The Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) addition to HTML is effectively DRM with the blessing of the W3C. It’s bad for accessibility, bad for usability, bad for security, and as the Internet Archive rightly points out, it’s bad for digital preservation.
Tuesday, April 25th, 2017
Tuesday, April 18th, 2017
Håkon wrote his doctoral thesis on CSS …which is kinda like Einstein writing a thesis on relativity. There’s some fascinating historical insight into the creation of the standards we use today.
Tuesday, April 4th, 2017
Monday, April 3rd, 2017
It’s fascinating to look back at this early proposal for CSS from 1994 and see what the syntax might have been:
A one-statement style sheet that sets the font size of the h1 element:
h1.font.size = 24pt 100%
The percentage at the end of the line indicates what degree of influence that is requested (here 100%).
Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
Here’s the panel I was on at the AMP conference. It was an honour and a pleasure to share the stage with Nicole, Sarah, Gina, and Mike.
Monday, March 6th, 2017
A damning assessment of Tim Berners-Lee’s defeatist portrayal of the W3C:
No matter which side is right, the W3C faces an existential crisis.
- The W3C is a shepherd of the web for all, the web on everything, and a web of trust. But now it is fundamentally compromising its own principles in the name of maintaining industry relevance.
- Or, the W3C is merely an industry body for browser vendors to collaborate and its mission statement is nothing more than PR to increase buy-in from the smaller, largely powerless, members.
Both can’t be true. Neither is good news for the organisation.
Saturday, March 4th, 2017
An alternative history of technology, emphasising curation over innovation:
We start to see the intangibles – the standards and ideologies that help to create and order technology systems, making them work at least most of the time. We start to see that technological change does not demand that we move fast and break things. Understanding the role that standards, ideologies, institutions – the non-thing aspects of technology – play, makes it possible to see how technological change actually happens, and who makes it happen.
Friday, March 3rd, 2017
Much as I respect Tim Berners-Lee, his logic here is completely flawed. First of all, treating DRM as though it’s an implacable force of nature is a category error. Secondly, EME doesn’t in any provide a standardised solution: it provides a sandbox for each DRM vendor to inject their own proprietary solution.
Wednesday, March 1st, 2017
Jason revisits responsive images. On the whole, things are looking good when it comes to browser support, but he points out that
scrset’s precursor in CSS—
image-set seems to have dropped off the radar of most browser makers, which is a real shame.
Tuesday, February 21st, 2017
We have a tradition here at Clearleft of having the occasional lunchtime braindump. They’re somewhat sporadic, but it’s always a good day when there’s a “brown bag” gathering.
Today Richard gave us a quick brown bag talk on variable web fonts. He talked us through how these will work on the web and in operating systems. We got a good explanation of how these fonts would get designed—the type designer designs the “extreme” edges of size, weight, or whatever, and then the file format itself can extrapolate all the in-between stages. So, in theory, one single font file can hold hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands of potential variations. It feels like switching from bitmap images to SVG—there’s suddenly much greater flexibility.
A variable font is a single font file that behaves like multiple fonts.
There were a couple of interesting tidbits that Rich pointed out…
While this is a new file format, there isn’t going to be a new file extension. These will be
.ttf files, and so by extension, they can be
.woff2 files too.
This isn’t some proposed theoretical standard: an unprecedented amount of co-operation has gone into the creation of this format. Adobe, Apple, Google, and Microsoft have all contributed. Agreement is the hardest part of any standards process. Once that’s taken care of, the technical solution follows quickly. So you can expect this to land very quickly and widely.
This technology is landing in web browsers before it lands in operating systems. It’s already available in the Safari Technology Preview. That means that for a while, the very best on-screen typography will be delivered not in eBook readers, but in web browsers. So if you want to deliver the absolute best reading experience, look to the web.
And here’s the part that I found fascinating…
We can currently use numbers for the
font-weight property in CSS. Those number values increment in hundreds: 100, 200, 300, etc. Now with variable fonts, we can start using integers: 321, 417, 183, etc. How fortuitous that we have 99 free slots between our current set of values!
Well, that’s no accident. The reason why the numbers were originally specced in increments of 100 back in 1996 was precisely so that some future sci-fi technology could make use of the ranges in between. That’s some future-friendly thinking! And as Håkon wrote:
One of the reasons we chose to use three-digit numbers was to support intermediate values in the future. And the future is now :)
Needless to say, variable fonts will be covered in Richard’s forthcoming book.
Monday, February 20th, 2017
Jake is absolutely spot-on here. There’s been a lot of excited talk about adding an
h element to HTML but it all seems to miss the question of why the currently-specced outline algorithm hasn’t been implemented.
This is a common mistake in standards discussion — a mistake I’ve made many times before. You cannot compare the current state of things, beholden to reality, with a utopian implementation of some currently non-existent thing.
If you’re proposing something almost identical to something that failed, you better know why your proposal will succeed where the other didn’t.
Jake rightly points out that the first step isn’t to propose a whole new element; it’s to ask “Why haven’t browsers implemented the outline for sectioned headings?”
Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
Really good advice for anyone thinking of releasing a polyfill into the world.
Thursday, January 19th, 2017
PPK has posted some excellent thinking on calendar widgets to Ev’s blog.
Sunday, January 15th, 2017
Oh, how I wished everyone approached building for the web the way that Rachel does. Smart, sensible, pragmatic, and exciting!
Friday, January 6th, 2017
As always with sci-fi interfaces, the important part is telling the story, not realism or accuracy. Personally, I liked the way that the World War II trappings of Rogue One extended to communications and networking technologies.
I love this recasting of the internet into a fantastical medieval setting. Standards become spells, standards bodies become guilds and orders of a coven, and technologies become instruments of divination. Here, for example, is the retelling of IPv4:
The Unique Rune of the Fourth Order is the original and formative Unique Rune, still commonly in use. All existing Unique Runes of the Fourth Order were created simultaneously in the late 1970’s by the Numberkeepers, at a time when Rough Telepathy was a small and speculative effort tightly affiliated with the Warring Kingdom of the United States. There were then and are now 4.3 billion Unique Runes of the Fourth Order, a number which cannot be increased. The early Numberkeepers believed 4.3 billion would be more than enough. However, this number is no longer sufficient to provision the masses hungry to never disengage from participation in Rough Telepathy, and the Merchants eager to harness Rough Telepathy as a “feature” in new and often unnecessary consumer products. This shortage has caused considerable headache among the Fiefdoms, the Regional Telepathy Registers, and the Coven.
Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
Eric is excited about the imminent arrival of grid layout in browsers. And after reading the answers to these sure-to-be-frequently asked questions, you’ll be excited too!
Sunday, December 4th, 2016
This is a fun—and accurate—explanation of service workers.
There’s definitely something “alien” about a service worker—it’s kind of like a virus that gets installed on the user’s device. I’ve taken to describing it as “a man-in-the-middle attack on your own website” which makes sound a bit scarier than is necessary.
Thursday, November 10th, 2016
Really, really smart thinking from Paul here, musing on the power relationship between the creators of custom elements and the users of custom elements.
Monday, October 10th, 2016
This is such a great perspective on what it’s like to build for the web over the long term. The web will always be a little bit broken, and that’s okay—we can plan for that.
The Web has history. If you build with web technology it will stick around. We try not to break the web even if it means the mistakes and bad decisions we have made in the past (and will make in the future) get set in stone.