Decoded Chats – third edition featuring Chris Wilson on JavaScript and Web Standards

At the Microsoft/Mozilla Progressive Web Apps workshop in Seattle I ran into Chris Wilson and took the opportunity to interview him on Web Standards, JavaScript dependency and development complexity.

In this first interview we covered the need for JavaScript in today’s web and how old-school web standards stand up to today’s needs.

You can see the video and get the audio recording of our chat over at the Decoded blog:

Monica saying hi

Chris has been around the web block several times and knows a lot about standards and how developers make them applicable to various different environments. He worked on various browsers and has a high passion for the open web and empowering developers with standards and great browsers.

Here are the questions we covered:

  • A current hot topic that seems to come up every few years is the dependency of web products on JavaScript, and if we could do without it. What is the current state there?
  • Didn’t the confusion start when we invented the DOM and allowed for declarative and programmatic access to the document? JavaScript can create HTML and CSS and give us much more control over the outcome.
  • One of the worries with Web Components was that it would allow developers to hide a lot of complexity in custom elements. Do we have a problem understanding that modules are meant to be simple?
  • Isn’t part of the issue that the web was built on the premise of documents and that a nature of modules needs to be forced into it? CSS has cascade in its name, yet modules shouldn’t inherit styles from the document.
  • Some functionality needed for modern interfaces seem to be achievable with competing standards. You can animate in CSS, JavaScript and in SVG. Do different standard working groups not talk to each other?
  • Declarative functionality in CSS and HTML can be optimised by browser makers. When you – for example – create animations in JavaScript, we can’t do that for you. Is that a danger?
  • A lot of JavaScript enhancements we see in browsers now is enhancing existing APIs instead of inventing new ones. Passive Event listeners is a great example. Is this something that will be the way forward?
  • One thing that seems to be wasteful is that a lot of research that went into helper libraries in the past dies with them. YUI had a lot of great information about animation and interaction. Can we prevent this somehow?
  • Do you feel that hacks die faster these days? Is a faster release schedule of browsers the solution to not keeping short-term solutions clog up the web?
  • It amazes me what browsers allow me to do these days and create working layouts and readable fonts for me. Do you think developers don’t appreciate the complexity of standards and CSS enough?

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Web Professional Trends – Web Apps vs Native Apps with Wilson Page @Mozilla

In this 17 minute interview with Wilson Page, front end developer at Mozilla we talk about Web Professional Trends for 2014 including a Financial Times Case study comparing Web Apps to Native and:

* In 2011 Financial Times withdrew its native app from Apple’s App Store to circumvent subscription fees and maintain closer connection with their subscribers. Instead, it came out with an iPhone web app (app.ft.com)
* How Wilson and his colleagues were tasked to rebuild and existing application with a redesign for the Financial Times
* As a result, developed a case study along the way to share his experiences and lessons learned including the fact that planning was critical and building Web apps is not simple
* The importance of architecture
* We didn’t just want to build a product that fulfilled its current requirements; we wanted to build a foundation that we could innovate on in the future
* A definition of a Web app and how it compares from a website by serving a specific task
* His perspective on the value if the Web app
* With implementing a far more challenging product, without compromising the reliable, performant experience that made the first app so successful
* Building with a maintenance-first mentality, writing clean, well-commented code and, at the same time, ensuring that our code could accommodate the demands of an ever-changing feature set
* The first Financial Times Web app ran on iPad and iPhone in the browser, and it shipped in a native (PhoneGap-esque) application wrapper for Android and Windows 8 Metro devices
*The latest Web app is currently being served to iPad devices only; but as support is built in and tested, it will be rolled out to all existing supported platforms
* HTML5 gives developers the advantage of occupying almost any platform
*With the launch of several new Web application marketplaces (eg. Chrome Web Store and Mozilla Marketplace), we are excited by the possibilities that lie ahead for the Web
* Financial savings
* Skills required developing a Web App
* Recommendations for students and teachers

More on

Raluca Budiu at the Nielsen Norman Group puts it this way:

“Native and hybrid apps are installed in an app store, whereas web apps are mobile-optimized webpages that look like an app. Both hybrid and web apps render HTML web pages, but hybrid apps use app-embedded browsers to do that.”

“In the mobile realm, you’ll hear often terms like native app or web app, or even hybrid app. What’s the difference?
Native Apps.”

More on the topic Web Apps vs. Native Apps

from Raluca Budiu at the Nielsen Norman Group:

Native Apps

“Native apps live on the device and are accessed through icons on the device home screen. Native apps are installed through an application store (such as Google Play or Apple’s App Store). They are developed specifically for one platform, and can take full advantage of all the device features — they can use the camera, the GPS, the accelerometer, the compass, the list of contacts, and so on. They can also incorporate gestures (either standard operating-system gestures or new, app-defined gestures). And native apps can use the device’s notification system and can work offline.

Mobile Web Apps

“Web apps are not real applications; they are really websites that, in many ways, look and feel like native applications, but are not implemented as such. They are run by a browser and typically written in HTML5. Users first access them as they would access any web page: they navigate to a special URL and then have the option of “installing” them on their home screen by creating a bookmark to that page.”

“Web apps became really popular when HTML5 came around and people realized that they can obtain native-like–functionality in the browser. Today, as more and more sites use HTML5, the distinction between web apps and regular web pages has become blurry.”

The post Web Professional Trends – Web Apps vs Native Apps with Wilson Page @Mozilla appeared first on Web Professionals.

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Web Professional Trends for 2014 – Mobile with Chris Wilson

In this 10 minute interview with Chris Wilson, Open Web Platform Developer Advocate at Google we talk about Web Professional Trends for 2014 including Mobile Web and Application Trends:

* Although not a new trend this year, Mobile is a growing in significance and is dominating Web browsing activity
* Mobile doesn’t just mean applications but Web page access from Mobile is outpacing desktop
* How existing Web skills including HTML, CSS and JavaScript still rule and apply
* How those Web skills are portable and how designing or developing for Mobile is unique
* How usability will play an even a larger role
* Great opportunity for designers and developers
* How Google Chrome has invested a lot for the Mobile browser experience
* How the technology and Web professionals like Chis are is introducing new features and benefits into the Mobile web experience

The post Web Professional Trends for 2014 – Mobile with Chris Wilson appeared first on Web Professionals.

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Web Professional Trends for 2013 – “Web Development” Interview with Chris Wilson

Web Professional Trends for 2013 – “Web Development” Interview with Chris Wilson, Developer Advocate at Google

In this twelve minute interview Chris Wilson, Developer Advocate at Google, we learn about Chris’s perspective on the topic of Web Professional Trends for 2013 as it relates to Web Development trends, Web standards and the Open Web.

Specifically we learn:

•About the benefits and current trends of Encapsulation and Reuse
•The component model for the Web (also known as Web Components)
•Chris’s thoughts on a focus for developing for the user and how tools have made life much easier the for the Web developer
•Now is a great time to be a Web Professional
•Access to real world to the Web platform (audio and video inputs)
•Advice for aspiring Web developers and those that teach
•About Chris’s personal interest in audio and the Web audio API and his exciting efforts to support open standards for the WebRTC, (Web Real-Time Communication) an API definition that is being supported by Chris and others the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to enable browser to browser applications for voice calling, video chat and P2P file sharing without plugins.

More about Encapsulation

According to Wikipedia, in programming language, encapsulation is used to refer to one of two related but distinct notions, and sometimes to the combination thereof:

A language mechanism for restricting access to some of the object’s components.
A language construct that facilitates the bundling of data with the methods (or other functions) operating on that data.

Some programming language researchers and academics use the first meaning alone or in combination with the second as a distinguishing feature of object oriented programming, while other programming languages which provide lexical closures view encapsulation as a feature of the language orthogonal to object orientation.

The second definition is motivated by the fact that in many OOP languages hiding of components is not automatic or can be overridden; thus, information hiding is defined as a separate notion by those who prefer the second definition.

As information hiding mechanism

Under this definition, encapsulation means that the internal representation of an object is generally hidden from view outside of the object’s definition. Typically, only the object’s own methods can directly inspect or manipulate its fields. Some languages like Smalltalk and Ruby only allow access via object methods, but most others (e.g. C++, C# or Java) offer the programmer a degree of control over what is hidden, typically via keywords like public and private.[4] It should be noted that the ISO C++ standard refers to private and public as “access specifiers” and that they do not “hide any information”. Information hiding is accomplished by furnishing a compiled version of the source code that is interfaced via a header file.

Hiding the internals of the object protects its integrity by preventing users from setting the internal data of the component into an invalid or inconsistent state. A benefit of encapsulation is that it can reduce system complexity, and thus increases robustness, by allowing the developer to limit the interdependencies between software components.

More about Web Components

According to the W3c, the component model for the Web (also known as Web Components) consists of four pieces designed to be used together to let web application authors define widgets with a level of visual richness not possible with CSS alone, and ease of composition and reuse not possible with script libraries today.

These pieces are:

templates, which define chunks of markup that are inert but can be activated for use later;
decorators, which apply templates to let CSS affect rich visual and behavioral changes to documents;
custom elements, which let authors define their own elements, including new presentation and API, that can be used in HTML documents; and
shadow DOM which defines how presentation and behavior of decorators and custom elements fit together in the DOM tree.

Both decorators and custom elements are called components. For additional information visit http://dvcs.w3.org/hg/webcomponents/raw-file/tip/explainer/index.html

More about WebRTC

According to WebRTC.org, the WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is an API definition being drafted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to enable browser to browser applications for voice calling, video chat and P2P file sharing without plugins.


According to Wikipedia, a project known as WebRTC, for browser based realtime communication, was open sourced by Google . This has been followed by on going work to standardise the relevant protocols in the IETF and browser APIs in the W3C

The Web Real-Time Communications Working Group expects this specification to evolve significantly based on:

The outcomes of ongoing exchanges in the companion RTCWEB group at IETF to define the set of protocols that, together with this document, will enable real-time communications in Web browsers.
Privacy issues that arise when exposing local capabilities and local streams.
Technical discussions within the group, on implementing data channels in particular.
Experience gained through early experimentations.
Feedback received from other groups and individuals.


As of March 2012 the IETF WebRTC Codec and Media Processing Requirements draft[9] requires implementations to provide PCMA/PCMU (RFC 3551), Telephone Event as DTMF (RFC 4733), and Opus (RFC 6716), along with a number of video codec minimum capabilities. The Peerconnection, Data channels and a media capture browser APIs are detailed in the W3C.

Web Audio API

According to the w3c, Web Audio API specification describes a high-level JavaScript API for processing and synthesizing audio in web applications. The primary paradigm is of an audio routing graph, where a number of AudioNode objects are connected together to define the overall audio rendering. The actual processing will primarily take place in the underlying implementation (typically optimized Assembly / C / C++ code), but direct JavaScript processing and synthesis is also supported.

The introductory section covers the motivation behind this specification.

This API is designed to be used in conjunction with other APIs and elements on the web platform, notably: XMLHttpRequest (using the responseType and response attributes). For games and interactive applications, it is anticipated to be used with the canvas 2D and WebGL 3D graphics APIs.

For additional information visit https://dvcs.w3.org/hg/audio/raw-file/tip/webaudio/specification.html

More about Chris Wilson

Chris Wilson, is a Developer Advocate at Google, Chris is a Web browser guy since 1993. Chris grew up in the Chicago, Il area.
Chris spent 15 years at Microsoft Co-wrote NCSA Mosaic for Windows, wrote IE’s original CSS implementation, worked on lots of standards. Chris Wilson was the group program manager for Internet Explorer Platform and Security at Microsoft. He began working on web browsers in 1993 when he co-authored the first Windows versions of NCSA Mosaic, the first mass-market WWW browser. This was also when he inflicted overlapping tags on the world. After leaving NCSA in 1994 and spending a year working on the web browser for SPRY, Inc., he joined Microsoft’s Internet Explorer team as a developer in 1995.

In the course of five years on the IE team, Chris has participated in many standards working groups, in particular helping develop standards for Cascading Style Sheets, HTML, the Document Object Model and XSL through the W3C working groups. He also developed the first implementations of CSS in Internet Explorer. Beginning in 2001, he spent a few years working on the Avalon project, but rejoined the IE team a year and a half ago to lead the IE Platform and Security team.

Chris resides in Seattle. In his free time, he enjoys photography and hiking with his wife and daughter, and scuba diving in the chilly waters of Puget Sound as a PADI Divemaster. With any free money, he replaces the cameras he’s destroyed by taking them underwater for dive photography.

Lastly, according to Chris, he builds cool stuff, and even more importantly, help other people build cool stuff and help Chrome build the right platform for people to build cool stuff on.

A special shout out to Chris, a super nice and gracious guy for taking the time to talk with us!

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The Web Platform – Interview with Chris Wilson, Developer Advocate Google

The Web Platform – Interview with Chris Wilson, Developer Advocate Google at the Open Web Camp III Palo Alto, CA

Today’s podcast is with Chris Wilson, Developer Advocate at Google. Chris and a number of his colleagues, friends and other such notable Web professionals participated in the Open Web Camp III event that took place late last month at the Stanford University Campus in Palo Alto California.

In this three minute event conclusion interview, I asked Chris to sum up the benefits of attending Open Web Camp III. I also asked Chris to share his thoughts and perspective on HTML5.

For those of you that have been around for awhile, you’ll recall that Chris Wilson worked for Microsoft and has a long standing history working on the Web dating back to 1993. Chris was the co author of the Windows version of Mosaic, the first mass market Web browser. He’s also credited for introducing CSS to Microsoft IE working for Microsoft for 15 years just to name a few of his career contributions to the Web.

Chris has since moved on to Google where among other developer advocate duties he’s working on Google TV.

Whether you’re a veteran Web pro or just starting out in the Web, I think you’ll benefit from learning about Chris Wilson, one the early pioneers of the Web that continues to help shape the course of the Web as we know it today.

For your benefit, I am including an audio presentation of a keynote of Chris’s entitled “The Interconnectedness of all Things” courtesy of the Web Directions Conference and their creative commons license. It’s worth checking out and I highly recommend that you take the time to listen. We can learn a lot from individuals like Chris and I’d like to give him a shout out for the courtesy of speaking to me and for the interview.

I am also including a presentation slide deck from Chris that features:

* Why the Web platform is poised to further explode
* How to be a Responsible Web Designer

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Taos Ski Valley Chooses Snowsports Industry Experts at Wilson Lass to Refine Brand; Craft Comprehensive Campaign

Colo.-based creative branding and marketing firm Wilson Lass recently was chosen as the agency of record for Taos Ski Valley in Taos, NM. The firm was chosen for its extensive work in the mountain resort industry and an in-depth knowledge of web development and on-line marketing. Wilson Lass will fine-tune Taos Ski Valley’s brand, introducing a new creative campaign for 2010-2011.

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