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Apple’s HTML5 Demo

OK, there’s been so much controversy about Apple’s HTML5 demo page (http://www.apple.com/html5/). Of course, you can go to the Mozilla developer site and find links to their own CSS3 examples like this: https://developer.mozilla.org/En/CSS/Using_CSS_transforms. It only works in Firefox. Hmmm… You can find similar pages on the Opera developer site. Hmmm… You can find similar ones from Google as well, oh and from Microsoft too. Do you see a pattern? Every browser vendor is putting up examples of how their browser renders whatever it is they’re trying to show off. So is it disingenuous for Apple to post their HTML5 demo? No.

All of this started with a blog post by a Mozilla evangelist, Christopher Blizzard: http://www.0xdeadbeef.com/weblog/2010/06/intellectual-honesty-and-html5/

Since Netscape Navigator 6, the Mozilla team for years lead the charge in establishing new standards for the Web. However, in June of 2005 Apple release the source code of the rendering engine for their Safari browser as and open source project known as Webkit. Even before the creation of the Webkit project, the Safari team had managed to create code to pass the Acid 2 test, the first browser to do so. Since then the Webkit team has introduced many new feats for the Web: the canvas tag, multiple backgrounds, background sizing, background clipping, rounded corners, text shadow, box shadow, text stroke, CSS gradients, CSS image masks, border images, CSS transforms, CSS transitions, CSS keyframe animation, as well as support for multi-touch events, etc. David Hyatt from the Webkit team has submitted all of these to the W3C for standardization. Many of these have already been adopted by the Mozilla team into Firefox. That’s why it’s interesting to see Mozilla’s Christopher Blizzard reacting Apple HTML5 demos as follows:

“The demos that they put up are just filled with stuff that Apple made up, aren’t part of HTML5 and are only now getting to the standards process. Part of CSS3? Kind of, sort of, but under heavy development and still in a feedback process.”

Then he goes on to say:

“The most important aspect of HTML5 isn’t the new stuff like video and canvas (which Safari and Firefox have both been shipping for years) it’s actually the honest-to-god promise of interoperability. Even stodgy old Microsoft, who has been doing their best to hold back the web for nearly a decade, understands this and you’ll see it throughout their marketing for IE9. (Their marketing phrase is “same markup” – watch for it and you’ll see it everywhere in their messaging.) The idea that the same markup, even with mistakes, will be rendered exactly the same. HTML5 represents the chance for browsers to work together and find common ground.”

OK, then why are there so many sites that use only CSS3 with -moz prefixes, including stuff on mozilla.com? If he wants one code to work everywhere always, then why have the Mozilla guys tried to persuade the W3C to use different syntax from the CSS3 features that the Webkit team introduced? We’re talking border radius, gradients, etc. If we wanted one code that worked everywhere we would still be using HTML 1.0. Progress is always painful, like a snake outgrowing its skin and shedding it. To me it seems like his biggest gripe is that most innovation on the Web today that is impacting standards seems to be coming from the Webkit team. This has meant that the Mozilla team is now in react mode trying to play catch up or minimalize the perception of Webkit’s advances over the last five years.

If i download the alpha of Firefox 3.7 right now, it’s got built-in support for the stuff that he’s complaining about in the above paragraph, stuff that is still in early recommendation status. Then there’s Mozilla’s decision to dump the HTML5 client-side database API for their own JavaScript based API for database calls. They apparently thinks developers don’t know how or don’t feel comfortable writing SQL. Hmmmm… What kind of developers are those? Sounds like sounds to me like a lot of their developers only know JavaScript so they want a JavaScript API. Check out the reaction of real developers in the comments section of the above link.

So, it seems like the Mozilla team is heading down a path to somewhere. It’s just that I don’t see myself wanting to head down that path. I want innovation that adds new capabilities and makes things simpler. But I don’t want simpler to mean I can do the hard things because simple can only do simple.

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About Robert Biggs
Front end Web developer skilled at creating interactive, dynamic interfaces using HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, SVG. Passionate about developing awesome user experiences in the mobile space.

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