September 2010 - Broken Links Archive

JavaScript: The Selectors API

JavaScript libraries like jQuery and Pro­to­type are amaz­ing; flex­i­ble and pow­er­ful, they stan­dard­ise process­es and make cross-brows­er script­ing real­ly easy. I rarely work on a project nowa­days where a library isn’t used.

Their ease-of-use has a slight draw­back, how­ev­er: it’s easy to rely on them too much, and lose sight of new devel­op­ments in JavaScript. This was the rea­son for my not real­ly pay­ing much atten­tion to an excit­ing recent intro­duc­tion, the Selec­tors API, until I had cause to use it on a per­son­al project.

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Using SVG in CSS with JavaScript detection

With the release of IE9 and Fire­fox 4 all major browsers are going to sup­port using SVG in the img ele­ment or as a CSS back­ground image, which is great news as SVG images are good for high def­i­n­i­tion, scal­able web­sites. I’ve writ­ten a cou­ple of posts recent­ly about using SVG with the background-image prop­er­ty, and how to cope with browsers that don’t sup­port it. The method I came up with works, but is far from ele­gant; for one thing, it does­n’t allow for transparency.

Anoth­er approach we can take to the prob­lem is to use JavaScript to detect SVG sup­port. Alex­is Dev­e­ria wrote a script which detects if your brows­er sup­ports SVG and, if not, replace the images with PNG. It’s a good script, but I won­dered if there was an alternative.

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An IE9 review with a massive error

I down­loaded the IE9 Beta last night, and while I haven’t had the chance to give it a prop­er once-over yet, I’m pret­ty impressed with its capa­bil­i­ties so far. The real star is the hard­ware accel­er­a­tion, which opens pages so fast it seems like mag­ic. The new HTML5 and CSS3 sup­port is very welcome.

You can read an in-depth review of it at ZDNet, except it seems to be writ­ten by some­one who does­n’t real­ly under­stand CSS very well.

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HTML5 block-level link bug in IE7+

HTML5 allows the use of block ele­ments inside the a tag, which was not per­mit­ted in HTML4. This means that you can wrap a link around whole sec­tions of markup, mak­ing all of the child ele­ments of the a become the link. You use it like so:

<a href="http://example.com">
  <div>
    <h3>I'm an example</h3>
  </div>
</a>

You can begin to use this straight away, as every brows­er sup­ports it — although you must be wary of one rather glar­ing bug in Inter­net Explorer.

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Playing WebM in Safari with plugins

As you’re no doubt aware, HTML5 video is this year’s big thing — but there’s a dis­pute going on about which should become the default stan­dard video codec. The cur­rent nascent de fac­to stan­dard is H.264, but recent­ly the new WebM for­mat is gain­ing traction.

I’ve no idea how the web video for­mat war will end. My pref­er­ence is that a free, non-patent encum­bered, high-qual­i­ty video codec will become the stan­dard, and WebM is the best fit for that descrip­tion. Despite the recent announce­ment by the MPEG LA, the patent pool which con­trols licens­ing of H.264, that it will always be free for ‘video deliv­ered to the inter­net with­out charge’, that still does­n’t make it free-as-in-speech, and still not free-as-in-beer for any­one want­i­ng to build a busi­ness around video encoding/decoding (which includes, if I’m not mis­tak­en, bundling it with a brows­er). All that said, my pref­er­ence is mean­ing­less in the face of so many vest­ed busi­ness interests.

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Aside

I’ve updat­ed my Speak­ing page to include more con­fer­ences, more videos, and a lit­tle on my speak­ing require­ments and pref­er­ences. I’m plan­ning to cut down on the num­ber of talks I give in 2014 (twelve is too many), but am always open to inter­est­ing offers and oppor­tu­ni­ties, so please get in touch if you’re organ­is­ing an event.

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