The Best of the Internets

Power of the Platforms

This is a great post from Simon St. Laurent on how isolated Web “platforms” have come and go while the “tangled mess” that is HTML, CSS, and JavaScript soldiers on. It’s a must read.

The web bends with the wind, supporting incredibly diverse use cases across a wide variety of environments. Your code should, too.



Emulating Failure

Another beautifully-eloquent post about the potential perils of Web Components:

HTML has a problem. As implemented in browsers many interactive elements cannot be styled as desired by web developers, or developers as directed by designers, marketing or any of the numerous others whose wishes code cutters must abide by.

Now in 2015 we have web components re-inventing native HTML buttons, radio buttons and checkboxes, for relief from the scourge of divitis, perpetrated upon us by the as shipped inability to style a native HTML element as desired.

Is it just me, or are new web UI technologies continuing to try to solve the wrong problems?

Now, the Shadow DOM (and associated pseudo-elements) should allow us to control the style of these elements. The deeper problem is functionality. Take the datalist for predictive typing. What if you want fuzzy search instead of initial search when someone types. That’s not supported. This is where Web Components get interesting.


Accessible Timeout Notifications

I’m not generally a fan of session timeouts, but if you have to do it, Léonie Watson has outlined a pretty good route to go. My only nit might be using a role of “alert” or “alertdialog” instead of “group”, but that’s because it would trigger an audible chime and get read by assistive tech. But that’s pretty minor.

Pay particular attention to the keyboard focus stuff too.



Extensibility

Great post from Jeremy on Web components. I couldn’t agree more:

I was looking forward to getting really stuck into Web Components and figuring out ways of creating powerful little extensions that I could start using now. But if Web Components turn out to be an all-or-nothing technology—a “platform”, if you will—then I will not only not be using them, I’ll be actively arguing against their use.


Thoughts on Pagination

Pagination is pretty arbitrary. Could it be better? Probably.

For example, take your average photo site that displays the content in a reverse chronological order: that is, newest to oldest. Let’s say your friend has posted 2000 photos to this site. The site shows the viewer 10 things per page. With our prolific user, this gives us 200 pages.

Going to the middle of this content takes us to page 100. What does this mean, beyond we’re at the middle? Not much.


Why All Three Game Consoles Have Now Ditched the TV

I hadn’t really thought about it with respect to gaming, but this has definitely been an interesting trend:

More and more so, the programming we once watched on TV is migrating to our tablets and phones. Cable providers have apps that let customers access live television, and even the contents of their DVRs, on their personal devices. Comcast et al realize they must let you access that content where your eyeballs are, or you’ll find other content. Ditto Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony. Game consoles cannot be married to the TV.


WhatsApp Doesn’t Understand the Web

I am not a WhatsApp user, but I have long been impressed with the way they embrace operating systems others ignore. I think it has been a key to their success and speaks to the “accessibility” (in the broader sense) of their service.

I am completely baffled by the design decisions they made in their Web client, as is Andre Alves Garzia.


Inside Microsoft’s New Rendering Engine for the "Project Spartan"

This is Microsoft’s Jacob Rossi on how “Project Spartan” came to be and what is going on inside the browser that comes after Internet Explorer.

On that elated feeling of removing legacy code:

[S]wathes of IE legacy were deleted from the new engine. Gone were document modes. Removed was the subsystem responsible for emulating IE8 layout quirks. VBScript eliminated. Remnants like attachEvent, X-UA-Compatible, currentStyle were all purged from the new engine. The codebase looks little like Trident anymore (far more diverged already than even Blink is from WebKit).

On a faster dev cycle for the new browser:

[W]e’ll treat Windows 10 as a service—keeping users up to date and delivering features when they are ready (“auto-update”), not waiting for the next major release. This means the new rendering engine will always be truly evergreen.

On opening up the process:

Another welcomed change that we’ve been rolling out over the past year is a promise for increased openness about our web platform plans and roadmap. Over the last year, you’ve hopefully experienced some of this through our open standards roadmap15 (one of my personal side projects), our Reddit AMA16, regular dialog through @IEDevChat17, and sharing preview builds18 very early in our development process. You’ll see more of this over the next year.

Promising stuff all around. I am still wondering if we’ll eventually see the new browser appear on other operating systems (even if it’s just the browser chrome and not the rendering engine—like Chrome on iOS). Time will tell.