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Gary Edwards

XML Production Workflows? Start with the Web and XHTML - 0 views

  • Challenges: Some Ugly Truths The challenges of building—and living with—an XML workflow are clear enough. The return on investment is a long-term proposition. Regardless of the benefits XML may provide, the starting reality is that it represents a very different way of doing things than the one we are familiar with. The Word Processing and Desktop Publishing paradigm, based on the promise of onscreen, WYSIWYG layout, is so dominant as to be practically inescapable. It has proven really hard to get from here to there, no matter how attractive XML might be on paper. A considerable amount of organizational effort and labour must be expended up front in order to realize the benefits. This is why XML is often referred to as an “investment”: you sink a bunch of time and money up front, and realize the benefits—greater flexibility, multiple output options, searching and indexing, and general futureproofing—later, over the long haul. It is not a short-term return proposition. And, of course, the returns you are able to realize from your XML investment are commensurate with what you put in up front: fine-grained, semantically rich tagging is going to give you more potential for searchability and recombination than a looser, more general-purpose approach, but it sure costs more. For instance, the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) is the grand example of pouring enormous amounts of energy into the up-front tagging, with a very open-ended set of possibilities down the line. TEI helpfully defines a level to which most of us do not have to aspire.[5] But understanding this on a theoretical level is only part of the challenge. There are many practical issues that must be addressed. Software and labour are two of the most critical. How do you get the content into XML in the first place? Unfortunately, despite two decades of people doing SGML and XML,
  • Practical Challenges In 2009, there is still no truly likeable—let alone standard—editing and authoring software for XML. For many (myself included), the high-water mark here was Adobe’s FrameMaker, substantially developed by the late 1990s. With no substantial market for it, it is relegated today mostly to the tech writing industry, unavailable for the Mac, and just far enough afield from the kinds of tools we use today that its adoption represents a significant hurdle. And FrameMaker was the best of the breed; most of the other software in decent circulation are programmers’ tools—the sort of things that, as Michael Tamblyn pointed out, encourage editors to drink at their desks. The labour question represents a stumbling block as well. The skill-sets and mind-sets that effective XML editors need have limited overlap with those needed by literary and more traditional production editors. The need to think of documents as machine-readable databases is not something that comes naturally to folks steeped in literary culture. In combination with the sheer time and effort that rich tagging requires, many publishers simply outsource the tagging to India, drawing a division of labour that spans oceans, to put it mildly. Once you have XML content, then what do you do with it? How do you produce books from it? Presumably, you need to be able to produce print output as well as digital formats. But while the latter are new enough to be generally XML-friendly (e-book formats being largely XML based, for instance), there aren’t any straightforward, standard ways of moving XML content into the kind of print production environments we are used to seeing. This isn’t to say that there aren’t ways of getting print—even very high-quality print—output from XML, just that most of them involve replacing your prepress staff with Java programmers.
  • Why does this have to be so hard? It’s not that XML is new, or immature, or untested. Remember that the basics have been around, and in production, since the early 1980s at least. But we have to take account of a substantial and long-running cultural disconnect between traditional editorial and production processes (the ones most of us know intimately) and the ways computing people have approached things. Interestingly, this cultural divide looked rather different in the 1970s, when publishers were looking at how to move to digital typesetting. Back then, printers and software developers could speak the same language. But that was before the ascendancy of the Desktop Publishing paradigm, which computerized the publishing industry while at the same time isolating it culturally. Those of us who learned how to do things the Quark way or the Adobe way had little in common with people who programmed databases or document-management systems. Desktop publishing technology isolated us in a smooth, self-contained universe of toolbars, grid lines, and laser proofs. So, now that the reasons to get with this program, XML, loom large, how can we bridge this long-standing divide?
  • ...44 more annotations...
  • Using the Web as a Production Platform The answer, I think, is right in front of you. The bridge is the Web, a technology and platform that is fundamentally based on XML, and which many publishers are by now comfortably familiar with. Perhaps not entirely comfortably, but at least most publishers are already working with the Web; they already either know or have on staff people who understand it and can work with it. The foundation of our argument is this: rather than looking at jumping to XML in its full, industrial complexity, which seems to be what the O'Reilly-backed StartWithXML initiative[6] is suggesting, publishers instead leverage existing tools and technologies—starting with the Web—as a means of getting XML workflows in place. This means making small investments and working with known tools rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars on XML software and rarefied consultants. It means re-thinking how the existing pieces of the production toolchain fit together; re-thinking the existing roles of software components already in use. It means, fundamentally, taking the Web seriously as a content platform, rather than thinking of it as something you need to get content out to, somehow. If nothing else, the Web represents an opportunity to think about editorial and production from outside the shrink-wrapped Desktop Publishing paradigm.
  • Is the Web made of Real XML? At this point some predictable objections can be heard: wait a moment, the Web isn’t really made out of XML; the HTML that makes up most of the Web is at best the bastard child of SGML, and it is far too flaky/unstructured/underpowered to be taken seriously. We counter by arguing that although HTML on the Web exists in a staggering array of different incarnations, and that the majority of it is indeed an unstructured mess, this does not undermine the general principle that basic, ubiquitous Web technologies can make a solid platform for content management, editorial process, and production workflow.
  • With the advent of a published XML standard in the late 1990s came the W3C’s adoption of XHTML: the realization of the Web’s native content markup as a proper XML document type. Today, its acceptance is almost ubiquitous, even while the majority of actual content out there may not be strictly conforming. The more important point is that most contemporary Web software, from browsers to authoring tools to content management systems (from blogs to enterprise systems), are capable of working with clean, valid XHTML. Or, to put the argument the other way around, clean, valid XHTML content plays absolutely seamlessly with everything else on the Web.[7]
  • The objection which follows, then, will be that even if we grant that XHTML is a real XML document type, that it is underpowered for “serious” content because it is almost entirely presentation (formatting) oriented; it lacks any semantic depth. In XHTML, a paragraph is a paragraph is a paragraph, as opposed to a section or an epigraph or a summary.
  • n contrast, more “serious” XML document types like DocBook[8] or DITA-derived schemas[9] are capable of making semantic distinctions about content chunks at a fine level of granularity and with a high degree of specificity.
  • So there is an argument for recalling the 80:20 rule here. If XHTML can provide 80% of the value with just 20% of the investment, then what exactly is the business case for spending the other 80% to achieve that last 20% of value? We suspect the ratio is actually quite a bit steeper than 80:20 for most publishers.
  • Furthermore, just to get technical for a moment, XHTML is extensible in a fairly straightforward way, through the common “class” attribute on each element. Web developers have long leveraged this kind of extensibility in the elaboration of “microformats” for semantic-web applications.[10] There is no reason why publishers shouldn’t think to use XHTML’s simple extensibility in a similar way for their own ends.
  • XHTML, on the other hand, is supported by a vast array of quotidian software, starting with the ubiquitous Web browser. For this very reason, XHTML is in fact employed as a component part of several more specialized document types (ONIX and ePub among them).
  • Why re-invent a general-purpose prose representation when XHTML already does the job?
  • It is worth pausing for a moment to consider the role of XHTML in the ePub standard for ebook content. An ePub file is, anatomically, a simply disguised zip archive. Inside the zip archive are a few standard component parts: there are specialized files that declare metadata about the book, and about the format of the book. And then there is the book’s content, represented in XHTML. An ePub book is a Web page in a wrapper.
  • To sum up the general argument: the Web as it already exists presents incredible value to publishers, as a platform for doing XML content management with existing (and often free) tools, and without having to go blindly into the unknown. At this point, we can offer a few design guidelines: prefer existing and/or ubiquitous tools over specialized ones wherever possible; prefer free software over proprietary systems where possible; prefer simple tools controlled and coordinated by human beings over fully automated (and therefore complex) systems; play to our strengths: use Web software for storing and managing content, use layout software for layout, and keep editors and production people in charge of their own domains.
  • Putting the Pieces Together: A Prototype
  • At the SFU Master of Publishing Program, we have been chipping away at this general line of thinking for a few years. Over that time, Web content management systems have been getting more and more sophisticated, all the while getting more streamlined and easier to use. (NB: if you have a blog, you have a Web content management system.) The Web is beginning to be recognized as a writing and editing environment used by millions of people. And the ways in which content is represented, stored, and exchanged online have become increasingly robust and standardized.
  • The missing piece of the puzzle has been print production: how can we move content from its malleable, fluid form on line into the kind of high-quality print production environments we’ve come to expect after two decades of Desktop Publishing?
  • Anyone who has tried to print Web content knows that the existing methods leave much to be desired (hyphenation and justification, for starters). In the absence of decent tools for this, most publishers quite naturally think of producing the print content first, and then think about how to get material onto the Web for various purposes. So we tend to export from Word, or from Adobe, as something of an afterthought.
  • While this sort of works, it isn’t elegant, and it completely ignores the considerable advantages of Web-based content management.
  • Content managed online is stored in one central location, accessible simultaneously to everyone in your firm, available anywhere you have an Internet connection, and usually exists in a much more fluid format than Word files. If only we could manage the editorial flow online, and then go to print formats at the end, instead of the other way around. At SFU, we made several attempts to make this work by way of the supposed “XML import” capabilities of various Desktop Publishing tools, without much success.[12]
  • In the winter of 2009, Adobe solved this part of the problem for us with the introduction of its Creative Suite 4. What CS4 offers is the option of a complete XML representation of an InDesign document: what Adobe calls IDML (InDesign Markup Language).
  • The IDML file format is—like ePub—a simply disguised zip archive that, when unpacked, reveals a cluster of XML files that represent all the different facets of an InDesign document: layout spreads, master pages, defined styles, colours, and of course, the content.
  • IDML is a well thought-out XML standard that achieves two very different goals simultaneously: it preserves all of the information that InDesign needs to do what it does; and it is broken up in a way that makes it possible for mere mortals (or at least our Master of Publishing students) to work with it.
  • Integrating with CS4 for Print Adobe’s IDML language defines elements specific to InDesign; there is nothing in the language that looks remotely like XHTML. So a mechanical transformation step is needed to convert the XHTML content into something InDesign can use. This is not as hard as it might seem.
  • We would take clean XHTML content, transform it to IDML-marked content, and merge that with nicely designed templates in InDesign.
  • The result is an almost push-button publication workflow, which results in a nice, familiar InDesign document that fits straight into the way publishers actually do production.
  • Tracing the steps To begin with, we worked backwards, moving the book content back to clean XHTML.
  • The simplest method for this conversion—and if you want to create Web content, this is an excellent route—was to use Adobe’s “Export to Digital Editions” option, which creates an ePub file.
  • Recall that ePub is just XHTML in a wrapper, so within the ePub file was a relatively clean XHTML document. It was somewhat cleaner (that is, the XHTML tagging was simpler and less cluttered) than InDesign’s other Web-oriented exports, possibly because Digital Editions is a well understood target, compared with somebody’s website.
  • In order to achieve our target of clean XHTML, we needed to do some editing; the XHTML produced by InDesign’s “Digital Editions” export was presentation-oriented. For instance, bulleted list items were tagged as paragraphs, with a class attribute identifying them as list items. Using the search-and-replace function, we converted such structures to proper XHTML list and list-item elements. Our guiding principle was to make the XHTML as straightforward as possible, not dependent on any particular software to interpret it.
  • We broke the book’s content into individual chapter files; each chapter could then carry its own basic metadata, and the pages conveniently fit our Web content management system (which is actually just a wiki). We assembled a dynamically generated table of contents for the 12 chapters, and created a cover page. Essentially, the book was entirely Web-based at this point.
  • When the book chapters are viewed online, they are formatted via a CSS2 stylesheet that defines a main column for content as well as dedicating screen real estate for navigational elements. We then created a second template to render the content for exporting; this was essentially a bare-bones version of the book with no navigation and minimal styling. Pages (or even the entire book) can be exported (via the “Save As...” function in a Web browser) for use in either print production or ebook conversion. At this point, we required no skills beyond those of any decent Web designer.
  • What this represented to us in concrete terms was the ability to take Web-based content and move it into InDesign in a straightforward way, thus bridging Web and print production environments using existing tools and skillsets, with a little added help from free software.
  • Both XHTML and IDML are composed of straightforward, well-documented structures, and so transformation from one to the other is, as they say, “trivial.” We chose to use XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transforms) to do the work. XSLT is part of the overall XML specification, and thus is very well supported in a wide variety of tools. Our prototype used a scripting engine called xsltproc, a nearly ubiquitous piece of software that we found already installed as part of Mac OS X (contemporary Linux distributions also have this as a standard tool), though any XSLT processor would work.
  • In other words, we don’t need to buy InCopy, because we just replaced it with the Web. Our wiki is now plugged directly into our InDesign layout. It even automatically updates the InDesign document when the content changes. Credit is due at this point to Adobe: this integration is possible because of the open file format in the Creative Suite 4.
  • We wrote an XSLT transformation script[18] that converted the XHTML content from the Web into an InCopy ICML file. The script itself is less than 500 lines long, and was written and debugged over a period of about a week by amateurs (again, the people named at the start of this article). The script runs in a couple of seconds, and the resulting .icml file can then be “placed” directly into an InDesign template. The ICML file references an InDesign stylesheet, so the template file can be set up with a house-styled layout, master pages, and stylesheet definitions for paragraphs and character ranges.
  • The result is very simple and easy to use. Our demonstration requires that a production editor run the XSLT transformation script manually, but there is no reason why this couldn’t be built directly into the Web content management system so that exporting the content to print ran the transformation automatically. The resulting file would then be “placed” in InDesign and proofed.
  • It should be noted that the Book Publishing 1 proof-of-concept was artificially complex; we began with a book laid out in InDesign and ended up with a look-alike book laid out in InDesign. But next time—for instance, when we publish Book Publishing 2—we can begin the process with the content on the Web, and keep it there throughout the editorial process. The book’s content could potentially be written and edited entirely online, as Web content, and then automatically poured into an InDesign template at proof time. “Just in time,” as they say. This represents an entirely new way of thinking of book production. With a Web-first orientation, it makes little sense to think of the book as “in print” or “out of print”—the book is simply available, in the first place online; in the second place in derivative digital formats; and third, but really not much more difficult, in print-ready format, via the usual InDesign CS print production system publishers are already familiar with.
  • Creating Ebook Files Creating electronic versions from XHTML source is vastly simpler than trying to generate these out of the existing print process. The ePub version is extremely easy to generate; so is online marketing copy or excerpts for the Web, since the content begins life Web-native.
  • Since an ePub file is essentially XHTML content in a special wrapper, all that is required is that we properly “wrap” our XHTML content. Ideally, the content in an ePub file is broken into chapters (as ours was) and a table of contents file is generated in order to allow easy navigation within an ebook reader. We used Julian Smart’s free tool eCub[19] to simply and automatically generate the ePub wrapper and the table of contents. The only custom development we did was to create a CSS stylesheet for the ebook so that headings and paragraph indents looked the way we wanted. Starting with XHTML content, creating ePub is almost too easy.
  • today, we are able to put the process together using nothing but standard, relatively ubiquitous Web tools: the Web itself as an editing and content management environment, standard Web scripting tools for the conversion process, and the well-documented IDML file format to integrate the layout tool.
  • Our project demonstrates that Web technologies are indeed good enough to use in an XML-oriented workflow; more specialized and expensive options are not necessarily required. For massive-scale enterprise publishing, this approach may not offer enough flexibility, and the challenge of adding and extracting extra semantic richness may prove more trouble than it's worth.
  • But for smaller firms who are looking at the straightforward benefits of XML-based processes—single source publishing, online content and workflow management, open and accessible archive formats, greater online discoverability—here is a way forward.
  • Rather than a public-facing website, our system relies on the Web as a content management platform—of course a public face could easily be added.
  • The final piece of our puzzle, the ability to integrate print production, was made possible by Adobe's release of InDesign with an open XML file format. Since the Web's XHTML is also XML, is can be easily and confidently transformed to the InDesign format.
  • Such a workflow—beginning with the Web and exporting to print—is surely more in line with the way we will do business in the 21st century, where the Web is the default platform for reaching audiences, developing content, and putting the pieces together. It is time, we suggest, for publishers to re-orient their operations and start with the Web.
  • Using the Web as a Production Platform
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    I was looking for an answer to a problem Marbux had presented, and found this interesting article.  The issue was that of the upcoming conversion of the Note Case Pro (NCP) layout engine to the WebKit layout engine, and what to do about the NCP document format. My initial reaction was to encode the legacy NCP document format in XML, and run an XSLT to a universal pivot format like TEI-XML.  From there, the TEI-XML community would provide all the XSLT transformation routines for conversion to ODF, OOXML, XHTML, ePUB and HTML/CSS. Researching the problems one might encounter with this approach, I found this article.  Fascinating stuff. My take away is that TEI-XML would not be as effective a "universal pivot point" as XHTML.  Or perhaps, if NCP really wants to get aggressive; IDML - InDesign Markup Language. The important point though is that XHTML is a browser specific version of XML, and compatible with the Web Kit layout engine Miro wants to move NCP to. The concept of encoding an existing application-specific format in XML has been around since 1998, when XML was first introduced as a W3C standard, a "structured" subset of SGML. (HTML is also a subset of SGML). The multiplatform StarOffice productivity suite became "OpenOffice" when Sun purchased the company in 1998, and open sourced the code base. The OpenOffice developer team came out with a XML encoding of their existing document formats in 2000. The application specific encoding became an OASIS document format standard proposal in 2002 - also known as ODF. Microsoft followed OpenOffice with a XML encoding of their application-specific binary document formats, known as OOXML. Encoding the existing NCP format in XML, specifically targeting XHTML as a "universal pivot point", would put the NCP Outliner in the Web editor category, without breaking backwards compatibility. The trick is in the XSLT conversion process. But I think that is something much easier to handle then trying to
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    I was looking for an answer to a problem Marbux had presented, and found this interesting article.  The issue was that of the upcoming conversion of the Note Case Pro (NCP) layout engine to the WebKit layout engine, and what to do about the NCP document format. My initial reaction was to encode the legacy NCP document format in XML, and run an XSLT to a universal pivot format like TEI-XML.  From there, the TEI-XML community would provide all the XSLT transformation routines for conversion to ODF, OOXML, XHTML, ePUB and HTML/CSS. Researching the problems one might encounter with this approach, I found this article.  Fascinating stuff. My take away is that TEI-XML would not be as effective a "universal pivot point" as XHTML.  Or perhaps, if NCP really wants to get aggressive; IDML - InDesign Markup Language. The important point though is that XHTML is a browser specific version of XML, and compatible with the Web Kit layout engine Miro wants to move NCP to. The concept of encoding an existing application-specific format in XML has been around since 1998, when XML was first introduced as a W3C standard, a "structured" subset of SGML. (HTML is also a subset of SGML). The multiplatform StarOffice productivity suite became "OpenOffice" when Sun purchased the company in 1998, and open sourced the code base. The OpenOffice developer team came out with a XML encoding of their existing document formats in 2000. The application specific encoding became an OASIS document format standard proposal in 2002 - also known as ODF. Microsoft followed OpenOffice with a XML encoding of their application-specific binary document formats, known as OOXML. Encoding the existing NCP format in XML, specifically targeting XHTML as a "universal pivot point", would put the NCP Outliner in the Web editor category, without breaking backwards compatibility. The trick is in the XSLT conversion process. But I think that is something much easier to handle then trying to
Gary Edwards

Design for Developers: Interactivity, animations, and AJAX - 0 views

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    Awesome commentary in the must read category. JC nails it; starting with "layout"! ....... "We were both part of the same team and he was creating some UI elements that I was to wire up. As I sat there (in awe) watching him work I realized that much of his considerable skill was rooted in fundamentals not unlike the art of programming. Of course, there are design skills that are intuitive that can't be "learned." But, that can also be said of the logical clarity found in a really elegant data model or a brilliant inheritance tree. I am certainly no designer, but I have observed the more creative among us for several years and have gained some insight into their world. In this article I'll share some basic principles that can help raise your design acumen and improve the experience of your users...... " Layout I'd like to attack my goal of imparting design wisdom by breaking the topic into four buckets. The first is layout.
Gary Edwards

ptsefton » OpenOffice.org is bad for the planet - 0 views

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    ptsefton continues his rant that OpenOffice does not support the Open Web. He's been on this rant for so long, i'm wondering if he really thinks there's a chance the lords of ODF and the OpenOffice source code are listening? In this post he describes how useless it is to submit his findings and frustrations with OOo in a bug report. Pretty funny stuff even if you do end up joining the Michael Meeks trek along this trail of tears. Maybe there's another way?

    What would happen if pt moved from targeting the not so open OpenOffice, to target governments and enterprises trying to set future information system requirements?

    NY State is next up on this endless list. Most likely they will follow the lessons of exhaustive pilot studies conducted by Massachusetts, California, Belgium, Denmark and England, and end up mandating the use of both open standard "XML" formats, ODF and OOXML.

    The pilots concluded that there was a need for both XML formats; depending on the needs of different departments and workgroups. The pilot studies scream out a general rule of thumb; if your department has day-to-day business processes bound to MSOffice workgroups, then it makes sense to use MSOffice OOXML going forward. If there is no legacy MSOffice bound workgroup or workflow, it makes sense to move to OpenOffice ODF.

    One thing the pilots make clear is that it is prohibitively costly and disruptive to try to replace MSOffice bound workgroups.

    What NY State might consider is that the Web is going to be an important part of their informations systems future. What a surprise. Every pilot recognized and indeed, emphasized this fact. Yet, they fell short of the obvious conclusion; mandating that desktop applications provide native support for Open Web formats, protocols and interfaces!

    What's wrong with insisting that desktop applciations and office suites support the rapidly advancing HTML+ technologies as well as the applicat
Gary Edwards

Siding with HTML over XHTML, My Decision to Switch - Monday By Noon - 0 views

  • Publishing content on the Web is in no way limited to professional developers or designers, much of the reason the net is so active is because anyone can make a website. Sure, we (as knowledgeable professionals or hobbyists) all hope to make the Web a better place by doing our part in publishing documents with semantically rich, valid markup, but the reality is that those documents are rare. It’s important to keep in mind the true nature of the Internet; an open platform for information sharing.
  • XHTML2 has some very good ideas that I hope can become part of the web. However, it’s unrealistic to think that all web authors will switch to an XML-based syntax which demands that browsers stop processing the document on the first error. XML’s draconian policy was an attempt to clean up the web. This was done around 1996 when lots of invalid content entered the web. CSS took a different approach: instead of demanding that content isn’t processed, we defined rules for how to handle the undefined. It’s called “forward-compatible parsing” and means we can add new constructs without breaking the old. So, I don’t think XHTML is a realistic option for the masses. HTML 5 is it.
    • Gary Edwards
       
      Great quote from CSS expert Hakon Wium Lie.
  • @marbux: Of course i disagree with your interop assessment, but I wondered how it is that you’re missing the point. I think you confuse web applications with legacy desktop – client/server application model. And that confusion leads to the mistake of trying to transfer the desktop document model to one that could adequately service advancing web applications.
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    A CMS expert argues for HTML over XHTML, explaining his reasons for switching. Excellent read! He nails the basics. for similar reasons, we moved from ODF to ePUB and then to CDf and finally to the advanced WebKit document model, where wikiWORD will make it's stand.
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    See also my comment on the same web page that explains why HTML 5 is NOT it for document exchange between web editing applications. .
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    Response to marbux supporting the WebKit layout/document model. Marbux argues that HTML5 is not interoperable, and CSS2 near useless. HTML5 fails regarding the the interop web appplications need. I respond by arguing that the only way to look at web applications is to consider that the browser layout engine is the web application layout engine! Web applications are actually written to the browser layout/document model, OR, to take advantage of browser plug-in capabilities. The interoperability marbux seeks is tied directly to the browser layout engine. In this context, the web format is simply a reflection of that layout engine. If there's an interop problem, it comes from browser madness differentials. The good news is that there are all kinds of efforts to close the browser gap: including WHATWG - HTML5, CSS3, W3C DOM, JavaScript Libraries, Google GWT (Java to JavaScript), Yahoo GUI, and the my favorite; WebKit. The bad news is that the clock is ticking. Microsoft has pulled the trigger and the great migration of MSOffice client/server systems to the MS WebSTack-Mesh architecture has begun. Key to this transition are the WPF-.NET proprietary formats, protocols and interfaces such as XAML, Silverlight, LINQ, and Smart Tags. New business processes are being written, and old legacy desktop bound processes are being transitioned to this emerging platform. The fight for the Open Web is on, with Microsoft threatening to transtion their entire business desktop monopoly to a Web platfomr they own. ~ge~
Gary Edwards

The Open Web: Next-Generation Standards Support in WebKit/ Safari - 0 views

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    Apple has posted an interesting page describing Safari technologies. Innovations and support for existing standards as well as the ACID3 test are covered.

    Many people think that the Apple WebKit-Safari-iPhone innovations are pushing Open Web Standards beyond beyond the limits of "Open", and deep into the verboten realm of vendor specific extensions. Others, myself included, believe that the WebKit community has to do this if Open Web technologies are to be anyway competitive with Microsoft's RiA (XAML-Silverlight-WPF).

    Adobe RiA (AiR-Flex-Flash) is also an alternative to WebKit and Microsoft RiA; kind of half Open Web, half proprietary though. Adobe Flash is of course proprietary. While Adobe AiR implements the WebKit layout engine and visual document model. I suspect that as Adobe RiA loses ground to Microsoft Silverlight, they will open up Flash. But that's not something the Open Web can afford to wait for.

    In many ways, WebKit is at the cutting edge of Ajax Open Web technologies. The problems of Ajax not scaling well are being solved as shared JavaScript libraries continue to amaze, and the JavaScript engines roar with horsepower. Innovations in WebKit, even the vendor-device specific ones, are being picked up by the JS Libraries, Firefox, and the other Open Web browsers.

    At the end of the day though, it is the balance between the ACiD3 test on one side and the incredible market surge of WebKit smartphones, countertops, and netbook devices at the edge of the Web that seem to hold things together.

    The surge at the edge is washing back over the greater Web, as cross-browser frustrated Web designers and developers roll out the iPhone welcome. Let's hope the ACiD3 test holds. So far it's proving to be a far more important consideration for maintaining Open Web interop, without sacrificing innovation, than anything going on at the stalled W3C.

    "..... Safari continues to lead the way, implementing
simplykreative

Keep These Rock Strong to Succeed in Web Design - 0 views

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    Visual strength of a design is the most important factor that controls the flow and influences the decisions of a user
Gary Edwards

WebKit Meta: A new standard for in-game web content | Alp Toker - 0 views

  • Meta, a brand new WebKit port suited to embedding in OpenGL and 3D applications. The work is being driven by Linden Lab, who are eagerly investigating WebKit for use in Second Life. While producing Meta we’ve paid great attention to resolving the technical and practical limitations encountered with other web content engines.
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    As many know, i've moved all my attention to WebKit and thw webkit "fixed/flow" document model as an alternative to Microsoft's proprietary XAML "fixed/flow". Webkit is the default layout for iPhone, Safari and the Adobe RIA runtime (Flex/Flash/AiR/Acrobat). It's just a short hop from WebKit to VisualForce Pages, the default document model for SalesForce.com developers. The Meta announcement further demonstrates how powerful the WebKit design is. It's will be worthwhile keepign an eye on the Meta JavaScript SDK-Runtime as a nice addition to WebKit. Good stuff!
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Gary Edwards

Google Chrome: Bad news for Adobe « counternotions - 0 views

  • Agree with much of what Kontra said and disagree with many who mentioned alternatives to JavaScript/Chrome. The main, simplest reason Adobe will be in a losing fight in terms of web platform? The Big Two - Google and Microsoft - will never make themselves dependent on or promote Adobe platform and strategy.
  • Luis, I think that’s already in play with HTML5. As I pointed out in Runtime wars (2): Apple’s answer to Flash, Silverlight and JavaFX, Apple and WHATWG are firmly progressing along those lines. Canvas is at the center of it. The glue language for all this, JavaScript, is getting a potent shot in the arm. The graphics layer, at the level of SVG, needs more work. And so on.
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    "What's good for the Internet is good for Google, and the company says its strategic proposition for the newly introduced Chrome browser is: a better platform is needed to deliver a new generation of online applications......." This is one of the best explanations of why Google had to do Chrome i've seen thus far. Kontra also provided some excellent coverage concerning the Future of the Web in a two part article previously published. Here he nails the RiA space, comparing Google Chrome, Apollo (Adobe AiR/Flex/Flash) and Microsoft Silverlight. Chrome is clearly an Open Web play. Apollo and Sivlerlight are proprietary bound in some way. Although it must be said that Apollo implements the SAME WebKit layout engine / WebKit docuemtn model as Google Chrome, Apple Safari-iPhone, Nokia, RiM and the Iris "Smart Phone" browser. The WebKit model is based on advanced HTML, CSS, SVG and JavaScript. Where Adobe goes proprietary is in replacing SVG with the proprietary SWF. The differences between JavaScript and ActionScript are inconsequential to me, especially given the problems at Ecma. One other point not covered by Kontra is the fact that Apollo and Silverlight can run as either browser plugins or standalone runtimes. Wha tthey can't do though is run as sufing browsers. They are clearly for Web Applications. Chome on the other hand re-invents the browser to handle both surfing mode AND RiA. Plus, a Chrome RiA can also run as a plugin in other browsers (Opera and FireFox). Very cool. The last point is that i wouldn't totally discount Apple RiA. They too use WebKit. The differnece is tha tApple uses the SquirrelFish JavaScript JiT with the SproutCore-Cocoa developers framework. This approach is designed to bridge the gap between the OSX desktop/server Cocoa API, and the WebKit-SproutCore API. Chrome uses the V8 JiT. And Adobe uses Tamarin to compile JavaScript-ActionScript. Tamarin was donated to the Mozilla community. If there is anythin that will s
Gary Edwards

The real reason Google is making Chrome | Computerworld Blogs - 0 views

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    Good analysis by Stephen Vaughan-Nichols. He gets it right. Sort of. Stephen believes that Chrome is desinged to kill MSOffice. Maybe, but i think it's way too late for that. IMHO, Chrome is designed to keep Google and the Open Web in the game. A game that Microsoft is likely to run away with. Microsoft has built an easy to use transiton bridge form MSOffice desktop centric "client/server" computing model to a Web centirc but proprietary RiA-WebStack-Cloud model. In short, there is an on going great transtion of traditional client/server apps to an emerging model we might call client/ WebStack-Cloud-RiA /server computing model. As the world shifts from a Web document model to one driven by Web Applications, there is i believe a complimentary shift towards the advantage Micorsoft holds via the desktop "client/server" monopoly. For Microsoft, this is just a transtion. Painful from a monopolist profitability view point - but unavoidably necessary. The transition is no doubt helped by the OOXML <> XAML "Fixed/flow" Silverlight ready conversion component. MS also has a WebStack-Cloud (Mesh) story that has become an unstoppable juggernaut (Exchange/SharePoint/SQL Server as the WebSTack). WebKit based RiA challengers like Adobe Apollo, Google Chrome, and Apple SproutCore-Cocoa have to figure out how to crack into the great transition. MS has succeeded in protecting their MSOffice monopoly until such time as they had all the transtion pieces in place. They have a decided advantage here. It's also painfully obvious that the while the WebKit guys have incredible innovation on their side, they are still years behind the complete desktop to WebStack-RiA-Cloud to device to legacy servers application story Microsoft is now selling into the marketplace. They also are seriously lacking in developer tools. Still, the future of the Open Web hangs in the balance. Rather than trying to kill MSOffice, i would think a better approach would be that of trying to
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    There are five reasons why Google is doing this, and, if you read the comic book closely - yes, I'm serious - and you know technology you can see the reasons for yourself. These, in turn, lead to what I think is Google's real goal for Chrome.
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    I'm still keeping the door open on a suspicion that Microsoft may have planned to end the life of MS Office after the new fortress on the server side is ready. The code base is simply too brittle to have a competitive future in the feature wars. I can't get past my belief that if Microsoft saw any future in the traditional client-side office suite, it would have been building a new one a decade ago. Too many serious bugs too deeply buried in spaghetti code to fix; it's far easier to rebuild from the ground up. Word dates to 1984, Excel to 1985, Powerpoint to 1987, All were developed for the Mac, ported years later to Windows. At least Word is still running a deeply flawed 16-bit page layout engine. E.g., page breaks across subdocuments have been broken since Word 1.0. Technology designed to replace yet still largely defined by its predecessor, the IBM Correcting Selectric electro-mechanical typewriter. Mid-80s stand-alone, non-networked computer technology in the World Wide Web era? Where's the future in software architecture developed two decades ago, before the Connected World? I suspect Office's end is near. Microsoft's problem is migrating their locked-in customers to the new fortress on the server side. The bridge is OOXML. In other words, Google doesn't have to kill Office; Microsoft will do that itself. Giving the old cash cow a face lift and fresh coat of lipstick? That's the surest sign that the old cow's owner is keeping a close eye on prices in the commodity hamburger market while squeezing out the last few buckets of milk.
Paul Merrell

XHTML Modularization 1.1 Released as W3C Recommendation - 0 views

  • XHTML Modularization is a decomposition of XHTML 1.0, and by reference HTML 4, into a collection of abstract modules that provide specific types of functionality.
  • The modularization of XHTML refers to the task of specifying well-defined sets of XHTML elements that can be combined and extended by document authors, document type architects, other XML standards specifications, and application and product designers to make it economically feasible for content developers to deliver content on a greater number and diversity of platforms. Over the last couple of years, many specialized markets have begun looking to HTML as a content language. There is a great movement toward using HTML across increasingly diverse computing platforms. Currently there is activity to move HTML onto mobile devices (hand held computers, portable phones, etc.), television devices (digital televisions, TV-based Web browsers, etc.), and appliances (fixed function devices). Each of these devices has different requirements and constraints.
  • XHTML Modularization is a decomposition of XHTML 1.0, and by reference HTML 4, into a collection of abstract modules that provide specific types of functionality. These abstract modules are implemented in this specification using the XML Schema and XML Document Type Definition languages. The rules for defining the abstract modules, and for implementing them using XML Schemas and XML DTDs, are also defined in this document. These modules may be combined with each other and with other modules to create XHTML subset and extension document types that qualify as members of the XHTML-family of document types.
  • ...1 more annotation...
  • Modularizing XHTML provides a means for product designers to specify which elements are supported by a device using standard building blocks and standard methods for specifying which building blocks are used. These modules serve as "points of conformance" for the content community. The content community can now target the installed base that supports a certain collection of modules, rather than worry about the installed base that supports this or that permutation of XHTML elements. The use of standards is critical for modularized XHTML to be successful on a large scale. It is not economically feasible for content developers to tailor content to each and every permutation of XHTML elements. By specifying a standard, either software processes can autonomously tailor content to a device, or the device can automatically load the software required to process a module. Modularization also allows for the extension of XHTML's layout and presentation capabilities, using the extensibility of XML, without breaking the XHTML standard. This development path provides a stable, useful, and implementable framework for content developers and publishers to manage the rapid pace of technological change on the Web.
Gary Edwards

When You're a WebKit Hammer, Everything Looks Like an Open Web Nail ... As it should! - 0 views

  • You’re still waiting for me to explain what I meant when I referred to JavaScript as a last resort. I hinted at it in the preceding paragraph. Not the part on JavaScript debugging, but my reference to CSS and HTML. These do a lot more than paint screens. They are a browser's client-side framework. Everything they do is handled as native code. In other words, they're fast. CSS3 and HTML5 are too inconsistently implemented (if at all) across browsers to design to unless you're specifically targeting Safari, iPhone, or other WebKit-based browsers.
    • Gary Edwards
       
      Tom makes the point that the use of AJAX JavaScript breaks Web interoperability. He further points out that HTML is a static layout language, where CSS is dynamic and adaptive. (Use HTML5/DOM for document structure, and CSS4 for presentation - layout, formatting and visual interface).

      It is the consistency of the WebKit document model across all WebKit browsers that makes for an interoperable Open Web future. I would not however discount the importance of Firefox and Opera embracing the WebKit document model (HTML5, CSS4, SVG/Canvas, JavaScript, DOM2). That's our guarantee that the future of the Open Web will actually be open.

      Tom goes on to suggest that instead of "AJAX", developers would be better off thinking in terms of "ACHJAX": Asynchronous CSS4 - HTML5 - JavaScript and XML ..... with the focus on getting as much done in CSS4 as possible.
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    InfoWorld's Tom Yager makes the case for the WebKit visual document model over AJAX. The problem with AJAX as he sees it is that it's JavaScript heavy. And that breaks precious Web interoperability. He makes the point that if something can be done in CSS, it should. He also argues that WebKit is the best tool because the document model is that of advanced HTML5 and CSS3.

    "... These [WebKit] browsers also share a stellar accelerated JavaScript interpreter that makes the edit/run/debug cycle go faster. They are also the only browsers that deliver on CSS4 and HTML5 standards (with some elements that are proposed to the W3C standards body). Sites that are visually rich may start sprouting "best viewed with Safari" banners until other browsers catch up. The banner would also let users know that your site is optimized for iPhone....."

    Humm. Did you catch that? CSS4!!! I guess he's referring to the WebKit penchant for putting advanced graphical transitions and animations into CSS instead of relying on a device specific or OS specific API.

    Placing the visual interface instructions in the documents presentation layer (CSS4) is a revolutionary idea. The WebKit model will go a long way towards creating a global interoperability layer that rides above lower device, OS, browser and application specifics. So yes, by all means let's go with CSS4 :)

Gary Edwards

Why Mozilla is committed to Gecko as WebKit popularity grows: Page 1 - 0 views

  • One of the primary reasons for the enormous complexity of the Gecko code base is that it aims to provide much more than just an HTML renderer. Mozilla's early goals were extremely ambitious—the original Mozilla application suite included a browser, a complete mail and newsgroup program, a web design tool, and an IRC client. In addition to rendering HTML, Gecko also provides a versatile XML-based user interface rendering framework called XUL that was used extensively in those applications. XUL is still used today to create the Firefox user interface, and it facilitates that browser's support for extensions, which are regarded by many enthusiasts as one of the most valuable features offered by Firefox.
  • XPCOM, a powerful component system
  • Gecko 1.9 uses the cross-platform Cairo rendering framework.
  • ...4 more annotations...
  • reflow algorithm
  • Firefox 4 and replaces XPCOM reference counting with real garbage collection
  • support for some CSS 3 features that are implemented in WebKit.
  • TraceMonkey engine landed in recent nightly builds and will likely be included in 3.1; it massively boosts JavaScript performance
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    The consensus of the developers who are using WebKit is clear: it's an outstanding rendering engine that lends itself to an extremely diverse assortment of practical uses. It is everywhere, and it is gaining traction at a very impressive rate. That traction is causing some developers to question whether Mozilla's Gecko rendering engine is still relevant.
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    Historical walkthrough comparing two great rendering engines (layout); Mozilla Gecko and WebKit.
simplykreative

15+ Best Free Css Transition Effects - 0 views

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    In this post I'm going to show you some great animations that you can add to your webpages using CSS3 and HTML.
simplykreative

HTML5 Download Attribute - 0 views

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    Files with extension .pdf, .txt, and .doc or image file won't be downloaded and will be opened in the browser. To overcome this issue use the download attribute from html5.
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