Linked by snydeq on Tue 16th Aug 2011 16:46 UTC
Web 2.0 InfoWorld's Peter Wayner discusses the 11 hard truths Web developers must accept in making the most of HTML5 -- especially those who are looking to leverage HTML5 in hopes of unseating native apps. 'The truth is, despite its powerful capabilities, HTML5 isn't the solution for every problem. Its additional features are compelling and will help make Web apps formidable competitors for native apps, but security issues, limitations of local data storage, synchonization challenges, and politics should have us all scaling back our expectations for the spec.'
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RE[4]: HTML 5 == Pointless Bloat
by Brendan on Wed 17th Aug 2011 07:11 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: HTML 5 == Pointless Bloat"
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Hi! How are things back in 1992?

Seriously... So you want to go back to purely using tags to control presentation? Really?

Yes, definitely. However I would also like things to have improved - more tags for direct control of presentation, and better browser compatibility.

I have been doing this since 1996 or so. You can not and have never been able to say how any specific browser might render things reliably. It has always been horseshoes and hand grenades until CSS became prevalent. It is still hit or miss to some extent, but much better than it ever was in the past. If you want to control presentation, that is what CSS is for - HTML is for describing document structure, linking, and embedding.

HTML should be for describing document structure for the purpose of presentation; not for describing document structure for no purpose at all.

In hindsight I almost wish all browsers shipped with absolutely no presentation defaults at all and forced authors to implement complete CSS styling for their work. It would actually save me some trouble most of the time as the first step required when you want pixel perfect rendering across modern browsers is to reset all that crap anyway.

Sane/standard defaults avoid the need to waste time/bandwidth providing superfluous information.

The stupidity of "pixels" as a measurement for anything (especially for web pages where there's no sane way of knowing what the size the user's screen is) is a different issue. Unfortunately, true resolution independence would require something extremely complex, like teaching browsers that percentages can contain fractions (e.g. size="12.34%").

Realistically it isn't that way though because most of the time you really don't need pixel perfect rendering and the defaults generally behave similarly enough that if you keep things simple they work well. I have nothing against this approach to doing web pages - simple is often good... As long as you are not naive enough to thing that "good" means "identical" it is a perfectly valid way to do things.

Agreed. I'm not after "every pixel is identical in all browsers". I just want the browser to do what I say without requiring an extra layer of bloat (CSS) to tell it to do what I say; in the way that HTML3 used to, but hopefully with even more control (like "{div bgcolour="#1234"}" for e.g.).

It doesn't matter what is doing the accessibility. Please explain how the OS is supposed to do it without something telling it WTF it is looking at? You make it sound like semantic tags are a bad thing... You do realize most of those presentational tags from HTML 2.0 you seem fond of ARE semantic tags don't you? H1 doesn't mean "really big font", it means "Top Level Heading", it just also happens to render with a really big font in most browsers. There really are only a small handful of tags that were ever in HTML that can be considered purely presentational. The font tag for sure, i and b are really both - big, small, sub, sup - hell that is about it really, everything else is semantic.

Have you had a look at the accessibility features in something like Windows or Gnome? Things like shifting hue for colour blind people, screen magnification, etc? The only thing not covered is blind users and screen readers (but that's an entirely separate issue).

Note: I don't use the heading tags (I prefer doing the "{big}{big}{b}" thing, so I know what it should look like). In the same way I don't use "{thead}" or "{th}". I use tables for layout control. If I want an actual table with something like "Figure 1.3" underneath it; then I create a table (with borders) inside another table (without borders) and have "Figure 1.3" in the second row of the outer table (because "{tfoot}" is displayed as just another row and not underneath the table, and "{caption}" is displayed above the table (WTF?) which isn't what I want either). I use the "title" attribute for tooltips and not for titles. For code I don't use "{code}", but prefer "{tt}" and a heap of "+nbsp;" (with "+gt;", "+amp;", etc) so that I can still do stuff like syntax highlighting.

I honestly don't think I use any of the tags intended for semantics, because none of them are displayed how I want them to be displayed. The only exception to this is HTML links (and anchors).

The point is if you care how it looks you need to use CSS to control it - the tags purpose is to convey document structure.

To attempt to control presentation you are meant to use CSS (which is a bloated mess that would never have been needed if W3C had their priorities right).

That is essentially what semantic means. If you want HTML without semantics... well you really don't have anything left. Hell, if you don't care about semantics just make a jpeg and use an img tag... Really, why not?

Bandwidth and linking.

You do realize all of those things have semantics in them don't you? They may not always be explicit, but even text files have semantics (TITLE IN ALL CAPS). How do you think Google extracts information like the title form say a .doc file when the metadata is missing? It looks for the first heading in it. Same with pdfs. HTML just makes it more explicit and well defined. How is that a bad thing?

I didn't say it was bad for search engines to use the semantic markup. I did say that search engines don't need the semantic markup or justify the existence of semantic markup.

You have a seriously misguided view of what HTML is, what it is for, and how it is actually used.

I don't care how it is, I'm talking about how it should have been.

Have a look at the source for OSnews' main page. It's just over 62 KiB and consists of a mixture of JavaScript and HTML. On top of that there's the CSS which is another 23.3 KiB, plus another little CSS for RSS (2.1 KiB). Then there's a total of 167.4 KiB of extra javascript files, where the largest is for jQuery. That's a total of 254.8 KiB of data (not including icons, pictures, etc). The content is only 19.3 KiB. How much of the remaining 235.5 KiB is there to control "look and feel"?

Now click on your browsers "refresh" button to refresh the OSNews main page. How long did it take to complete? For me it took a total of 8 seconds to drag all that data half way around the world, partly because the browser can't start fetching all the data at the same time (for e.g. it can't know which CSS file to download until after it's started decoding the HTML).

Ok. Now try to convince me that this is "efficient".

- Brendan

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