Archive for July, 2009

Independence Delay

July 3, 2009

W3C announced today the end of the XHTML 2 working group charter.  It has long been apparent that HTML 5 would become a reality, much to my chagrin, but I had hoped deep down that XHTML2 would not die.  You see, HTML 5 is a great tactical move to progress HTML making multimedia easier (among other things) for content authors. However, strategically, I feel this sets back the Web, particularly the semantic Web. I am disappointed, not because XHTML 2 has better features than HTML 5, but because the promotion of HTML 5 over XHTML 2 moves the Web in the wrong direction.

What’s so great about XHTML2

What’s so great about XHTML2? There are some nice cleanups, like replacing <h1-6> with a simple <h>.  The <hr> is replaced with a more semantically-named <separator>. The generalization of the href and src attributes were also pretty exciting. However, the biggest thing is decentralized extensibility. In fact, the W3C mentioned this in their FAQ regarding the end of XHTML2. The very existence of HTML 5 exemplifies why this is a big deal. Decentralized extensibility means we can create our own vocabularies independent of browser implementations.

The current state of things

As a developer, you’re stuck with the elements a user-agent implements.  With HTML, you are limited to what a consortium managed to agree upon and browser authors implemented (somewhat) consistently. The needs of content authors and the capabilities browsers have outgrown the existing centralized vocabularies of HTML 4 and XHTML 1.  HTML 5 addresses this problem with a brute force method: keep improving the centralized vocabulary, and try to keep up with the developer community.

Where we could be headed

If we currently live in the era of the Web browser, we ought to be headed toward the era of the XML browser.With XML, we have more liberty. We can create XML documents with our own vocabularies. We can even define the vocabularies through DTDs or other schemata.  We can mix and match our vocabularies with others. We can define the layout and presentation of new languages with CSS and XSL-FO. Better still, we can define what our new elements and attributes mean through RDF and its related technologies. This is the key.

Every time I mention this, I get the same question, “How would a browser know that my attribute mynamespace:foo@fetcherator is the same as html:a@href?” This is where RDF comes in. With semantic technologies, we can define our vocabularies in such a way that a browser will know.

Why can’t we head there with HTML 5?

We can. In fact, I believe we will (though perhaps more slowly now). My concern is the motivation behind the HTML enhancements in HTML 5 vs XHTML 2. XHTML 2 was a continuation of the W3C’s efforts to bring the benefits of XML into HTML, while HTML 5 seems to bring the benefits of new user agent capabilities into HTML. We need to decouple the user agent capabilities from our document vocabularies. This is true independence.

We can still do this.  The future may still be bright. I hope that we do not lose the vision as we postpone liberty for the comforts afforded by the latest iteration of a centralized HTML.

Adobe ColdFusion Rocks Lampo

July 1, 2009

On June 18th we were honored to have had the 2009 Adobe ColdFusion User Group Tour on our very own stomping grounds in Brentwood, TN.  The event was held in our conference center and we had a great turn out.  Greg Wilson, an Adobe Product Evangelist, demo’ed many new features in the upcoming release of ColdFusion 9.  The majority of our crew attended and took a lot away from it.  Here are some of their thoughts and photos with highlights from the exciting night!

“I’m particularly pleased with the ability to do much more in <cfscript /> that ever before. As a Java developer, it makes ColdFusion much more appealing. Also, Hibernate integration is particularly interesting – that should improve productivity for data-driven apps dramatically.”

Doug Smith – Sr. Web Programmer

“It was great to see how much Adobe has their finger on the pulse of the development community.  Many of the new features for CF9 are things that just in the past week I had heard someone say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you could do that in Coldfusion?’ and sure enough, soon you’ll be able to.  Getting that behind-the-scenes perspective from Greg was really cool.”

Ty DeLong – Web Programmer

“The most interesting parts of the event for me were seeing the demonstration of the new, long-awaited Bolt IDE.  It has a lot of nice features that should improve development.  I also enjoyed the new features of the next version of the ColdFusion language. The presenter explained that Adobe has added a lot of little features to make syntax more consistent throughout ColdFusion. They’ve also added some interesting controls, ie. the DataGrid, which might help us to do some standard things more quickly.”

Ron Coffman – Marketing Web Programmer

“The event was a great example of Adobe stepping up once more and retooling ColdFusion into an industry-leading Rapid Application Development language. It was awesome to hear first-hand about some features that I’ve wanted to see for quite a while!”

Tim Kucejko – Web Programmer

“Several great features were presented. Bolt looks like a nice upgrade to CFEclipse. I like the new tags that simplify using JavaScript interface components. I also like the enhancements being made to the cfscript tag. But best of all: ternary operator …”

Jon Fouss – Sr. Web Programmer


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