Scotch on the Rocks 2010, Day 1 part 2

Submitted by Falken on Fri, 05/28/2010 - 18:45

A whistlestop tour of HTML5 and CSS3

Chris Mills (Opera)
I should have bumped into the speaker before now really, as he's from Manchester, but we'd never managed it :-)
Anyway, Chris started with a bit of history, namely that  HTML4 is not dead. It can't do some things like video, which is why Flash got started in the first place. One great quote was 'bullshit will HTML5 kill Flash'.
HTML5 itself, looks *nice*, the doctype crap at the top of HTML4 documents is gone, for instance. Tags for common elements like header, footer (which can be nested inside the many 'article' tags) mean the markup closely follow a typical 2010 web page layout. However HTML5 is ten years from being a final specification and I wonder if it'll be very relevant if browsers are already out there doing one thing and the spec. says to do another.
There is better form controls with some validation (but see later), drag and drop support without any hacks, JavaScript-based threads and 'cookies on crack' access to a local data store.
There was a brief mention of the 'semantic web', which is all very well for public sites, but a lot of stuff exists inside companies or behind paywalls.
Returning to forms, Chris showed some great examples of things like a ranged slider (ya know, like a scroll bar) and a drop down list that also supports type-in values (using the new HTML5 datalist). Nothing that's not been available in other languages for donkeys years, which kinda shows how bad HTML4 was !.
But, but, but, HTML5 form validation errors are not styleable, and there's no way to change things like the visible date format. You can't style the date popup etc.  etc. This means any really nice looking HTML5 site won't be able to use native versions and will have to use JavaScript. Just like now :-)
Also, Chris mentioned that text added to the new 'canvas' object is not accessible.
He says the relevant standards bodies are aware of these problems, so we'll see how that pans out...
All canvas items are also created at runtime so it's fairly expensive. SVG for instance is accessible and pre-compiled. That said, he showed a version of Wolfenstein running in HTML5 so it's not too bad :-)
Chris touched on the current hot topic of the video tag being hampered by a codec fight of course. He pointed out that as Flash now supports VP8/webm you can use that as fall back for when video doesn't work; you can also give multiple sources on a video tag for the browser to pick from. This is a handy way to offer several formats so hopefully the user will be able to play on of them, but holding multiple different encodings (when you could just use one and Flash, unless you need to support iTards) is a good way to eat space, and consume more CPU during encoding.
Another great quote was the CSS3 is just 'the same tacky shit but you don't need Photoshop for it', so  you get support for gradients, rounded corners and the like.
We also saw some cool demos of how you can animate changes of color, opacity etc. when the CSS class changes.
HTML5's web fonts look dead handy, as now you can have more than 10 fonts ! Loading behaviour is a bit weird, and different across browsers, however.
Updated media query support also means you can now dynamically change the layout based on screen width.

How Catalyst Will Transform The ColdFusion Developer

Terry Ryan (Adobe)
Terry explained that it's not just about a nice looking GUI, you can communicate more with some well placed icons than just a data grid of numbers.
For a ColdFusion developer, Terry says we're spoilt and in a show of hands most people agree Flex is harder.
It seems that as long as you keep the initial design (i.e. in Fireworks) structured (with one top level layer per state) Catalyst will work really well and convert this in to a Flex (version 4, but you can use that with Flex Builder 3 OK) project in very little time at all !
It's looking a bit more polished than I've seen before, and as it converts your graphic to an application you can extract parts as reusable components too .
The design time data means demos can quickly reflect clients data, you can even mock a state for each detail view of (say) a list box, and then change to each different one from each item. That's fairly compelling for some of the work we do, so that's cool.
There still isn't any round trip editing from Builder, though Terry said this may be on the cards for version 2, but its "probably better than without Catalyst at all".

Someone asked if this was Eclipse under the hood, and it turns out it was. This surprised many people as 'it doesn't look like Eclipse'. Guess they just figured out that Eclipse-the-IDE is more like a collection of handy plugins than a monolithic application. That question meant I could get away with asking about if we would see Catalyst or Flex Builder 4 (or just a bug fixed v3) on Linux, and Terry said that it seems "more people voted on the bug than download". That seems weird !

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