The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'html'


Some increasingly impressive things are being done with modern web browsers these days, taking advantage of new features in HTML5. A guy named Ben Joffe has developed a number of demos, including a full-featured 3D function plotter (using the canvas element) and a toroidal Tetris game. Another developer, going only by the name "Mr. doob", has developed some nifty 2D physics demos, including Ball Pool and Google Gravity. (Google, of course, entered the fray recently with their pure HTML5 implementation of Pac-Man.) Meanwhile, Apple, who are fighting their own (quite laudable, IMHO) battle against the dominance of Flash, have their own showcase of HTML5's capabilities, though it's coded to refuse to run on non-Safari browsers.

Chrome or Safari are recommended for the above demos; Firefox is still lagging behind in speed, though that's likely to improve in the near future. Firefox also has a new, experimental, API for manipulating audio data in JavaScript. (Apparently people are going to be doing FFTs in JavaScript in the future, which presumably won't make your browsing experience any faster.) It requires custom developer builds of Firefox (i.e., it's only for the hardcore at the moment), but people are already starting to experiment with it. Potentially most impressive so far is a project to port the Pd graphic audio programming language to JavaScript and have it run entirely in a browser. Meanwhile, here are some more audio API dems, including ones combining the audio APIs with WebGL to present 3D landscapes which respond to the beat in music and and graphic equalizer, sampler and speech synthesiser written entirely in JavaScript. I wonder how long until someone writes an entirely HTML5-based Ableton Live-style sequencer.

Typography is also shaping up nicely under HTML5, with a standard embeddable font format agreed upon. Google have released a web font embedding API, and made available several free font libraries through their content distribution system. They look, well, like free fonts; for those wanting more (and willing to pay for it), other groups of type foundries are jumping on the bandwagon; has fonts from major foundries like Linotype, Monotype and ITC (at last, you can set your site in authentic Helvetica for people who aren't Mac owners), and über-cool Berlin-based outfit FontShop have joined the game as well (bringing the clean European stylings of the likes of FF DIN and FF Meta to the web). One notable omission, though, are 1990s grunge-typography hellraisers Emigre, who haven't yet made the leap.

Finally, here is an article on some of the things one can do with CSS3, from transformations (i.e., rotating entire elements, including text and layout) to keyframe animation, all done without a single line of JavaScript.

css html html5 tech typography web 4


Today is the 30th anniversary of the video game Pac-Man, and so, the Google homepage has a special commemorative graphic. Only this one's even more special than most: it's a complete implementation of the Pac-Man game, in pure HTML5.

Not only is there no Flash involved, but its assets consist of only one image, with the individual elements being drawn using CSS sprites. Alas, it'll probably be gone forever come the 22nd, so play with it while you can.

Update: Google PacMan is permanently located here.

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Apple have just released the specifications for the iTunes LP format, a way of encoding extra content to wrap around music albums, and it looks very elegant. As mentioned before, an iTunes LP is a directory containing the original media and graphic files, as well as XML metadata, HTML/CSS for presentation, and code in JavaScript for the navigation. The JavaScript code uses a framework named TuneKit, which, in characteristic Apple fashion, is elegantly Model-View-Controller; rather than littering DOM objects with event handlers, an author defines controller classes which deal with the relevant events.

Apple say that they will start accepting automated submissions of iTunes LP content to the iTunes Store in the first quarter of 2010. Of course, as the format is open, there is nothing preventing people from rolling their own and selling them from other sites.

I wonder how long until there are open-source iTunes LP players for platforms such as Linux.

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A group of browser vendors has published a preview of HTML 5.0, also known as Web Applications 1.0. Users of browsers in the future can expect a lot of nifty enhancements, including new web form controls (drag and drop, flexible grids, progress meters), more DOM events to facilitate AJAX programming, more intelligent web forms (including support for minimum/maximum values and automatic validation) and a canvas element which can be drawn on using JavaScript (and for which the demos include a pure-JavaScript SVG viewer and a Wolfenstein-style 3D maze game). The HTML 5 features should make AJAX applications more efficient and powerful.

Web Applications 1.0 is a proposal by a group named WHATWG (the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group), which consists of people from various browser developers, from projects such as Opera, Mozilla and Safari. It appears that the elephant in the centre of the room is the conspicuous absence of Microsoft, who own most of the browser market share. Which is hardly surprising, as if AJAX becomes a reality, it could cannibalise Microsoft's OS lock. Perhaps we can expect MS to specify their own, incompatible AJAX-esque technologies that are locked to their browser and technologies?

(via /.) ajax html html 5.0 tech web web 2.0 0


Airport arrival display malfunctions, displaying HTML source. It looks like those things run on an embedded UNIX system of some sort, with a HTML-based rendering engine (though presumably not a web browser in kiosk mode). Curious... (via 1.0)

(Malfunctioning information displays can be interesting, because the nature of the malfunction often reveals something about how the system works. Witness things like news/advertising billboards displaying Windows error dialogs, or in-flight entertainment consoles showing Linux kernel messages as they reboot or whatever.)

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Charlie Stross has a rant up titled "Ten reasons why I do not read HTML email".

While I don't take as hard a line on it as Mr. Stross, I pretty much agree with the sentiment; HTML email is wasteful, a nonstandard kludge mandated by the Microsoft/Netscape marketing departments and rarely if ever does it do anything text can't do. I also use Mutt as my mail client; reading my mail involves logging into a UNIX machine I have a shell account on and running mutt; this means I'm not tied to reading my mail where I keep my (hypothetical) copy of Outlook/Eudora/Apple Mail and don't have to depend on webmail systems (which are, at best, a compromise; they're good if you're backpacking through Outer Mongolia or something but not something you'd want to use from day to day).

The problem, however, is that a lot of non-spam email is HTML-only these days; especially with Hotmail (which is surprisingly popular with people who aren't UNIX geeks; and I'm not going to be so haughty as to only correspond with fellow techies and penguinheads) now sending HTML only by default. So after spending some time trying to ask non-technical users to switch to plain text because I'm one of the last few remaining mortals to not use a web browser to read their mail, I configured my mutt client to automatically convert HTML to plain text, by piping it through lynx -dump. Since lynx doesn't do images or Javascript, this avoids "web bugs" and various spammers' tricks.

I still don't read mail with JPEGs/Microsoft Word documents/&c. though. And when Microsoft Trusted DRM-Mail or whatever comes in, I won't read that.

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