Posts Tagged ‘hixie’

In Soviet HTML5…

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012
CSSquirrel #97: In Soviet HTML...

Today’s comic features Mat “Wilto” Marquis (Internet folk hero) in a nightmarish world that I imagine Ian Hickson envisions if HTML were ever allowed to slip from his hands and be created by the common man.

We’ve discussed the issue of responsive images in HTML and the proposed <picture> element before, you and I. Here’s a look back in case you need a refresher. It’s a bit cheeky. I get worked up over things like one smart person thinking his brain is more efficient than the combined powers of dozens of smart people.

<Picture> has had a rough road.

All the way back in December 2011, Bruce Lawson posted this idea for how the syntax of <picture> might work. Several people started a community group chaired by Mat Marquis back in February (based on a WHATWG email suggesting such) to push the idea forward so it could see eventual adoption into the HTML spec. They did a great deal of good work to make a workable, problem-solving piece of markup. Scott Jehl even created a polyfill script to provide support for the proposed markup until browsers implemented it, which you can find here.

Then Hixie stepped in. It’s been well documented in the past before, so I’ll summarize: he decided to ignore the community group and efforts of the developer community and went with srcset. Classic Hixie solo action. Here’s an aptly named summary, WTFWG by Tim Kadlec, and a piece on A List Apart by Mat Marquis.

Developers were mad. Developers were vocal. Then for the most part, the web moved on.

If it wasn’t for the continued effort over the past several months of people like Mat, that would have been that. But he and others didn’t stop, and they kept on pushing, and wouldn’t you know it? Something came of it.

Not in the WHATWG, of course. Someone hoping for that sort of miracle would be essentially signaling to everyone that they finally lost their last marble. (Here’s an example of how things were going over there, AKA, Hixie’s got his blinders on like normal.)

But over at the W3C, Mat and his allies accomplished this: an official w3C Editor’s Draft of a proposal for HTML Responsive Images Extension, featuring both srcset AND <picture> to be included into the HTML5 spec. It’s just a step, but it’s a fairly big one, and a great deal of validation for the developers that worked so hard, despite Hixie’s best attempts at ignoring them, to create a responsive image solution that works for them.

I could tell you how it’s a heroic accomplishment that is leading us towards a better web. But I won’t. Not because I think it isn’t (it in fact is!) but because Marc Drummond already said it better. Go read his article Responsive images, the picture element and the W3C: This is how you deal with Hixie and WHATWG. It’s worth it.

It’s hard to say if <picture> will ever make it into the browsers. The browser makers are mostly (but not entirely) involved in WHATWG, and would prefer to work around the W3C. But I do believe that enough community effort will continue to build on the success that Mat and the others have brought us.

I asked Mat about what he saw as the future of <picture> in light of these recent accomplishments, and what interested developers should do to help. Here’s his response.

I totally stand by that follow-up tweet I posted earlier ( http://twitter.com/wilto/statuses/240486846801514498 ): no matter how things play out from here, the dev community has done something that I don’t believe has ever been done before. You just don’t see specs – proposed or otherwise – with a developer’s name at the top. If nothing else I hope this marks the beginning of that, and that it leads to we authors having a voice in web standards equaling that of the vendors.

To get involved, more folks should join up with the RICG! http://www.w3.org/community/account/request

Let’s not waste the opportunity this has given us. We’re the developers that will have to work with the spec that’s being created, and will be answerable to the clients and site visitors that will use the sites we create. We should and can have a bigger voice in the direction of HTML. What Mat and others have done is show us how.

Comic Update: The HTML5 Show (AKA, A Mess)

Monday, January 11th, 2010

HTML5 is a mess.

That was a phrase in my Refresh presentation in December, when I was speaking of the dueling organizations jockeying for control of the spec.

At the time of my writing, I did not know how clean it was by comparison to its status today.

Today’s comic features Hixie the Leviathan interrupting a Muppet-show like meeting of the W3C HTML5 group. Blame the parody of Henson’s creations on the commentary of one Mr. Jeremy Keith. Tweets like this are candy for people like me. The comic also features Sam Ruby, John Foliot, Manu Sporny, Jeremy Keith and Bruce Lawson as Muppet parodies.

The fact is that it seems that Ian “Hixie” Hickson, the HTML5 editor, has taken his ball and gone home. He’s started splitting out the HTML5 spec on the W3C side of things into a shredded mess, by his own words with the hope that if the W3C spec becomes a giant mess, people will drift to the WHATWG spec by default. He’s petulantly insisted that microdata (his own creation) is part of HTML despite the recent W3C work that resulted in it being moved out of the spec. He states that the WHATWG spec trumps the W3C spec, so the latter organization has to get over itself and get back with the program. He’s implied that he’d prefer authors (that’s web designers/developers) stop using HTML5 features as much as they have because it’s causing problems. (This further reinforces my belief that Hixie is following an Implementer > Author > User mentality instead of the User > Author > Implementer mentality that HTML was built upon.) He’s made HTML versionless, insisting that HTML5 is a snapshot that he’s already gone past, and is sitting as monarch for life on the continuing evolution of the spec.

All this from a guy who’s catch phrase seems to be “I don’t understand.” Which is, to me, a dangerous trait in a person empowered with absolute rule over the spec.

In short, like Jeremy, I’m frustrated with a lot of the recent HTML-related issues from the front of advocacy. I’ve tried to sell HTML5 (and it’s grab-bag of toys) to co-workers, peers in web design, total strangers, and friends who didn’t escape a conversation early enough. I want to see it used more, so the browsers speed up implementation of juicy features, so I can use it even more excessively, and so on.

But if people don’t even know if HTML5 exists anymore, or the status of the organizations working on it seem to be out of whack, why would they bother using the <video> tag or exploring <canvas>? We need to give people something to work with. Which means we need to not have insane grandstanding by a single individual.

But hey, this is just one squirrel’s view: HTML5 is a mess.