At 6:15am on Wednesday 2nd September I left Reading to travel to Brighton. On arrival, after a swift Sausage McMuffin breakfast, I headed to the Clearleft office to attend a workshop entitled HTML5 and CSS3 Wizardry.
The workshop which was part of dConstruct 2009 was split into two halves. In the morning Jeremy Keith (@adactio) explained the evolution of HTML. This interesting journey covered the complete history of HTML and introduced the various individuals and associations responsible for its development over the years. The focus then shifted to the future of HTML and new HTML5 specification. Jeremy introduced the new doctypes, tags and attributes available to web authors and gave examples of their usage. Much like Remy Sharp’s HTML5 presentation at geek in the park a few weeks earlier Jeremy explained how these new tags can be incorporated into existing websites and how best to approach support in older browsers.
Jeremy was also very keen to highlight areas of the spec which he believed could be improved. In particular the disambiguation of the usage of section/article tags and similarly the figure/aside tags. He also raised concerns about the strict and counter-intuitive usage defined for the new footer tag*. Jeremy encouraged others to get involved with the WHATWG mailing list and raise any concerns before the working draft deadline in October.
* The very next day the footer tag specification was amended to be more inline with the header element… hooray!
The afternoon session run by Richard Rutter (@clagnut) and Natalie Downe (@Natbat) focused on CSS3. The talk covered, in detail, a large number of the new CSS3 modules and discussed how best to implement these new technologies without compromising backwards compatibility. Of particular interest to me was the advanced use of border-radius and understanding the full list of options available for box-shadow.
Towards the end of the session they demonstrated some of the more bizarre elements of CSS3. The weirdest of these by far was the css3 template module, a quirky new way to define a web page layout by drawing an ASCII art blue print (complete with dimensions) within your CSS file… very strange indeed.
The venue and hospitality at the workshop were great, the presentations were well researched and hugely informative. Unfortunately, due to the experimental nature of the content covered I felt that there was very little that I could implement at work due of the huge proportion of our users still using legacy browsers. With such a small audience and no immediate impact on revenue I think it will be a long time before large corporate websites will invest any significant resources into CSS3 related projects. On a brighter note the examples demonstrated contained some inspiring eye-candy which I will definitely consider for personal projects outside of the corporate environment.
After an enjoyable early evening drink in The Fountain Head and some fish and chips on Brighton pier I returned to Reading.