Google speaker
Alex Russell takes his hands out of his pockets

Three hours, even with a smart guy from Google, is excruciating.  I left my glasses in Texas, so I chose a chair smack dab in the front of a “pre-coffee” speaker.  I gave up caffeine about a month ago, so yawning is difficult NOT to do.  This has nothing to do with you or the topic, Alex!  I’m so glad he has plenty of water available.  ~squint~  YAWN!

I’m in my first workshop at the completely full Web 2.0 Expo, where I’ve been thoroughly warned not to lose my badge.  You might know the speaker, Alex Russell:

Alex serves on the Board of the Dojo Foundation and OSAF. He helped develop and lead the team that built the Dojo Toolkit, the JavaScript toolkit that organizations turn to when performance, accessibility, and internationalization concerns finally come home to roost.  He currently works at Google on Chrome, a Webkit-based browser that is helping the web evolve faster.

What you might not know is that he gets weird open letters from fans.

I’ve been interested in Chrome for a while, so I’m looking forward to this workshop, despite the very deep developer content — HTML5: Developing for the Desktop and Mobile.  The goal he shares?  Give the user UI faster by giving less UI.   How does that happen?  Less scripts, smarter scripts, and very smart browsers.  Kill the code, for Pete’s (or Alex’s) sake!

If you remember Wired’s recent story, “The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet.”, you’ll probably recall that part of the argument of that debate was that the Web browser is being used less and less.  Think all the stuff you do on your iPad (HP Slate coming soon!) or smartphone.  It’s all done in the application, not the browser.  So, I’m opening my mind to what looks like the counter-argument (or even the evolution of the converstion).

This workshop steps you through building an HTML5/CSS3 application that’s free from legacy baggage yet still delivers compelling content everywhere. We re-think the tools and techniques you’ve been using to build desktop-web and Ajax applications and instead focus on modern JS/CSS/DOM to deliver rich graphics, smooth and responsive experiences across devices, and “upgradeable” (not degradable) experiences that help you reach multiple audiences at once.

In the browser world, what is “in”, according to him?  IE 9+, Firefox, Chrome, Mozilla, Opera, etc.  What’s out?  IE <8.   Hmmm.  Did that offend anyone?  No one left the room.  Wait, hang on.  One person just left the room.  I’m a Microsoft fan, but I’m stayin’.

So, why is the Web so slow anyway?  Lately, I’ve been assuming bandwidth is the answer.  Especially with all the discussion about the implosion of the internet due to video.  Surprisingly, Alex says the problem isn’t bandwidth, it’s latency.  We have plenty of bandwidth.  Also, no matter how hard a plugin vendor tries, they’re always behind.  But, it’s javascript that really what makes the web so slow.  Here’s a more complete list:

  • legacy browsers
  • poorly constructed pages
  • geography
  • plugins
  • topology
  • DNS
  • scripts (put CSS up front and scripts last!)

Alex takes us through all the new stuff in HTML5 (like cool semantic tags), CSS, and JS.  He edits the browser slides inline with the Web toolkit, with streamlined code that more people can understand.

Tools he shares:

  3. TypeKit
  4. Google Font API
  5. Plexode – I’m not hyperlinking because the site gives me a Javascript error.  Not cool!

Notable Alex Russell quotes from this workshop:

  • “loosey goosey”‘
  • “squishy, so you’ll be able to make messes wherever you want”
  • “There’s a couple of cords we really want to cut”
  • “XML is really the ugly ex-girlfriend of the standards world” (Hope I got that one right!)
  • “Browser developers are usually honest folks who are enamored with beer.”
  • “the manifest destiny of the browser is to expose to developers, in a safe fast way, all the power of the underlying hardware”
  • “the browser doesn’t want to think about that very hard today, so they just punted”
  • “if you want silky, smooth, buttery, free stuff…use this hack”



Thanks for taking us through HTML5, Alex!


Author: Ynema Mangum

Ynema Mangum is an experienced, data-driven principal product manager of mission-critical composable infrastructure at HP Enterprise. Constantly curious, her passions draw her to emerging technologies. She joined HP 6 years ago as a solutions architect for private IT cloud computing. She then served as owner of the enterprise social collaboration domain at HP, responsible for its future direction. Prior to her current position, she was a senior product manager for the massive HP ConvergedSystem 900 for SAP HANA. At SUN, she was a product line manager for cloud computing, responsible for the requirements for common subsystems of the Sun Cloud, as well as user personas, industry analysis, and competitive research. Her product experience also includes building web based database management systems at BMC Software targeted at Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase, DB2 and DB2 UDB. Y provides an invaluable hybrid mix of strategist, architect, product manager and product marketer with an unbendable passion for the user experience. Her entrepreneurial experience allows her to understand business as a whole and drives her to make decisions and execute quickly. As an added bonus, she is certified in ITIL v3 best practices for IT and Pragmatic Product Management. Ynema is a change agent. She considers herself a determined influencer and a connector whose collaborative nature ensures success in introducing new concepts and services into the mainstream -- even in the most complex environments. She thrives on doing what seems to be impossible, and enjoys taking calculated risks in her personal life -- snowboarding, skiing, SCUBA diving or wake boarding when the season is right.

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