Oh, goody, FireFox 0.9 is here. And it's less than a 5 MB download. I have long since switched to FireFox for web browsing. I switched for the popup blocking but I stayed for the tabbed browsing.
Here are three reasons to switch web browsers today:
“There are two opposing forces inside Microsoft, which I will refer to, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as The Raymond Chen Camp and The MSDN Magazine Camp.”
The Web Hypertext Applications Technology Working Group is working on extending HTML4 forms to make Web applications work better.
In the previous rounds of HTML enhancement, the world's great graphic designers (like Jeffrey Zeldman) made the most noise and got us things like CSS which allow the kind of pixel-perfect page layout that the marketing people like, done in an intelligent way that separates content from presentation. Kudos. They got what they wanted, mostly, and quieted down. Now it's time for us application developers to start clamoring for the features we need to develop great web applications. Here are some examples of the kinds of features I'd like to see in web browsers:
This is just a random list, nothing organized. These things would have happened if browser development hadn't ground to a halt in the late 90s due to the misguided Netscape-rewrite-project and the lock-IE-developers-in-a-dungeon project.
What I do not want to hear about:
Dean Jackson, who's responsible for applications at the W3C: “The good news is that it seems we have many of the big players ready to go in this area. Joel may get some of his wishes sooner than he thinks (let's hope!)”
Rhys Jeremiah: “I'll outline the features that I would like to add.”
Jeremy Hartley: “I have spent the past two years web-enabling my company's HRM System. My intentions have always been to make the web version of the application as similar to the Win32 version as possible—no compromise allowed. To do this I have had to use every trick in the book as well as making up quite a few myself. The process took me two years. I think I could have done it in six months if I had had the following...”
Jeremy Smith: “I want a way to access a browser's right-click menu.”
Mike Marshall doesn't agree. “Here is the real solution. Microsoft is coming out with ClickOnce in VS 2005 ('Whidbey'). What's that, too platform independent? Java will come with something similar, in fact Java Web Start apps are pretty much already there. You will have your pick at this time next year, believe me.”
This week is sysadmin week, in which I catch up on a few months of accumulated system administration headaches.
On Monday I went down to Peer 1 Networks' colocation facility in New York, where the main Joel on Software server lives. Peer 1 provides free bandwidth and a wee shelf (shown at right) for Joel on Software, for which I am extremely grateful. Michael and I installed the original server there about a year and a half ago, and it's been running fine ever since, down only because of Windows Updates. (Don't get me started.) Sometimes the server didn't come back up properly after one of the reboots required for patching Windows, so we installed a remote controlled power strip, which has a web interface allowing us to power cycle the server. There's supposed to be such a thing built into the server itself, something Dell makes called RAC, but it crashes more often than the server, requiring a full power cycle to get it back to life, which defeats the purpose...
Anyway the reason I went down on Monday was to slide in another 1U Dell server into the rack which will serve as a "hot backup" in case the main server dies. I'm going to set up some simple replication from the main server to the hot backup so we should be able to switch back and forth between the main server and the backup server without more than a few seconds of downtime. The replication will use robocopy for files and log shipping for SQL databases like the database behind the discussion group.
Peer 1, by the way, is doing incredibly well. When I installed the server there last winter they only had two rows of racks, mostly empty. On Monday when I went down there the whole data center was crammed with racks and they were turning away new customers until they could arrange for a bigger data center. Joe Cooper, the NY manager, told me they had gone from 20% to 90% capacity in their colo facility and were trying to reserve the remaining 10% for existing customers. A nice problem to have. I couldn't be happier with their hosting services and they're the nicest people, so even though I'm completely tainted since they host my site for free, I most heartily recommend them if you're looking for colocation (or wicker furniture, har dee har har).
Brendan Eich recently wrote: “The best way to help the Web is to incrementally improve the existing web standards, with compatibility shims provided for IE, so that web content authors can actually deploy new formats interoperably.”
Dave Shea nicely summarizes the conversation about web applications. “The recession is over, the slump is ended. Web development is in demand, and the demand is only going to increase.”
Patrick Breitenbach pointed me to General Interface, a company that has built a commercial windowing/UI system on top of DHTML allowing almost-rich-client-apps inside the browser. They lean a bit too heavily on IE-only features for now and the overall look is more like a rich client app than a web app (very much like Oddpost), but hey, it's one way to do it.
Ben Nolan has a dusty library called phplive. “It's event driven programming for the web - but the whole page isn't refreshed - whenever you click a button, focus an element, or fire any event that has a handler on the server - an RPC call is dispatched to the server...”
Ian Hickson of Opera: “Our own position was that any successful framework would have to be backwards compatible with the existing Web content, and would have to be largely implementable in Windows IE6 without using binary plug-ins (for example using scripted HTCs). We were the only ones to even remotely suggest that the solution should be based on HTML.”
Espen Antonsen shares his wishlist: “As a web developer I find many tasks more time consuming and difficult to accomplish when building a web application - we develop a web-based ERP system.”
I just wanted to announce that SysAdmin Week will hence be known as "SysAdmin Fortnight."
1113 posts over 15 years. Everything I’ve ever published is right here.
There’s a software company in New York City dedicated to doing things the right way and proving that it can be done profitably and successfully.