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May 04 2012

Top Stories: April 30-May 4, 2012

Here's a look at the top stories published across O'Reilly sites this week.

The U.K.'s battle for open standards
Influence, money, a bit of drama — not things you typically associate with open standards, yet that's what the U.K. government is facing as it evaluates open options.

Mobile web development isn't slowing down
Over the last two years, mobile web development has continued its rapid evolution. In this interview, Fluent speaker and "Programming the Mobile Web" author Maximiliano Firtman discusses the short-term changes that caught his attention.

Editorial Radar: Functional languages
O'Reilly editors Mike Loukides and Mike Hendrickson discuss the advantages of functional programming languages and how functional language techniques can be deployed with almost any language.

Jason Grigsby and Lyza Danger Gardner on mobile web design
In this Velocity podcast, the co-authors of "Head First Mobile Web" discuss mobile website optimization, mobile design considerations, and common mobile development mistakes.

Parliament / Big Ben photo: UK parliament by Alan Cleaver, on Flickr

Fluent Conference: JavaScript & Beyond — Explore the changing worlds of JavaScript & HTML5 at the O'Reilly Fluent Conference, May 29 - 31 in San Francisco. Save 20% on registration with the code RADAR20.

May 03 2012

Jason Grigsby and Lyza Danger Gardner on mobile web design

This Velocity podcast with Cloud Four founding members Jason Grigsby (@grigs) and Lyza Danger Gardner (@lyzadanger) centers on mobile web performance. It's a fitting topic since these two wrote "Head First Mobile Web." Jason and Lyza have interesting insights into building high-performance websites that are ready for mobile.

Our conversation lasted nearly 20 minutes, so if you want to pinpoint any particular topic use the specific timing links noted below. The full interview is embedded at the end of this post.

  • The difference between a website and a mobile website 00:00:50
  • What tools are available for determining your performance benchmarks for a mobile web site? 00:03:18
  • What considerations need to be taken into effect to truly build a site that performs like greased lightning? 00:05:02
  • Has Google improved its Android browser to catch up with the Chrome browser? 00:07:04
  • What are some of the most common mistakes or patterns that developers make when building a mobile web site? 00:08:08
  • What do the two terms "mobile-first responsive web design" and "progressive enhancement" mean? 00:12:36
  • How do you make progressive enhancements when one Android phone may have five different browsers? Do you have five forks of a code base? 00:13:30
  • How do developers pick up best practices for mobile web development? 00:15:38
  • The mobile platform keeps growing and bringing lots of change. 00:17:13

If you would like to hear Jason Grigsby speak on "Performance Implications of Responsive Web Design," he is presenting at the 2012 Velocity Conference in Santa Clara, Calif. on Tuesday, June 26 at 1 pm. We hope to see you there.

Velocity 2012: Web Operations & Performance — The smartest minds in web operations and performance are coming together for the Velocity Conference, being held June 25-27 in Santa Clara, Calif.

Save 20% on registration with the code RADAR20


April 30 2012

Mobile web development isn't slowing down

We're all well aware that mobile web development has gone through a complete metamorphosis over the last five years. We went from tiny screens with limited browsers to elegant multitouch displays with advanced web experiences. But even if you look at a shorter timeline — two years or so — you'll see that major improvements in mobile web development are still in progress. This space continues to produce exponential shifts.

In the following interview, "Programming the Mobile Web" author and Fluent Conference speaker Maximiliano Firtman (@firt) discusses some of mobile development's short-term leaps. He also looks at where mobile's envelope pushers will take us next.

At this point, what are the essential mobile development skills?

Maximiliano FirtmanMaximiliano Firtman: It depends on if we are targeting native or mobile web development, but usually an understanding of the mobile space is important. There are many differences between devices, so developers need up-to-date information on operating systems, versions, browsers, screen sizes, screen densities, multitouch, etc. That's why mobile usability and high-performance coding techniques are a must.

Related to that, what are the key mobile development tools?

Maximiliano Firtman: Emulators and simulators, while not perfect, are essential tools. Tools that debug and quickly deploy apps to real devices are also important. And the devices themselves are important for measuring performance and testing hardware-related features, such as touch, the accelerometer, GPS accuracy and even color palettes.

The first edition of your book, "Programming the Mobile Web," came out in July 2010. What are the major changes you've tracked in mobile web development since then?

Maximiliano Firtman: Since 2010, we've finally deprecated some old technologies such as WML and even XHTML MP. Today, HTML5 is king, while in 2010 we were talking about Apple or Webkit extensions.

In addition, the mobile web is no longer just for mobile websites. We can now also develop native web apps and even ebooks with EPUB 3. So, the platform is growing.

The tablet market was just starting two years ago, and now we have several vendors and operating systems. We also have new problems to deal with, such as screen density, performance optimization and even 3-D screens.

These days, we have a new vocabulary with responsive web design and responsive web design + server-side components (RESS). We also have lots of new APIs on the JavaScript side, new hardware APIs (motion sensors, battery, camera), and new mobile browsers (Google Chrome, Firefox, Amazon Silk).

Finally, we've seen the creation of a number of frameworks and debugging tools, including jQuery Mobile, Adobe Shadow and even iWebInspector — a free tool I've created for iOS web debugging.

What do you see happening at the edge of mobile web development?

Maximiliano Firtman: We are seeing browsers pushing boundaries, such as the live camera API inside WebRTC on Opera Mobile, Web Notifications and WebGL on BlackBerry PlayBook, and the Battery API on Firefox for Android.

Examples of envelope-pushing web apps include the Financial Times app, which has a great touch UI and offline access, and the Boston Globe website, which is a good example of responsive web design and RESS.

Fluent Conference: JavaScript & Beyond — Explore the changing worlds of JavaScript & HTML5 at the O'Reilly Fluent Conference (May 29 - 31 in San Francisco, Calif.).

Save 20% on registration with the code RADAR20

This interview was edited and condensed.


December 16 2011

Four short links: 16 December 2011

  1. Subway Map jQuery Plugin -- create your own London Underground-style maps. (via Chris Spurgeon)
  2. Webcraft and Programming for Free Range Students -- a p2pu class for teachers of web stuff and programming.
  3. Arts, Humanities, and Complex Networks 2012 -- CFP for a conference in Chicago, looking for visualization and data-analysis papers with a background in the humanities.
  4. How to Go Mo -- clever idea. Everyone at a company should be able to say "hey, our site looks like crap on mobile browsers!", bringing pressure to fix it. 1/3 of people browse the web on their phone.

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