Archived entries for Front End Engineering

CNET: Firefox for Intel Macs planned for March

From their leadin:

“We are targeting the official release of Firefox for Intel Mac OS X in late March with the Firefox update,” said Mozilla software engineer Josh Aas told.

According to the reporting, there are only two real areas where adjustments are needed. This is good news, and means that, as expected, we won’t be seeing any rendering engine changes:

“The first issue is some compatibility issues between the (Macromedia) Flash plugin shipped with Mac OS X 10.4.4 and Firefox. We have been working closely with Macromedia to resolve the issues.”

The other issue relates to the need to update to an Intel version of the ‘Java Embedding Plugin’ (JEP), which handles all Java applets in Mozilla’s Mac OS X products.

Firefox Extension: X-Ray

Stuart Robertson makes good on one of his New Year’s Resolutions by creating and publishing his X-Ray extension for Firefox.

It’s a nifty little extension that uses CSS’s :before and :after pseudo-classes to expose the markup on a page without needing to view source. By seeing the markup in use on a page, in context, it’s easier to see what’s doing what, especially I imagine for non-webdevs.

As I suggested in the comments on his blog post, I’d use this even more if it allows me to X-Ray just a section of the page, in much the way “View Selected Source” lets me examine just a subset of the page’s source.

wg:List – Best Web Development Articles of 2005

Alessandro Fulciniti reported his Top 20 Bookmarks of 2005 on the Web-Graphics blog. Some great stuff, in particular On having layout (a must-read for anybody trying to get CSS to work in browsers). If you’re doing web development or design, I recommend being familiar with all 20 of his list.

Tips for Faster Web Pages

I just stumbled across a nice list of tips for speeding up your web site. At Yahoo! this is job #1, and most of the tricks we use are included in this list: Marcelo Calbucci posted it on his blog in November, but tips like these don’t really get outdated.

Here are the tip titles and some notes from me (in italics), but head over to his site to get all the details:

  • Tip #1: Strip spaces, tabs, CR/LF from the HTML – I think attribute quotes are worth the weight, as they reduce development bugs over time. If possible, use a build process to keep both commented development versions and efficient minimized production versions.
  • Tip #2: Don’t use XHMTL – I tend to agree. From a performance perspective clearly, but controversial in general
  • Tip #3: Keep Cookies Small – yep
  • Tip #4: Keep JavaScript Small – and efficient, and modular
  • Tip #5: Use Public Caching – do it if you can, especially if you’re talkin’ real traffic
  • Tip #6: Enable HTTP Compression – this is often “gzip”, but by any means necessary
  • Tip #7: Keep all as much as possible in lower case – yep, and it’s more forward compatible too
  • Tip #8: Avoid Tables – the rendering problems with tables are the most important reason, and the Web Standards folks agree for semantic reasons
  • Tip #9: Set image size – yep. Does anybody know if this is equally efficiently accomplished in CSS declarations and HTML attributes.
  • Tip #10: Compact your GIF/JPG – always important
  • Tip #11: Reduce the number of external elements – yep, though the details — when to combine small page-specific files into one cross-site file — require a bit of case-by-case examination
  • Tip #12: Use a single DNS Lookup – yep
  • Tip #13: Delay Script Starts – this concept is right, but there are more efficient solutions (that i’ll be writing about in a few weeks)
  • Tip #14: Watch for Memory Leak – extra important in these days of heavy javascript development

RIA’s, Accessible DHTML, Prime Rib and London

Phew, it’s been a hectic but great week. I’m off to London in a few minutes to participate in the Yahoo! Europe Web Development Conference (where I’ll be presenting and co-presenting four sessions), but I wanted to report on some of the things from this past week while they’re still fresh.

On Monday I gave a presentation to our User Experience and Design group. I work in the Presentation Platform Engineering group, and part of my job is to help bridge between Design and Engineering. (Before joining the Platform Engineering team, I worked on the Platform Design team, so I can speak both languages to some extent.)

With so much changing in interface development this year, it’s important to coordinate the creation of a new vocabulary for rich internet interfaces. I’ll write more on this in the coming weeks, but you can check out Bill Scott’s blog post for his take on my talk, where he focuses on Storyboarding Interesting Moments, a part of what I talked about.

Though all the words didn’t flow as well as they do sometimes for me, the presentation was well received and generated some excellent discussion. Larry Tesler, our SVP of UED, was one of several that had some kind words for me afterward. I would be remiss if I didn’t pass most of the credit to Eric Miraglia, a colleague and great mind who’s been instrumental in developing our vision. (More on that from Eric, here.)

On Monday night, I joined Victor Tsaran (our Accessibility Product Manager) at a casual dinner of about a dozen Bay Area accessibility folks from Adobe, Macromedia, Apple, IBM and Sun. Over Italian in San Mateo, it was a great chance to meet others addressing the needs of accessibility community. This theme continued for the rest of the week.

On Wednesday, I went to the Mozilla Foundation, for a co-presentation between IBM’s Accessibility Architect Aaron Leventhal and Yahoo!’s Victor Tsaran. They discussed the IBM/Mozilla Accessible DHTML project, first supported in the new Firefox 1.5. It’s great stuff, and will be critical as the web moves to richer interfaces.

On Friday, Aaron presented a technical overview of the capabilities to a team of our engineers, answering questions and giving guidance to engineers investigating the “Accessible DHTML” approach.

Friday night I had dinner in Pac Heights at the beautiful home of a friend of a friend, a promenient SF lawyer. The prime rib was perfectly cooked, and we laughed quite a bit. The five-course meal and case of wine took the wind from my sails so I didn’t get around to packing at all last night. As soon as I finish typing this post I need to quickly pack — clothes are almost out of the dryer, and I need to leave for the airport in about 66 minutes.


Can’t wait to be laying on the white sands of Culebra in two weeks, away from web and world. (We went last year too, and couldn’t resist going again. I don’t have a Ph.D., but it’s still suits me fine.)

Lots of jobs out there these days…

Freelance, contract, full time… Startups, consultancies, big players… Remote and onsite… A day doesn’t go by lately that somebody doesn’t ask me, “do you know any web developers looking for work?”.

Are you a CSS stud with JS chops and a passion for semantic markup? If so, and if you’re interested in hearing about some of these gigs, feel free to shoot me an email at nate at koechley dot com or leave a comment on this post.

(I’m most familiar with web development / frontend engineering jobs, but if you’re looking for design, user experience or engineering work, I can keep you in mind for those too.)

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