Real-world standards

Earlier this year, developers implemented a few Microsoft-inspired JavaScript/DOM extensions in Mozilla. I was pleasantly surprised to see such pragmatic behavior. Perhaps Dave Hyatt’s post about real-world standards inspired them:

We have a phrase we like to use… and that’s “real-world standards compliance.” What that means is that where possible we attempt to be fully compatible with the W3C standards, but we also want to support the real-world standards, i.e., extensions that for better or worse have become de facto standards. If you really do believe we should not have implemented [a particular non-W3C standardized extension], then you are simply out of touch with reality.

Whatever the reason, with the fix for bug 248549 and bug 246964, Mozilla gained support for “undetected document.all usage”.

What does that mean? Well, hopefully it means that more sites just work correctly. Many current sites use detection of document.all as a quick way to check for IE. Code like if (document.all) { // Do IE stuff } will continue to fail after these bug fixes. What is interesting is that there are older websites (and intranet sites) that just assume that the IE-specific document.all collection exists and go ahead and use it. With these bug fixes, in most cases this document.all usage will work and for somewhat simplistic DHTML, this can make the site usable.

I accidentally ran across a site that was fixed by this change. A coworker pointed it out to me and complained that it wasn’t working correctly in Firefox 0.9. (Go here and click the More Search Options link at the bottom of page.) I examined the site and noticed the undetected document.all usage. Since I had Firefox 1.0PR, I demonstrated that it now worked. There’s now another happy Firefox user in the office!

Mozilla speaks Klingon

The fix for bug 239977 gave Mozilla support for tlhIngan Hol, the Klingon language. Although I’d vaguely known that some Star Trek fans spoke Klingon, I was somewhat surprised to learn that the warriors’ tongue is a well-developed language.

Klingon was invented by Dr. Marc Okrand, a linguist originally hired to create a language for those bumpy headed aliens in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Instead of just creating a few words and phrases, he developed grammar, vocabulary, and usage rules. Twenty years later, the language is spoken and studied by a diverse group including Trek fans, linguists, philologists, computer scientists, and psychologists. A number of works have been translated into Klingon, including some of Aesop’s Fables, Hamlet and other works by Shakespeare, and the New Testament.

The Klingon Language Institute, a nonprofit corporation, has much more information about the language. To learn more, you might start with its FAQ. I also enjoyed reading about the written Klingon alphabet.

Pressing on

For those of you keeping score at home, I’ve (finally!) switched over to using WordPress 1.2 for my blog. I had previously been using an ancient and heavily revised version of b2, the precursor to WordPress. The transition was more painful than I anticipated, especially since the WordPress installation docs indicate that b2 should import just fine. Oh well, it’s done now.

I tried to be really careful, so hopefully you haven’t noticed any major changes around here. In fact, that was my design goal: make it work and look just like the old version.

The site now uses CSS for layout, with a gaggle of hacks to fix the less capable browsers. If you’re using an old and broken browser like Netscape 4—you really should get Mozilla or Firefox—you’ll now get just basic styling, which should be much better than all that crashing. Using a two column table for layout was cake compared to this. If Douglas Bowman hadn’t provided his Liquid Bleach I don’t think I’d have attempted it. Many thanks, Doug!

Let me know if you see anything that’s broken.