All posts tagged ‘standards’

Firefox Lends IE Hand for Next Gen HTML

Firefox and IE displaying canvas graphics elements side by side.

Firefox and IE displaying canvas graphics elements side by side.
Picture courtesy Vladimir Vukicevic’s blog

According to Mozilla engineer Vladimir Vukicevic, Internet Explorer isn’t adapting to the next generation of web standards fast enough, so he’s going to have to do it himself.

Vukicevic has been working to introduce HTML 5 graphic canvas elements to Firefox. As we mentioned in our preview of Firefox 3.1, canvas elements introduce the ability to render two dimensional, and soon three dimensional, graphics directly through web pages without a download. The graphics are part of the next-generation HTML 5 standard, and it’s something Opera and Safari have already implemented.

The problem is the leading browser on the internet, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, doesn’t support Canvas elements and have announced no plans to support it in the future. If you were a Mozilla developer behind a cool new feature and you knew people weren’t going to use it until the leading browser on the web implemented it, you might feel tempted to lend the other browser a hand.

Vukicevic did exactly that. His ActiveX component adds the ability to see Canvas elements in Internet Explorer exactly the same way Opera, Safari or Firefox 3.1 users will. According to Vukicevic’s blog post:

“Canvas is just one piece of the full modern web platform, but because it’s so self-contained, it lets us experiment with pushing the web platform forward even for browsers that have fallen behind (or that might not be interested in an open web).”

The code isn’t finished yet. There are still some graphic implementations needed to bring the feature up to standard. Even more daunting, there are installation issues with Vukicevic’s solution:

“Currently, the experience is pretty crappy… In theory, with the right signatures, the right security class implementations, some eye of newt, and a pinch of garlic, it’s possible to get things down to a one-time install which would make the component available everywhere.”

Still, this is great news for Internet Explorer fans. HTML 5 technology aims to bring multimedia elements, such as audio, video and graphics to your browser without depending on third-party media solutions. The standard, if implemented among all browsers, allows web developers the tools needed to ensure the same user experience no matter what browser you choose to use.

For the rest of us, it means a seamless and rich multimedia experiences in our favorite web pages — no more missing plug-ins or add-ons.

However, Internet Explorer hasn’t been very open to adapting to developing standards as Opera, Safari and Firefox has. In part, this is because it is pushing its own .NET based technology, including its Silverlight multimedia browser plug-in, to achieve the same goal. Pushing adoption of its technology instead of web standards such as HTML 5 (using the weight of Internet Explorer’s leading market share) means the company has more power to influence the future of emerging internet technology.

This is where Vukicevic’s add-on is so unique. In a way, it forces Internet Explorer to play along with the web standards community without its direct involvement. In turn, web developers will be more apt to use the technology. And if all browsers use the same standards, it means rich internet multimedia for all.

File Under: Web Basics

Adobe’s PDF Format Adopted as Standard

Adobe PDF icon

Adobe’s PDF format was officially adopted as an open standard this week. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) announced that PDF is now accessible as ISO 32000-1.

The announcement follows Adobe’s decision to relinquish control of the proprietary format first introduced in 1993. “By releasing the full PDF specification for ISO standardization, we are reinforcing our commitment to openness,” Adobe chief technology officer Kevin Lynch said in a press release.

As we noted in January when ISO approved PDF, some see this move from Adobe as a defensive move to stop Microsoft’s XML Paper Specification. Adobe denies the decision has anything to do with Redmond and instead is intended to answer a call from their users for open formats.

If you’re a PHP programmer, check out our tutorial on generating PDFs dynamically.

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File Under: Web Basics

992 Days Projected Until IPv4 Exhaustion

Ipv6Here on the Internet, we’ve been using the IPv4 network protocol for quite a while. Its successor, IPv6, is waiting patiently in the wings, but it’s a hard leap to make.

IPv4 addresses look like 192.168.50.66. IPv6 addresses are longer: 2001:0f68:0000:0000:0000:0000:1986:69af. IPv4 only provides 232 possible addresses, which we’re plowing through rapidly; IPv6 provides 2128, which should last us rather an astronomical while.

IPv6 offers further advantages too, like built-in authentication.

Nobody wants to be the first to make the leap, but the long-awaited transition seems to be happening slowly but surely. In February, IPv6 DNS records were added to the root servers. In March, Google launched ipv6.google.com. Does that site work for you? Then your Internet provider is an unusually forward-thinking one. like Hurricane Electric.

Hurricane Electric, a hosting company I like a lot, is pushing hard for the transition. They already offer dual-stack IPv6 for their users. Here‘s a PDF copy of the letter we users just got. For everyone else, they offer a free IPv6 tunnel service at Tunnelbroker.net. Try it out!

File Under: Web Basics

Inching Toward a Semantic Web

MahalositelogoFirefox 3 introduces support for microformats. Microformats are an approach to making extant human-created data machine-readable.

Content like recipes, events, resumes are marked up so that they can be parsed automatically. As you’d expect, adoption is the sticking point. So it was nice to see that Mahalo.com, a web directory against whom Wired.com bears no grudge, is now using microformats for their data. Your turn.

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File Under: Web Basics

What’s a Good Way to Programmatically Create RTFs?

RtfDear, wise readers: I’m looking for a Linux command-line tool that can convert ASCII plain text files to Rich Text Format. Sure, it’s a Microsoft-owned standard, but it’s pretty interoperable, and a good lightweight alternative to .doc. Unlike, say, .odt, old-school tech illiterates won’t freak out if you send them one.

I’ve tried text2rtf, which seems to render much of its output in unwanted italics; and the command-line version of Docfrac, which stumbles over accented characters and inserts extra blank lines.

Is this a task that’s harder than it seems? I’m not about to spend $59 on a single-user license for AscToRtf. OS X’s textutil is very nice, but not portable to non-Cocoa systems. There must be a script out there for me.

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