“Future of the Web”

Given the amount of very cool things happening on a daily basis in the world of HTML5, CSS, SVG, and the web in general, it would be cool to have a place to share thoughts, ideas, and cool links. (Idea largely stolen from Sören‘s “Chuckellania”.) I always like to watch for cool developments, and since beginning work at Ayogo Games, Inc. as a co-op student, I’m seeing cool links on an almost daily basis.

  • Support for CSS’s @font-face construct is surprisingly widespread, support in some form or another by all major browsers. Of course, the font formats that are supported vary widly from platform to platform. IE supports only the strange EOT format, while everyone else supports TTF and OTF. Firefox prefers WOFF, which is also supported by Webkit and IE9.
    Google is now offering “web fonts” of the future, hosted CSS files that contain the @font-face definitions. They also have an entire webfonts API to control font loading.
    It is great to see fonts like Droid on there (which is an entirely free font, used by my blog and my Ubuntu theme). However, a quick look at their CSS seems to indicate that the fonts are in TTF format only, which might limit their use on IE.
  • I played around with the IE9 Preview 2, mostly in IETester so that I wasn’t restricted to example pages. I was highly surprised that the rendered output was on par with that of older Firefox builds, but with much smoother text. Seems that the switch to DirectWrite was worth it. Of the CSS features I had in my test, the only thing IE9 was noticeably missing was text-shadow, which is rather minor. Now we just hope for speedy adoption, which might be an issue given the lack of support for Windows XP.
  • On the subject of IE9’s standards compliance, it currently handles HTML5’s <svg> tag better than Webkit. Firefox 4 will support is with the HTML5 rendering engine, but Webkit browsers only support inline SVG content when the page is served at XHTML. The bugzilla issue doesn’t seem to have caught anyone’s attention yet.
  • HTML5 video is starting to take off, with IE9 announcing that they will support H.264 encoded video playback. As much as I would like to see a fully open codec used, with Apple, Microsoft, and Google (via YouTube) putting support behind H.264, I think the battle is over before it really began. It would be nice to see some sort of official agreement made that would allow an open-source H.264 codec to be shipped in all browsers without worrying about patent issues. Opera seems to be planning to use existing backends such as GStreamer for its video implementation, leaving Firefox as the only browser without a way to view H.264 content. On the flip side, IE9 could be the only browser without a way to view OGG Theora content. Safari uses QuickTime for video, so even it can play Theora files after installing a codec.
  • Ending on a complaint… It is 2010. IE9 is in a preview stage with very good support for HTML5. All other browsers have equal or better support. But I still have to hack around transparent PNG images because of IE6. It is 2010. It is time stop dealing with IE6’s flaws. I don’t mean simply showing messages warning users about upgrades, I mean an actual refusal to deal with those browser issues. When that happens, we can start the same treatment for IE7.

3 thoughts on ““Future of the Web”

  1. Alahmnat says:

    Largely as a result of my insistence, coupled with the recommendation of our ironically anti-Microsoft IT director, our company stopped supporting IE6 entirely as of the first of this year (I say ironically because with the exception of my iMac, his MBP, and an XServe in the server room that he talked the company into getting, we’re a 100% Microsoft shop). I could only be happier if we did the same with IE7, but since its market share is plummeting even faster than 6’s, I don’t think it’ll be nearly as much of a thorn in my side.

    I’ve also already started to refuse to deal with IE6 for stuff I build outside of work, largely because setting up and maintaining a test environment continues to be something of a pain in the ass. There seems to be increasing momentum in this direction since Google said it would stop supporting IE6 in GMail and YouTube.

  2. RIUM+ says:

    Second-last point from the end, on HTML5’s codec support… Well, obviously this post was written early in the day ;P

    Personally I’m not a fan of the VP8 codec, it’s not as good as it could be and to say the spec is well-written is laughable… but everyone using the same not-great-but-good format is better than everyone using different-but-better formats IMO.

  3. […] to RIUM+’s comment on my last post: It might be interesting to see how VP8 changes things… if anyone can […]

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