Speak The Web

I attended Speaktheweb Leeds and heard some very cool talks around the future of mobile, HTML5 and (perhaps) the future of graceful degradation!

Andy Clarke – ‘Hard Boiled’

Andy’s talk was around how designers compromise their work for rubbish old browsers – we should start a ‘Hard Boiled’ revolution and design for the latest browser and ‘degrade’ the design for older browsers.

Andy talked about the frustrations he hears from designers and developers who say, “my clients won’t let me use progressive CSS it is not supported by IE” and “I will have to wait until IE6 diminishes and IE renders CSS the same as other browsers”.

He felt we should be basing our designs on the capabilities of the best browsers and not the capabilities of the worst.
So Andy proposes taking the following stance with clients: “Spend my time hacking around issues in older technologies like Internet Explorer 6 or would you like that time spent making the site look the best that it can on better desktop browsers, as well as on the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Blackberry and a whole host of other mobile devices?”

This sparked controversy with his stance on IE6 by deciding not serving it any graphic styles at all. As you can imagine, the realtime tweets from people listening to his talk were heckling how commercially realistic it is to simply not tell your clients how their site will look in IE6.

For the good of the web, I completely get the need to push IE users onto a more advanced browser BUT the bulk of IE6 users are usually public sector / workers at big corporations still using still using Windows NT / Flash 5 etc,  who have no control over what browser they use so to give them such a poor online experience seems really unfair.

He went onto to talking about graceful degradation – that users don’t open the same site in two different browsers to compare the design and layout, so tweaking the designs based on browser limitations WITHOUT affecting how the functionality is delivered is acceptable.

Cool Links from Andy’s talk


ie-css3.js allows Internet Explorer to identify CSS3 pseudo-class selectors and render any style rules defined with them. Simply include the script in your pages, start using these selectors in your style sheets and they’ll work in IE


It’s not flash. Its CSS3

More CSS3 examples – http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/02/01/50-brilliant-css3-javascript-coding-techniques/

Andy Clarke site – http://forabeautifulweb.com/blog/

Stuart Smith

Stuart’s presentation around the history of mobile development was really interesting – his key point was that it’s not just iPhone users that we should build mobile websites for, as the majority of users worldwide are still on old school featurephones with their fancy WAP technology J. Stuart explained that if you can deal with the frustrations and limitations, the rewards are potentially greater as this market is vast and currently being sorely ignored.
Chris’ final point was that Uganda is the only country in the world with full 4G, so we should be aware about opportunities in new emerging countries too.

Chris Mills HTML5

Chris Mills was a good speaker taking all the ‘Who uses Opera Browsers’ heckles with humour – (…Apparently Opera is very popular in Russia, Ukraine, and good old Poland :)

His talk was around how HTML5 doesn’t replace HTML4, it just fills up existing holes and adds in new features around markup and APIs.
HTML5 also has cool new semantic tagging and doesn’t create huge backwards compatibility problems. (…It also takes on the mighty dominance that is Abobe!!)

You can view Chris’ presentation at: http://my.opera.com/chrismills/blog/

HTML5 links
HTML5 game examples – http://blog.nihilogic.dk/

HTML5 video – captioning – http://people.opera.com/brucel/demo/video/accessible-html5-video-captions.html

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