Liveblogging a presentation by Molly Holzschlag at @media2005, London, 2005.06.10 (; ; ; )

“Apparently somebody has said that I wrote a million books…. However, there are two that I would like, at the risk of being self-masturbatory here, that I would like to point you to,” including Spring into HTML and CSS and The Zen of CSS Design, which most people in the audience have. “I’m looking forward to that first royalty cheque. In all seriousness, a joyous book to write.”

WaSP gave Browse Happy to WordPress. As Jeffrey said, we sting when we have to. Last year, we “sort of exploited” the facts of IE’s security vulnerabilities, “exploited an opportunity, I will boldly admit, to go in there and do a switch campaign…. However, times change and people change and environments change…. There is an opening of doors” at Microsoft, particularly through Channel 9, “which is a very unique thing at Microsoft.” She worked there for five years “and believe me, they like to keep their people muzzled.” Microsoft “is where we’re having some of our most challenges,” but “they are our peers, and we certainly do not want an adversarial relationship. Browse Happy had an adversarial undertone toward Microsoft, because that was what its role was.” So they decided to “ditch it.”

Acid2: Nearly everyone in the audience knows about it.

“GoDead – I mean GoLive.”

“You’d think that a good test would go through the W3C,” but that’s too lengthy a process, so Håkon Lie went to WaSP. “The one group that is not yet convinced that they need to be testing against Acid2 is Microsoft.” The Microsoft Task Force “has not yet been announced at any public forum except for @media,” though it will be announced in a few weeks. They’ve had one f2f meeting and are working on .Net, Visual Studio, IE. Tantek is on that task force.

“Macrodobia”: They have a contact “deep inside the Adobe organization and is extremely in support of standards.” Rachel Andrews and Drew McLellan’s work on the Dreamweaver Task Force will hopefully be carried on to “this new environment.” She met with Macromedia just before the [announced] purchase, and they were testing their Dreamweaver rendering engine against Acid2. “We have to remember that we are how many years old? We are teenagers here and these things will take time…. None of us are going to see in our careers any real stability. Part of the thrill of being in the Web is that it changes all the time.”

Back to her topic of presentation: “Yes, there is separation” of structure, presentation and behaviour – a layer cake [of sorts], “but you know it doesn’t taste good until you put the icing on” and integrate them all together.

She has clients with millions of legacy documents that must remain online (especially for research documents) with masses of presentational HTML. (She asked how many people in the audience manage over a thousand documents. Twenty or so people, including me, put their hands up. Over 40,000? About ten.)

She says Tim Berners-Lee complained at a conference in Hawaii that, while the HTTP layer is stable, what we’re putting on top of it via presentational markup is not. She mentions that semantic markup returns us to the original vision of the Web.

“The Semantic Web is really the work that the W3C is doing on… using technologies such as RDF and other XML technologies to have machines talking to each other to do a lot of the communication to extend our abilities to have documents communicate with each other…. The semantic Web… is the idea that we already have some things in HTML that we can go ahead and use legitimately to further the idea of the semantic Web withouthaving to reinvent the wheel.” (Like microformats.) “The idea that we can take a class name” and tap into them; the rel attribute for search capabilities; XFN, which are Flickr-style tags as labels. “As these technologies begin to get more and more sophisticated and we begin to be able to tap into” that information. The information “actually is really inside the markup that we have today.”

Asks how many people have never had to use a table for layout and counts them: Nine. Asks how many find CSS easy: At best a few dozen. “A challenge”? About three times as many hands go up, including mine.

Standards make for quicker redesigns, and that time saving is important even to us “because we are extremely concerned about our presentation layer [fingers her hair], and mine has gotten grey.”

  1. Question from Julian: Will streaming media come through the browser in the future without plug-ins?

    A. I don’t know if I’m the right person to ask that. Accessibility will still be a huge factor. I honestly don’t know.

    Interjection from man: What about SMIL?

    A. Implementation, third-party support, slow movement at the W3C (“and I say that as an Invited Expert; we know the pain”).

  2. Question from man: Since about 97% of the audience is running a blog, is the announcement with Microsoft?

    A. I would very, very much appreciate it if you waited until a week or two. Obviously I said it, but I don’t want to get into any problems. Yesterday I felt it fair to speak about it. We just haven’t made a formal announcement. You can hint at it. OK? [No, Molly, not OK. We can report statements made – on two separate days – in a public forum. Off-the-record status must be separately negotiated in advance, and you’d have to have done that with 300 people.]

  3. Question from man: What’s the difference between a CSS wireframe and the finished result?

    A. I don’t have examples on my computer, but just think about a minimally-marked-up document with minimal style.

  4. Question from man: Wireframing, you said, can be quick and easy, but do you know of any case studies that can back that up?

    A. No case studies per se. The DevEdge process is documented on Eric Meyer’s site. He and I have been doing early work on this in the prototyping phase. There’s no formal white paper or documentation. In due time, but not right now. “Of course, you’re welcome to use the presentation material here as well, if that might help.” They may be assembling links of case studies from audiencemembers.

  5. Question from man: Do you think Microsoft’s announcement that Word will use XML will influence workflow?

    A. “I can’t answer that. I’m not at liberty to say.”

  6. Question from man: In the real world, our CMSs mess up our beautiful clean code. Are you aware of any CMSs or techniques to prevent that?

    A. Open source has several highly-customizable CMSs; of course, this is not historically accurate, since CMSs have been a thorn in the side of many a standards developer. It’s a very hard question to answer because of the economics of content management; they’re very expensive products. The retrofitting is still going to be difficult. If you don’t have a standards-savvy CMS from the ground up, you’re definitely going to be more challenged. I don’t know if any of us have an answer. You have to investigate the CMS you are using now and for the future. Some claim that CMSs are a bad idea anyway.

  7. Question from man: Many CMSs let you update the content through the browser, using contentEditable or the Mozilla equivalent, design mode. Neither produces semantic markup. Will the quality of those implementations be improved?

    A. The open-source developers have a great deal of conversation going on about how to do those things. But look at Weblogging tools, many of which are standards-savvy. These things are going to take some time.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2005.06.11 17:30. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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