ugh. silverlight. November 30, 2009 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Best of the web... whose web?

Spurred by the persistent derail in this thread.

Are MeFi links to things that only some of use can view OK? What if they require either making a purchase or theft? I have seen (IIRC) rejections of FPPs about iphone apps that cost a dollar (because they presume you have an iphone and expect you to pay a dollar, I guess), but what about a post that requires me to have an operating system that would cost me a hundred dollars or more?

I can accept that I as a Linux user won't have access to some things on the web, but as far as I am concerned I would selfishly prefer if mefi stuck to things that were at least somewhat accessible to all users.

At the very least if we hash things out here, either way, we may not have a predictable argument about silverlight taking over the discussion in FPPs.
posted by idiopath to Etiquette/Policy at 11:32 AM (209 comments total)

Silverlight works on Linux. It's called Moonlight.

Your post is stupid.
posted by cellphone at 11:37 AM on November 30, 2009 [7 favorites]


Sorry I misread
posted by cellphone at 11:37 AM on November 30, 2009


I think it was DU who made a comment that got deleted from that thread pointing out that the point of the web was that it was based on open standards and accessible from a wide variety of systems. And the silverlight platform really seems to be against that spirit.

Originally the web was a bunch of Unix computers using Unix software to connect with each other - it is because of the emphasis on open and portable standards that any other OS can access the web.
posted by idiopath at 11:38 AM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think it was DU who made a comment that got deleted from that thread pointing out that the point of the web was that it was based on open standards and accessible from a wide variety of systems. And the silverlight platform really seems to be against that spirit.

I didn't make that comment, but I agree with it.

It would not surprise me at all to find that games that use Silverlight are being funded by Microsoft trying to make it the next "killer app". Microsoft has such a piss-poor reputation with being an honest, open player (online or off) that we really should not be will to engage with them on this. Do not post proprietary MS junk, period.
posted by DU at 11:41 AM on November 30, 2009 [10 favorites]


Well, the Silverlight thing is kind of like posting something behind a paywall - generally discouraged, and besides the rules, it just doesn't make for a very good FPP if not everyone can access it and discuss. This came up last year in this thread, also.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:43 AM on November 30, 2009


Seriously, fuck Silverlight. It's the worst thing Microsoft has ever unleashed, and, well, yeah: Really saying something.

What does it actually do that Flash doesn't, other than taking up additional space on a hard drive?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:44 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Rabid Silverlightists abound here, happily toeing the line of the Flash Man's repressive agenda.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:45 AM on November 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


What does it actually do that Flash doesn't, other than taking up additional space on a hard drive?

I think the big one is "supports right-click," but it'd still be nice not to have to install some company's proprietary media player to enjoy a website.
posted by explosion at 11:45 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd rather have this conversation here rather than in the thread. Personally I also agree with the open standards stuff. That said I'm a little surprised that people basically torpedoed that entire thread with "silverlight UGH" comments. If we allow people to post links to windows-only software, English-only websites or US-only video content [all of which have come up before as possible issues in MeTa] I'm not quite sure how this is different. If we started seeing a lot of them, maybe we could tell people to lay off [similar to the US-only hulu stuff] but from a policy perspective, this doesn't really seem like something requiring legislation. Just my $.02.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:46 AM on November 30, 2009 [10 favorites]


it'd still be nice not to have to install some company's proprietary media player to enjoy a website.

I suppose we should not link to YouTube then.

I don't actually care either way, but get a freakin' grip.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:46 AM on November 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


^ not directed at explosion, just in general.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:47 AM on November 30, 2009


Ironmouth: where's that written down and codified?

Here, by the organization founded by the guy who invented the web.
posted by idiopath at 11:48 AM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Note: I also don't much care for Flash, with its tentacles and tracking and opt-outiness. It needs to be replaced. I do not want Silverlight to be the replacement.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:49 AM on November 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


If we allow people to post links to windows-only software, English-only websites or US-only video content [all of which have come up before as possible issues in MeTa] I'm not quite sure how this is different

English-only websites is tough, because you need money to translate and sometimes people who have good content do not have $$$.

But we shouldn't be allowing windows-only software or US-only video content. There is zero cost for either of those.

And in the particular case of Microsoft/Silverlight, MeFi posts are basically Pepsi Blue or viral ads. It plays right into their attempt to (re)gain control over computing.
posted by DU at 11:50 AM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't have any fondness for Silverlight or for MS's apparent Let's Get Proprietary Up In This Thing strategy with it, and haven't every bothered to install it on the Windows boxes I've used. That said, Silverlight posts are relatively rare and have more in common with OS-dependent or region-specific stuff than with paywall posts, and like those we're more interested in seeing them not get out of hand than we are in making a firm policy decision prohibiting them.

In short, it may be annoying for some folks but it's not really breaking any guidelines as is. Skip the posts, or discuss it in Metatalk, but hashing it out in-thread is not great.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:51 AM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm not a great fan of Silverlight, but only because I don't really see any benefit in it, and I prefer not having to download stuff when there are already perfectly good technologies that let me do pretty much everything Silverlight can anyway. (I'd consider making an exception for Unity, though, because that lets you do stuff that Flash just couldn't manage.)

That said, I'd imagine the vast majority of the people posting here at least have access to a Windows machine, even if it's not their primary system, so I wouldn't be in favour of banning Windows-only links. It's certainly better than, for instance, posting videos that can't be viewed outside the US. Which, on preview, jessamyn already mentioned, so at least it's on the mods' radars.

*shakes fist at sky* HUUULLLLUUUUUUUU...
posted by ZsigE at 11:51 AM on November 30, 2009


It's the worst thing Microsoft has ever unleashed, and, well, yeah: Really saying something.

Somewhere in my storeroom, I have a binder full of MS TechNet subscriber discs left over from my predecessor. I'll loan you the copy of the beta eval for Windows Me.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:52 AM on November 30, 2009 [9 favorites]


My web site's animated thingamajiggies run on Metropolis as a downloadable runtime binary. Now get off my lawn.
posted by davejay at 11:52 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


But we shouldn't be allowing windows-only software or US-only video content. There is zero cost for either of those.

I don't think you mean there's no cost to port something from Windows to Linux. What do you mean?
posted by demiurge at 11:53 AM on November 30, 2009


As for the "Flash does it too!" defense: Once we have video support in HTML 5, we shouldn't allow Flash (video) posts either. And in any case, "we already allow Evil Corp X to dominate us, why not Evil Corp Y too?" isn't a great argument.
posted by DU at 11:53 AM on November 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'll loan you the copy of the beta eval for Windows Me.

nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
posted by davejay at 11:53 AM on November 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't think you mean there's no cost to port something from Windows to Linux. What do you mean?

I mean there is zero cost if you choose something (language, API or whatever) cross-platform in the first place.
posted by DU at 11:54 AM on November 30, 2009


I don't mind posts about things that are Flash-only, Silverlight-only, Mac-only, Windows-only, or somesuch. The only problem is when the OP doesn't say in the post that they're restricted to some nonstandard proprietary format.

Mefi is in no danger of being overrun with posts about sites I can't view.
posted by ardgedee at 11:59 AM on November 30, 2009 [9 favorites]


I mean there is zero cost if you choose something (language, API or whatever) cross-platform in the first place.

I don't think that's quite true either. Having access, compiling, and testing software on multiple platforms has cost. If a developer knows how to code things in Silverlight and has never used Flash, there's a cost associated with choosing Flash. Regardless, the people who post links to interesting gadgets, applications, games, or whatever, don't have access to the source material to make the software run crossplatform.

I don't see a problem with a link for a OS X-only application, I just won't use it. Not all posts need to be interesting for everyone.
posted by demiurge at 12:02 PM on November 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


I mean there is zero cost if you choose something (language, API or whatever) cross-platform in the first place.

There are a number of problems with this statement, not least of them being the silliness of positing an imaginary cross-platform-dev-env-proficient doppelganger to replace the actual developer of any given extant product for the sake of your central "if". If frogs had wings, etc.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:06 PM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Best of the web... whose web?

Charlotte's Web.
posted by qvantamon at 12:09 PM on November 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


Serious question here: If I'm in the US and a website "just works" for me, how am I to know whether or not it's going to work for someone running Linux in Canada? Should I verify the technology that it's using and that it works worldwide before making a FPP? Not that I make FPPs, I'm not a glutton for punishment, but I'm still curious.

99% of the time when I'm viewing something on the web I have no clue what the underlying technology is. I just go to websites. If they work, I'm happy and I'll share. If they don't work and it isn't really obvious how I can get them to work, I go elsewhere. I'm sure along the way I've installed Flash and Silverlight and any number of add-ons but I never really take note of what sites use what.

And no, I'm not ignorant, I'm pretty geeky actually, but I guess I've just been doing this long enough to just want most stuff to work and not care what makes it work.
posted by bondcliff at 12:11 PM on November 30, 2009 [12 favorites]


/me marches around yelling "Whose web? Our web!" and delivering a searing send-up of the mods via giant puppetry.
posted by electroboy at 12:11 PM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


The only reason people hate Silverlight is because it originates at Microsoft. (There is an open source free implementation, so "open standards" is a misnomer)

People should really hate Flash because it very much sucks.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:11 PM on November 30, 2009 [10 favorites]


Somewhat on subject: can we stop jumping on Unity whenever a link uses it? Like what happened here. I understand that it isn't as widely used as flash, but it does offer real extra value on the development end and a lot of cool stuff uses it.

*glares at DU*
posted by The Devil Tesla at 12:12 PM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


If it's any consolation, you're missing out on a flash piano.
posted by pwally at 12:12 PM on November 30, 2009


Just as the Swiss banning minarets issue is not about the architectural significance of minarets, but essentially Switzerland telling Muslims to fuck off out of their country, this issue is not about the technological merits (or lack of) of Silverlight. It's all about how the supercool kids of Metafilter simply cannot pass up an opportunity to show how freaking supercool they are because THEY DON"T LIKE MICROSOFT. How revolutionary of them.

I saw the post, saw it needed something I don't have on my machine, don't want to install and moved onto the next post. Which may well have been a post full of Hulu links which I can't watch as I'm not in the US. So I moved onto the next one which was an interesting link and lively discussion which I thoroughly enjoyed.

At no point (until now) did I feel the need to let the Metafilter community know about any of these milestones. Really, it's not fucking interesting.
posted by jontyjago at 12:14 PM on November 30, 2009 [26 favorites]


I mean there is zero cost if you choose something (language, API or whatever) cross-platform in the first place.

Not completely true. As an example: a port of a C program from Solaris (SPARC) to Linux (x86) using already ported libraries involved a significant increase in equipment costs for testing and a huge increase in the hours required to test the software. The equipment only needed to be purchased at the start of the project but the testing time increase is for every single release for as long as we support both versions.

So, yeah, from a development standpoint the port was easy. However, the costs of porting becomes apparent if you actually care about the quality of your software.
posted by Loto at 12:15 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not thrilled with Microsoft's proprietary platforms in general but how is Silverlight MS-only?
posted by scalefree at 12:26 PM on November 30, 2009


Just as the Swiss banning minarets issue is not about the architectural significance of minarets, but essentially Switzerland telling Muslims to fuck off out of their country, this issue is not about the technological merits (or lack of) of Silverlight. It's all about how the supercool kids of Metafilter simply cannot pass up an opportunity to show how freaking supercool they are because THEY DON"T LIKE MICROSOFT.

STICK IT TO THE MAN!
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:27 PM on November 30, 2009


It's all about how the supercool kids of Metafilter simply cannot pass up an opportunity to show how freaking supercool they are because THEY DON"T LIKE MICROSOFT. How revolutionary of them.

To be fair, there are plenty of us non-supercool kids who have no investment in promoting our non-existent supercoolness and don't spend much time worrying about Microsoft either way most days, who still have a practical dislike for the idea and execution of Silverlight.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:28 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd imagine the vast majority of the people posting here at least have access to a Windows machine

Unless by "have access to" you mean "can go to a public library or internet cafe to use" I suspect you imagine wrong. (Unless by "vast majority" you mean "slight majority or maybe just a plurality.")
posted by dersins at 12:29 PM on November 30, 2009


Seriously, fuck Silverlight.

While we're at it, fuck Flash and PDF, too. If it can't be done in HTML, then I don't want it.
posted by timeistight at 12:30 PM on November 30, 2009


The only reason people hate Silverlight is because it originates at Microsoft. (There is an open source free implementation, so "open standards" is a misnomer)

People should really hate Flash because it very much sucks.


Moonlight is not a replacement for Silverlight. It's a nice community best-effort, but it certainly wasn't developed by the parent of Silverlight, and if Silverlight is even slightly upgraded it means an indeterminate amount of time for Moonlight developers to play catch-up just so everybody can keep pretending the thing is an "open standard."

It's insulting to actual open standards to call Sliverlight open.
posted by odinsdream at 12:31 PM on November 30, 2009 [10 favorites]


Nice, a thread where I can post, "Fuck Silverlight."
posted by chunking express at 12:31 PM on November 30, 2009


scalefree: "I'm not thrilled with Microsoft's proprietary platforms in general but how is Silverlight MS-only"

It is available for Windows and OsX, the non-ms-developed Linux version only supports version 1 of silverlight, unless you run the extra buggy alpha version. Even the non-alpha version, which only supports version one, is extremely buggy.
posted by idiopath at 12:35 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


/me marches around yelling "Whose web? Our web!" and delivering a searing send-up of the mods via giant puppetry.

Holy FUCK, I want to make these puppets.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:35 PM on November 30, 2009


I suspect you imagine wrong.

I really wonder about that. I feel like most people likely have some way to use a Windows machine between work and home and roommates, but my perspective may be way off. Maybe we should do a survey!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:35 PM on November 30, 2009


Originally the web was a bunch of Unix computers using Unix software to connect with each other

not true.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:37 PM on November 30, 2009


Unless by "have access to" you mean "can go to a public library or internet cafe to use" I suspect you imagine wrong. (Unless by "vast majority" you mean "slight majority or maybe just a plurality.")

Let's be serious here.
posted by Loto at 12:38 PM on November 30, 2009


I really wonder about that. I feel like most people likely have some way to use a Windows machine between work and home and roommates, but my perspective may be way off. Maybe we should do a survey!

And the results would certainly be interesting. But for the purpose of this discussion, it's not a really useful data point, as Silverlight is available for both Windows and Mac OS.
posted by kbanas at 12:40 PM on November 30, 2009


Unless by "have access to" you mean "can go to a public library or internet cafe to use" I suspect you imagine wrong.

Re-reading my post, I think the part that should possibly be clarified is "posting here" - I meant Metafilter as a whole, as opposed to this thread (which is naturally going to be heavily on the Mac-only/Linux-only side of things). Given quite how many Windows machines there are around (about 85% for usage online1, although I appreciate that will include machines owned by businesses), I don't think it at all unlikely that a hefty majority (OK, I'll at least backpedal on "vast") runs Windows.

Could easily be wrong, of course. If any of the mods are around and have access to the browser stats, I'd be interested to hear them.
posted by ZsigE at 12:43 PM on November 30, 2009


But for the purpose of this discussion... Silverlight is available for both Windows and Mac OS.

Yep, just a derail curiosity of mine.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:43 PM on November 30, 2009


I feel like most people likely have some way to use a Windows machine between work and home and roommates, but my perspective may be way off. Maybe we should do a survey!

Do you honestly think most proud Mac or Linux users would admit to having access to a Windows machine if it would deny them the right to complain about something being Windows-only?

(proud iMac owner w/ a XP and Ubuntu via VM as well as Bootcamp. They're all just fucking OSes.)
posted by bondcliff at 12:44 PM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Let's be serious here.

The membership of MetaFilter is not representative and almost certainly has a much higher proportion of non-Windows users.
posted by enn at 12:44 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, yeah, from a development standpoint the port was easy. However, the costs of porting becomes apparent if you actually care about the quality of your software.

Agreed. But for a given complexity of app there's not a huge difference between implementing it in AJAX vs Flash vs Java vs Silverlight, yet there is a huge difference in the portability.

I don't think its unreasonable to object to a highly specialized environment being used when there's no compelling reason to do so. Political views on software freedom aside, more platforms support AJAX than Flash and again more than Silverlight. We should give developers a hard time for jumping way up the specialization ladder and excluding whole classes of platform when the app could be executed in another environment just as easily.

Put another way, Netflix has a pass to use Silverlight because they genuinely couldn't do the same product in another way due to legal pressures. A piano in your browser? Not so much.
posted by Skorgu at 12:46 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


imaginary cross-platform-dev-env-proficient doppelganger to replace the actual developer of any given extant product

I work on an app that is ported to 39 flavors of unix, and 7 flavors of windows, and I can assure you cortex speaks to truth.
posted by nomisxid at 12:47 PM on November 30, 2009


DU's policy suggestion must be rejected, because it would have prevented wonderful things like this.

MetaFilter became a better place the day that post hit the front page.
posted by DWRoelands at 12:48 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes! MetaFilter Hardware Survey!
posted by Liver at 12:49 PM on November 30, 2009


The only reason people hate Silverlight is because it originates at Microsoft.

I'm a third-party hater too: the Unity player sucks diseased donkey cock just as much as Silverlight or Flash. My browser is not a wrapper for your proprietary virtual machine. HTML or go home.
posted by bonehead at 12:50 PM on November 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


Let's be serious here

Whatever you say.
posted by jontyjago at 12:52 PM on November 30, 2009 [10 favorites]


Whatever you say.

Excuse me, but you forgot to include my handwritten OS that I run on an xscale toaster.

Also, the survey is obviously skewed. If someone has one computer running Linux then you can count on them having at least six more from which they could vote. That's because all Linux users are mouth-breathing dorks living in their mother's basement.

Full disclosure: I run Slackware
posted by Loto at 12:57 PM on November 30, 2009


When I worked at Speakeasy, my main box ran BeOS just so I didn't have to commiserate with anyone [or be commiserated with] about their tech support woes. We can probably dig around in the stats and see what people on MeFi are actually using platform and browser-wise, though it might be skewed by the main mods all hitting the site non-stop with our passel of Macs.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:02 PM on November 30, 2009


I'm a third-party hater too: the Unity player sucks diseased donkey cock just as much as Silverlight or Flash. [...] HTML or go home.

I don't think you get it. Unity is game engine that happens to also include a plugin that works in a browser because some people like to play games in browsers. There is nothing that Unity regularly does that HTML can also do.

At some future time when HTML can to 3d games well Unity will be obsolete. That hasn't happened yet.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 1:03 PM on November 30, 2009


Ooh, ooh! Let's talk about VRML.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:07 PM on November 30, 2009 [6 favorites]


Greg Nog: /me marches around yelling "Whose web? Our web!" and delivering a searing send-up of the mods via giant puppetry.

Holy FUCK, I want to make these puppets.


I want to see them acting out a podcast.

This will also save me time making mod sockpuppets.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:09 PM on November 30, 2009




Ooh, ooh! Let's talk about VRML.
I've got a copy of The VRML 2.0 Handbook on the shelf next to me. That's what the future looked like in 1997.
posted by demiurge at 1:18 PM on November 30, 2009


There is nothing that Unity regularly does that HTML can also do.

While that's true, it also applies to Flash and Silverlight too. From a users' point of view a proprietary VM fragments my ability to do stuff and lengthens page loading times. Each one of these little "apps" has it's own custom (and horrible) control set. They don't behave like normal apps (no copy and paste for you!). Google/Yahoo/MS can't index inside flash/silverlight/unity/whatever binaries (mostly).

As a user of these things, it's a mess, and getting worse. I don't know so much about the technical side, but the proliferation of these things look like reiterations of the "not invented here" syndrome, rather than real solutions to technical problems.
posted by bonehead at 1:20 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


And here's a browser breakdown from December 2007, when Firefox surpassed Internet Explorer.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:22 PM on November 30, 2009


That's what the future looked like in 1997.

By 2001, the future was clearly seeing other people, but it was the locus of my senior project anyway. Though I did very little with the VRML itself, instead doing development of a modeler/viewer app in OpenGL. Oh heady days.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:22 PM on November 30, 2009


So I wake up at 5 a.m. Sleepily stumble my way to MetaFilter. See the The Keyboard Piano post. I click. See "Install Microsoft Silverlight". I cringe/groan/moan. Feel stabby stabby pain in brain. Make an unnecessary comment about Silverlight... and now this?

My apologies.

Let that be a lesson to you kids. Don't be like me.
posted by -t at 1:26 PM on November 30, 2009


Do you honestly think most proud Mac or Linux users would admit to having access to a Windows machine

I have access to a Windows machine. There, now I'm miserable like everyone else.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:30 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


While we're at it, fuck Flash and PDF, too. If it can't be done in HTML, then I don't want it.

You're probably just talking about the web, but there's no way HTML can deal with the complexities of print documents.

Flash is ok, mostly it's abusive designers that mess up the experience.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:40 PM on November 30, 2009


Can we talk about how Java sucks now?

Not that I want to ban Java posts or anything, I just enjoy mocking the elderly.
posted by Artw at 1:42 PM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Flash is ok, mostly it's abusive designers that mess up the experience.

Until Flash stops fucking up my keyboard focus (and, while we're dreaming here, until its controls respond to the same keystrokes as standard GTK/KDE/whatever controls), no, it's really Flash. Fuck Flash. (Of course I've got enough hate left over for abusive designers too.)
posted by enn at 1:44 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


imaginary cross-platform-dev-env-proficient doppelganger

I know what I want to be when I grow up now!
posted by cowbellemoo at 1:46 PM on November 30, 2009


the proliferation of these things look like reiterations of the "not invented here" syndrome, rather than real solutions to technical problems.

I think it's obvious the problem that Flash and unity solve. It offers "flash," video and games that can be accessed in a temporary way through embedding, that can be accessed as easily as text and pictures are. Without embedding each video or game distributed through the internet would have to be dealt with as an individual file as a user, which isn't the most convenient way to access things.

Uniny specifically allows games to developed quickly within the development software it offers. Looking from a development perspective it's a little more impressive than it looks as just another plugin, and as a user it's noticeable in the high quality of games made with Unity and the volume of the output.

As a user of these things, it's a mess, and getting worse.

I get it, but HTML 5 and beyond is moving towards being able to offer what we have to use Flash and Unity for now in a more slick manner. Til then I find it perfectly managable.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 1:54 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Really, I have no problem with those silverlight posts, although I wish I could view them - I've never been able to get Moonlight to work properly, and that makes me sad, because I'd really like to play with that recent NASA game/map.

That said, I'm gonna ape a few other people. Restricting MeFi to X-only posts seems like a pretty bad idea in general. As others have said, a good hunk of users are able to access the X-only content, unless it's something really obscure. Linux for me? Flash is fine, video is fine, most web-apps can be accessed in some way or another (Wine helps), and if I can't see some particular content then no big deal... unless silverlight posts start becoming a lot more common (tbh I really haven't liked silverlight so far), but that's still really only a problem for a minority of users.
posted by neewom at 1:55 PM on November 30, 2009


What does it actually do that Flash doesn't, other than taking up additional space on a hard drive?

Support scripting in Python and Ruby &c.
posted by signal at 1:56 PM on November 30, 2009


HTML sucks. If I have to see anything other than plain text in a 80 character wide window I seethe with rage.
posted by cimbrog at 2:00 PM on November 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'd rather have this conversation here rather than in the thread. Personally I also agree with the open standards stuff. That said I'm a little surprised that people basically torpedoed that entire thread with "silverlight UGH" comments.


Silverlight hate has derailed a nice FPP at least once before. Maybe I should have brought it to Meta then, but.... I didn't feel it was my place to. And, with all due respect, I don't think you should have been surprised at the derail - in addition to the example above, I've seen discussions about video games or other media devolve into OS wars because OSX/Linux can't run/use that stuff and their adherents can't just move on.

And Silverlight isn't even that bad. Did you know that if you play the Windows ME CD backwards it plays a satanic message ? That's nothing, if you play it forwards, it installs Windows ME....
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:12 PM on November 30, 2009


Seriously?

1. It's not our job to enforce open standards on the internet.
2. Banning Silverlight/Flash/other proprietary links will not make developers change their ways, and will only have the effect of making us miss out on potentially interesting content.
3. Porting a piece of software from Windows to Linux is hardly trivial, especially when you're not familiar with Linux. Furthermore, not everybody writes software in portable languages. A lot of amazing indie games (featured many times previously) have been designed using Windows-only Game Maker. Should we ban those too?
4. This would be an issue if most people were using Linux, but that's really not the case. Windows is the dominant OS.
posted by archagon at 2:33 PM on November 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


I read MeFi on a black, Bell & Howell-branded Apple II+, hooked up to an acoustic modem, using a browser I had to write myself in FORTRAN 77. You all suck, with your modern Flashing SilverMoons. Pfah!
posted by everichon at 2:35 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wish people who say "Fuck _____" would have to mark one of the following checkboxes:

[ ] I know what I'm talking about.
[ ] I don't know what I'm talking about.
posted by mpls2 at 2:38 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll add my freakish datapoint: I have a computer at home that dual boots XP, but it hasn't been plugged in for like a year, and probably hadn't booted windows for another six months before that. I'm a full-time linux user in academia; my access to non-linux computers is mostly friends' Macs. So, um, I kind of have access to a Windows installation, but mostly not.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:40 PM on November 30, 2009


Fuck Tha Police.

[ ] I am not a member of the rapping ensemble "NWA".
[x] I am a member of the rapping ensemble "NWA".
posted by everichon at 2:45 PM on November 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


Clearly, we should restrict ourselves to text-only sites, because of the users that are still running Lynx on their VT100 terminals.

Quality is independent of technology. If we focus on delivery method, instead of finding the best content, period, then MeFi will not be as good.

If you can't see something that's awesome, that doesn't make it less awesome.
posted by Malor at 2:52 PM on November 30, 2009


I wish people who say "Fuck _____" would have to mark one of the following checkboxes:

[ ] I know what I'm talking about.
[ ] I don't know what I'm talking about.


Fuck that.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:01 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


rmd1023: "Originally the web was a bunch of Unix computers using Unix software to connect with each other

not true
"

1990: the web (on NeXT machines (UNIX based))
1991: the web is accessible from VMS
1993: the web is accessible from Mac / Windows

posted by idiopath at 3:02 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wish people who say "Fuck _____" would have to mark one of the following checkboxes:

[ ] I know what I'm talking about.
[ ] I don't know what I'm talking about.


I couldn't figure out how to check the boxes. Is that something I'd need Silverlight to do?
posted by mmmbacon at 3:16 PM on November 30, 2009


_Help_ Tha Police
posted by Artw at 3:20 PM on November 30, 2009


You should see what Silverlight posts look like on the print version of Metafilter.
posted by qvantamon at 3:37 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

1. It's not our job to enforce open standards on the internet.
Yes, it's not our job to answer questions or provide interesting posts or new music either.
2. Banning Silverlight/Flash/other proprietary links will not make developers change their ways, and will only have the effect of making us miss out on potentially interesting content.
I don't think anyone is actually suggesting banning it. A good tongue lashing seems to be sufficient.
3. Porting a piece of software from Windows to Linux is hardly trivial, especially when you're not familiar with Linux.
In most cases an app written in Silverlight is not substantially harder to craft than one in Flash or JavaFX or even AJAX, they're just different skillsets. No porting involved.
Furthermore, not everybody writes software in portable languages. A lot of amazing indie games (featured many times previously) have been designed using Windows-only Game Maker. Should we ban those too?
If there were a roughly equivalent platform that they could have chosen, perhaps. Virtually all 'game' posts I recall seeing have been Flash based; I'd argue that a developer was penalizing themselves by forcing a download/install unless the content is compelling enough to warrant it. A post exploring the landscape of the game-maker market would probably be interesting.
4. This would be an issue if most people were using Linux, but that's really not the case. Windows is the dominant OS.
Yet the site itself seems to render fine in Chrome on Linux. Perhaps market dominance isn't all there is to this discussion after all?
posted by Skorgu at 3:53 PM on November 30, 2009


Holy FUCK, I want to make these puppets.

Make? Nah, any catholic church has a ready supply of cortex.
posted by electroboy at 3:54 PM on November 30, 2009


Is this something I'd have to use an OS besides CP/M to understand?
posted by trip and a half at 4:04 PM on November 30, 2009


For those of you interested in gnashing teeth at flash, there is gnash, which is open source (or free) and can add an interesting amount of unpredictability to your web browsing experience.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 4:16 PM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


cimbrog writes "HTML sucks. If I have to see anything other than plain text in a 80 character wide window I seethe with rage."

Well written HTML would support that.
posted by Mitheral at 4:53 PM on November 30, 2009


Best of the web... whose web?

Jack Webb.

Oh, wait -- I guess that'd be best of the 'Net.
posted by armage at 5:06 PM on November 30, 2009


Fuck that.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:01 AM on December 1 [+] [!]


[ ] I know what I'm talking about.
[X] I don't know what I'm talking about.
posted by armage at 5:08 PM on November 30, 2009


We have control over our own content, not others'. Banning (or strongly discouraging) non-open software amounts to a political statement, which I don't think MeFi is the right place for.
posted by archagon at 5:13 PM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


The only reason people hate Silverlight is because it originates at Microsoft.

Another "only" reason is that Microsoft is trying to play the same embrace, extend, extinguish game with Silverlight as it did with Internet Explorer. Anyone who goes to programming conferences can attest to the evangelization of Silverlight and related development tools between every other breath, and the poor or non-existent quality of player options for non-Windows platforms.

In the process of pushing Windows-only Internet Explorer down everyone's throats, Microsoft very nearly killed useful web technologies that are allowing, for one, an explosion of useful, albeit non-Microsoft devices that can access the web.

A good portion of Metafilter obviously has a short memory on this stuff, but not all of us.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:19 PM on November 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


Back in the day, it was quite normal to warn Metafilter members that the site being linked to had Flash. Similarly, if the poster puts a small 'Warning: silverlight ahead' note, I think a lot of teeth gnashing would be saved. I say this even though I can't see any silverlight stuff (on a mac, but tiger, so no silverlight for me)
posted by dhruva at 5:19 PM on November 30, 2009


I was going to come in here and make a snide remark about YouTube but Burhanistan beat me to it, so I'll leave now.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 5:20 PM on November 30, 2009


Silverlight and Flash are both pretty terrible. Equally terrible in my book. Can we also ban Java too? I dislike the JRE more than the other two.
posted by jeffamaphone at 5:35 PM on November 30, 2009


Posts like this don't really bother me because, as has been said before, there's plenty of posts I'm not interested in or don't read so adding "can't read" to that list doesn't bother me.

But the call outs don't bother me either. Without them I wouldn't know about half the things relating to web standards that I do. Seriously, US-only Hulu, Silverlight, Unity...probably some more I'm forgetting... all words that would mean nothing to me if not for somebody bitching about them here.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:09 PM on November 30, 2009


I dislike the JRE more than the other two.

Holy crap is JRE the dead dog's anal warts. That garbageware has caused me no shortage of wasted time chasing exact build numbers for sloppily coded banking software.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:09 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


(not to mention the automatic update settings that can't be centrally managed, the prompting for toolbars and/or Open Office installs)
posted by Burhanistan at 6:11 PM on November 30, 2009


In the immortal words of Richard M. Stallman:
For personal reasons, I do not browse the web from my computer. (I
also have not net connection much of the time.) To look at page I
send mail to a demon which runs wget and mails the page back to me.
It is very efficient use of my time, but it is slow in real time.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 6:14 PM on November 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


Seriously, you people, fuck off with your telling me I can't have what I want on the last (sorta) free medium on earth. You don't want Flash, SL or Java, don't install 'em. I don't give a fuck either way. I like 'em and if someone sees something cool and posts it here, power to 'em. You're entirely free to miss out.

You can have your standards-based web and your concrete barracks and your toilet paper ration.
posted by klanawa at 6:15 PM on November 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


Silverlight seems to work fine on this here Mac. So, what's the problem with it exactly?

All I can tell so far are:
1) It doesn't work so great on Linux
2) Microsoft made it and Microsoft wants to take over the universe

Is there anything about Silverlight itself that is bad? Does it crash more often than Flash, does it try to eat up my RAM/processor cycles worse than Flash does? Do things show up differently on different systems in different browsers?

I mean, IE not respecting various web standards and making up its own methods is something I understand as being irritating/bad. But I haven't heard anything like that about Silverlight yet, apart from it being something that needs to be downloaded and installed, just like Flash or Java.
posted by that girl at 6:18 PM on November 30, 2009


Eh, Silverlight's running like a champ on my install of Microsoft Bob.
I keep hearing about this MS "New Technologies" thing but I don't think it will catch on in the enterprise.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:20 PM on November 30, 2009


Another "only" reason is that Microsoft is trying to play the same embrace, extend, extinguish game with Silverlight

Against ADOBE. Boo fucking hoo.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 6:20 PM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


If it can't be done in HTML, then I don't want it

Does Javascript count?
posted by flabdablet at 6:21 PM on November 30, 2009


In response to the comment upthread:
Yes, it's not our job to answer questions or provide interesting posts or new music either.
No, that is our job. That's the point of metafilter! The point of metafilter is not to promote web standards.
I don't think anyone is actually suggesting banning it. A good tongue lashing seems to be sufficient.
A 150 comment MeTa thread for every Silverlight post seems excessive, not to mention probably hard on the mods.
In most cases an app written in Silverlight is not substantially harder to craft than one in Flash or JavaFX or even AJAX, they're just different skillsets. No porting involved.
This is a choice the developer makes, not the poster. You surely don't expect the Mefite to pay the developer to port the app before making the FPP do you? Because otherwise this point is moot. The awesome game or app is in whatever technology it's in, be it C with windows-only libraries, Cocoa, shitty HTML, etc. I don't think the percentage of the site that uses platform X should have to miss out on awesome stuff for it, just because you don't, or I don't.
If there were a roughly equivalent platform that they could have chosen, perhaps. Virtually all 'game' posts I recall seeing have been Flash based; I'd argue that a developer was penalizing themselves by forcing a download/install unless the content is compelling enough to warrant it. A post exploring the landscape of the game-maker market would probably be interesting.
Again, the goal of Mefi is to find awesome stuff, not to promote cross-platform development. If that's what you want to do, GYOB.
posted by !Jim at 6:32 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Against ADOBE. Boo fucking hoo.

That's a pretty poor defense for Microsoft's behavior. But at least what they are doing is being acknowledged. That's a start.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:33 PM on November 30, 2009


Silverlight works perfectly on my Mac (I use it to watch Netflix on-demand). I also run a Windows machine. This makes me either bi or a traitor depending on the size of your Microsoft-hate boner.
posted by ob at 6:37 PM on November 30, 2009


Hey guys I wonder if you could take a look at this video and see if I might build a worthwhile FPP from it. Thanks!
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:04 PM on November 30, 2009


LOL Inspector.Gadget just gave me access to the root of his hard disk.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:10 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well I live in China, which means I can't see any of the youtube posts, (which seems to be about 1/4 of all content current).

So I demand that any links to youtube be deleted immediately. If I can't enjoy keyboard cat, then I don't want you assholes enjoying him either!
posted by afu at 7:20 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I can't enjoy keyboard cat, then I don't want you assholes enjoying him either!

Oh, don't worry. Nobody enjoys keyboard cat anymore.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:21 PM on November 30, 2009


I still like keyboard cat. Here you go afu, you'll have to load these two pages simultaneously.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:28 PM on November 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, don't worry. Nobody enjoys keyboard cat anymore.

The shame at not being up to date on current internet trends. This is what real oppression feels like!
posted by afu at 7:33 PM on November 30, 2009


> I saw the post, saw it needed something I don't have on my machine

Agreed. I do 95% of my browsing on my old-ass PPC powerbook, which does not support Silverlight (Intel-only for the latest version). So I skipped the post. I also skipped a few other posts about things I don't give a shit about. Like, a blog containing pictures of nothing but Commander Riker? Don't care. Didn't even watch the show. But apparently a bunch of other people think it's great, and I assume a bunch of other people have Silverlight. I don't get the incessant need for some people to have every single link on the front page be interesting to them. What is so hard about just ignoring the stuff you don't care for? Maybe it grates a bit, but that's no reason to wreck the thread.

Also, Adobe Flash™® is just as god damn awful and proprietary, so the outrage seems disingenuous to me. Yeah, it's ubiquitous which makes it slightly more convenient, but it's still closed and I don't see the problem with competition. If it were an open standard that Microsoft were trying to extinguish I'd maybe be feeling the outrage more. As far as I'm concerned, whichever one is actually better can "win."
posted by cj_ at 7:58 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's a pretty poor defense for Microsoft's behavior. But at least what they are doing is being acknowledged. That's a start.

Browser wars: NEVAR FORGET. We see how that ended up, right? I can only hope this nonsense goes exactly as well.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 7:59 PM on November 30, 2009


I think that cortex said it best when he mentioned that there is no medium of expression online that meets both the needs of the expressor (the developer, the designer) and every possible end user. It is something I've really struggled with, and i don't ever suspect I will ever stop struggling with it.

Flash taught me how to program, I mean, really program rather than just install a wordpress plugin, hack out some css (I'm definitely a css hack), or partially learn what php or other I needed to get the job done. The challenges presented by flash, (usually you have to make something go 'whoosh' at 40 frames per second [ which most actionscript programmers fail at] ) are similar to the challenges presented to developers of early video games- buffers, blitting, pixel data, etc, and that's why it is an interesting platform. It is fun to take up the challenges of our predecessors, in a new environment (the web), and make new things.

Though I hate to embrace flash because of all the poor flash work that's been done over the years, I would have a hard time imagining the web without it. It has brought features to the web that were never there, challenged programmers to do cool stuff online. What irks me a little bit is that now that Adobe has opened the .swf file format, offers its Flex SDK for free, supports Linux (except for 64 bit Linux), now that Adobe provides us with many cool libraries for free (not to mention the boundless third party actionscript open source libraries) Flash is still regarded as a 'closed format' that brings more evil to the world than good. Why? I'm not sure, but it remains to be an easy technology to hate.

As for Silverlight, it is a closed format, I would need to get a Windows machine to develop for it, and, in general, I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. But despite my feelings for it, I can affirm that it does bring features and performance to the web that currently cannot be done with Flash. I think this is a good thing, and I hope it will challenge some developers somewhere to learn something new, to push their personal boundaries etc and bring us along with.

My own future will be a lot of javascript. I'm getting involved in the Processing.js community, and also the Firefox project to help make it a better platform to develop for. And I'm not sure if this the best course. But I am willing to be wrong.
posted by localhuman at 8:24 PM on November 30, 2009


What I want to know is how come nobody posts links to pages that play RealPlayer media any more? I downloaded it by mistake eight years ago and haven't been able to get rid of it. I asked BonziBuddy to point me to resources on removing it but he just looked dejected, standing there, spinning the world on his little purple finger.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:53 PM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


a searing send-up of the mods via giant puppetry.
>Holy FUCK, I want to make these puppets.
>I want to see them acting out a podcast.
>This will also save me time making mod sockpuppets.


You have no idea how many times, while listening to a podcast, I have considered making sockpuppet versions of the mods and doimg a video version of the podcast, only to drop the idea partly because it is incredibly sad and sort of weird, but mostly because I'm horrifically lazy and need a third arm or some sort of video software that would let me do splitscreens.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:22 PM on November 30, 2009


Thank god html5's video and audio and canvas and svg support will finally solve this debate forever.
posted by shownomercy at 9:32 PM on November 30, 2009


shownomercy: "Thank god html5's video and audio and canvas and svg support will finally solve this debate forever"

Except that Microsoft has faught against the standardization of these tags and prefers that people use silverlight instead.

And if they do support it in IE (still the most popular browser by far), they will intentionally get it wrong. Look at the way they treated png, svg, etc. etc. - the more open and standard it is the more MS hates it and refuses to support it properly. They intentionally get the implementation wrong in the hopes that since they have the majority of the market share devs will work to be compatible with their flawed implementation rather than the standard. They have done this repeatedly and no evidence has ever been shown that they will stop.
posted by idiopath at 9:52 PM on November 30, 2009


Wurst of the web (requires plugin)
posted by lukemeister at 10:24 PM on November 30, 2009



In the process of pushing Windows-only Internet Explorer down everyone's throats, Microsoft very nearly killed useful web technologies that are allowing, for one, an explosion of useful, albeit non-Microsoft devices that can access the web.

A good portion of Metafilter obviously has a short memory on this stuff, but not all of us.


And yet you manage to conveniently forget Apple suing to establish a claim to own the very concept of windowing interfaces, a far more egrearios offence, but one which would interfere with your relentless Apple boosterism.
posted by rodgerd at 11:58 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


People hate microsoft. I'm suprised.

There's a need for something like flash or silverlight, and from what I can tell microsoft have been much more open about silverlight than Adobe have been about Flash. Also, Adobe only opened up the Flash runtime *after* silverlight was announced. There's a direct benefit to open-source projects like Gnash because microsoft have challenged Adobe's monopoly in this space.

As far as I can tell, Moonlight (the aforementioned open source sliverlight player) has microsoft's blessing. Along with open-source versions of .net, I do believe that they're trying really hard here not to enforce propietry standards. This is much better than Adobe's approach.

This is not to say that we shouldn't be a little bit paranoid about microsoft's motives. But they do seem to be making the right noises.

People have discussed HTML 5 with regard to video streaming, but Video streaming is only a tiny part of what these addons provide. A huge amount of educational software (for example) is written in flash. Also, the HTML 5 spec isn't going to be able to provide the streamlined & immersive experience over video that Flash / silverlight does.

Finally, c# for .net for silverlight is just so much more programmer-conducive than flash/actionscript.

In conclusion, I'm happy for silverlight sites to be published as best-of-the-web. Even though it doesn't work that well on my mac.
posted by seanyboy at 12:20 AM on December 1, 2009


You know, Stallman's a weird motherfucker, but I can't help thinking that that would be a method of surfing the web that would result in me spending a lot less time on it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:21 AM on December 1, 2009


Also does everyone always see "Note: Everyone needs a hug." now, or is that just because I have kind of a history of fightiness?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:21 AM on December 1, 2009


They are personalized, mine tells me to brush my teeth and step up the job search and get more exercise.
posted by idiopath at 12:23 AM on December 1, 2009


Weird - Mine tells me to stab more people.
posted by seanyboy at 12:26 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


re: Adobe only opening up Flash because of the introduction of silverlight. I realise that this runs counter to what idiopath said on the blue, so I should state that I believe this because of recent comments made by Rob Savoye (of Gnash fame) in a podcast about Open Source software.

Yay! I'm quoting sources. I'm like a journalist.
posted by seanyboy at 12:34 AM on December 1, 2009


From wikipedia:

Shortly after the first demo at MIX 07 in Paris, Microsoft began cooperating with Novell to help the building of Moonlight.[15] Support includes exclusive access given to Novell for the following Silverlight artifacts:[16]
- Microsoft's Test suites for Silverlight,
- Silverlight specification details, beyond those available on the web,
- Binary codecs for Windows Media video and audio, only licensed for use with Moonlight when running in a web browser. Other potential decoders include GStreamer and FFmpeg (used during the development stage) but Novell will not provide prepackaged versions of Moonlight with those libraries, because those decoders have not been granted licensing for the use of patented codec technologies.

Microsoft has released a restrictive public covenant not to sue for the infringement of its patents when using Moonlight. It covers only the use of Moonlight as a plugin in a browser, only implementations that are not GPL3 licensed, and only if the Moonlight implementation has been obtained from Novell. It also notes that Microsoft may rescind these usage rights.


This isn't perfect, and the fact that they've only opened up to Novell is worrying, but it's a sign the microsoft are moving in the right direction on this.

Scott Hanslemann also notes on his blog that the standard silverlight redirect code for browsers without silverlight redirects linux users towards moonlight.
Adobe never did that.

I've also heard talk that SVG and HTML 5 as currently defined are biased towards Google. Let's not forget that this is a three horse race (Adobe, Microsoft, Google), and there's FUD coming from all corners. I'd personally like to see an ecosystem where all three companies continue to compete against each other in a way that benefits us all.
posted by seanyboy at 12:56 AM on December 1, 2009


wow, MeFI hits are ~77% Windows and only ~18% Mac? Whodah thunk it.
posted by exlotuseater at 1:34 AM on December 1, 2009


I'd say that posts using proprietary technologies, region limitations, or pay walls should merely be held to higher standards, i.e. the best of the best of the web. Admins should not feel obliged to delete silverlight sites, but they should delete if the site is otherwise iffy. Why? Any mefis who install silverlight for that site may come bitching.

Oh, you could also supplement Hulu links with megavideo links, which you find on surf the channel. But who'd post a Hulu link on mefi anyway?
posted by jeffburdges at 4:14 AM on December 1, 2009


Flash taught me how to program, I mean, really program rather than just install a wordpress plugin

Trust me, you don't know how to program then. At most you know some scripting, and your remark about javascript confirms that. That's fine for the stuff you create, so please don't see this as an attack on you, it isn't. And if you manage to make money with it as well, good for you!

But Flash isn't a development environment. It's a toy. A fine toy that can do some fun stuff, and it being available saves real programmers a lot of time when something needs to be created that it is especially suited for.
posted by DreamerFi at 4:22 AM on December 1, 2009


seanyboy: “This isn't perfect, and the fact that they've only opened up to Novell is worrying, but it's a sign the microsoft are moving in the right direction on this. Scott Hanslemann also notes on his blog that the standard silverlight redirect code for browsers without silverlight redirects linux users towards moonlight. Adobe never did that.”

Novell? Novell is the mark of the beast. Novell means nothing. Novell is Microsoft secret code for "let's fuck these geeks over and steal their stuff." Seriously, what does it mean? "Oh look, this company which has a passing interest in Linux is helping us make something available to Linux systems." Meanwhile, the code is closed. The code will remain closed. Oh gee, looky, one of Microsoft's program directors points out that there's a redirect routine in Silverlight! Who the fuck cares? That's day-one stuff, stuff that should have been in Flash in the first place anyhow; and it does nothing to mitigate the problem: the source is closed. Until the source is open, no "web development API" (Flash, Silverlight, etc) will develop freely and naturally.

You're failing to see the connection between development and the reality as it is in these APIs. Both Silverlight and Flash are needlessly bloated, pointlessly complex, and top-heavy to deploy. I would even argue that the only reason - the only reason! - that Flash has caught on the way it has is because it provides a sort of phony pseudo-buffer between user and content, marginally satisfying authorities too stupid to know better in the still-raging copyright wars; if the ease with which any and all users can actually download and physically store Youtube and other flash videos were even slightly more apparent, the massive corporate appeal Flash has would evaporate overnight.

Bluntly: Flash and Silverlight aren't advancements of web design. They exist to fill a need created by corporate greed and general internet cluelessness. They fill this need precisely because they are closed-source - and, in turn, precisely because they are closed-source, they are unwieldy at best and utterly useless at worst. Flash should have been a series of simple extensions to Javascript – no more, no less – and it would probably have been if thousands upon thousands of executives hadn't spent the last decade turning to their web dev guys and saying "gee, isn't there some way we could put our content on the web that would prevent users from downloading it?" And then, of course, the web dev guys say, "uhh... well, no." And the execs say "but, like, couldn't it be like Youtube? You can't download videos from Youtube." And the web dev people mumble something and design it in flash.

“I've also heard talk that SVG and HTML 5 as currently defined are biased towards Google. Let's not forget that this is a three horse race (Adobe, Microsoft, Google), and there's FUD coming from all corners. I'd personally like to see an ecosystem where all three companies continue to compete against each other in a way that benefits us all.”

You seem to have stumbled in from Adam Smith's Wealth Of Nations via some odd environmental metaphor. Let's bring things up to date, shall we? There is no "ecosystem" in capitalism. In capitalism, companies compete, and some or (usually) most of those companies will die. Keep in mind the first lesson that any sane, self-aware person should have learned by now, if only from watching endless soap adverts, pop idols, and reality TV stars parade across our television sets every day: competition does not necessarily benefit anybody. Indeed, at this point, competition hardly ever benefits anybody. That's because, as everyone from the CEOs and boards of directors down to the third-chair accountants knows quite well now, you don't win a competition by having better products; you win a competition by quashing the other guy by any means necessary.

That last sentence actually works quite well as a description of the arc of Microsoft's ascendancy. Did competition benefit anybody when Microsoft used Excel, for example, as a silly blunt instrument to thoroughly annihilate all the other (superior) spreadsheeting programs of the '90s? Did competition benefit anybody when Microsoft was the last to jump on the windowing bandwagon and all but fucked that up, too, even so handily managing to score a clear market dominance? Competition doesn't really seem to work where software is concerned. And that brings my to my other point of contention with what you're saying here: the three companies you mention aren't exactly at the same place as far as the moral and political continuum of software is concerned. Google has thus far bet their money on opening the source; as such, their software and platforms have been a good deal more usable and less bloated. Adobe and Microsoft, noted purveyors of bloatware, have apparently chosen to stand directly against open-source software. In fact, those of us who care about the direction software has taken don't just hate Microsoft because they're big, and it's fun to hate the bigger kids and root for the underdog. We hate Microsoft because, for decades of our lives, they have churned out ridiculous software with rubber legs and no stamina which has cost us untold weeks, months, and in some cases even years trying to fix all the code that they should have released fixed in the first place. And all the while it was being demonstrated handily by other companies that none of this was at all necessary. Adobe, in my opinion, is guilty of the same vices: doing little to aid those of us who care about software, and doing a lot to make our lives a hell of a lot more difficult. (Apple has kept their noses clean, but in fact for that reason I think they're more of a threat to good software - chiefly because they're just as much a competing, capitalist company as anyone else - but that's another story, really.)

I don't really mind posts that feature Silverlight; I can still boycott them in my own little way, and I do like it that posters (like the one here) warn me that Silverlight will be involved in a link. But it should be known that Silverlight is the cheapest and sleaziest of software gimmicks and ploys; and you can't act as though there's any moral equivocation that can make the situation otherwise.
posted by koeselitz at 6:17 AM on December 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


localhuman: “Though I hate to embrace flash because of all the poor flash work that's been done over the years, I would have a hard time imagining the web without it.”

I don't. The web without Flash would be a joy and a delight. Everyone you know, everyone I know, everyone who's been on the internet in the last ten years has had the common experience of waiting pointlessly and stupidly for a Youtube video to load. Do you really blame Youtube for the failure that has held video on the web back in the 2002-2003 era? You ought to blame Flash, which, for the sake of "proprietary barriers," introduces reams and reams of artificial cruft. Pointless.

If the source was open, we wouldn't have this problem. Flash is an archaic, useless medium for multimedia web pages. And, very significantly, if you took away all the malware and other evil internet crap that's perpetuated itself via flash, you would change the internet vastly for the better.

What would the web look like without flash? It would look like HTML5. In fact, if all the other stuff I say doesn't convince you, think about this: the guy who invented CSS – Håkon Wium Lie – has said that Flash and Silverlight need to be eliminated, and that their lack of an open standard muddies up the internet and destroys any real potential it has for growing. It's very, very hard to argue with him on that point; HTML, CSS, and to a small extent ecma/javascript should have grown along with the internet and provided what multimedia interfaces were needed. The copyright-motivated derail into proprietary solutions like Flash and Silverlight has been a massive, headache-causing mistake.
posted by koeselitz at 6:31 AM on December 1, 2009


koeselitz you're asking companies to not create software to fill a need and make money but instead wait for some benevolent standards body to get it together and make open versions of anything people might conceivably want, instead of letting good ideas gain popularity organically through the market. This sounds like an awful world to live in.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:40 AM on December 1, 2009


HTML, CSS, and to a small extent ecma/javascript should have grown along with the internet and provided what multimedia interfaces were needed.

Then why didn't they?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:50 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


localhuman: “Though I hate to embrace flash because of all the poor flash work that's been done over the years, I would have a hard time imagining the web without it. It has brought features to the web that were never there, challenged programmers to do cool stuff online. What irks me a little bit is that now that Adobe has opened the .swf file format, offers its Flex SDK for free, supports Linux (except for 64 bit Linux), now that Adobe provides us with many cool libraries for free (not to mention the boundless third party actionscript open source libraries) Flash is still regarded as a 'closed format' that brings more evil to the world than good. Why? I'm not sure, but it remains to be an easy technology to hate.”

I could be ridiculously contentious and point out that Flash actually hasn't brought anything to the internet that wasn't technically possible before, but I appreciate your position. And I think I see what you mean about Flash being a jumping-off point for programming (even though I think DreamerFi is right about its limits.)

But I'm mostly concerned with explaining something that I think a lot of people misunderstand about the internet in particular and programming in general; this is not to say that you've generally made this mistake, though I think you're making it here. The key that everyone needs to realize is that programming is about keeping things simple and flat so that you can do things with it that are complex and dynamic. The internet was from the beginning intentionally extremely simple: it had two parts, content and form, and included a markup language for content (HTML) and a standard for stylesheets for form (CSS). These standards were intended to include everything needed for the internet, and essentially they did at that time. Then, however, over the next ten years, people started realizing that the internet and the computers that ran on it began to be capable of running dynamic content like video. Some proprietary organizations like Adobe and Microsoft have rushed in, realizing that money can be made if they complexify and complicate the matter by coming up with shiny new toys for making pretty pages; but according to the original intent of the internet, web pages should made up of HTML and CSS files written in the plaintext languages HTML and CSS. As things get more complex, the internet slows down; malware, which thrives on the loopholes complexity creates, begins burgeoning; and, most importantly, people don't understand the internet the way they probably should. Proprietary "dynamic web programming APIs" violate at least three of the 20 aphorisms, and probably five or six.
posted by koeselitz at 6:56 AM on December 1, 2009


Google has thus far bet their money on opening the source

Really? They open the source to their search algorithms and techniques? The bit that actually makes all their money? No, they don't. And a good thing too, or the search engine would get thoroughly spammed and search would be less useful. Openness is not always great. Profit is not generally bad.

the guy who invented CSS – Håkon Wium Lie – has said that Flash and Silverlight need to be eliminated

A director of Opera, a competitor to Microsoft and Adobe, has stated that the technologies pushed by Microsoft and Adobe must be destroyed? Well, yes, I can see why he'd say that. No doubt some standards-supporting thingy would be better? Like, um, Opera perhaps?

Your beef appears to be with content IP owners, who have demanded copy protection in the content they have provided over the web, and this has proved incompatible with the open standards. Well, okay, but unless we change the law this is the IP owners' right, and Flash has met this demand, and therefore been a success. That's why I can watch TV on my laptop, which is a Good Thing.

There is no "ecosystem" in capitalism. In capitalism, companies compete, and some or (usually) most of those companies will die.

Tangent, but anyway: that sounds pretty much like an ecosystem to me. In ecosystems, species compete, and some or (usually) most of these species will go extinct.

posted by alasdair at 7:09 AM on December 1, 2009


Admins should not feel obliged to delete silverlight sites, but they should delete if the site is otherwise iffy.

But then we'd have to install Silverlight!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:12 AM on December 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Space Coyote: “koeselitz you're asking companies to not create software to fill a need and make money but instead wait for some benevolent standards body to get it together and make open versions of anything people might conceivably want, instead of letting good ideas gain popularity organically through the market. This sounds like an awful world to live in.”

(1) The market is not organic. The only way for ideas to gain popularity 'organically' is through free exchange.

(2) I'm not asking for companies to do nothing; I'm asking them to work together with the standards bodies (W3C is the body I think you mean) to develop the state of their art.

(3) You seem to think that would be an "awful world to live in," but amazingly enough Google does these things - consults standards bodies about their products, opens the source code of their products, even gives those products away for free - every day. That's not to say that Google is a collection of miniature saints - quite the contrary, they're just as capitalist and cutthroat as the rest. Apparently the companies you're worried about dying off seem to stand to gain from opening the sources of software. Interesting, isn't it?
posted by koeselitz at 7:17 AM on December 1, 2009


alasdair: “A director of Opera, a competitor to Microsoft and Adobe, has stated that the technologies pushed by Microsoft and Adobe must be destroyed? Well, yes, I can see why he'd say that. No doubt some standards-supporting thingy would be better? Like, um, Opera perhaps?”

(1) How is Adobe at all in competition with Opera?

(2) Lie's proposed solution - and not his proposed solution but the solution which a lot of people have backed, by the way - has nothing to do with Opera. It's the HTML5 standard, an open standard which is not at all tied to any one browser and which offers dynamic functionality on the level that it ought to be offered. So this hardly has anything to do with his day job.

alasdair: “Your beef appears to be with content IP owners, who have demanded copy protection in the content they have provided over the web, and this has proved incompatible with the open standards. Well, okay, but unless we change the law this is the IP owners' right, and Flash has met this demand, and therefore been a success. That's why I can watch TV on my laptop, which is a Good Thing.”

We just have different goals in mind. Your goal is to watch TV on your laptop. My concern is with the fact that in a few years the internet will be so bloated and ridiculous that it'll be hard for it to develop meaningfully. But the odd thing is, I have a feeling the Web-TV thing would work itself out a lot quicker if we didn't allow companies to step in and derail the process just to make a quick buck. Any junior-grade capitalist should know that you have to plan for the future.

[And the difference between capitalism and ecosystems is that, in capitalism, new companies aren't born, or, if they are born, they're killed off before they reach adulthood. Generally, capitalism doesn't really care about the health of its members; that's okay, it's just not something capitalism does.]
posted by koeselitz at 7:32 AM on December 1, 2009


It's the HTML5 standard

Mmm, hope that can catch up with Flash's installed base.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:40 AM on December 1, 2009


And if they do support it in IE (still the most popular browser by far),

Umm, according to W3C Firefox has just shy of 50% of the market. IE, across it's 3 disparate versions, has a mere 37.5% of the market. SO! It'd be awesome if people would stop calling IE the "most popular browser by far". Since it actually competes with itself. So really, MS has 3 browsers that each have 10 - 15 % of the market. AND each of them implement differently.

They intentionally get the implementation wrong in the hopes that since they have the majority of the market share devs will work to be compatible with their flawed implementation rather than the standard.

Wrong Again!!!! Most devs are incresingly coding to everything but IE. Because they can chose to code for every other browser (65% of the market) or struggle with one shitty browser that has a fractional portion of the remaining 35%. Awesome. Stop spreading disinformation and get your facts straight. IE is dying, and the reason IE8 is so close to compliant is proof microsoft knows this. Silverlight will be DOA, don't even sweat it.
posted by judge.mentok.the.mindtaker at 7:46 AM on December 1, 2009


(Tsk, I'm too slow, sorry.)

The internet was from the beginning intentionally extremely simple: it had two parts, content and form, and included a markup language for content (HTML) and a standard for stylesheets for form (CSS).

So what are the following elements doing in HTML? FONT, B, I, U, BR, SMALL, SUB, SUP? And the attributes align, bgcolor, color, valign? And how did HTML arrive in 1991 and CSS in 1997?

Forgive the personal criticism, but I think you're retroactively identifying a design process that never happened. The true story is more organic and less intellectually-satisfying - much like the story about Flash. HTML is the story of presenting stuff on a screen that looks kind-of like a newspaper or other document, but with links built in to other documents. And it's gone on from there, quite organically.
posted by alasdair at 7:55 AM on December 1, 2009


Adobe wants the Future to be based round Flash, LiveCycle, Adobe Integrated Runtime - their own formats. Opera wants the Future to be based around HTML5, SVG, Ajax - formats they have some control over. So they are competitors, no?

Your goal is to watch TV on your laptop. My concern is with the fact that in a few years the internet will be so bloated and ridiculous that it'll be hard for it to develop meaningfully.

Develop meaningfully so that... you can watch TV? You can play games? You can video conference? You can search the web? I guess, while I agree with a lot of what you're saying, my objection is I perceive you as putting some kind of ideological/engineering purity above practical reality, both in how you think things should progress and also how have things have actually progressed in history. But I freely admit I could be wrong: we'll just have to see in ten years.

Ecosystems don't care about the health of their members either. Ecosystems are rich and interesting, but they aren't moral. Markets are possibly more moral than ecosystems, since they have human rules.
posted by alasdair at 8:07 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


And yet you manage to conveniently forget Apple suing to establish a claim to own the very concept of windowing interfaces, a far more egrearios offence, but one which would interfere with your relentless Apple boosterism.

I have not "boosted" Apple in this or the other main Silverlight discussion thread, nor most other places. Your use of the word "relentless" suggests every comment I make here is an advertisement for Apple, when it is very clearly not, which is demonstrably true here and in other Silverlight threads.

Ask yourself honestly, do you think your personal attack is in any way somehow disproving my point? If you're going to next complain that you're not making a personal attack, if you want to start a Metatalk thread over how Apple has been keeping you from accessing parts of the web, have at it. I'd love to read your excuses.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:07 AM on December 1, 2009


I read about Freenet for the first time over the weekend (here). I don't know anymore than this article (and wikipedia) but it seems relevant to the discussion.

"Freenet is a decentralized, censorship-resistant distributed data store originally designed by Ian Clarke"

For something that has been downloaded 2 million times it is a pretty well kept secret.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 8:33 AM on December 1, 2009


(ah, saw it was posted to the blue. self-callout, sorry)
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 8:35 AM on December 1, 2009


Most devs are incresingly coding to everything but IE. Because they can chose to code for every other browser (65% of the market) or struggle with one shitty browser that has a fractional portion of the remaining 35%. Awesome. Stop spreading disinformation and get your facts straight. IE is dying, and the reason IE8 is so close to compliant is proof microsoft knows this. Silverlight will be DOA, don't even sweat it.

I don't think this is right. For one thing, IE is still a big factor. Your link just shows the proportion of web browsers looking at w3schools. This will skew the results toward non-IE browsers, since most people viewing that site know better.

Also, while sites geared toward a sophisticated audience, and some large sites run by smart technology companies are written with web standards in mind first, many enterprise-geared sites are still written with an IE-only mentality. And a whole other segment of sites (disney.com , wrangler.com) are written entirely in flash. I doubt this is going away any time soon.

Personally, I think that Flash (along with Silverlight and Java) fill a niche of sandboxed applications running in a web-browser using a commonly available runtime. I think Flash has succeeded at this, while Java has not. Flash has had no competition for a while, so I think that Silverlight can improve things for Flash users as well. I doubt it will actually upset Flash as the leader in this area, however.
posted by demiurge at 8:35 AM on December 1, 2009


alasdair: “I guess, while I agree with a lot of what you're saying, my objection is I perceive you as putting some kind of ideological/engineering purity above practical reality, both in how you think things should progress and also how have things have actually progressed in history. But I freely admit I could be wrong: we'll just have to see in ten years.”

Well, yes, and I can see how you feel that way. My own feeling is that Flash is completely impractical, though, mostly because it's not very well-integrated. But you're right; we'll see anyway. (And you're right; I'd just be using the web to watch TV or something anyhow. It's just I sometimes find myself having to use Flash. I'm probably complainy in large degree because I'm an awful / lazy programmer, and don't like the experience of using Flash much, but I'm obviously not the only perspective on that.)
posted by koeselitz at 8:43 AM on December 1, 2009


Also, while sites geared toward a sophisticated audience...

Yeah sorry, i admit I am biased. This is the only audience I am concerned with, straight up. My life/job/hobbies all exist inside producing for or being a member of this "sophisticated audience". you caught me.
posted by judge.mentok.the.mindtaker at 8:52 AM on December 1, 2009


I'm kind of surprised that Java's being lumped in with Flash and Silverlight here. Java is open source.
posted by Jpfed at 9:01 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Java, Flash, Active X, Shockwave, all same.

All anyone really cares about is how many users get the multimedia goodness and how many get a grey box/alt image/fuck you message.
posted by Artw at 9:04 AM on December 1, 2009


idiopath: interesting. i knew the original web development happened on the NeXT, but it looks like the NeXT was more unix-like than i had remembered. i had remembered it being vaguely built on unix but not actually anything like unix anywhere near the user layer. i suspect i have it conflated with BeOS in the category of 'dead-end computer OSen that i barely used'.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:06 AM on December 1, 2009


...and because of that the correct answer on which to use is "Flash". No technical or ideological considerations override that, unless maybe you work for MS.

Though I would agree that you are doing the world a favour if you just use JavaScript instead, but of course you get all the fun of using the boring, stable, finalised set of code supported by all browsers or the whizzy, not universally supported, unfinalised stuff that you're going to have to put in a bunch of workarounds for if you wnat to support older browsers.

So, yeah, Flash.
posted by Artw at 9:10 AM on December 1, 2009


Opera in competition with adobe? That doesn't even begin to make sense. Opera didn't make up internet browsing, and isn't pushing the idea of browsers with all these proprietary closed formats like AJAX, CSS, HTML, of their own invention which they are trying to get people to use in order to propogate their commercial offering, internet browser.

Opera is a fucking _web browser_ that operates based on standards that already existed. They have good support for new standards. They aren't competing with fucking flash, and it's totally fucking insane that anyone would ever think that. They have about as much stake in the future of standards development as any other computer scientist who bothers to take an interest in it long term. That's the point of fucking standards, they are built by people with experience who have the actual know-how to come up with some _basic_ architecture that other people can build out and still other people can understand just by looking at--because it's not some fucking black box where dreams go to die.
posted by shownomercy at 9:17 AM on December 1, 2009


Or browser developers create proprietary tags, people start finding them useful, other browsers pick them up and eventually they get bolted into the standard (see: IFRAME, CANVAS)

Oh, and if there's a proprietary technology that's going to put the nail in the coffin of the sainted SVG it's absolutely CANVAS.
posted by Artw at 9:30 AM on December 1, 2009


rmd1023: "i knew the original web development happened on the NeXT, but it looks like the NeXT was more unix-like than i had remembered. i had remembered it being vaguely built on unix but not actually anything like unix anywhere near the user layer."

The UI was the basis for what became the OSX GUI (Apple bought their source code), and for the windowmaker and openstep X window managers. Basically for point click and drag it was its own thing, but for anything on the administration / development side of things not related to GUI - network programming and process management and services etc. it was Unix.

And regarding the stereotypical Unix UI experience, the web was visible in an X window a year after launch, compared to three years for Mac/Windows. And the fact that they were fastidiously focused on standards probably made the difference between the web ever getting used or not.

When you are anything but the market leader, standards are your only foot in the door. When you are the default choice biggest game in town, and your primary goal is to become the ONLY game in town, standards are your enemy because they are the only chance your competitor has of encroaching on your clientele.
posted by idiopath at 10:41 AM on December 1, 2009


Browser wars: NEVAR FORGET.

Pretty much. With good reason.

I hear Silverlight is pretty good stuff, actually. I particularly think the photosynth/seadragon stuff is pretty impressive. And in general, since putting the talent they drained from Borland to work it seems clear they've reaped some real benefits in terms of their development tools.

And yet I doubt I'll ever feel anything other than wariness about the idea of building anything on top of their work. Leaving their web browser stagnant and incomplete for over five years should tell you exactly how much they really value developers and users: when they can get away with it, not at all.

All the contempt out there for Microsoft? It's not half of what the deserve for that little stunt alone, if you want to ignore their further history of anticompetitive behavior.
posted by weston at 11:25 AM on December 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


So you would agree that it was good and right that IE crushed Netscape 4?
posted by Artw at 11:26 AM on December 1, 2009


Umm, according to W3C Firefox has just shy of 50% of the market.

I see this stat trotted every time this debate comes. W3Schools is not W3C!!!!!! W3Schools is a site geared at web developers. Their stats are not representative of the web at large!
I don't. The web without Flash would be a joy and a delight. Everyone you know, everyone I know, everyone who's been on the internet in the last ten years has had the common experience of waiting pointlessly and stupidly for a Youtube video to load. Do you really blame Youtube for the failure that has held video on the web back in the 2002-2003 era? You ought to blame Flash, which, for the sake of "proprietary barriers," introduces reams and reams of artificial cruft. Pointless.
The web without Flash would not have things like youtube, grooveshark, good image uploaders, and flash games. I'm talking about the internet that's possible today. I look forward to an internet without flash, and I think we'll be there in a couple years, but it is mistaken to think that flash didn't play an important role in getting us to where we are now.
Flash taught me how to program, I mean, really program rather than just install a wordpress plugin

Trust me, you don't know how to program then. At most you know some scripting, and your remark about javascript confirms that. That's fine for the stuff you create, so please don't see this as an attack on you, it isn't. And if you manage to make money with it as well, good for you!
Where do you get off telling someone they don't know how to program? Is programming a game in javascript not programming in your world? Who made you Arbiter of Programming? Javascript is a powerful functional language with lambdas, anonymous functions, a rich object model, a powerful serialization method, closures, and on and on.
posted by !Jim at 11:32 AM on December 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


The point he was trying to make (poorly), is, if you use a proprietary "language" like .NET or ActionScript you are just playing with tinker toys. It's like playing with capsella and thinking "I AM A REAL ENGINEER NAO".

Who made him the arbiter of programming? Are you kidding? Noone is interested in kids redefining what programming means. Now I agree, you *can* program using JavaScript.. the ability is there. But just because you can use a subset of a language doesn't make you a programmer. So I agree with you on that note.

Back to the W3C schools thing, I made my point earlier. Many of us are saying exactly that. We're not interested in the "part of the web" made up by people who don't care about standards. We don't want their money and we don't care if what we develop works for them, that's exactly what we try to do when we "trot out that stat". We're making the statement that as developers, we're not interested in the part of the web that isn't representative of W3C schools stats. We want them to go away and we don't give a crap what they think.
posted by judge.mentok.the.mindtaker at 12:14 PM on December 1, 2009


West of the beb.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:39 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


So you would agree that it was good and right that IE crushed Netscape 4?

I'm not sure. Netscape 4 was kindof a nightmare in some ways, but it seems clear that they had realized this by 1998 when they founded the Mozilla Organization, so I'm not sure IE's dominance was necessary to move the web forward. But it's true that IE5 and IE6 were actually pretty strong offerings for their time, and the IE6 debacle is actually that much more maddening in that context. They could have coasted to a continually more solid and superior product from that point if they had cared at all. But they didn't. In fact, they must have actually had some degree of antipathy to the web. I don't think there's any other explanation for a software company with resources like Microsoft's to totally neglect the development of the primary window to the web on their platform for six years. Six years. Neglecting a piece of software that long is the software industry equivalent of neglecting to feed your child for a week.
posted by weston at 12:55 PM on December 1, 2009


The point he was trying to make (poorly), is, if you use a proprietary "language" like .NET or ActionScript you are just playing with tinker toys. It's like playing with capsella and thinking "I AM A REAL ENGINEER NAO".

WTF? First of all, programmer != computer scientist. Sometimes I wish it did, but that's just not today's reality. And if you're a programmer, you should be able to pick up any new language (assuming it's within the same family as languages you're familiar with) and program with it fairly quickly once you learn the basics.

I haven't actually programmed with .Net or Actionscript, but they're not toys. Hell, .Net supports functional programming nowadays.

We're making the statement that as developers, we're not interested in the part of the web that isn't representative of W3C schools stats. We want them to go away and we don't give a crap what they think.

You don't even know the correct name of the site you're referencing. They have no affiliation with W3C. And citing w3schools as a great representation of web development is laughable to anybody who's done real standards based work. It can be useful as a quick reference guide sometimes, but it's full of outdated and deprecated tags and horrible code samples.
posted by kmz at 1:28 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


.net is not a "programming language", it's a software framework - perhaps you are thinking of C#?
posted by Artw at 1:32 PM on December 1, 2009


kmz: "I haven't actually programmed with .Net or Actionscript, but they're not toys. Hell, .Net supports functional programming nowadays."

Even a microsoft hater has to show some respect for .NET. It has had F# (pretty much their version of OCaml) pretty much from the beginning, and it is not a language, it is a a set of libraries and a VM for a number of languages, including functional, object oriented, and procedural.
posted by idiopath at 1:33 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't get it. How is programming in a proprietary language like playing with tinker toys? You can use ActionScript to work on a remarkably low level in Flash: "buffers, blitting, pixel data, etc", as localhuman mentions. You can even avoid using Flash's built-in multimedia tools and libraries altogether, working strictly with a single canvas object, as for example flixel does.

Also, JavaScript is not a subset of Java. It's a stand-alone scripting language.
posted by archagon at 1:42 PM on December 1, 2009


!Jim: “The web without Flash would not have things like youtube, grooveshark, good image uploaders, and flash games. I'm talking about the internet that's possible today. I look forward to an internet without flash, and I think we'll be there in a couple years, but it is mistaken to think that flash didn't play an important role in getting us to where we are now.”

To a degree; but you know as well as I do that javascript is capable of most of those things, and can easily be extended to cover all of them. Hell, that's pretty much all Flash is. There's not much to argue about there, I guess - something like Flash probably would have happened either way - but the proprietary, walled-off nature of Flash is really the source of my complaint. The massive proprietary obstacles that actually turned out to be one of Flash's selling points didn't advance the internet at all, even if its strides past javascript did; and I really feel as though, in their own way, Adobe did as much to slow the momentum of the internet through the selective proprietization of Flash as Microsoft did in leaving IE out in the cold like a sad, hungry wildebeest.

Artw: “Oh, and if there's a proprietary technology that's going put the nail in the coffin of the sainted SVG it's absolutely CANVAS.”

And what the hell is the deal with that - royalty-free patents? What does that even mean?

pfed: “I'm kind of surprised that Java's being lumped in with Flash and Silverlight here. Java is open source.”

Java is the old dude who finally bought open-source pants two years ago when he realized that everyone was making fun of him behind his back.
posted by koeselitz at 1:46 PM on December 1, 2009


koeselitz - If you know of an all-Javascript uploader that can handle multiple files then I am all ears to hear about it. Likewise the all-Javascript cross-browser video platform.
posted by Artw at 1:51 PM on December 1, 2009


archagon: “JavaScript is not a subset of Java. It's a stand-alone scripting language.”

This is an important and oft-neglected point. While Java Script is mostly used to write in Javanese, we should remember its diversity and recall that, while Latin script is more common today for the purpose, traditionally Madurese was written in this Script as well, although Sundanese, the third major language of Java, has its own script which is (if I may say so) rather awesome-looking.
posted by koeselitz at 1:59 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Eldar runes! PURGE THE XENO!
posted by Artw at 2:00 PM on December 1, 2009


Artw: fair enough.
posted by koeselitz at 2:00 PM on December 1, 2009


Well, that was a nice bit of synchronicity.
posted by koeselitz at 2:01 PM on December 1, 2009


Wait, what?

/puts back flamer and chainsword.
posted by Artw at 2:03 PM on December 1, 2009

The point he was trying to make (poorly), is, if you use a proprietary "language" like .NET or ActionScript you are just playing with tinker toys. It's like playing with capsella and thinking "I AM A REAL ENGINEER NAO".

Who made him the arbiter of programming? Are you kidding? Noone is interested in kids redefining what programming means. Now I agree, you *can* program using JavaScript.. the ability is there. But just because you can use a subset of a language doesn't make you a programmer. So I agree with you on that note.
Are you kidding me? ActionScript is based on the open standard for ECMAScript, which is what javascript is also based on. Javascript has absolutely nothing to do with Java. If you don't think javascript is a "real" programming language, I'm sorry but you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Javascript is an extraordinarily powerful, expressive programming language. Capsela is a toy (an awesome toy). Javascript is a real language used in real programming environments by people who want to get things done. What do you think the user-interface for GMail is written in -- it's sure as hell not C++, it's javascript. I'm sorry, but at the point that entire applications are written in a language, that language is good and well a "real" language, whatever that means.

As far as .Net goes, C# is a real language, used by real engineers to make real projects. .Net is a virtual machine and set of libraries that enables people to develop in many languages, including C#, F#, VB.Net, JScript, Python, and probably more that I'm forgetting. C# has become quite a powerful language, with support for generators, closures, lambdas & functional programming, generics, LINQ (language-integrated query), all on top of a language that looks like what would happen to Java if the people at Sun weren't so mired down in analysis paralysis.
Many of us are saying exactly that. We're not interested in the "part of the web" made up by people who don't care about standards.
That's fine, and perfectly valid. Meanwhile, some of us are doing work for clients, and our clients customers use IE6. I don't like it, but it pays me a good salary, and it isn't that hard, so I'll do it until I don't have to.
To a degree; but you know as well as I do that javascript is capable of most of those things, and can easily be extended to cover all of them. Hell, that's pretty much all Flash is.
This is more true now than ever, but some of these things are still hard to make work in all browsers. If Flash was just javascript, it would never have taken off. Flash is javascript, plus trusted access to the local machine, plus a powerful set of libraries.

It's also worth considering the level of effort required to make something work uniformly in all browsers. If it's going to take you three times as long to make something work using javascript compared to flash, and it's that much harder to find developers who can do it, most businesses are going to go with flash. This is changing as javascript becomes a more and more integral part of the web developer skillset.
posted by !Jim at 2:26 PM on December 1, 2009


Of course smart web developers mainly express their appreciation for JavaScript these days buy burying it under JQuery or similar.
posted by Artw at 3:09 PM on December 1, 2009


I don't have any problems running Flash (Ubuntu AMD64)

I don't like Silverlight, not just because I'm a neckbeard who runs Linux almost all the time, but also because I've seen Microsoft play this game before.

I demand that Silverlight posts be banned along with any other web page that I can't easily load and read on my VAX using my 300 baud modem (with the cups molded to fit a dial-telephone handset.)

VMS represent!!

Now get off my lawn before I release the hounds.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:11 PM on December 1, 2009


in%"[+]"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:17 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


DreamerFi: “Trust me, you don't know how to program then. At most you know some scripting, and your remark about javascript confirms that. That's fine for the stuff you create, so please don't see this as an attack on you, it isn't. And if you manage to make money with it as well, good for you! But Flash isn't a development environment. It's a toy.”

judge.mentok.the.mindtaker: “Now I agree, you *can* program using JavaScript.. the ability is there. But just because you can use a subset of a language doesn't make you a programmer.”

Without getting too tendentious about it, I think the point is that there's a nice, broad line drawn according to which "the language you code in is totally lame and crufty" can be part of good-natured banter, whereas "you are not a real programmer" is not only a bit rude but tends to kill the conversation.

Don't mind me, though; if that's what you guys want to argue about, I'm just going to duck into the kitchen here and get me another beer.
posted by koeselitz at 3:24 PM on December 1, 2009


That's not a real beer.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:27 PM on December 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm thinking in assembly language right now.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:31 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


OXKCDL
posted by signal at 3:59 PM on December 1, 2009


Burhanistan: "I'm thinking in assembly language right now"

An assember is a translator of mnemonics into machine code, not an a compiler of a language. Unless you mean half-assed* macro support bolted on top of assembly mnemonics - which you can kind of use as a language if you try hard enough.

*any macro system other than scheme hygienic macros is half assed. This includes the common lisp macro system, which, granted, may be closer to 3/4 assed.
posted by idiopath at 4:05 PM on December 1, 2009


I can see right through the green drippy-down-the-screen source into the yellow squirly source underneath!
posted by Artw at 4:09 PM on December 1, 2009


Of course smart web developers mainly express their appreciation for JavaScript these days buy burying it under JQuery or similar.

jQuery, far from being an abstraction that covers up Javascript, is actually the awesomeness of the js language in action, and a prime example of what a developer who really understands the language can do. What it buries is the differences between browsers and the relatively crappy object-oriented interface to documents known as the DOM.

Also, smart javascript developers are also increasingly interested in using the language outside the browser in contexts where jQuery doesn't have a lot of meaning.
posted by weston at 4:42 PM on December 1, 2009


@!Jim, re: cortex

Yes. exactly why do you think I keep flaming? This is a non-question. At least cortex gets it.
posted by judge.mentok.the.mindtaker at 5:42 PM on December 1, 2009


Pope Guilty writes "You know, Stallman's a weird motherfucker, but I can't help thinking that that would be a method of surfing the web that would result in me spending a lot less time on it."

Having used a web-to-email gateway extensively, even to read metafilter at one point, it doesn't really reduce the time spent it's just time spent less efficiently.
posted by Mitheral at 7:08 PM on December 1, 2009


I think the reason that web browsers stagnated had something to do with Microsoft, but a whole lot more to do with netscape completely screwing up.

and this whole "microsoft = teh evil" insistence is getting tired. It's like over the last ten years the conversation has been:

SlashDot crowd: Be more open evil microsoft.
microsoft: We don't want to.
SlashDot crowd: DO IT! WE WILL HATE YOU IF YOU DON'T
microsoft: OK. We'll try and be more open, see what happens.
SlashDot crowd: IT'S A TRAP!

I'm not going to convince the naysayers that M$ have made some positive steps towards being open, and I'm frankly confused by the mindset of the Boycott Novell crowd. I've a feeling that there's a good old fashioned lump of cognitive dissonance going around.

Silverlight is good because silverlight pushes Adobe to improve Flash and because it's supposedly much easier to program. You may not want propriety applets in your browser, and that's fine. But until the web standards people work out a good & usable response to these applets, I'm going to stick with them.
posted by seanyboy at 2:23 AM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


SlashDot crowd: IT'S A TRAP!

It's a tarp!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:20 AM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the reason that web browsers stagnated had something to do with Microsoft, but a whole lot more to do with netscape completely screwing up.

Netscape could have made better decisions, but Microsoft could have done anything they wanted with their web browser from 2001 until Firefox got double digit market share, and probably for a while after that. And they choose to do nothing. How do you pin that on Netscape? It was their responsibility to remain a viable competitor so that an otherwise directionless Microsoft could maintain some kind of motivation to do anything?

I'm not going to convince the naysayers that M$ have made some positive steps towards being open

Not without a more subtle argument that employs at least a casual attention to the issues at hand instead of straw caricatures.
posted by weston at 12:32 PM on December 2, 2009


A good tongue lashing seems to be sufficient.

And a good tongue lashing I got. It's funny though - when I went to post that link, I ran a quick search for Silverlight to make sure I wouldn't get flamed to pieces for posting it and since there were others that had linked to Silverlight apps in the past, I went ahead. I knew about Moonlight but didn't know it was as buggy as others have said, so I didn't think it would be such a big deal.

That being said, going back to the top of the page idiopath does make an interesting point about things though, that having software and apps that costs a lot (or a little bit) of money (from iPhone apps to Operating Systems) does limit access to certain crowds who didn't buy in or steal to get to it.

But how open are you asking the web and the people who contribute to it to be and still have it be a profitable operation? Or is that the point that I am missing? That capitalism has no place on the web? I won't post an opinion on that, because god forbid I should ignite another flamefest - other than maybe a small humourous nod to the fact that we all paid five bucks for the privilege to be posting here.
posted by empatterson at 2:52 PM on December 2, 2009


I didn't! fuck the man!

but yeah empatterson, you're fine.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:58 PM on December 2, 2009


You need a computer to view things on the web: POST NOTHING.
posted by Artw at 6:00 PM on December 2, 2009


seanyboy: “and this whole 'microsoft = teh evil' insistence is getting tired... I'm not going to convince the naysayers that M$ have made some positive steps towards being open, and I'm frankly confused by the mindset of the Boycott Novell crowd. I've a feeling that there's a good old fashioned lump of cognitive dissonance going around.”

Yeah. Le sigh. Those silly old software hippies and their silly old pointless beliefs and ideals; how do these people ever get laid, anyway? Richard M Stallman is king of the idiotic loons. Steve Ballmer - now there's a guy who really cares about software. Nothing says "positive steps towards being open" like patenting the Page-Up and Page-Down keys.

Look, man, I accept the facts as they are as much as anybody else. I dual-boot Vista on this machine, because I know it's something I'll likely need, and I don't throw hissy-fits at people every time I see a Windows logo. And everything I say here should be taken with a good handful of detachment (or coke, if that's all you've got.) But people tend to get excited or opinionated when a subject they care about comes up. The fact that you seem pretty blithe about the future of software - which is probably a virtue rather than a vice - doesn't mean everybody else agrees that it doesn't really matter.

Artw: “You need a computer to view things on the web: POST NOTHING.”

Met a dude at a party three months ago who works at the Google campus up in Boulder. I wondered out loud if that fancy operating system everybody was saying Google had built for its employees was required or just recommended, and he grinned and said:

"Well, me, I program only in Python, and only on a machine running Debian, and only in Emacs. Nothing else."

"Well," I said, "fuck you then."
posted by koeselitz at 3:34 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, your characterization of MS as innocently being all "oh, we're gonna be more open" is a little silly given that their CEO has said time and time again that he's looking forward to litigating Linux distributors for violating MS patents. And even if RMS never would, he'd be stupid not to in a lot of ways. If Microsoft makes any attempt to appear "open," it's clearly just a marketing ploy to convince DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS to work for them. The businesspeople who actually run Microsoft know very well that for them to actually try to be more open with their code would be financial suicide; openness is great for average companies that have real competitors, but for a company as huge as Microsoft it only slows threatens to dilute market share. They would be bad businesspeople to embrace openness. That's why Microsoft has applied for more software patents, most of them frivolous, in the last ten years than anybody's ever held before.
posted by koeselitz at 3:44 AM on December 3, 2009


and I don't throw hissy-fits at people every time I see a Windows logo

Please teach me this skill.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:52 AM on December 3, 2009


Microsoft could have done anything they wanted with their web browser from 2001 until Firefox got double digit market share
You're complaining that a company didn't spend money at a time when it didn't need to and that the same company didn't follow someone elses standards at a time when it was pretty much the only player.

I'm not sure what a straw caricature is, but I doubt that subtlety of argument is going to win over the hardcore anti-microsoft crowd. Nor should it. However misguided they are, I'm perfectly happy for them to be there. They police the internets in a relatively good way, and when bad stuff does slime out of the corporations, they're there to highlight it.

But - My opinion is that silverlight is a good thing and microsoft are not as evil as they used to be. And (bringing it back to the argument in hand), I'm happy to see silverlight posts.

Plus c# is obviously better than ruby. :-)
posted by seanyboy at 4:20 AM on December 3, 2009


I'm not saying MS is innocent. I'm saying that they're more open.
And you're conflating open source with Linux. I think it's possible for microsoft to hate one and like the other.

I'm not convinced that being open would be financial suicide for ms. They've got to be careful, but it's possible for huge companies to embrace open-source. (For a great example, you should Bing this company called "google") .

There is still a management layer that has the huge microsoft teeth. I'd be an idiot not to acknowledge that. But there's also a layer of 30 somethings that have grown up with open source and love it. I think they're already exerting an influence, and that influence is being shown.

If microsoft are just testing the open-source waters, and we continue to hate them just the same, they will go back to their old ways. Sometimes when someone tries to do better, you need to swallow some misgivings, hold your hand out and award a little trust.
posted by seanyboy at 4:31 AM on December 3, 2009


me: “and I don't throw hissy-fits at people every time I see a Windows logo”

Brandon Blatcher: “Please teach me this skill.”

All in good time, my son, all in good time. Your training must follow the proper order; you cannot rise to the challenge of the ancient art of Microsoft-logo hissy-fits until you have mastered the 50 George Gershwin Classics For Banjo book which I gave you. Now keep strumming.

And practice well. Tomorrow I must teach you the delicate art of crafting straw caricatures.
posted by koeselitz at 4:34 AM on December 3, 2009


Fair enough jessamyn, don't install silverlight yourself. But any thread that massively derails over silverlight maybe didn't have such great content in the first place.

I mean, surely there are vastly more mefi's who have silverlight than mefi's who'll bitch about silverlight, so you can likely conclude the site sucked if the posts are all about silverlight.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:14 AM on December 3, 2009


seanyboy: “And you're conflating open source with Linux. I think it's possible for microsoft to hate one and like the other. I'm not convinced that being open would be financial suicide for ms. They've got to be careful, but it's possible for huge companies to embrace open-source. (For a great example, you should Bing this company called "google").”

I'm not convinced by the example of Google. Google has consistently had major competitors that stood against it, even in its now-ubiquitous search category (you mentioned Bing, not me) and one of the reasons they've managed to rise as fast as they have is because the open-source thing adds to their aura of techie cool. Open-source has helped them radically because in almost every case the code that they were making open was in competition with somebody else's proprietary code for a pay-to-play product.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has enjoyed near-monopoly market share for a host of pay-to-play products for at least a decade and a half; that's their line, getting people to pay for their products. When a company that has 10% or even 60% of the market share in a category makes the gamble of opening the source-code for their software, they do it in the hopes of creating a buzz about the software, building some momentum among the developers of it, and thereby increasing their market share by maybe 5%. But when Microsoft, a company with 95% market share in a lot of areas, contemplates opening source-code, they know damned well that it's financially almost impossible for them to wholly eliminate that 5%, and that opening the source is likely (especially given the skeptical climate and the amount of competition that will focus on it) to lose them 5% of the market share.

Anyhow, I really have a hard time trying to decide if it's possible for huge companies to embrace open source. I think it's possible (and beneficial) for huge companies to be open source, and your example of Google proves that; but in the case of Microsoft, isn't the closed-source idea - that is, forcing people to pay licensing fees for every single copy of the operating system, and guarding it from competition by keeping the filesystem and operational underpinnings a closely-kept secret - their whole business model? Do you really think it's possible for Microsoft to eliminate that at this point?

“There is still a management layer that has the huge microsoft teeth. I'd be an idiot not to acknowledge that. But there's also a layer of 30 somethings that have grown up with open source and love it. I think they're already exerting an influence, and that influence is being shown.”

I sometimes get this feeling, too. And I do like hearing and seeing how much time, effort and money Microsoft seems to be pouring into R&D right now; I know the suits probably just see it as good marketing to have "this week's cool new MS labs gadget" appearing regularly in front of that slashdot crowd you're talking about, but it's appreciated all the same that the people doing those things have jobs. I really genuinely don't know if it's actually the case that tons of pro-open-source people are employed by MS and exerting their influence; apparently Microsoft doesn't see fit to tell us about it yet if it is, so we'll have to wait and find out. I have a feeling at least a large chunk of developers for MS look back on the company's history and see at least some failure to acknowledge the movement, however.

“If microsoft are just testing the open-source waters, and we continue to hate them just the same, they will go back to their old ways. Sometimes when someone tries to do better, you need to swallow some misgivings, hold your hand out and award a little trust.”

Fair enough - but I'd rather hold my hand out for something worth grabbing. I hear about cool gadgets, and I see a few things I like, but though they seem to be better at hiring I don't think a really open development process will ever happen at Microsoft. To be even-handed, the OS dev process seems to have really improved, and there is at least more user feedback involved, so that's a step in the right direction. And (though most people are change-hating curmudgeons) my favorite thing to come out of MS for years was the new buttony interface for Office. (I like to picture the sad little Excel development team, depressed because they've been relegated to maintaining a product that hasn't been allowed to change in any significant way in more than twenty years, was given the job of the redesign, and were so happy to have something to do that they went nuts.)

But they keep doing these little things that bug the shit out of me. That whole debacle a few years ago over the "Office Open XML" standard at the ECMA world congress? The one where Microsoft so rapidly and effectively stomped out any support for the functional, simple, and decade-old OpenDocument standard that IBM threatened to walk out, citing MS's "undue influence" over the standard committee? And even that wouldn't piss me off nearly so much if they hadn't done all this by forcibly replacing OpenDocument with this ridiculous (and uncannily named) "Office Open XML," which even if it has the MS "promise we won't sue" license has a ridiculously rushed and mangled specification that spans over seven thousand pages. Have you tried to read that goddamned thing? It's impenetrable. I've installed that stupid converter-utility on more computers in the last few years than I'd care to count - I still cringe every time I see that awful .docx or .xlsx extension - and I can tell you personally that Microsoft can swear that they want to open their formats to developers until the sky turns pink, but they still seem to want to make it as hard as possible. OpenOffice is seen by MS, I think, as a very real competitor, and in the face of competition with open-source programs MS seems willing to do just about anything to hold onto their proprietary software.

But I'm probably letting my personal feelings get in the way of rational thought again. Heh.
posted by koeselitz at 5:21 AM on December 3, 2009


seanyboy writes "You're complaining that a company didn't spend money at a time when it didn't need to and that the same company didn't follow someone elses standards at a time when it was pretty much the only player. "

This wasn't directed at me but you bet I'm complaining. MS released a piece of crap browser, acknowledged most of it's short comings, and then thought they could get away with forcing people into an expensive OS upgrade in order to get a new browser. I'd call for them to get staked over an ant hill if it wasn't for the net positive that resulted; specifically the huge boost it gave to the market share of other browsers.
posted by Mitheral at 5:38 AM on December 3, 2009


You're complaining that a company didn't spend money at a time when it didn't need to

I am. Are you arguing that the only reason a company should spend money is to compete with another player? Then you're welcome to Microsoft, because that's their ideal. But I think the organization that you trust as the platform you build your work on should have at least some marginal kind of commitment to continually refining and improving their product that goes beyond the threat of losing out to a competitor.

And how much money would it really have cost them to make that marginal commitment? People were writing Javascript libraries to ameliorate various IE deficiencies in their spare time once everybody gave up waiting by sometime in 2004. Keeping, I don't know, maybe one developer on the task might not have been too much to ask if they actually cared about the web as a platform. Or at a minimum, the good will of the tens of thousands of web developers they decided to push the actual work onto the backs of.

and that the same company didn't follow someone elses standards at a time when it was pretty much the only player.

The biggest problem with IE6 wasn't that it sometimes had its own ways of doing things that weren't the standards (oh, that all browser makers had ignored the absurdity of a box model where "padding" is not part of "width"). It's annoying when there's different ways to do the same thing, but one can work with that if both ways really work. The biggest problem with it was that the browser was full of half-assed stuff that broke under attempted use, both on the front of the standards they'd already ostensibly embraced and on the front of things they tried to do in their own special way.

I'm not sure what a straw caricature is

Let's start with "Slashdot Crowd." While I'm certainly among the readers of the site, and my distaste for Microsoft's output and practices goes back a lot further than the Internet Explorer fiasco, I've noticed that no small number of the people who are mad at them over that aren't particularly drawn from the FOSS world. Seems to me that for most of them the client side of the web is really their path into technology/computing beyond casual desktop use, rather than some deep need to modify the source code of their operating system. They do care about the gotchas involved in trying to apply otherwise supported styles to ordered lists, or being unable to use even Microsoft's own alpha image filter to properly place a PNG file in the background of an container without deactivating the ability to click on links within it.

But let's go back to the "Slashdot Crowd":

However misguided they are

How exactly are they misguided? Perhaps you could elaborate. You seem to believe their distaste is merely knee-jerk tribalism. Perhaps you've got ready answers going back beyond the documented efforts to cut of Netscapes revenues by leaning on the OEMs, perhaps you have key insights into their fight with STAC, or the code designed to keep things from running on DR-DOS, the shelf-space manipulations, the way they took the Spyglass people for a total ride when they licensed the Mosaic source. Perhaps you can talk about how you found the uncertainty of only two FAT records per file in DOS (fun up through Win98!) exciting rather than frightening, and how pervasive undocumented system calls made your development experience with the platform magically mysterious.

Or, perhaps all you've got is "really, all in the past, right?"

But - My opinion is that silverlight is a good thing

It is, as I have said above, pretty good technology from what I hear. But it does very few things that can't be done by technologies offered by people with considerably more trustworthy histories of behavior.

microsoft are not as evil as they used to be.

Really. I've changed, honey. I won't hit you ever again. You'll see. Things will be different now.
posted by weston at 3:34 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


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