Autoblog live from the Geneva Autoshow this week--check out photos here, here and here.



Wednesday, March 02, 2005

More Speculation about IE 7.0

Things have been pretty quiet since Microsoft pre-announced IE 7.0 a couple of weeks ago, and I suspect we have a long wait ahead of us before we find out any real details about what IE 7 will contain, aside from a shiny new version number and the word SECURITY in large, friendly letters. In the meantime, here are a couple of interesting bits of analysis:

  • PPK of Quirksmode believes that IE desperately needs a rewrite and IE 7.0 is not likely to be one, so we shouldn’t expect any significant JavaScript or CSS improvements.
  • Jeremy Wright of Ensight, who spends far more time talking to Microsoft employees than I do, has a more positive look at IE 7.0. He believes, based on buzz from Microsoft, that some improvements to standards support and tabbed browsing will be part of the mix.

We’ll see, but at least the odds of an improved IE are much better than they were last year.

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Cqs scalping

Making fonts with JavaScript

Here’s a cool application of JavaScript I ran across last week. FontEditor BitfontMaker lets you draw a font, pixel by pixel, then click a button to download a bitmap font file you can use on Windows or Mac. It works on IE 6.0+ and Mozilla / Netscape / Firefox. Click the “sample” button to load an example font into the editor, or the “help” button if you read Japanese.

The UI appears to be done entirely in JavaScript, although I assume there’s some server-side magic going on when you create the font. This is probably not the best font editor, but as online applications go, it’s impressive.

[via Kottke]

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Ajax: more perspectives

In case you’re sick of hearing all of the enthusiasm about Ajax (XMLHttpRequest), here are a couple of articles that explore the potential negative side:

  • The Man in Blue is not convinced that this will have a major effect on the web at large, and cautions against using it unless you’re truly creating a web application.
  • Jason Fried says it’s not the technology that matters, and it’s more important to create a good user experience than to jump on the latest technology bandwagon, and mentions some of the potential usability issues that may arise from instant response.

As with any new* technology, there are bound to be growing pains. So far all of the tutorials on Ajax have fallen into the “Here’s a great new thing and how to use it” category. As things mature, we’ll see more discussion of how to deal with usability, accessibility, and efficiency while adding this to our box of tools.

[*I know, I know. It’s not new. But it’s certainly having its Elvis Year...]

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Monday, February 28, 2005

sIFR 2.0 RC4 released

Mike Davidson has announced version 2.0 RC4 of sIFR, the scalable JavaScript-and-Flash solution to web typography. New features include the ability to turn the Flash-based headings on and off, replacing them with plain text, based on a cookie set by users. This should be useful for sites that aren’t 100% committed to the technique.

There’s also a new sIFR Wiki. I can’t get the link to work at the moment, but it should hopefully work for you.

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Ajax: You’re soaking in it

The year of JavaScript continues with yet more enthusiasm about rapid-fire communication between clients and servers. The latest is Jesse James Garrett’s article, Ajax: A new approach to web applications at Adaptive Path.

This article is a great introduction to the model used by Google Maps and Google Suggest. We’ve been calling it XMLHttpRequest or Remote Scripting, but Jesse has coined the term Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript + XML), and this new buzzword seems to be catching on.

Now I could jump in here and point out that “Ajax” is a catch-all term for a collection of vague concepts, and we just killed the term DHTML for the same reason, but at least this one doesn’t include “HTML” in its name, and besides, nobody likes to pronounce “XMLHttpRequest”.

[Incidentally, before we go too far with the detergent jokes, Jeremy Keith points out that Ajax is also the name of a legendary Greek hero. It’s also a town in Ontario and a Dutch football club.]

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Stuart Langridge joins Sitepoint

In the highly competitive world of JavaScript weblogging, Sitepoint’s Stylish Scripting has been one of the best since Simon Willison started writing it just over a year ago. Now Stuart Langridge of is joining in as another writer.

Stuart has already written a couple of good bits on documentation and the power of pure CSS. Check them out.

Incidentally, I love working in a field where I can enthusiastically recommend the competition without getting into trouble…

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Yet more on Google Maps

Rich JavaScript applications are taking the world by storm this year, and the current poster child is Google Maps. Here are some of the Google Maps-related pages that sprung up while I was on vacation:

All of this hacking points out one of the advantages of web-based apps: people can add their own features with JavaScript. Here’s hoping Google takes the right attitude about this and publishes an official API rather than trying to lock down Google Maps to prevent it. Considering their response to the various Gmail hacks and their search API, the outlook is very good.

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Housekeeping: Back from vacation

Sorry for the lack of updates here last week—I was planning on keeping up with my writing while on vacation, but that didn’t work out. I have lots of updates to catch up on, so today will be a busy one. A couple of quick reminders first:

  • We recently added a Search feature, so if you’re looking for a lost JavaScript link, try the form at the top of this page.
  • As always, full text of this site is available via RSS. Use the easy subscribe buttons in the upper right corner to subscribe with your favorite service, or look for the generic RSS 2.0 button in the sidebar if your aggregator of choice is not listed.
  • I’ve neglected to welcome a couple of recent additions to the Weblogs Inc. family of weblogs: for poker players, for Blackberry users, and adjab for the advertising industry. Welcome aboard!
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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

IE7 vs. IE 7

Since Microsoft pre-pre-announced Internet Explorer 7.0 yesterday, I realized I’ve never mentioned IE7 here. Not to be confused with Microsoft’s product, IE7 by Dean Edwards is one solution to Microsoft’s reluctance to upgrade the browser’s standards support.

IE7 is a clever hack that enables a long list of CSS 2.0 features in Internet Explorer 6.0. It uses a combination of JavaScript and some proprietary IE features to parse stylesheets and rewrite them in a form that IE can understand, using classes to simulate the selectors IE doesn’t support. The notes page has some details and examples of the process, and you can also take a look a the source code.

The end result is that you can use a single <script> tag to include IE7 on a page and bring Internet Explorer up to a reasonable level of standards support, probably much more than the real IE 7 will. There is quite a bit of script overhead, though, so if you can solve your IE issues with a CSS hack or two, it’s probably a better choice for now.

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More on JavaScript Triggers

Peter-Paul Koch’s article, JavaScript Triggers, at A List Apart generated some controversy, mostly due to the use of a custom DTD to enable validation of non-standard attributes. In this followup article at his weblog, PPK goes into some detail about the objections to this approach and his response to them.

Basically it comes down to this: id or class attributes work fine for simple things, but if you want to pass complex data to a script, specifying numeric or string values for several different variables, id and class fall short, and custom attributes are one way to make it work. He also mentions the Web Forms 2.0 working draft, which uses custom attributes in the same way.

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