WDS07: Workshop Day Two

Not really a workshop per se, but the W3C SIG day where various working groups presented a look into what they were up to, and where they were headed.

I've had bugger-all to do with W3C and it's inner workings so I was intrigued as to what they actually did. In retrospect however, I should have went to the Javascript workshop which from all reports was pretty good.

Bert Bos (CSS3) covered some of what Andy Clarke spoke about at his workshop yesterday, echoing some of the more cooler features of the CSS3 specification. He illustrated how the advanced layout and grid positioning modules worked, which is super exciting for designer types. This new methodology, along with the new CSS3 selectors module, makes the selector alias theory I had the other week kinda redundant, as markup will no longer require any reference to where the content fits in the the grid, and also makes selecting specific elements easy, even if they are not marked up with a class or id. Bert also touched on the new advanced background images and borders (especially using images for borders). This really excites me (as much as a W3C spec can, I guess).

David Ratcliffe (GRDDL) spoke on a subject that I have no knowledge of and little interest in. GRDDL stands for Gleaning Resource Descriptions from Dialects of Language which is basically a stupid way of saying "bridging the gap between semantic markups" (but I guess BTGBSM is not a very good acronym). I got lost a few times here, looking off into the distance with circus music playing in my head...

Sofia Celic (WCAG 2.0 Draft) first covered the principles of the new draft for accessibility guidelines. There's some new terminology used, with Checkpoints now being called Success Criteria. Also, some of these criteria are now worded to include more specific values (such as text-sizing should be resizable to between 50% and 200% without loss of content or functionality). This brought the comment "That's a load of crap" from one audience member. Apparently these values were not based on any real research, illustrating that perhaps some wording may need to be reviewed. Finally, the new draft has the focus moving away from making content accessible to everyone, now targeting solely people with disabilities. A few hard questions from the audience were met with shrugs.

Anne Cregan (Semantec Web) spoke of a framework for sharing data led by the W3C based on RDF. This session reminded me of a comment I heard yesterday that the W3C is run mainly by academics and researchers and doesn't really relate to web workers in the field. This is where I realised that I'd perhaps chosen the wrong workshop for today, as the circus music returned to my head. Lots of big words like ontology and axioms. Anne believes that this framework needs a killer app before people will see how cool this stuff is, but I just saw a solution where no problems exist (for me anyway).

Chris Wilson from Microsoft (HTML5 and the HTMLWG)started off with a bit of history about the WHATWG and the HTMLWG, then explained that the HTMLWG operates under the W3C Patent Policy, so Chris spent a bit of time talking about how the open standards the HTMLWG deals with needs to be free from IP complications. HTML5 aims to evolve from HTML4 to better describe the semantics of documents and applications, as well as integrate new UI controls such as datagrids etc. They concentrate on a few main principles: compatibility (graceful degradation, supporting existing content, not reinventing the wheel), utility (solving real problems, media independence, security, design, etc) and interoperability (well defined behaviour, avoiding needless complexity, error handling, etc). Chris also spoke of some of the challenges the group faces such as dealing with the openness of of the group which has over 400 members, so understandably there are problems with tone/politeness as well as evaluating the consensus of a subject.

Renato IannellaEugene LevyRenato Iannella (The Policy Aware Web) gave a very political presentation about... *cue circus music* doo doo do-do do doo dooo... Huh? What? Yeah, I kinda lost the plot at the start, but he kinda looks like Eugene Levy, which amused me enough to keep me going to the interesting stuff. :) His talk was about supporting the varied policy languages to control various infrastructures of web usage. The privacy policies you see everywhere are part of this, but there are so many other areas that need to be supported such as accessibility, DRM, mobile sector, content licensing (eg. creative commons, GPL) etc.

Marcos Caceres (Widgets 1.0 Spec) was interesting enough, as he covered something that I'd never really thought about: standardising widgets (single function application often based on web technologies). A widget engine is the software on which widgets run, be it OSX dashboard, YahooUI, etc. but there is currently no interoperability between widget engines. The Widget 1.0 Spec addresses areas such as packaging up widgets, auto updates, embedding widgets in HTML pages, how they're coded and rendered.

Dean Jackson (SVG) is an entertaining speaker. His talk was on a topic I'd had very little interest in, but by the end I was sold on the idea. SVG isn't particularly relative to me at the moment, but it was interesting to see how SVG is in use on the web right now in ways that we might not be aware of, such as routes and polygons in Google Maps. Also SVG comes standard on many mobile devices today, especially 3G devices. Desktop UI's such as Gnome or KDE use SVG for their icons too which was surprising, so it's fast becoming a vendor-neutral, open standard for vector graphics. Dean suggested that we all go out and have a go at authoring something in SVG, as it's simply an XML format. SVG is implemented at the same level as HTML, CSS and Javascript, not by plugin, so it can also be styled by CSS natively by the browser, but unfortunately, as usual, IE falls behind with its non-existent support.

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