Wrap Up: Standards-Next NYC

On Friday Nov. 20th, ending a wall to wall week of conferences and general geeking out about web technologies I had the pleasure of both attending and speaking at Standards-Next at the Time-Life building in Manhattan. Industry big shots Håkon Wium Lie [inventor of CSS! OMG!], Molly Holzschlag, Andy Budd and Pete LePage of Microsoft [sans flak jacket] guided an enthusiastic audience through the tools we’ll be using to build web sites over the next few years.

Andy Budd on CSS3

Andy of UK agency Clear Left and co-author of CSS Mastery, 2nd edition kicked off the day introducing everyone to some of the new toy we have to play with in CSS3. Beyond rounded corners, he demo’d border images, multiple background images and some tricks like those he’s used on the Silverback site [make sure to change your browser width when visiting].

Molly Holzschlag on Color

Molly followed up all that talk of tags and borders with talk of color on the web — both rgba() which extends rgb() with transparency, but also hsl() and hsla() which gives an additional option for defining color based on 360 hues which may make creating color pallets or transitioning colors easier.

A note for those at the event, here’s an example of how to define color so that non-rgba() supporting browsers will display the same shade of “gray”, in some cases with and others without transparency.

body {
background: rgb(255,255,255);
div {
background: rgb(204,204,204);
background: rgba(0,0,0,0.2);

I use this technique in the footer of Hike NJ.

The Lightning Round!

The audience was prompted for volunteers to join in a series of 5 minute talks to compliment the topic of the day. Among the ones I found most interesting were Mike Taylor on HTML5 web forms support and Paul Irish on JavaScript ‘bridge’ style library Modernizr

I took the opportunity to present some rough ideas on mixing the good parts of CSS2 with new things from CSS3 to create web sites in today’s browser ecosystem that take into account the needs of site owners and communicate the design or brand identity across both old and new browsers. I’ll have more on being clever with the tools we have at our disposal in an eventual follow up blog post.

Pete LePage on The Future of IE

The initial reaction on twitter to the announcements about IE9 earlier in the week seemed mostly hit the “OMG, they’ve finally got rounded corners, thanks for almost catching up” sour note. Though we really didn’t get any more information about IE9 then the rest of the public has Pete did a good job of reminding everyone of some of the other features in IE8 and IE9 that do take us beyond IE6 & IE7. Things like data stores, native JSON support & CSS2.1 selectors. So don’t hate on MS or IE8/9 when you decide not to use a data: uri because IE7 doesn’t support them.

Håkon Wium Lie on CSS3 and Web’s Future

Starting with a walk down memory lane [and the halls of CERN] father of CSS Håkon talked about where we had been, where we are now, and then looked to the future in what is on the horizon. His set of photographs from CERN and the creation of the first internet terminals [and jokes to go along with them] were great. After a walk through some CSS3 features like font-face he demo’d some fun things to do with the Opera Unite local browser / peer to peer computing concept.


In the end, I walked away from the event jazzed both about the features of the specifications, but also about the web development community and the enthusiasm on display both by the speakers and by the attendees. If you want to get some of that too, watch the Standards-Next web site for slides [and video?] from the event and for future events about surrounding new web technologies. Also check theMechanism blog for some live blogging and notes from the event.

Again — many, many thanks to the events sponsors Opera and Time for bringing a great & free event to the NYC web community.

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