Sunday, 20 September 2009

Auckland Web Meetup 2009

On Thursday night the Auckland Web Meetup was held at the Media Design School. The topic was "HTML5" and the presenters were Microsoft's "IE8 Technical Evangelist" Giorgio Sardo and me and Chris Double from Mozilla. There were about 200 people in the audience, mostly Web developers.

Giorgio presented first and gave a broad "IE8 for Web developers" presentation. He showed a funny (but somewhat pointless) promo video for IE8, went through all the Web-facing platform improvements in IE8 (with demos and showing code in Visual Studio), and demoed their Firebug clone. His basic message was "we care about standards (including HTML5), we're doing it, our release cycles are slow because we have the most users but we will get there." What I thought was very interesting was that he made no attempt to distance themselves from HTML5 or even say that they'd be selective about which HTML5 features made sense to implement. His message tacitly assumed that HTML5 is simply something they will do. He portrayed Microsoft as part of the community contributing the development of HTML5, which isn't really true but at least Adrian Bateman's sent a few emails to public-html recently. I was really curious about what Microsoft says about HTML5 to Web developers so I was glad to have the chance to see this presentation.

One minor thing I should mention: Giorgio demoed a new Microsoft Expression tool that lets you compare the rendering of your Web page in different browsers. It's pretty cool, for example you can hover over an element in one browser view and it will highlight the same element in the other browser's view. Currently it supports Firefox and IE6/7/8. However it only supports static rendering, you can't interact with the page and script doesn't run. Also, for some reason it doesn't actually use the IE6 and 7 engines to render the views! Instead it uses IE8's IE7-mode to render "IE7", and --- somewhat bizarrely --- they *re-implemented* an "IE6-alike" layout engine to approximate what IE6 does. Those seem like strange technical decisions that will limit the usefulness of the tool, since Web developers will probably still need to test in real IE6 and IE7 builds.

My presentation was a short history of WHATWG and HTML5, a discussion of the HTML5 goals and why they're controversial in some quarters, a discussion of how HTML5 will affect Web developers, and a walk-through of major HTML5 features (including related features such as Workers and Sockets) that we have in Firefox or will soon have. I mentioned the database controversy to try to communicate that that area is not settled. I showed a bunch of demos which were very well received. Chris Double talked about <video> and showed some demos (mostly Paul Rouget's) which were also very well received. I've uploaded my slides. Here are the demos (they should all work in latest Firefox trunk builds):

At the end there was a panel discussion. We spent a lot of the time on the video codec issue. Chris did a great job of explaining that people shouldn't have to pay license fees to serve or consume video on the Web --- he actually got widespread spontaneous applause. The Web developer audience may not start using Theora tomorrow but they understand and sympathize with why we're doing it.

Overall I really enjoyed the evening and I think it was fairly successful at explaining and promoting HTML5. I'm encouraged that Microsoft seems to be endorsing it, and I hope that we see a massive implementation effort in IE9.


  1. Hi there,
    just one comment. Shouldn't it have been "html5.enable" rather than "enabled" as you have given above. In my trunk build its "html5.enable"

  2. Those shots you posted show off Australia really well. Just beautiful.