Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

Designers and Code

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

I wasn’t at An Event Apart: Chicago 2009. But along with other desk jockeys, I followed along via A Feed Apart. One comment that got re-tweeted about seventy million times during the conference was the following quote by one Jeffrey Zeldman:

Real web designers write code. Always have, always will.

When I made a comment about the amount of retweets occurring on this post, I got a reply from Molly Holzschlag (who I respect, but am incapable of pronouncing the last name of):

Bless my pals at AEA but the entire comment is bait or a very misguided statement to make on the brink of 2010.

When two people who helped define the industry as it is today have a difference of opinion, I’m left on the sidelines wondering which to agree with. One the one hand, I agree with the concept that design needs to occur more in the browser and less in Photoshop, but on the flip side I suspect Molly has some insights that I’m simply not taking into account.

So I’ll throw it to the web at large. What’s your opinion on this topic? Do designers need to start doing more design in (X)HTML and CSS, or are we coders going too far in expecting the to put Photoshop aside in the early design phase?

Comic Update: Redefining Resolved

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Today’s comic imagines a scenario where Ian “The Leviathan” Hickson, HTML5 editor, “resolves” an issue as a plumber.

I’ve used quotation marks on “resolves” because the English language lacks punctuation to indicate sarcasm. I can only imagine what such a strange mark would look like, the black sheep that was expelled from the childhood home of Exclamation Point and Question Mark after a dispute with his stern father, Period. What would life on the streets do to such a symbol?

I considered using italics, but I didn’t want to look too sassy.

The @summary attribute has been the source of no little discomfort during the gestation process of HTML5, a token of sorts that is lauded, derided, despised and fought over in what seems like an endless battle. I discuss, in my own rambling fashion, my view of the civility of the issue here, which in turn references Bruce Lawson’s post on the topic, Alternate text in HTML5. It’s been the source of no small amount of contention, which I think John Foliot describes nicely over here.

Despite this, for some reason I’d (perhaps foolishly) thought that some sort of accord had occurred with @summary, allowing it to exist in HTML5 as a non-obsolete, conforming part of the spec (albeit with a great deal of snark involved).

I’d recently learned that not only was peace not occurring, but that @summary had found itself into the middle of another fracas. It seems that in an attempt to get HTML5 to reach Last Call status on schedule, Ian is marking unresolved issues in the bug tracker as “WONTFIX”, insisting that people with problems talk to the chairs, and moving on.

One such example of this in action is available for your reading pleasure in this W3C bug report. For those of you in a hurry, I’ll sum it up: People (such as the PFWG) have issue with @summary being marked in the HTML5 validator as “obsolete but conforming” along with a warning message.  Ian Hickson, man of action, disagrees with the PFWG’s opinion, won’t change the (inaccurate) flag, and has decided that the issue (among others) is resolved and simply marking it “WONTFIX.” Apparently it will keep this status, despite the large amount of opposition to this stance.

This is, as John Foliot puts it (in the same report)  “An affront to the web accessibility community that existing accessibility solutions that the current editor disagrees with have the status of WONTFIX simply because the editor disagrees.

I’m not sure, in the end, if @summary does or does not deserves the bad rap Ian’s trying to attach to it. But I do know, though, that I’m tired of seeing one “benevolent dictator” being capable of deciding the future of the open web single-handedly by sidestepping all the prior discussions and opposing views regarding HTML5 with a simple “WONTFIX” status.

Comic Update: The W3C/WHATWG Community Theater Group

Monday, July 27th, 2009

I can’t help but be shocked at times at the drama and ugliness that builds up around the HTML5 effort. Good men and women, thinking that they can make a difference, time and again enter the dangerous mailing lists of the W3C and WHAT WG only to be ignored at best or belittled and chewed to pieces. These are zones (allegedly) of collaboration, but instead seem more at times like zones of war.

Go ahead and take a look for yourselves.

I’d think that this was just me overreacting, but when I tweeted on Sunday about my thoughts on the drama in the lists, I got a number of responses that illustrate that I’m not alone in my perception.

Jin Yang indicated that popcorn was a good snack while watching the drama unfold. After I made a bar brawl analogy, David Peterson suggested that whiskey might help them calm down, and that his two year old has progressed farther in the manners department. John Foliot provided some perspective sharing that this “us & them” mentality is a relatively new thing. And Manu Sporny joked that the W3C and WHAT WG originated as community theater groups.

Naturally, his joke was comedy, not fact. But I couldn’t help but think, what if…? So today’s comic portrays Manu Sporny and the Squirrel attending a fateful showing of Our American Cousin.

I want to say that I do see a lot of polite dialogue in the lists. I’m just amazed at how much bad behavior (sometimes well dressed, mind you) makes it into the discussions. Here’s hoping the good outweighs the bad by the time Last Call rolls around.

(As a closing note, I like the term Dundrearyisms.)

Comic Update: The HTML5 Suggestion Box

Monday, July 20th, 2009

In one of his recent lengthy, marathonesque comments in other people’s blog posts, John Allsopp said the following quote in response to Bruce Lawson’s post HTML is a mess: “I guess one of the reasons folks are resorting to raising their legitimate concerns in public fora, rather than directly with the HTML WG (or should that be the WhatWG, or maybe both?) is possible they don’t have a tonne of faith in the process.”

This comment by John sent me down several interesting paths of consideration. Firstly, it made me think that Mr. Allsopp might spend more time writing in other people’s blogs than his own, much like Jeff Croft (who I had the fortune to see at Refresh Bellingham last week) appears to spend more time in every other city in America than the one in which he lives.

Secondly, I briefly thought that I’d start spelling “ton” (American spelling) like “tonne” (which appears to be the Australian, and I’ll bet also the UK spelling). I quickly discarded that plan, since it’d just limit my word count in Twitter. Which made me wonder, do Japanese users of Twitter get to use kanji in their tweets? If so, that seems highly unfair. They could fit a War & Peace sized comment in a single tweet that way. (Note to self: learn Japanese.)

Finally I really got to the meat of what he said in that sentence (one of many that expressed his thoughts on the mess topic Bruce had posted about). Why should you or I bother with figuring out how the hell to send an email to the proper mailing lists for the HTML5 WG? Or the WHAT WG? Heck, I’m not even sure which group is more relevant. The former has more technical authority, but the latter is actually making all the calls. RDFa, ARIA, and other fruits of the loins of other W3C chartered working groups are being disregarded by the HTML5 people consistently, or being carefully argued away with a pleading for use cases, a suggestion that their expertise is flawed, or that alternate solutions (read that: the WHAT WG’s solutions) are the better option.

People who’ve spent decades in service to their fields are being shot down by non-experts. Consider the issues with accessibility. Laura Carlson recently sent a proposal (signed by a lot of notables including accessibility guru John Foliot and HTML5 doctor in residence Bruce Lawson) that suggested the audacious idea that there be a formal procedure that describes how HTML5 will seek accessibility guidance from the W3C WAI groups.

HTML5 editor-for-life Ian Hickson evaded the issue by listing all the unanswered questions he has waiting on such topics instead of addressing the proposal. Sam Ruby one-upped Ian by expressing his disappointment that the proposal even existed.

In a situation like this, where motivated, caring experts in their fields are being ignored or deflected when using the official channels, why should your average John Everyweb even consider unraveling the process involved enough to attempt to address concerns, knowing the almost certain result of such efforts?

I can’t think of any motivating reasons.

Today’s comic features John Foliot (representing accessibility efforts) submitting such a suggestion to the HTML5 group(s), with my squirrel alter ego looking on in horror at the results. Consider it a softened metaphor that reflects my own growing dismay at the direction HTML5 seems to be heading when working with others.

Comic Update: Manners After the XHTMLacolypse

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Last week, it was declared that the XHTML2 WG was being discontinued, so the resources could be focused on HTML5. I briefly mentioned it here, and Jeffrey Zeldman spoke about it here. It’s a simple enough matter, and drew a lot of mixed responses. That in itself isn’t surprising.

What was surprising was how all of a sudden it seemed that it became open hunting season on insulting developers that used XHTML 1 (which is not XHTML2) and gloating over the corpse of the standard before it had even cooled. As two examples, Henri Sivonen produced an unofficial “Q&A” complete with snark, and Mark Pilgrim invented a taunting childish rhyme that reveled in the folly of those he disagreed with. Pilgrim in his case even named Jeffrey Zeldman directly in his taunts (and got even worse in behavior in his comments on that post.)

This sort of behavior annoys me on two levels. One, it’s not a great way to treat your professional peers, as it crosses the line from attacking a technology to attacking people. Two, it confuses (in some cases intentionally) XHTML and XHTML2, making it seem as if the death of the latter somehow invalidated the former, which isn’t the case at all.

Fortunately, good men didn’t let that sort of behavior slide. John Allsopp rightfully called some of the taunters out for their snark (as recorded in this tweet here), and that became the basis for today’s comic, which imagines a post-apocalyptic world where this sort of poor manners must be corrected by brave warriors in the wasteland.

Also helping correct misconceptions and bad behavior were good posts by Jeremy Keith and Jeffrey Zeldman. If you’re confused about the whole XHTML issue this week, take a look at what they’ve written. It’s instructive.

Was XHTML2′s death a good thing? I don’t know. I do know that we can discuss the technology in a fashion that doesn’t involve insulting the people involved, though. Keep it clean, folks.

Note: I wrote this in about eight minutes at the end of my lunch. As such, it might expand later when I have the chance to be more verbose and thoughtful.