Chris has been instrumental in birthing and evangelizing many of the social web’s protocols for sharing data across sites and applications (ActivityStrea.ms, OpenID, OAuth), and he recently went to work on these technologies at Google. Chris is a designer, not necessarily a programmer, so his presentation is light on code. But it very clearly presents the concepts behind social sharing protocols — how they work, why they’re important and how they are currently implemented across the web.
Google has publicly released an API for Buzz, its real-time social product for sharing status updates, comments, photos and other media on the web. Here’s an overview from Google’s DeWitt Clinton.
The Buzz API is still branded as a “Labs” release, so you can expect things to change over the coming weeks. But it’s already looking fully-formed. It offers full read/write support with Activity Streams, AtomPub, OAuth, PubSubHubbub and JSON. So if you have a website or app that lets users publish status updates, images, or any sort of activity using the actor/verb/object model, then you can integrate Buzz updates into your offering.
Authorization happens through OACurl — learn more about it with Google’s OACurl cookbook.
The bulk of the Buzz API features were discussed at a developer’s session on Wednesday afternoon. You can read notes taken by attendees by launching a Wave from the session (What is this, the future?).
SAN FRANCISCO — When Google announced it would be releasing the VP8 video codec under an open source license, all of the major browser vendors jumped up to support it.
Well, all of them except Apple.
The WebM Project, a partnership between Google, Mozilla, Opera and dozens of other software and hardware makers, provides web developers a way of embedding video and audio in HTML5 pages without plug-ins, and without resorting to patent-laden technologies.
Watchers of the open web have been waiting for this development for some time. The HTML5 video playback experience varies greatly between browsers, with different browsers supporting different flavors of video, creating a poor user experience and forcing developers to rely heavily on plug-ins like Flash and Silverlight. Google was widely expected to take a step towards solving the video problem on the web with Wednesday’s WebM announcement.
Indeed, within minutes of the project’s launch here at Google I/O, links went up to new versions of Firefox and Opera with built-in support for WebM video. Chrome support will be coming in the next beta, due later this month. Microsoft says that Microsoft Internet Explorer 9, due to arrive as soon as the end of 2010, will support VP8 video playback if a user has installed the free codec on their copy of Windows. Adobe says Flash Player will also support it as soon as possible. Executives from Mozilla, Opera and Adobe were all on stage during Wednesday morning’s keynote to pledge their support.
But nobody from Apple appeared, and as of Wednesday afternoon, the company has made no such announcement about support for WebM video in Safari. When asked to comment on this story, Apple didn’t respond.
Of course, Apple has a great deal of time and money invested in a competing technology, H.264. Its Quicktime ecosystem is built on H.264, and it uses the video format for all of its content served through iTunes. It’s also the native format on iPads, iPhones and iPods.
Most video on the web — approximately two-thirds of it — is served in the H.264 format, but various licensing requirements make some nervous to use it. Apple owns patents around H.264 and benefits from the licensing fees that allow its use (so does Microsoft, and many other companies).
So, will Apple begin supporting a open source video codec that competes for space on the web with H.264?
“Stranger things have happened, but I’d be surprised if that happened soon,” says Christopher “Monty” Montgomery, creator of the Ogg container, an open source video and audio technology integral to the new WebM Project, in an e-mail to Webmonkey.
Apple has sent not-so-subtle threats about possible patent violation complaints being brought against supporters of open video codecs. In an e-mail to a blogger, Jobs warned that MPEG-LA, the licensing group that oversees H.264, was assembling a patent portfolio to “go after” open video codec makers.
“Unfortunately, just because something is open source, it doesn’t mean or guarantee that it doesn’t infringe on others patents,” Jobs wrote.
But Monty isn’t worried about the MPEG-LA suing him or anyone at the WebM Project.
“The recent saber-rattling by Jobs felt more like a message to his own troops than a warning shot to ours,” he says. “MPEG itself has always has an internal contingent that has pushed hard for royalty-free baselines from MPEG, and the missives about video codecs and patents were probably meant for them, not us.”
Google VP of product management Sundar Pichai says the company has done “a thorough legal analysis of VP8″ since acquiring it, and remains confident it can release the technology under an open source license without infringing on any patents.
The Safari browser is based on the same WebKit engine as Google Chrome, and the WebKit engine is open source. But codec support is not a component of the rendering engine, so even though Google’s browser supports VP8 and WebM content, it doesn’t provide an instant fix for Safari.
And of course, iPad and iPhone browsers run Safari, so WebM video won’t work on those devices until Apple adds support.
However, it wouldn’t be tough for Apple to implement WebM support. All of the technologies involved have been released under permissive open source licenses, and it’s already been rolled into three major browsers.
“It’s not a technical challenge,” says Google VP of engineering Linus Upson. “If you look at the other browsers that have already implemented VP8, it’s just been a matter of a few weeks.”
Google’s Upson and Pichai both say they hope all web browsers will support WebM’s efforts eventually.
Google has announced a new Font API and a collection of free, open source fonts anyone can use in their site designs for free. The Google Font API allows you to embed any of the new Google fonts on your website using CSS.
The fonts themselves are quite nice, with a range of script, serif, sans-serif and monospace typefaces. They can all be used to style text via @font-face. There are only eighteen fonts available — so there’s probably no need for Typekit to worry that Google is muscling in on its territory.
Even though things have been progressing quickly in the world of type on the web, with advancements in CSS, HTML5 and the rise of services like Typekit, inconsistencies in browser support and implementation have stopped some from making the move to web fonts. The new WebFont Loader gives hope to those still on the fence by providing a consistent way to handle what the browser does while the fonts are being loaded.
Veen also praises Google’s decision to keep its work open source and free.
“Getting fonts technically ready for web use is a lot of work, and using the open source model allows anyone to contribute their expertise to a core set of fonts.” he says.
You can use WebFont Loader with fonts on your own server, with links to the just-announced Google Webfont API, or with your Typekit account.
As for Google’s new Font API, well, it’s so simple its hardly an API. You just need to add a link to Google’s stylesheet in the head tags of your page and then apply that font to some element in your page.
The syntax looks like this:
Then, in your stylesheet, you can apply that font to any body element. For example:
font-family: 'Font Name', serif;
Google’s new Font API will work in any browser that supports @font-face (which is pretty much all of them). If the Google fonts happen to strike your fancy, the API is certainly easy to use. If you’re looking for a broader selection, check out Typekit.
Typekit offers Google’s new open source fonts, Veen says, but Typekit also offers access to a library of over 4,000 commercial fonts of professional quality. Typekit is currently the only source offering these high-quality typefaces for legal use on the web.
Disclosure: Jeff Veen is a former Webmonkey editor and a former Wired.com employee.
SAN FRANCISCO — Adobe will begin shipping a package of HTML5 web design tools for Dreamweaver, the company says.
The HTML5 Pack for Dreamweaver will available for download on Adobe Labs some time on Wednesday. It will be a free download for anyone who owns Dreamweaver Creative Suite 5, and Adobe will roll it into an automatic update for Dreamweaver once the add-on pack has been thoroughly tested.
The add-on pack gives Dreamweaver CS5 the ability to provide code hints for HTML5 elements and CSS3 styles when building pages in the text-based Code View window. Adobe is also adding a few starter layouts for people building HTML5 pages from scratch. More layouts will be added later.
Dreamweaver’s Live View mode — which uses the same WebKit rendering engine as Safari and the Android browser to preview web pages — is also getting an update. The Live View window will now be able to render pages built with HTML5 and CSS3, so developers coding native video and audio playback to their pages will be able to preview those pages in Dreamweaver.
The announcement was made during the Google I/O, the developer conference taking place here this week. Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch spoke as part of the morning keynote at I/O. Lynch hinted at this release earlier in May when he appeared at the Web 2.0 Expo developer conference and announced that Adobe would soon be shipping more tools for HTML5 content creation.
The release comes soon after Apple began encouraging developers to create web apps in HTML5 rather than rely on Adobe’s Flash Player to deliver videos, audio clips and animations. Apple’s iPad and iPhone famously don’t support Flash, so Adobe’s push towards giving designers new tools for building HTML5 web apps will help the company maintain its foothold on a web where Flash is becoming less attractive.
Dreamweaver Creative Suite 5 was released this spring. But it’s one of the oldest WYSIWYG web editors out there, and any web developer with knowledge of HTML5 and CSS3 has had the ability to use Dreamweaver’s Code View to build pages using the emerging standards for years. These new tools make the workflow easier though, allowing developers to take advantage of Dreamweaver’s helpful code hinting and to preview changes right inside the app, instead of uploading the files to the web to view their changes in a browser.
Lynch demonstrated a couple of other things, too. He showed how you can make a rich advertisement in Dreamweaver using CSS3 transforms and HTML5 animations. This will be especially handy for anyone wanting to create an ad for Apple’s iAd platform, which will be totally HTML5-based.
Also added to Dreamweaver in the HTML5 pack is a tool that lets you see what your pages will look like on multiple devices with different size screens all at once. It’s a preview pane with several windows — one for a desktop browser, one for mobiles, one for a tablet and so on. The preview tool uses dynamic stylesheet swapping, so you see your layout change instantly based on which device you’re viewing it on.
Of course, that’s extremely useful for anyone creating a website that’s going to be deployed on mobiles and iPads. Oh yes, and Android tablets — whenever they show up.