Christian Heilmann

Posts Tagged ‘Opera’

TTMMHTM: Apollo 11 source code, Driving directions API, most expensive JavaScript ever,opening a banana the right way

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Things that made me happy this morning:

TTMMHTM: Motion Tracking in JS, Firebug tricks, MACCAWS recycling and AI fail

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Things that made me happy this morning:

The Opera Web Standards Curriculum is live!

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

The last few months Chris Mills from Opera was busy gathering a lot of great web development experts around him (with a lot of pimping by yours truly) to assemble probably the most thorough and up-to-date web standards curriculum on the web: The Opera Web Standard Curriculum

Several dozen articles, all licensed with Creative Commons will be available to cover the tasks of web development: from understanding the principles of the web up to Ajax interaction. During the whole course the main focus is on usability, accessibility and writing maintainable code. We deliberately left out browser hacks and backward facing solutions and build on the ideas of progressive enhancement and unobtrusive JavaScript.

I wished this would’ve been out when I started, it’d have saved me a lot of time learning bad practices and un-learning them (which is always a painful process).

So, read it, use it and teach younglings the way of the standards Jedi: The Opera Web Standard Curriculum

Oh look, using Ajax in a stupid way is not a good idea?

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

It is quite fascinating to me that the newest article on entitled ‘Stop using Ajax!’ is such a big thing right now. Tweets, shared bookmarks and Google Reader items are pouring in and people seem to consider it an amazingly daring article.

Here’s the truth: James is right. He also was right when he more or less gave the same information as a talk at Highland Fling last year following my presentation on progressive enhancement and JavaScript.

However, there is nothing shocking or daring or new about this. All he says is:

  • Don’t use any technology for the sake of using it
  • Consider the users you want to reach before using a technology that may not be appropriate
  • Make sure your solution is usable and accessible
  • Build your solution on stuff that works, then enhance it.

This is what I consider to be a normal practice when developing any software or web solution.

However, the real question is now why we are at this state – how come that we see this information as daring, shocking or controversial, and how come a lot of comments are still “I don’t care about accessibility because it is not needed for my users”? How come the assumptions and plain accessibility lies are prevailing while the good stuff remains unheard of?

Well, the truth is that we have been preaching far too long to the choir. I’ve been in the web accessibility and standards preaching community for a long time and whenever I asked what about enterprise development and CMS I was told that it is not worth fighting that fight as “We will never reach them”. Well, this is where the money and a lot of jobs are and it is a fact that both accessibility and standards activists in a lot of instances don’t even know the issues that keep the stakeholders in these areas busy. My Digital Web Article ‘10 reasons why clients don’t care about accessibility’ and the follow-up Seven Accessibility Mistakes Part One and Part 2 listed these issues and the wrong ways of how we try to tackle them 3 years ago. My talk at the AbilityNet conference last week Fencing-in the habitat also mentioned this attitude and problems.

Here’s where I am now: I am bored and tired of people fighting the good fight by blaming each other’s mistakes or pointing out problems on systems that are within reach. When people ask for accessibility or Ajax usability advice you’ll get a lot of bashing and “go validate then come back” answers but not much information that can be used immediately or even questions that ask what lead to the state of the product. You’d be surprised what you can find out by asking this simple question.

We have to understand that large systems, frameworks and companies do still run the show, even when we think that bloggers, books on webdesign and mashups push the envelope. They do, but so far they are a minor discomfort for companies that sell Ajax and other out-of-the-box solutions that are inaccessible and to larger parts unusable for humans. When was the last time you used a clever expense or time tracking system in companies that are not a startup or a small web agency? When I was at the AjaxWorld conference in NYC earlier this year I heard a lot about security, ease of deployment and scalability but only a little bit about accessibility (the Dojo talk and the YUI talk, actually). People are a lot more concerned about the cost of software and the speed of release than about the quality or maintainability. It is cheaper to buy a new system every few years than to build one that is properly tested and works for all users. Does your company still have systems or third party solutions that only work on IE/Windows? I am sure there is at least one, ask the HR or finance department.

It doesn’t help to coin another term and call an accessible and usable Ajax solution Hijax, either. As much as I like the idea of it I have to agree with James’ comment – we don’t need another word, we need a reason for people to not just use things out of the box without thinking about them or – even better – offer help to the companies that build the solutions on assumptions in the first place. When I ranted about a system by a large corporation some weeks ago on twitter their marketing manager for EMEA starting following me and I am starting some talks with them.

I have heard numerous times that my ideas about progressive enhancement and accessibility are just a “passing fad” and “that in the real software market you don’t have time for that”. Challenging this attitude is what makes a difference – by proving that by using the technologies we are given in a predictable and secure way does save you time and money. However, there are not many case studies on that…

I cannot change the world when I don’t know what obstacles people have to remove to do the right thing. Deep down every developer wants to do things right, in a clean and maintainable fashion and be proud of what they’ve done. Bad products happen because of rushed projects, bad management and developers getting so frustrated that they are OK with releasing sub-par just to get the money or finally get allocated to a different project.

This is the battle we need to fight – where do these problems come from? Not what technology to avoid. You can use any technology in a good way, you just need to be able to sell it past the hype and the assumption that software is developed as fast as it takes to write a cool press release about it.

Opera, REST APIs, Module Patterns and generated script nodes

Friday, April 11th, 2008

I just came across an annoying thing in Opera. I love using the Module Pattern for designing my JavaScripts and I love generating script nodes on the fly for REST APIs that give me back JSON. The following example using the twitter API works swimmingly on Firefox and Safari (have to check IE later, but I’d be surprised if it didn’t):

However, if you test this in Opera you get an error:

JavaScript – file://localhost/Applications/MAMP/htdocs/operacallbackfail.html
Inline script thread
name: ReferenceError
message: Statement on line 1: Reference to undefined variable: twitterbadge
Line 1 of linked script[{user : {screen_name : “codepo8”,...08”}]);

It seems like the newly generated script node calls the method of the module before the module has been created. In other words, newly generated script nodes halt the execution of the code that generated them. The following example works across browsers, including Opera:

Not too daunting a fix, but it feels wrong to have to have an extra method and another line calling it.

Try it out for yourself: Opera bug with dynamic script nodes and module pattern