((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) May 31, 2001
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This week we interview Pascal Bestebroer, author of DOMLib, a tiny cross-browser DHTML API for DOM compatible browsers. In other news, don't miss Digital Web Magazine's interview of Lance Arthur.
New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:
1. INTERVIEW: DOMLib's Pascal Bestebroer 2. OTHER VOICES: * Interview: Lance Arthur * Nielsen on Usability: Ins and Outs of Begging for Money * The High Price of Search Technology 3. NET NEWS: * Macromedia Fights Round Two * ICANN's I Can't Attitude Alienating Internet Community * Russia arrests 'grandfather of cybercrime'
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DOMLib is a new cross-browser DHTML library written for DOM compatible browsers (including IE5+, NS6+, etc.). DOMLib was developed by Pascal Bestebroer, who previously helped develop DynAPI2. DOMLib is a very compact API containing roughly the same functionality as found in the DynaCore/DynAPI2 libraries. The core library weighs in at a mere 3Kb.
DOMLib is part of a trend we're seeing towards sleeker, more standards-compliant pages designed for newer browsers like IE5 and NS6. Combined with CSS, DOMLib can help you create compelling layouts with interactivity, using less code. We caught up with Pascal and asked him about his new DHTML API.
>WR: Tell us about DOMLib?
PB: DOMLib is my attempt at a lightweight slick DHTML API supporting only the W3C DOM standards (and some of Microsoft's :) It will be different from DynAPI2 in a few ways, especially widgets (buttons, toolbars, etc.) will be done differently because DOM is much more flexible, and you have the power of CSS. They will be smaller, and should provide roughly the same functionality and ease of use.
>WR: Why did you decide to develop DOMLib?
PB: I started working on new DynAPI code for DOM compatibility... but while trying things I figured that I could do a DOM library using only a few lines of code, but providing almost the same functionality as the DynAPI2 (using much more code and memory). So I started from scratch and DOMLib is the result (but don't get me wrong, if you need full cross-browser compatibility and power for older generation browsers as well... DynAPI2 is still the best thing out there so use it... DOMLib will only support DOM and IE5+ compatible browsers).
>WR: What can you do with DOMLib?
PB: Basically you can do Dynamic HTML with more ease for DOM compatible browsers. I'm just not a Flash addict and hate the idea of Flash plugins for animation and stuff. For me DHTML is more "real" and so DOMLib should be providing Web designers with the power to do great animations without Flash.
Scripting for DOM browsers isn't really hard to do, and could probably be done without a library such as DOMLib, but DOMLib makes it easier to do certain things on the fly, and for developers it's usually easier to use a library that fixes small bugs and incompatibilities automatically.
>WR: More specifically?
PB: Basically any widgets you can think of are possible, and they are very easy to create. A button could be done using style sheets on a single layer (as shown in one of the exmples), but also people should keep in mind that the components to create forms are already available... you can change the look of a form component (inputbox, listboxes, etc) using style sheets. You can specify borders, colors, size, position of every form component, so no need to create widgets for them.
Hierarchical menus are also possible, but to be honest these "simple" things can be done even without the DOMLib. On my website I use a toolbar that is created using a document.write statement. The toolbar is created using a single string where I add the menu structures to. I use some div's, tables and a lot of style sheets to make the menu work. The menu could be (and will eventually be) extended to have submenus, but the idea of submenus is the same as normal menus: create the string, add it to the main string, and document write the menu with a single document.write() call.
I think that you'll only need the DOMLib if you want to do more advanced stuff, like games, weird animations and bigger widgets. My best example would be the realtime 3D example on my website. It shows that things like 3D rotations can be done, it uses dynamc- realtime scaling of images (images are 64x64 pixels in size, and are scaled according to their distance) and realtime 3D calculations. Developers should start using their imagination to create things that others haven't done yet, and use my DOMLib in the process :)
>WR: What specific browsers/platforms does it support?
It should support all 100% DOM compatible browsers. But sadly I can only test code on IE5/IE5.5, Mozilla (always latest release) and Opera on Windows machines. Luckily if things work under Mozilla under Windows, it should work under Linux and all other platforms Mozilla runs on. Of course help for fixing bugs on other platforms is always appreciated (hint, hint :) [Ed: His front page menus work on IE5/NS6 Mac.]
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>WR: How well do each of the v5+ browsers support the DOM?
PB: I think the best one is Mozilla, even though I think the browser is bloated (as the previous Netscape versions were) it's shaping up to be a very impressive browser, handling most of the stuff the W3C DOM needs. Internet Explorer 5+ is a great browser as well, but not 100% compliant with standards. Not sure if this is a bad thing though, Microsoft has put a lot of nice extras into the browser (I think the transparency filter was copied by Mozilla because of the coolness of it :). You can clearly see that Microsoft's browser is getting to the DOM standard, but contains extra features that are very useful for Web applications.
And finally Opera, this browser could be the best: it's fast, small, renders almost perfect, works on many different platforms... but doesn't do dynamic stuff (yet). You can't create HTML elements on the fly or change style sheets of HTML elements. This is just a very big problem when you want to do DHTML. I truly hope that Opera makes those things a priority, because that could make Opera one of Microsoft's biggest nightmares (I'm dreaming, I know :)
>WR: Even with newer browsers supporting the DOM to varying degrees, how do you resolve the differences between them? (box models, etc.)
PB: Sadly the only browser I have problems with is Opera, I just can't work around the limitations. The other browsers I tried haven't thrown any problems. Usually I just try the code in a browser, and try to track down the few lines that make things go wrong (using many alerts and browser-reloads to check variables and values). Then if, for example, the browser doesn't handle a certain stylesheet property, I use a small piece of code to display all the properties available in the element.
tmp='' for (var i in window.document) tmp+=i+' | ' alert(tmp)
That will show all available properties in the window.document object, and that way you can check if a certain property might have another name, or is placed under another child [object]... and then it's just a lot of testing and trying... damn I love developing :)
>WR: What are your future plans for DOMLib?
PB: I think the most important thing for a DHTML library is animation, and that's probably what I will be focusing on. This means having some sort of timeline editor to do smooth animations of multiple layers at key-frame intervals. There's already some basic code in the current release, but I'm working on some ideas to make it more powerful and still easy to use. Thinking about things like timing and triggering of animations... not sure yet how to do it all, but I'm pretty sure it's possible.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. OTHER VOICES: Interview: Lance Arthur, Nielsen on Usability: Ins and Outs of Begging for Money, The High Price of Search Technology
>Lance Arthur and his Best Friend, Glassdog.com
An extensive interview with Lance Arthur, author of GlassDog.com. http://www.digital-web.com/interviews/interview_2001-5.shtml Digital Web Magazine, May 14, 2001
>Nielsen on Usability: Ins and Outs of Begging for Money
In its quest to develop sustainable business models for the Web, Amazon.com recently introduced one of the more unusual ideas: Simply ask users of a site to donate money. http://www.internetworld.com/news/archive/05292001c.jsp Internet World, May 28, 2001
>The High Price of Search Technology
Getting your site's search engine to give relevant results can be difficult and expensive. In a perfect world, customers could just type their questions into the search box and get coherent answers back. Too bad that ideal is so hard to achieve. http://www.ecompany.com/articles/web/0,1653,12179,00.html ECompany Now, May 31, 2001
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. NET NEWS: Macromedia Fights Round Two, ICANN's I Can't Attitude Alienating Internet Community, Russia arrests 'grandfather of cybercrime'
>Macromedia Fights Round Two
Flash was no flash in the pan, but if Macromedia wants to keep growing, it must reinvent and expand its product line. If Adobe can do it, so can Macromedia, analysts say. http://www.business2.com/news/2001/05/macromedia.htm Business2.com, May 31, 2001
>ICANN's I Can't Attitude Alienating Internet Community
The domain name governing authority is losing the support of its constituents with the increasingly hard-line stance against alternate root servers and its top-down government-style management. http://www.internetnews.com/wd-news/article/0,,10_775751,00.html InternetNews.com, May 30, 2001
>Russia arrests 'grandfather of cybercrime'
Russian police have dealt a severe blow to the image of computer hacking - by arresting a gang of computer hackers led by a 63-year- old pensioner. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid_1353000/1353092.stm BBC.com, May 29, 2001
That's it for this week, see you next time.
Scott Clark Managing Editor, WebReference.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Ragle Assistant Editor, WebReference.com email@example.com
Andrew King Newsletter Editor, WebReference.com firstname.lastname@example.org
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