Neil's Place

July 23, 2003

12:57 PM Badges on Weblogs Idea

If you look at a number of weblogs, you'll notice that many have a wide variety of badges (or buttons), indicating various things they support. Such badges include RSS, FOAF, Valid HTML, weblog tools, Creative Commons links, and so on. It's like being a boy scout. Got some RSS? Get an RSS badge. Passed the CSS validator? Get a Valid CSS badge. Then, people proudly display all their badges on their web site.

While this is all fine, we're already starting to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of these badges available that one can receive. Some weblogs have 20 or more. Here's an idea. Rather than put all these badges on your main page, why don't we create a separate file we can list all of our badges in? Then, one can link to it from a weblog using a link tag, so visitors or search tools can find all the supported badges.

For example, the badge file might look like that below. I used RDF here since it is metadata after all, and it would also be easier to combine into a FOAF file.

<rdf:Description about="">
  <badge type=""
         dc:title="RSS 1.0"
  <badge type=""
         dc:title="HTML 4.01"/>
  <badge type=""
         dc:title="Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0"/>

You could even stick the icon URLs in the file. This might make it suitable for display in an info panel in a browser. A Firebird extension could easily be created for such a purpose.

Then, weblog visitors don't have to load all these badges when they visit a weblog. They just load the badge file if needed. Search tools could index what badges people have, and gather a list of people with certain ones.

One disadvantage is that if one was to remove the RSS link, users and tools would need to download the badge file and then separately download the RSS file, a two step process that previously was one. For RSS (or its successors), it might be more convenient to leave it in a link tag as well.

Comments ( 12 )

July 22, 2003

Aaron gets very specific
It's a long time to wait to see if he's right

July 20, 2003

5:04 PM SVG 1.2 - reimplementing existing technolgoies in incompatible ways

Erik Arvidsson notes how the SVG 1.2 spec describes a set of tags (RCC) for creating custom elements. It's very similar to XBL (although RCC has less features -- and is less already implemented for that matter). It has an equivalent to the children tag and to some degree has the concept of anonymous content.

The spec also refers to dSVG which appears to be a limited set of UI widgets -- kind of like XForms has a limited set of UI widgets also. It also describes a pile of tags for doing scripting-like tasks without scripting (also like XForms).

The dSVG spec contains the phrase: 'Enables Web designers with no programming skills to create dynamic, interactive Web applications'. Aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! Bzzzzt. Wrong! The last thing the world needs is more web designers with no programming skills making web applications. Have you seen the existing Web? Most of those web designers don't even understand CSS. Imagine:

Customer - how will you build our new web site?
Contractor - we are going to hire some web designers with no programming skills to build you a dynamic, interactive Web application.
Customer - and people will be able to use it?
Contractor - oh, you want a usable application? That will cost a lot more.

It's one thing to make things easier to implement. It's another to make it 'too easy'. (Note: people who don't understand programming won't understand programming even if you disguise it as XML.) In my opinion, it's better if something is more difficult to do -- you'll find that it makes for better, smarter people working on it.

Anyway, getting back on topic, there are already XUL and other similar languages for creating UI in web applications. Why not just use them, or expand on them, or use them as a starting point? Because they aren't W3C recommendations? I'm beginning to see why some people don't like the W3C.

The SVG spec also refers to some functions added to the 'window' object for loading and posting content. Huh? And this is specific to vector graphics how? Is it because the SVG working group wants to compete with Flash?

All of these things I've mentioned have one thing in common: None of them belong in a specification of a vector graphics language. I realize it's still a working draft, but it seems the authors have just given in and randomly added unrelated features, instead of creating a more robust vector graphics language.

Comments ( 30 )

July 19, 2003

2:53 PM Lifecycle of a Mozilla developer

Here are the traditonal steps used in becoming a Mozilla developer:

  • Hear about Mozilla from someone or somewhere
  • Download Mozilla or Mozilla Firebird and like it
  • Participate in discussions on Mozillazine forums
  • Start filing a few bugs
  • Help others get started with Mozilla
  • Learn some Mozilla terminology so you can help get bugs filed properly
  • Learn XUL
  • Start a simple project on
  • Start helping others with XUL and Mozilla questions on newsgroups and IRC
  • Submit your first XUL/JS patch for Mozilla
  • Check out and attempt to compile Mozilla for yourself
  • Continue submitting patches until people start to trust you
  • Get CVS access
  • Give code reviews for patches from other developers
  • Try to understand how the backend C++ code works
  • Submit your first C++ patch
  • Continue until people feel you are a key developer on some Mozilla code module
  • Become a module owner or module peer
  • Get hired by Netscape to work on Mozilla full time
  • Learn all of the secret in-jokes and make cryptic comments on your weblog
  • Keep developing until you get laid off
  • Say you'll continue with Mozilla development but to a lesser extent.

OK, so those last few don't apply any more. But, the farther you go up the ladder, the fewer people you find. Which is why there are so many more end users than developers and so many more XUL developers than C++ developers working on Mozilla.

Comments ( 34 )

July 18, 2003

Somebody has been watching too many Honda ads
I wonder if it took over 600 takes?

XPCOM components in Java
This could get interesting

Eric Meyer wants to go to Norway
Does he secretly want to work for Opera?

12:22 PM Some commentary on the future of browsers

  • Simon Willison - The Google Browser
  • Tim Bray - Browser Dream
  • Response by Danny Ayers
  • Edd Dumbill - Living in the unsupported 5%

Comments ( 1 )

July 16, 2003

Who knew so many things could kill you?
But I've always wanted a conveniently packaged box of everything.

Tim has a CSS cursors test page
Complete with CSS properties and images of each cursor

Mozilla + Google?
Anything could happen now

Mozilla as Server
By pavlov

July 15, 2003

6:48 PM Mozilla, Netscape and all that

I'm sure you've heard about the Mozilla News and the AOL cuts. Presumably this means the end of the line for Netscape Navigator.

I can only think of one thing to say.

Comments ( 2 )

July 14, 2003

Whoa! I just posted something on Slashdot!
I may just have completely lost my mind.

What Are We Afraid Of, Really?
The only people in the RSS community who may really lose when the big guys start throwing their weight around are those who have placed great personal importance on their contributions and roles being recognized and respected.

July 13, 2003

Sequences in XPath 2.0
I didn't know about sequences, but lists in Reopath work this way too.

July 12, 2003

Updated Topicalla Image
Searchable view of all loaded RSS feeds together

July 11, 2003

Mark adds a disclaimer
Too bad the "RSS feed isn't updating" (quote used without permission)

7:44 PM Topicalla not in Mozilla Firebird

By the way, I can't get Topicalla to work in Mozilla Firebird. I don't know why. It just won't recognize the component. Today, I have managed to write the ClassInfo stuff for it, which in Mozilla teminology means that it can be accessed without using XPCOM, as in, the component can be instantiated with a JavaScript constructor and called from a remote site. But I don't want to release it like that before the RDF security review is done.

Comments ( 23 )

3:29 PM They finally found me

After one and a half years, it looks like my former employer has realized that they need to stop paying for my Internet access. Thus, as of today, the email address no longer works.

Comments ( 28 )

July 10, 2003

RSS Notification Ideas
I'll have to think more about how this could be better managed.

4:18 PM Topicalla 0.0001 pre-release alpha 0.1 now available

OK, since someone asked, I threw together a Linux build of Topicalla. It also includes a page where you can test entering ReoPath expressions for RDF files. It may take some time for the download to reach the mirrors.

Currently, you can view RSS and FOAF info as well as some other stuff. So far, there isn't much of the magic that makes this project so interesting, so as yet, you might not think it was ' blisteringly innovative'.

However, it does demonstrate using Reopath to create XUL, instead of using XUL templates. The idea is to eventually allow something like the following (currently the syntax is a bit wordier):

<listbox id="rssItems" flex="1"
  <listitem label="?rss:title"/>

Anyway, if someone wishes, I will write some documentation about the interfaces used.

Comments ( 41 )