September 2010 Archives — Broken Links Archive

JavaScript: The Selectors API

JavaScript libraries like jQuery and Prototype are amazing; flexible and powerful, they standardise processes and make cross-browser scripting really easy. I rarely work on a project nowadays where a library isn’t used.

Their ease-of-use has a slight drawback, however: it’s easy to rely on them too much, and lose sight of new developments in JavaScript. This was the reason for my not really paying much attention to an exciting recent introduction, the Selectors API, until I had cause to use it on a personal project.

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Using SVG in CSS with JavaScript detection

With the release of IE9 and Firefox 4 all major browsers are going to support using SVG in the img element or as a CSS background image, which is great news as SVG images are good for high definition, scalable websites. I’ve written a couple of posts recently about using SVG with the background-image property, and how to cope with browsers that don’t support it. The method I came up with works, but is far from elegant; for one thing, it doesn’t allow for transparency.

Another approach we can take to the problem is to use JavaScript to detect SVG support. Alexis Deveria wrote a script which detects if your browser supports SVG and, if not, replace the images with PNG. It’s a good script, but I wondered if there was an alternative.

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An IE9 review with a massive error

I downloaded the IE9 Beta last night, and while I haven’t had the chance to give it a proper once-over yet, I’m pretty impressed with its capabilities so far. The real star is the hardware acceleration, which opens pages so fast it seems like magic. The new HTML5 and CSS3 support is very welcome.

You can read an in-depth review of it at ZDNet, except it seems to be written by someone who doesn’t really understand CSS very well.

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HTML5 block-level link bug in IE7+

HTML5 allows the use of block elements inside the a tag, which was not permitted in HTML4. This means that you can wrap a link around whole sections of markup, making all of the child elements of the a become the link. You use it like so:

<a href="http://example.com">
  <div>
    <h3>I'm an example</h3>
  </div>
</a>

You can begin to use this straight away, as every browser supports it — although you must be wary of one rather glaring bug in Internet Explorer.

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Playing WebM in Safari with plugins

As you’re no doubt aware, HTML5 video is this year’s big thing — but there’s a dispute going on about which should become the default standard video codec. The current nascent de facto standard is H.264, but recently the new WebM format is gaining traction.

I’ve no idea how the web video format war will end. My preference is that a free, non-patent encumbered, high-quality video codec will become the standard, and WebM is the best fit for that description. Despite the recent announcement by the MPEG LA, the patent pool which controls licensing of H.264, that it will always be free for ‘video delivered to the internet without charge’, that still doesn’t make it free-as-in-speech, and still not free-as-in-beer for anyone wanting to build a business around video encoding/decoding (which includes, if I’m not mistaken, bundling it with a browser). All that said, my preference is meaningless in the face of so many vested business interests.

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Aside

I’ve updated my Speaking page to include more conferences, more videos, and a little on my speaking requirements and preferences. I’m planning to cut down on the number of talks I give in 2014 (twelve is too many), but am always open to interesting offers and opportunities, so please get in touch if you’re organising an event.

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