Even the Mistakes are Fun

Anne Van Kesteren:

A new survey reveals that at least Microsoft and IBM think the HTML charter does not cover the canvas element.

I have to wonder, when reading the survey results, how much the people who voted actually used either SVG or the Canvas element. I covered both SVG and the Canvas Element in the book, but I focused more on SVG. Comparing the two–SVG and Canvas–is like comparing the old FONT element with CSS.

The Canvas element requires scripting. The SVG element doesn’t, even for animation if you use the animate elements. In addition, mistakes in SVG can be fun, as I found when I missed a parameter value in mistaken animation. A couple lines of markup. No script. Both Opera and Safari do an excellent job with the animation elements. I’m expecting Firefox to join this group in the next year.

If you use scripting, you can access each element in the SVG document as a separate element. You can’t do that with Canvas.

I still don’t think the Canvas element should be part of a new HTML 5, whatever the grand plans. However, since all but IE supports the Canvas element, it would be foolish to drop it. A better option would be to consider the Canvas element a bitmapped version of SVG and create a separate group to ensure it grows in a standard manner.

I did like what David Dailey wrote in the survey results:

I have considerable ambivalence about <canvas> as I have noted previously. If we were designing HTML 5 from the ground up , SVG and canvas ought to share syntax and ought not to duplicate so much functionality. <canvas> brings a few needed things with it, though it seems rather a bit of poor planning on the part of the advocates of <canvas> that has gotten us to this point. Those historically frustrated with W3C chose to ignore SVG and now seem to want W3C to ignore SVG in favor of a lesser technology. At the same time, <canvas> does enable client-side image analysis by giving the developer access to pixel values, and that alone allows for some tolerance of what otherwise seems to be a curious decoupling of reason from politics. Does it re-invent the wheel? — only about 95% of it is redundant with 20% of SVG.

As for all the discussion about semantic API…years ago I, and others, made a fight for a model and associated XML vocabulary, RDF, we said would stand the test of time and hold up under use. The road’s been rough, and few people are going to defend reification, but RDF fuels the only truly open social graph in existence. Five years ago. That was about the time when everyone believed that all we’d need for semantics was RSS. Including Microsoft.

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8 Responses to Even the Mistakes are Fun

  1. I agree with you: SVG is fun. But then again, I’m a little biased.

    Personally, I’d rather see SVG 1.2 expand to include pixel-based access/manipulations (as some in the SVG WG seem to want happen) and then include SVG in HTML5.

  2. Seth Russell says:

    You say “RDF fuels the only truly open social graph in existence” … but does such a graph actually exist? Where can i see evidence for the existence of such a graph? … and please don’t just point me to somebody’s foaf file or even a data base that contains a small number of references to foaf files. I want to see evidence that the foaf project is actually creating an extensive graph of people who have published a foaf files. I tried to find that graph 5 years ago and couldn’t then. Has anything changed?

  3. Shelley says:

    Seth, point me to an example of open graph implemented in some other technology.

    All I have to do is show Danny Ayer’s, follow his out a couple of threads, and that’s enough to show the world’s largest open social graph.

    Google’s is bigger? Google’s belongs to Google. The data is not open.

    Facebook? ditto

    MySpace? ditto

    FOAF is still the only truly open social graph.

  4. Shelley says:

    Jeff, I agree with you on incorporating the bitmapping functions into SVG, and only having one graphics system.

  5. Seth Russell says:

    Shelley, the Web is a real open graph that it exists … it is useful …it is practical. As far as i know the data that does exist in foaf is for demonstration purposes only … when, for example, was the last time you actually used any foaf data?

  6. Shelley says:

    Demonstration purposes? People are using the spec to generate the files and loading those on to their servers and posting links to them. That strikes me as technology in the wild.

    Were you expecting gears? A FOAF poke?

    “…when, for example, was the last time you actually used any foaf data?”

    I don’t, but then, I’m antisocial. I also don’t Twitter, poke in Facebook, store pictures in Flickr, link in at LinkedIn, or follow any number of the thousand and one essential online social services.

    But I understand the difference between proprietary specifications and open ones. I also understand the difference between data you own and data others own about you.

  7. Uses of ‘in the wild’ FOAF crawler results that I have seen: automatic extended whitelist generation, social-network analysis, friend-of-a-friend planet-style aggregators, etc.

  8. “I still don’t think the Canvas element should be part of a new HTML 5, whatever the grand plans. However, since all but IE supports the Canvas element, it would be foolish to drop it”

    sounds like compounding an already existing mistake. But I am not specifically bothered as I think that canvas elements are native to html and should be included in html 5.