ailon's DevBlog: Development related stuff in my life

Who Wants HTML5 to Succeed?

11/19/2010 5:45:29 PM

Yesterday I’ve had a short twitter-chat with Laurent Bugnion in response to this tweet:

image

This chat got me thinking about motivations of most of the biggest players driving HTML5 forward. Here’s what I think.

Apple

Apple resorts to praising HTML5 only when they need to justify why there’s no Flash (Silverlight, etc.) on iOS devices. In these cases HTML5 is the answer. But when it comes to comparing HTML5 apps to native iPhone apps there’s no comparison – native apps win hands down. And apparently there’s going to be an app store for the desktop Mac OSX. So Apple’s main interest is in controlling the apps (and I’m not even talking about sales revenue here) that run on top of it’s operating systems/hardware. I don’t see HTML5 fitting well into this plot.

Adobe

Adobe was close to world domination in RIA (or at least de-facto standard) up until Apple killed their dreams with the no-Flash debacle on iOS. And HTML5 was Apple’s weapon. I’m sorry but I’m not seeing Adobe as someone who want’s HTML5 to succeed.

Microsoft

Microsoft came up strong about HTML5 in IE9. It sounded strong enough for some people to pronounce Silverlight dead. But why would Microsoft want something that could run on Linux, Macs, etc. as well as on Windows to be a RIA platform of the future? I can see 2 answers here:

  1. they are confused and will come to their senses later;
  2. they will “extend” the standard to a point that “cool” apps run only on Windows.

Now in the second case that won’t be the HTML5 generating the buzz right now. That will be MSHTML5 or something.

Browser vendors

I’m not talking about Microsoft, Apple or Google here. I’m talking about the other 2 major browser vendors who have browsers at the core of their businesses: Mozilla and Opera. I don’t think they have any end-game in this. They are just trying to make great products that users would want to use to browse the web and what that web is will be decided by other players.

Google

That leaves us with Google. I believe they are the only big party that has a genuine interest in making HTML5 succeed as a cross-platform standard. After all they have the deepest current investment in the area with all of their awesome web apps, Chrome OS, Google TV, etc. But I doubt that they are strong enough to overcome the obstacles in form of above mentioned companies. After all Google is currently in direct competition with all of them, so why would they hand the torch to Google?

Conclusion

I think I’ll have to agree with Laurent’s statement. I believe there will be HTML5 “standard” in the near future, but it will be along the lines of what all the other HTML incarnations always were – good in theory but requires a lot of duct-tape to glue it all together into something working across browsers. And it will be up to enthusiasts (like the creators of libraries such as jQuery) to make it all kinda work.

I’d like to end this post with “History Repeating” by Propellerheads. Enjoy…

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Oh, The Dramz: Mozilla blocks WPF

10/19/2009 8:52:31 AM

As someone who has been unpleasantly (but not critically) affected by the drama that ensued during the weekend after Mozilla’s decision to forcefully block .NET Assistant add-on and WPF plug-in on ALL Windows/Firefox installations around the world, I’ve been following a Bugzilla thread on the subject. Quite a fascinating reading.

A comment from Peter Schaefer perefectly summarizes how I feel about this unfortunate situation:

As understand the issue, Mozilla could have used its blocklist mechanism right if Microsoft had been smart enough to update the version number or name of the installed plugins along with their security patch. A solution would be to do this now and thus make the functionality work again for those who want it.

If you want to assign blame, which doesn't help anyone, Microsoft first messed things up, but now when trying to fix it both Mozilla and Microsoft have made suboptimal decisions, IMO.

As I see it the only reasonable way to resolve this satisfatorily and ASAP (which is really needed in the world utilizing affected technologies) is for Microsoft to release a dummy WPF plugin update with an updated version number that wouldn’t install on unpatched Windows and for Mozilla to unblock that version and leave the old one blocked.

I can only imagine what admins and helpdesks of affected companies are going through Today. My deepest condolences to you guys.

Update: the block on .NET Assistant (ClickOnce enabling add-on) has been removed on Sunday, so the problem is partially resolved. However WPF in-browser (XBAP) apps are still affected.

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Spread amMap

5/29/2008 11:57:05 AM

Download Day 2008Mozilla is aiming at Guiness record by trying to force as much people as possible to download Firefox on a certain "Download Day" with actual date not set yet. The idea is brilliant marketing move and lame flashmob in general but that's not important. What's important is that the use my friend's Antanas' amMap interactive map control on the site's front page.

I bet he's biting his elbows right now guestimating how much pageviews/downloads/sales he would get if they've used a free version (with link back to amMap.com) rather than bought a commercial license :)

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Internet Explorer, HTTPS/SSL and ASPX pretending to be XLS

2/22/2008 5:51:24 PM

I've developed a system for a client where among other things he was able to export a certain product list as CSV file to import it into Excel/OpenOffice etc. I did it the usual way: created an ASPX page which was outputting data in CSV and pretending to be XLS with code like this:

Response.ContentType = "application/vnd.ms-excel";
Response.AddHeader("Content-Disposition", "filename=\"catalog.xls\"");
...

It all worked fine but then we ran into the Opera's dumb-caching issue, so I added

<%@ OutputCache Location="None" %>

to all sensitive pages. "Excel" export still worked fine. Then we moved the app under https and suddenly export stopped working in IE with the message box claiming

Internet Explorer cannot download file from server.
Internet Explorer was not able to open this Internet site. The requested site is either unavailable or cannot be found. Please try again later.

In Firefox and Opera it still worked fine.

I found this article in Microsoft's KB explaining that caching should be allowed in order for IE to save the file to temporary folder and then open it from there (hence the file not found error). This solved the problem. Hope this helps someone or myself in the future.

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Opera, caching and ASP.NET

12/4/2007 4:45:00 PM

How do you create a fastest browser in the whole world? You just CACHE everything in a dumb way!

I just ran into a problem when a client reported anomalies with shopping cart functionality in a project I'm working on. Apparently when you add a product to a cart using Opera and then just navigate to a shopping cart page you see the (client) cached version of that page. If you refresh you see the actual version, then you remove a product from the cart using POST and you still see the actual version, then you just navigate to cart.aspx page and you see the cached version again.

I had no time to investigate the deep causes of this behavior but it looks like Opera by default is pulling from cache any page requested with GET and having no question mark in the URL if it was already requested less than 5 minutes ago.

Since I had no time to research the roots of this behavior I just solved (hopefully) the issue by adding

<%@ OutputCache Location="None" %>

to every sensitive aspx page.

Maybe I should do this all the time just to stay safe but neither IE nor Firefox were behaving in this crazy manner without this. So I'm guessing it's just because they are not after the "fastest browser on the market" crown and can justify creating a smart caching system sacrificing "speed".

So, I guess now I can declare that I hate all of the 3 major browsers (haven't spent enough time with Safari to start hating it). I hate MSIE for lack of support for standards and being slow in adding new features (thankfully there's IE7Pro plugin). I started hating Firefox while developing Gecko support in SPAW 1.x and running into some Gecko bugs that were known for more than 3 years and publicly ignored and for overall stubbornness of Mozilla developers and... I just don't like how it "feels" as a user. I discovered that you can crash Opera with JavaScript while working on Opera support for SPAW 2.x but they've fixed it by now which is nice, but now this...

Update: No caching results in back button not working... hmm... I hate these issues...

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