Showing posts from 2013

A Real Deal Breaker

Internet Explorer has been doing so well since version 9 to keep up with evolving web standards. However, there still is quite a lot missing. One of the most sad gaps is the omission of preserve-3d. This basically means that the browser doesn't let you create three-dimensional objects that can be manipulated as such. Cool things like native 3D or parallax scrolling are out of the question with IE10.

So why isn't this supported (yet)? Are Microsoft developers just inept? Reluctant? Lazy? /me wonders...

To shield us from further disappointment, it's probably for the best to NEVER AGAIN develop for Internet Explorer. This ends here.


The Bling Chain

JQuery is the most popular JavaScript toolkit. But I think it's inherently flawed, and there are much better alternatives.

JQuery is a toolkit for manipulating the Document Object Model (DOM), i.e. the live editable tree structure that the browser creates from a webpage in its memory. It is useful for doing stuff like this:

The $ (bling) function looks for an element (crotch) in the DOM, and applies some functionality (sniff) to it. Since that function just returns the same element (crotch), you can run it again through another function (scratch). As a matter of fact, every other function returns the same element, so you can create a whole chain of functions (the bling chain). This means that the toolkit extends the element with some custom behavior. Nothing wrong with learning an old dog some new tricks. However, JQuery adds all this functionality in one single dirty file. In fact, JQuery just fails on the nice script above, because it do…

The corporate hijack of open source code

Big corporations like Monsanto somewhat resemble the Borg from Star Trek: you will be assimilated. Aside from the radical anti-globalist rhetoric of Vandana Shiva, patenting seeds is a very monstrous thing to do. I mean, I don't like the thought of people stealing my ideas to make money that would've otherwise gone my way, but the whole intellectual property deal already is such a slippery slope. To tinker with living organisms is bad enough, but to patent them is crossing the line. I don't want to be drawn into a political discussion: this entry serves a purpose. I'd like to address the corporate undercurrents in open source software.

I'm a proponent of open business. I like to share ideas as they emerge, at least with a small circle. In my last post I wanted to raise awareness for the problem I have with object-oriented programming. After writing it, and watching the interview with Vandana Shiva, I suddenly became aware that the same concept of patented seed does…

Markup is dead!

Recently I have been working on run-time adaptive widgets. Why? I've invested heavily in the Dojo Toolkit. The widget department of Dojo is all about singular, static widgets, which can be used like JavaFX, for example. They are fine for building desktop-like GUIs but, you guessed it, terrible for the mobile web. Sometimes we want a horizontal menu to be displayed vertically. I did search the web for other solutions, but they all seem to be markup-based in some way. These are great times for HTML5 and CSS3. That's what the buzz is all about. But I don't like it all that much. Writing markup is tedious and not DRY, platforms creating it are opaque and too specialist. I'd rather spend some time figuring out the best way to go about it. However, building a competitive tool from scratch has never been my forte. So I desperately cling to my current tool set (as we all do). I was going to set out creating stuff in Dojo, as I always do. Then this video came along:


Decentralized Data Decrapitude

Tim O'Reilly: "Given that you put the web into the public domain... Are you a socialist?" Tim Berners-Lee: "LOL!"
Opening of "A Conversation with Tim Berners-Lee", Web 2.0 Summit 2009.

Why does Facebook have an approximate 1 billion users, Google+ 350 million and Diaspora, an open source alternative, only a meager 406,000? You could argue that Facebook started earlier and was at the time the better platform. But why was it the better platform? Because it used the infamous Social Graph. Supposedly developed by Philippe Bouzaglou in 2002, one of the early Facebook guys at Harvard University, it found its way into the hands of the Zuckerberg cabal. For further facts, watch the movie ;-) However, it wasn't the first attempt at crossing the boundaries of the Web as just a "bucket of text and links" (and the occasional image). As we know, the Semantic Web was thought up by Tim Berners-Lee, the very founding father of the aforementioned bucket, …

Beyond Inversion of Control

There is no doubt about it: the MVC pattern has taken over. In my view, it just has one "minor" flaw: tight coupling. Every time you insert a reference to another class, it's just gonna sit there forever until you, the developer, decide to take it out again. To ameliorate this, Inversion of Control was introduced. It uses dependency injection at runtime, so the control of the dependency is out of the hands of the developer. Some people seem to find it hard to understand IoC, but it's really that simple. Who or what is in control, now that the reference has become all soft and fuzzy? You've guessed it: your config.conf. Or your wysi.wig. Something horrible at least. Well, that's your prize for joining the MVC movement. But wait, wasn't there some way to explain to your boss that you're still a decent programmer? Yes, through reference! He or she is probably looking at all your LinkedIn endorsements! Good job! Cudos to you!

Catch my drift? There is not …

Abandoning hope... and XForms

Sometimes a decision must be made. I have invested many hours in a standard that is quite complex and tedious to maintain, and that was great fun, but enough is enough.

Why did I invest in XForms when it took so much effort and time? Because I believe standards are good and good standards come from the W3C and the XML community. Also, I always had somewhat of an inferiority complex in IT development that I tried to compensate by using techniques supposedly invented for common folk, i.e. non-programmers. Both are bad reasons from where I now stand. I took up XForms because I was infected by the enthusiasm of a friend (who was even quicker to abandon it) about 3 years ago. At first I assumed it just used a model from which to infer a form. It turned out it was like a superset of HTML forms with options for displaying and validating data. This was largely taken up by HTML5, as we all know. The Model remains the core of XForms, but the W3C is slow to respond to innovations and the need fo…

XML is dead. Long live RDF?

I'd choose concept over implementation any time. I kinda always knew that, but I rediscovered this recently. I want to be able to confide in that and in my intuition. It tells me XML is dead. Really. So here goes.

At XML Prague 2013 it occurred to me that RDF means the death of XML. I was discussing RDF with +Manuel Lautenschlager, and at one point he said: you can just infer XML. I tried to get him to elaborate on this statement, but we didn't seem to agree on the implications. But I thought, if one successfully manages to reason about the format of data, then XML would be one of the possible outcomes. This doesn't just mean that XML could be a subset of RDF, but conceptually: XML, its media type and any knowledge about it could simply become part of an ontology.

I discussed this with +John Snelson, who wasn't impressed. According to him, RDF is too fine-grained to present itself as a tree, the serialization would not be performant, and implementing the concept would …

XML Prague 2013 Afterthought

An anniversary is supposed to be a happy occasion, but at some point you also tend to feel sad. You sense that when something reaches a certain age, it's also a step closer to death. Happy birthday dear XML.

However, if MicroXML will succeed XML (as proposed by Uche Ogbuji), then perhaps it means that ENQUIRE is going to replace the WWW. Some weeks ago I watched the unveiling of Nintendo 64, when we got all the cool games we still play today. Afterwards I wondered: how can it be Nintendo developed all this stuff back in '96, when I'm still struggling with namespaces? Happy birthday dear me.

I read Michael Kay's blog entry on MicroXML, and his concern for namespaces in XSLT. I understand this concern, but xquery doesn't seem to share this problem. Defining a module from a URI and mapping it to a local namespace is common practice, and recently found its way into JavaScript in the form of require.js, which sails under the flag of the Dojo Foundation. I don't see …