Posts Tagged ‘chris wilson’

Comic Update: The HTML5 Super Friends

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Today’s comic, which features a massive ensemble cast of Jeffrey Zeldman, Dan Cederholm, Jeremy Keith, Eric Meyer, Ethan Marcotte, Tantek Çelik, Nicole Sullivan and Wendy Chisholm (guest starring Chris Wilson astride a unicorn), is something like gloss and candy. It’s not tackling a serious issue. Rather, it’s tackling a humorous name created by a group of great people who are themselves tackling a serious issue.

As this photo conclusively proves, the people above (minus Chris Wilson and the unicorn) gathered in the recent past to discuss something very vital. Contrary to popular rumor, it was not the secret location of the Holy Grail or harnessing the power of cold fusion. Nay, they were instead talking about HTML5. More importantly, they were talking about HTML5 as “authors”. For pretty much anyone who reads this blog and doesn’t work for a browser manufacturer, that means you, or your son (if your my parents. Hi mom! Hi dad!)

Like the Hardy Boys, these people were industriously searching for clues, especially clues along the line of “what the hell is HTML5 anyway, and how does it apply to a web designer?” After spelunking the depths of the spec, they surfaced with two things: Firstly, they declared that it was good. Secondly, (and for my purposes, more importantly) they chose  an identity to bind them: The HTML5  Super Friends.

Today’s comic is comedic salute to their bravery and choice of identity. They’ve already done us a great deal of good by recommending alterations to the footer element (which was already a source of annoyance to yours truly) which has now come to pass.

Keep up the noble work, dear heroes.

(And in case you wanted to know, Chris Wilson’s appearance was due to his tweet here regarding the presence of the unicorn on the HTML5 Super Friends page.)

Dan Cederholm, Jeremy Keith, Eric Meyer, Ethan Marcotte, Tantek Çelik, Nicole Sullivan, Wendy Chisholm

Comic Update: Who Really Is the Wizard of HTML5?

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Today’s comic portrays my misgivings about HTML5 through the lens of L. Frank Baum, imagining a world where Chris Wilson, Manu Sporny and John Foliot were my companions through a standards-creating journey roadblocked by a guy in a purple coat with a big curtain.

Let’s review the facts.

Ian Hickson, editor of the HTML5 spec and top dog of the WHAT WG, is an employee of Google. He also adheres to a policy when dealing with people that can be summed up as: Deny, Delay, Too Late.

It can be argued that HTML5 is an important upgrade to one of the most vital technologies of the 21st century. Billions of people are using the Internet to facilitate communication and business, share their culture, access otherwise censored information when living under harsh regimes, and so forth. Most of the sites they use for these purposes are built in some fashion upon HTML.

At the currently accelerating rate of content creation, it’s safe to say that billions of pages will be built with HTML5. How these pages are designed, and how they’ll meet the needs of people both in the present and in the future rest upon how this standard is outlined. Everything from preserving the portability of microdata, ensuring the accessibility of web users with special needs, and finding ways to share media without the hassle of brand-specific plugin wars (anyone seen a flash site on an iPhone yet?) are determined by this effort.

So why is it that the person who is the center of this process is allowed to be a man who rejects consensus, actively denies issues (based on his own admitted policy) and substitutes expert advice in important areas like accessibility with analyzing data from the Google Index and parsing numbers? Numbers that we cannot have a third party confirm because every request to do just this is ignored?

There is no doubt in my mind that Ian is brilliant. However no man, no matter how brilliant, should be allowed to be so influential on a spec when he is bringing all this baggage to the table with him.

The biggest problem for me is as follows: Google. Ian’s work is highly influenced by data harvested by Google. I am positive Google has some spectacular views of the web, resulting in some highly accurate views of the current state of the Internet. I’m also sure that this doesn’t matter one bit if we have to take their word for it, because we can’t view it ourselves.

Most people search the web through Google. I get mail through Google, site analytics through Google, news through Google, and sometimes even browse with a browser used by Google. It’s impossible to throw a rock at the Internet and not somehow hit Google. It’s to the point where even the US government is getting a bit itchy and considering taking antitrust actions against them.

I don’t want to sound paranoid, but perhaps we shouldn’t craft HTML5 solely on Google’s say-so. If the data-harvesting Ian performs can’t be independently verified, then perhaps we shouldn’t accept it as fact. It’s just not prudent. We definitely shouldn’t use it as a substitute for actual experts in discussions like accessibility (which I spoke about last week). If Ian can’t accept that limitation or provide access to the raw data, then we need to consider whether a conflict of interests exists and whether he should remain as the editor. With him doing such a poor job of playing well with others (whether they be individuals, experts, or other WC3 working groups) while relying on private information from his employer, how can he be expected to create a HTML5 that meets not just his needs, or Google’s needs, but everyone’s needs?

I’m not convinced he can.

Comic Update: HTML5 Manners

Monday, May 4th, 2009

I’m going to lay out a chronology of prior events for you all so that today’s comic has a context other than the poor movie experience that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine (I really wanted to love that movie.)

Chris Wilson (W3C HTML WG co-chair and Microsoft employee) posted an e-mail to a HTML5 discussion that made reference to the “W3C HTML5 Spec”.

Mark Pilgrim (Google employee and WHATWG Blog author) in the WHATWG IRC channel then implies that HTML WG co-chair Sam Ruby would have been attempting to be divisive had he written that e-mail, but since it came from the other chair, Chris, he was in fact being stupid.

Shelley Powers (computer book author, software developer and technology architect) expresses utter frustration in a blog post about the future of HTML5 by pointing out this incident and many others that indicates a “Hatfield-McCoy feud” (in her words) between the W3C and WhatWG that is miring the whole process down. Gems in her post include an IRC discussion (starts here, ends here) between HTML5 editor Ian Hickson and Microformats champion Tantek Celik where Ian shows his bias in the microdata issue (read that: whether to include RDFa in HTML5) by asking Tantek to vet the use-case submissions. The “vetting” quickly devolves to the pair saying “Use microformats for everything” or if such a situation isn’t possible, to simply create a custom microformat for your own use.

Yes, that’s it, let’s make dozens of one-shot formats to solve the many microdata issues we’ll doubtlessly be facing in the next several years. That can’t possibly create any sort of data-harvesting compatibility issues. If I can see the shortsightedness of this issue (and I fail to wear coats on cloudy days because “it’s not raining yet”) then you can bet this isn’t a tenable, long-term solution.

They take some time to attack Creative Commons while they’re at it.

These aren’t the only times these sort of offensive public conversations have occurred, where WhatWG members have publicly derided, insulted or challenged the intelligence of the individuals they’re politely talking to in other conversations about topics they’re mutually involved in (such as HTML5). Mr. Last Week in HTML5 is a great (albeit foul-mouthed and somewhat spiteful) source of links to these conversations occurring all the time.

Ian responded to Shelley’s post, taking umbrage (as Shelley put it) at her “insulting accusation”. Shelley’s response cut to the core of the matter, exposing the main issue at hand here, and one that needs some serious addressing. In her words: “Don’t you get it? Don’t you see what Last Week in HTML5 is trying to demonstrate? You talk respect in my comments, or Sam’s comments, and elsewhere, but you show disrespect to me, to Sam, to others, in the IRC, and it completely undermines everything that you do.

I can’t state it better. These people aren’t average developers trading insults about trivial code snippets on small-scale projects. These are industry movers-and-shakers who are supposed to be working together to help create the standards that will define how we use HTML and other web technologies for years to come. I expect professional disagreement to occur (I’d be worried and concerned if that didn’t happen). But to start insulting one another personally in a public discussion (or frankly, privately) is shameful to the entire process and the entire community that is depending on them to do a good job.

Shame on you, sirs.

I’ll leave you with the following quotes from this IRC discussion including Doug Schepers, Ian Hickson, and a person named ‘roc’ (I don’t know his real name) [edit: As I've been informed in the comments, roc is Mozilla's Robert O'Callahan]:

shepazutoo (Doug): wow, Hixie, “contradicting other specs has never stopped the SVGWG before” (q.v. xlink, css, etc)… first, those were almost certainly mistakes rather than purposeful contradictions, and second, you’re acting like the current SVG WG is the same set of companies and individuals that wrote the SVG 1.1 spec, which you know to be false… can you please drop the political histrionics? we’re acting in good faith to correct some past errors, and to work with other WGs and with browser vendors to make all the specs align usefully

Hixie (Ian): i think you may have missed the smiley

roc (Robert): a smiley is not a “get out of jail free card” to be annoying