Posts Tagged ‘ethan marcotte’

T(GIF): Birthday Rave

Friday, August 24th, 2012

I’m starting a new tradition. Every Friday at CSSquirrel is T(GIF), where you’ll be presented with an animated picture that you are free to use and misuse as you see fit in your daily Internet communications.

Today is my birthday, so today’s GIF obviously must be a birthday rave.

As a bonus I’m also including the GIF I created as a ad-hoc birthday gift back on July 6th for Ethan Marcotte and features him flying away in a journey to help his fellow robots. I’m still holding out for my Beep and the Squirrel buddy comedy script becoming a reality some day. Enjoy.

The Egotistical Puppet King & I

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012
CSSquirrel #93: The Egotistical Puppet King and I

In a way I should be grateful to Ian “Hixie” Hickson for being an egotistical tyrant. Without his inability to acknowledge that a consensus-driven, well-crafted and usable solution built by a group of well-meaning, hard-working people could actually somehow be better than his own personal opinion, he’s pulled me out of my long-hiatus and back to to the drawing board.

Today’s comic is in fact three comics. No single idea could encompass everything. In all three Hixie gets top billing as the editor-for-life of HTML’s “living spec”. The first comic features Naepalm, chinchilla alter ego of fellow Mindflier Janae Wiedmaier. The second one includes the irreplaceable Justin McDowell. Lastly we see Matt May, Dylan Wilbanks and Ethan Marcotte joining forces with the Squirrel in a bid to take down the HTML king.

(Today’s comics as per usual aren’t meant to imply that the people represented therein endorse my views. I’m saying it outright today because I’m feeling particularly vitriolic and don’t want my words to reflect on them.)

The Situation

For those of you just tuning in, today’s outrage focuses around Hixie’s decision to adopt a problematic, late-arriving, Apple-proposed attribute of the <img> tag into the HTML standard as the solution to the adaptive images issue. In the process he again reinforces his inability to heed the creed of HTML’s priority of constituencies (end users over authors over implementers) while also tossing away the hard work of a community group of developers that built a very functional, very usable solution to that problem in the form of the <picture> element.

If you’d like a summary, you can check out the aptly titled WTFWG by Tim Kadlec, or take a look at Zeldman’s take on the situation over here, which links into an A List Apart article by Mat Marquis on the topic.

I wish this was a new situation. Or that it was surprising. Or that I didn’t feel like I was repeating myself each time I mention Hixie in blog or comic form. The fact is that as the Editor of HTML, Ian keeps doing this. And we keep letting him.

The Puppet

At one point I attributed this issue solely to his gigantic ego and clearly overwhelming case of not invented here syndrome. Now I’m frankly convinced that although these qualities contribute to the problem, the real issue is that he’s the puppet of the browser vendors, namely the three most involved in WHATWG: Apple, Opera, and Google. Although the priority of constituencies dictates that implementers (aka, browser vendors) should be lower priority than developers (who are in turn answerable to end users), it seems that without fail Hixie will bow to the vendors before considering any work on the part of developers at a solution, no matter how reasonable, well-built and documented that solution is.

That’s not a kind accusation, that a man is a puppet. But clearly every attempt to work with the WHATWG has always resulted in developers being treated as second-class citizens to the browser makers. And let’s make it clear: this is our job. We make websites for a living, and the tom-foolery that Ian is engaged in is directly impacting our present and future workflow. We work on making websites every damn day. We know what works for us, and what doesn’t.

And he doesn’t care in the slightest.

“Work With Us”

At this point, Hixie and his backers are relying on the same smoke and mirrors to distract people. Present use cases. Keep engaged with the WHATWG and let them know your technical objections. Get involved in their IRC. But the fact is we as developers have done this over and over and over. Yet at the end of the day, regardless of the hard work put in and all the proof jammed into the pudding, it all amounts to naught. Hixie spends twelve seconds coming up with his own solution or takes what the browser makers gives him and uses that instead.

It happened with metadata. It happened with the <time> element. It’s happening now with responsive images.

The fact is that Ian doesn’t give a shit.

He’s going to do it his way, or failing that he will do what Google and the other browser makers in the WHATWG tell him to do. He’s not going to look at what the developers have built and give that solution a thumbs-up. As John Foliot said: “Dev community, if you continue to author to the WHAT WG doc, you lend your tacit support to heir hixie. Look where that gets you.”

Enough Is Enough

Being part of their process is being part of the problem. I’ve never seen things resolved by following the WHATWG’s “process”, as it amounts to little more than distracting developers while he goes off and implements a less functional, more complex solution to the problem.

Don’t deal with Hixie. Don’t deal with the WHATWG. Directly object to the browser vendors. “Occupy” HTML by making use of the consensus-built techniques that already have functional polyfills. Do what makes sense, and what works for you.Sooner or later, the browser vendors will be tired of the grief sent their way and tell Hixie to roll over.

<time> wasn’t fixed because we followed the WHATWG’s process.

I’m going to say it: I don’t believe that WHATWG is part of the solution anymore. As I’ve been told by others, democracy isn’t always the best approach. Sure, ok. But so far when it comes to the community-build, consensus-driven approach and Hixie’s brain, the community’s solution has proven more effective more often.

I’m going with the community, not the puppet.

Comic Update: So Cold

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
CSSquirrel #86: So Cold

In a perfect world, Ethan Marcotte would star opposite of me in a web design-themed, buddy cop action comedy called Beep and the Squirrel.

Actually… I’m writing that one down, just in case.

Until that glorious moment, I’ll enjoy his raw intellect and seasoned wit while envying his creative talent in a suitably stalker-like fashion. (Unless you’re reading this, Ethan, in which case I assure you that I am in no way digging through your refuse bins looking for cast-off brilliant ideas and toothbrushes.)

While we’re in the vein of borderline creepy idol worship, I’m going to agree with Ethan’s succinct tweet on the W3C’s CSS Conditional Rules Module Level 3 Working Draft (which I’ll reduce to the much easier to remember abbreviation “CCR Module”, hereafter nicknamed the “More Cowbell” document). I feel cold.

I’m still perusing the document. Although any judgement leveled while shooting from the hips (hello, ladies) is bound to be rife with bad summaries and skewed views, in my opinion the module doesn’t seem to solve any problems that aren’t already being solved in a better fashion by good CSS practice or other techniques. It’s a lazy man’s shortcut to “supportin’ olla them thar browsers”.

As Dylan Wilbanks said, these aren’t the conditionals I’m looking for.

Just look at @supports, for the love of cheese (or dairy-free cheese alternative for vegans and the lactose intolerant). It lets you test if a browser supports a feature, before (in their examples) you then go and use the feature. What? How bizarre is that? I know in their examples you can get far trickier with not and or and doogie howser, but seriously?

When it comes to the problems that CSS is supposed to solve, although @supports and its ilk would work, they seem to encourage bad or unnecessarily laboriously bloated CSS documents instead of streamlining the process. And when it comes to @document I believe that the authors are trying to make CSS solve problems it wasn’t intended for.

Look, if you’re trying to get your CSS to be flexibly supported across different browsers and devices, I recommend checking out Ethan’s Responsive Web Design, or at least actually using your skullmeat instead of slapping shoddy shortcuts into your CSS. Capiche?

Comic Update: Robot or Not?

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Today’s comic finishes (finally) the An Event Apart “storyline” that starts here, and has part #2 here. It features AEA speakers Andy Clarke, Nicole Sullivan and Ethan Marcotte. It also features Naepalm, the chinchilla alter-ego of Janae, one of my fellow Mindfly Web Studio designers. The comic also has a brief cameo by everyone’s favorite archaic browser complication: the dreaded hasLayout.

It’s been a long journey to crank out these three comics, which highlight some very important points. First, continuity in a web-design commentary webcomic is difficult at best. Second, that cheese tidal waves represent the best of all possible worlds. Finally, that An Event Apart: Seattle was an awesome extravaganza and Janae and I are still trying to squeeze out all the drops of precious information we absorbed into Mindfly’s waiting arms.

One of my favorite presentations was Ethan’s Dao of Flexibility, which discussed adaptive layouts and fluid grids in detail, opening my eyes to the real power of the world of media queries. I’ve been tinkering away in my acorn-filled lair since the conference, working away at a new design for this site that harnesses these arcane techniques for my own dark purposes. From time to time, I have to pause and laugh with evil glee.

Thanks, AEA.

We’ll now return to my regular schedule of making fun of HTML5 politics and Opera.

Comic Update: Veritas Sciurus – Must Web Designers Code?

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Today’s comic features a gruesome shootout between Ethan Marcotte, Andy Budd, Ian Lloyd, Eric Meyer, Jeffrey Zeldman and the duo of Elliot Jay Stocks and the squirrel. Jeff Croft also makes an important appearance. Cast in the light of a rather enjoyable action film, the sequence mimics the spirit of a Twitter throwdown that Mr. Stocks ignited this February with one simple tweet: “Honestly, I’m shocked that in 2010 I’m still coming across ‘web designers’ who can’t code their own designs. No excuse.

As you can imagine, this sort of statement created a charged atmosphere in the web designer tweet zone. People had opinions, they shared them. Those were just a few examples. In general, things got a bit tense. It’s rather reminiscent of the last time I saw this topic come up during October ’09 (I’d joined in with a post about it which you can read here).

Should web designers know how to code in order to be taken seriously?

Jeff Croft’s response to the reignited brawl is to the point (warning – profanity-laced): You can read it here.

It’s always a very fascinating argument when this topic comes up. I’d like to hear your thoughts on it: Should web designers know code? (Elliot later discussed the topic himself in more detail here. Take a gander.)