Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

File Under: Events, Web Basics

20 Years Ago, The Web’s Founders Ask for Funding

Robert Cailliau's original logo

Ever wonder who the first web developers were?

Twenty years ago today, when Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” was at the top of the charts, two engineers at CERN’s data handling division wrote the proposal to fund the research project that would give birth to the web.

The proposal, submitted by Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau on November 12, 1990, laid out what they wanted to build and the resources they’d require. The team wanted to start by building a browser and a server. They estimated development would take six months, and that it would require “four software engineers and a programmer.” There are also some serious hardware requirements totaling tens of thousands of dollars (or is it Swiss francs?), but about a third of the requested funding was dedicated to software user licenses.

Here’s the overview:

The attached document describes in more detail a Hypertext project. HyperText is a way to link and access information of various kinds as a web of nodes in which the user can browse at will. It provides a single user-interface to large classes of information (reports, notes, data-bases, computer documentation and on-line help). We propose a simple scheme incorporating servers already available at CERN.

The project has two phases: firstly we make use of existing software and hardware as well as implementing simple browsers for the user’s workstations, based on an analysis of the requirements for information access needs by experiments. Secondly, we extend the application area by also allowing the users to add new material.

Phase one should take 3 months with the full manpower complement, phase two a further 3 months, but this phase is more open-ended, and a review of needs and wishes will be incorporated into it.

The manpower required is 4 software engineers and a programmer, (one of which could be a Fellow). Each person works on a specific part (eg. specific platform support).

Each person will require a state-of-the-art workstation , but there must be one of each of the supported types. These will cost from 10 to 20k each, totaling 50k. In addition, we would like to use commercially available software as much as possible, and foresee an expense of 30k during development for one-user licences [sic], visits to existing installations and consultancy.

We will assume that the project can rely on some computing support at no cost: development file space on existing development systems, installation and system manager support for daemon software.

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File Under: Events, Fonts, Web Standards

Web Heavies Send a Love Letter to Open Web Fonts

The nascent Web Open Font Format (WOFF) is getting a boost this week thanks to some new initiatives being kicked off by the W3C, the web’s governing body.

The W3C recently created a working group to build a WOFF into a web standard, and that group will be holding its first face-to-face meeting at the TypeCon 2010 conference taking place this week in Los Angeles.

Representatives from the major browser vendors, several font foundries and web services providers will be in attendance. Also, a dozen or so select individuals will be participating in a series of presentations and panel discussions about WOFF throughout the conference. All the design industry folks in attendance will get a peek at the future of high-quality typography on the web. There are scores of topics on the program, but this year, WOFF is getting top billing.

Things are looking up for web fonts in general. Monday, Typekit announced a partnership with Adobe to include the company’s fonts as part of its licensing service. Last month, Google launched a new tool (tied to its Font API) that makes it dead easy to include any of its open source fonts in website designs.

The Web Fonts working group was formed earlier this year at the W3C, and the group has already released the first working draft of the specification that will eventually lead to WOFF becoming a recommended web standard.

WOFF works just like OpenType and TrueType — you use the @font-face CSS property to drop the fonts in — but the font data is compressed, so the files download faster, and you can include more fonts in your designs without worrying as much about payload bloat.

The W3C adds this bit: “The WOFF format is not expected to replace other formats such as TrueType/OpenType/Open Font Format or SVG fonts, but provides an alternative solution for use cases where these formats may be less performant, or where licensing considerations make their use less acceptable.”

Support for WOFF is already strong — Google, Mozilla, Apple, Opera and Microsoft browsers either ship with or are building support, and the fast-moving foundries are releasing WOFF fonts — so why is the W3C’s involvement a big deal when the open source format is enjoying such success?

Standardization by the W3C is the best path to true interoperability. It will keep all the parties on the same page when it comes to things like accessibility, cross-browser compatibility, internationalization and search engine indexing. How much metadata to include and how it is handled are also big issues. Plus, fonts have taken an astonishingly long time to arrive on the web because of red tape around licensing, and a collaborative process for developing licensing infrastructures will go a long way toward convincing some of the more conservative type designers to make web-friendly versions of their creations.

The standard will take years to complete (the process is very slow — we’re guessing 2012 or so), and until then, we’ll see designers, developers and innovative service providers like Typekit and Google continue to feed the interest in fancy web fonts. Those not on the bleeding edge may be stuck in the boring world of “web safe” fonts for a while, but at least the future is bright.

TypeCon 2010 runs from August 17 through 20.

Photo by Leo Reynolds/Flickr/CC

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File Under: Events, Web Apps Goes to Comic-Con

The 2010 San Diego Comic-Con is coming up on July 21-25. There’s so much going on, it’s triple-extra impossible to fit everything of interest into your schedule.

But at least you can maintain some sense of organization amidst the chaos with The start-up is bringing its incredibly useful calendaring web app to the massive comic book and fandom convention. Find it at

Build a personalized agenda by picking panels, movies and parties from a master schedule of everything that’s going on. Create a free account and get a unique URL you can share with your friends. Sched also looks great and performs well on iPhones and other mobiles. There are maps to help you find everything, too.

Originally created by programmers Chirag Mehta and Taylor McKnight, Sched first popped onto our radar at SXSWi 2008, where the app gained a lot of traction. The simple calendar has remained a geek favorite at big events — they’ve done CMJ, Sasquatch, The Next Web and Black Hat, among others. Most users prefer it because the Sched guys list both official and unofficial events on the calendar, and because there’s a social sharing feature that lets you see which parties and events are the most popular and which ones your friends are attending.

Check out the Sched’s dedicated site for Comic-Con. Check back often, and the schedule will be updated continuously. And follow Wired’s coverage on Underwire.

File Under: Browsers, Events, HTML5

Google I/O Will Be Chrome’s Time to Shine


In the year and a half since it first emerged, Google’s Chrome browser has matured from a thinner-than-air experiment that only ran on Windows into a stable, full-featured browser that works on all major operating systems and is available in 50 languages.

No longer just the new kid on the block, Chrome is now poised to become even more formidable. We expect Google to show off some new enhancements that would better enable it to handle the next version of the web next week at Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference taking place in San Francisco.

Chrome is continually being updated, but recent developments in web video, social web technologies, HTML5 and new data APIs point to more capabilities making their way into the browser.

Chrome is designed to deliver a superior experience when using web apps, with its ability to isolate apps within individual browser tabs, its advanced JavaScript engine and its support for new technologies in HTML5.

“What we care most about with Chrome is driving the growth of web apps forward,” says Google director of engineering David Glazer.

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File Under: Events, HTML5, JavaScript

Douglas Crockford on JavaScript and HTML5

SAN FRANCISCO, California — When Doug Crockford first encountered JavaScript, his first impression was that it was “one of the most incompetent pieces of software engineering [he'd] ever seen.”

His opinion, which is highly regarded since he’s widely considered to be the grand poobah of JavaScript, is one that was shared by many in the web’s early days. However, as the language has grown and the era of the web app is in full swing, it’s reaching a new level of success far beyond what he (or anyone) could have predicted.

The video above, shot here yesterday at the Web 2.0 Expo by the conference organizers at O’Reilly Media, compresses several of Crockford’s thoughts on JavaScript and HTML5 into five minutes.

He has hope for HTML5, but he has issues with the way it’s being developed. Primarily, he’s concerned that there are too many security holes, and that “there’s too much kitchen sink in HTML5″ — excessive duplication of the elements and not enough discipline in the code.

Crockford also appeared on a panel Wednesday about the future of the browser. Ajaxian editor Dion Almaer was the moderator, and he’s posted an excellent summary of the themes that were discussed, along with a few of his own thoughts.

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