Neil's Place

April 10, 2003

12:11 PM Secret of Programming

I have discovered the secret of how to make writing code more interesting -- make sure that your editor is using a nice font.

A year ago when I was doing something on a Mac (OS X), I wondered why it seemed better working on that platform than others. I thought maybe there was something special about the Mac, or its keyboard, or the Aqua UI. Nope. It was the font.

Now that I've switched fonts on my Linux machine, I'm happier.

Comments ( 35 )

April 7, 2003

10:01 PM Attention web developers

Web developers should read this: Using Mozilla in testing and debugging web sites

Comments ( 0 )

April 6, 2003

11:59 PM On Implementing Features

One thing about creating new features for a product such a browser is the features they are almost always designed and implemented in such a way that is convenient for the creator of a product but not for anyone else (this isn't intentionally done though). The proprietary features of browsers are designed to fit the architecture of the browser so that they can implemented as quickly and easily as possible. They don't go through months of years of iteration like standards do.

If you look closely at some of the documentation of CSS or scripting features of browsers, you will find numerous design decisions that seem odd. This is not because the designers were stupid, but because architectural issues prevented the designers from creating something more sensible.

The IE documentation refers to numerous things that really seem to be only there because some part of its architecture requires it. No other browser would have a need for such features. IE's way of displaying unstyled XML as a 'fancy tree' was fine for it, but since Mozilla can render styled XML directly, that feature took some time to work out how best to implement it, without breaking XML that was supposed to be displayed styled.

Some people have complained that with XBL, one has to add various tags to describe properties and methods, rather than just using a script file with functions in it. While that may seem easier for the XBL author, there may be implementation details that make it harder to handle. What I mean is that given a specific browser architecture, it's possible that a separate script would be difficult for the browser implementor to deal with.

A good example would be the innerHTML property of elements. While this may seem like a convenient way to change the content, it adds a dependency of an HTML parser to the DOM module. And not only an HTML parser, but one that can parse a fragment, not just a document. While this may not seem like such a concern for a browser, it today's world of componentized systems, there may be a product which has licensed a pre-built HTML or XML parser, or may be using a standard parsing library. Since many languages often include an HTML or XML parsing module, developers would tend to just use that. Since the developer doesn't necessarily have the option of changing the parser, if it doesn't provide any hook to handle the innerHTML property, it really isn't possible to include such as feature.

So, don't assume that a feature found in one product is necessarily implementable in another. The standards go through several iterations with comments from many people or groups, in order to ensure that they are the most implementable in the most cases. Propreitary features don't.

Comments ( 25 )

April 2, 2003

1:16 PM Usability of Dialogs Quiz

What is wrong with this particular dialog box?

Comments ( 36 )

March 30, 2003

5:59 PM 200000 bugs

Looks like Mozilla bug 200000 may be filed on March 31 (5 year annivesary of mozilla source release). Or, perhaps April 1st, which would also be fun.

Comments ( 36 )

March 27, 2003

11:04 PM Ties, awards and vegetables

I realized recently that there have only been four occasions in which I needed to wear a suit. There have been other times when I could have done, although I managed to scrape by with just a nicer shirt on.

I suppose most technical people or office workers just wear normal clothes anyway. I mean, clothes that you still feel fine in even when the air conditioning breaks down.

It's odd that suits and ties and considered to be more formal and -- I'm not sure what phrase to use here, "proper looking", maybe. People tend to believe that certain kinds of clothes are more "proper looking" than others. Men, for instance, seem to instantly have more class as soon as they tie a piece of cloth around their neck.

I guess it's just something that came about by tradition. I suppose if people long ago started wearing lettuce on their heads, we'd be required to wear lettuce to a formal occasion.

But anyway, all things considered, wearing a suit four times does seem like I've always worked or done things with people who don't care what other people look like. Or perhaps I'm just not winning enough awards. I don't think I've won anything since I was 12.

On an interesting note, four happens to be only one time larger than the number of occasions in which I needed to wear a dress. Does that mean anything?

Comments ( 56 )

March 24, 2003

5:11 PM Ah...

Since when has CTRL+left and CTRL+right been using a proper algorithm for word detection in Mozilla? Finally, I can edit long URLs!

Comments ( 34 )

March 20, 2003

9:36 PM At long last

At long last, peas have moved into the category "Foods that are acceptable for me to eat".

Comments ( 9 )