RDF, we said would stand the test of time and hold up under use. The road’s been rough, and few people are going to defend reification, but RDF fuels the only truly open social graph in existence. Five years ago. That was about the time when everyone believed that all we’d need for semantics was RSS. Including Microsoft.


Total Validation

If you’re interested in validating your web pages, you’ve probably used the W3C’s XHTML and CSS validators. Another option is Total Validator, which not only validates your page’s HTML, but can check it for accessibility and broken links, spelling, as well as provide screenshots of the page in a host of environments.

There’s also an extension for Firefox that can provide one-button click validation.

(Thanks to Joe Clark for pointer to this service.)

Specs Standards

We Interrupt This Commercial Break with a Word about RSS

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

It had all the makings of a true Real Life Drama:

In an effort to defuse what could only be termed mutiny in the ranks, otherwise known as the ‘Atom Effect’, Dave Winer turns the copyright of the RSS 2.0 specification over to Harvard, attaching a Creative Commons License reflecting something about share and share alike. The nobility of the act stuns people–well other than those who questioned how much of the specification he was entitled to claim as his copyright. Oh, and those people who kept insisting that Creative Commons licenses were not designed to cover something such as software or specifications.

Accepting the accolades as only what he was due, the Big Dog then anoints a committee of three to watch over our sleeping beauty, the little syndication feed that was. But these caretakers take little care, and run for the hills–whether of gold or sanity, only they can say. Poor little feed lies there, alone and vulnerable, while its bastard cousin, Atom, is fed care and attention and grows up to be a big, strapping specification that can bite through ambiguity and confusion, like Jaws bit through surfer girls.

It is then, when our precious little orangy bundle of joy is at its most aloneness that even Bigger Dogs enter the picture: Apple and Microsoft, seeing the light (or, more likely, seeing a potential new profit stream) embrace RSS and in the process, fracture, bruise, and even somewhat maim it. “The problem is,” the masses cry out, “the specification is too open, too ill-defined.”

Enter now, a new hero: Rogers Cadenhead. Stalwart defender of Popish dignity and bearer of thick, wavy, locks of silver. Big Dog taps Rogers on the shoulder with his sword and says to him, “You shall be my defender, the RSS Champion”.

–curtain closes for intermission, while scenery is changed–

Now enters the story a host of new players: 8 new keepers of the RSS flame to support our champion. Their task? They come not to destroy RSS 2.0 but to praise it. They seek to clear the confusion, to cut away the darkness that surrounds this neurotic little bundle of joy. Where before there were endless questions of interpretation, and breaking tools right and left, the Nine Champions of the Rin…urh, sorry, wrong movie, scratch that–the Nine Champions of the Specification will make it all better!

(Loosely translated for the prop department: They come to change little RSS 2.0’s diaper, because it had done a doo-doo and now stinks to high heaven. )

But hark? What’s this? What’s this rumble in the distance. Oh, no! It’s Big Dog, and he’s got his lawyer!

But the Lawyer brings no books or suits or habius, or even corpses. He opens the door long enough to make statement, and the moves on to other things that come ten by ten. The statement? Nothing has changed on RSS 2.0. Harvard still owns it, but the community may do what they will within the bounds of a Creative Commons license. Leading to, (now pay attention, this is going to go fast)…

A community, which now it seems, must absorb the Nine Champions of RSS 2.0, because they have been banished from the round table that was the RSS Advisory Board. A Board that is no more, created by a man who resigned from it, and who gave up any intellectual ownership of the specification, but still retains ownership of the specification, to wit, making decisions about who is or is not on a board that no longer exists for a technical specification given intellectual property rights by a University that had little or no involvement with the specification, under a license that has little or not applicability to specifications, mainly created for songsters and photogs and other artsy types AND which has little or no legal standing within the rules of the land because there are no rules of the land when great bodies of water separate most of it.

Have no fear, though, as our hero, the RSS Champion can see his way clear through this confounding maze. I will not waiver he cries. “While my heart beats and I draw breath, I will not be swayed from my sacred duty. Nay! Though you may torture me with unclosed tags, and malformed dates, I will hold true to my task. To the end. To the bitter end!” His dedication shines so brightly, members of the advisory board are heard to murmur ” “.

His passion even moves former foes–those who had vowed to pull RSS 2.0 from its throne and install one of their own choosing (see reference re above: Atom, Effort of). They are so moved, they pull their validators from their leather sheaths and hold them high in support and salute, crying out, Hey, cool.

All are not in one accord, though, for Big Dog is angered, mightily angered. Why? To know this is to know one of the universe’s least interesting facts. All we need know is that Big Dog is angered at the Champion and the Nine defenders of RSS 2.0, and so he sends out of the darksome mists an imp to torment both our hero and his new allies.

See? You can’t make this stuff up. And a few years ago, the battles between these opposing forces would have received much attention and the thundering of the post and counter-post would have shaken even the political webloggers who might–might–take time out from verbally eviscerating each other to take notice.

But there was a party put on by a player, to celebrate a book authored by other players, with words about how to become players, sponsored by other groups hoping to become players, drinking wine pushed by a hopeful, attended by 500 or so close friends, each with a startup, a product, an agenda, or, at minimum, a weblog.

And no one cared anymore about old enemies and ancient battles, the hard work of our hero and his allies. and other daring do and RSS 2.

The end.