Web design tools

Microsoft hiring points to Web-based Skype service

Microsoft is hiring staff "to help us bring Skype experience on to the Web," a move that could help people use the Internet-based video and audio chat service more broadly.

Skype's VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) service today requires a native app to run on various operating systems. A browser-based version, though, could bring the service to OSes that aren't supported, such as Google's Chrome OS; make it easier for people to use Skype on a machine for which they don't have installation privileges; and potentially integrate with other Web-based services.

Microsoft revealed the … Read more

Create word clouds with Wordle

Wordle is a simple Web app that's useful for creating eye-popping "word clouds" just by inputting text.

A picture is worth a thousand words, but with Wordle, a thousand words is worth a word cloud. (Try saying that out loud a thousand times.)

Wordle lets you create custom word clouds like the ones found on blogs and other Internet content sites. A word cloud is a popular visualization of words typically associated with Internet keywords and text data. They are most commonly used to highlight popular or trending terms based on frequency of use and prominence.

In … Read more

Adobe debuts Muse, a no-code-required site builder

Adobe Systems today is expanding its efforts at putting Web design tools within reach of those who don't want to learn how to hand code.

The company is introducing a new application codenamed Muse. Built on its AIR platform, Muse lets users create and publish Web sites like they would make a site mock-up in the company's InDesign or Illustrator software. Adobe promises it will simplify the process for designers who would have previously had to hand off their designs to developers to do the coding necessary to turn that mock-up into an actual site.

Adobe says part … Read more

Adobe Muse: Creating sites out of thin AIR

Adobe bills its newest Web design software, codenamed Muse, as coding-free site creation for InDesign and Illustrator users. And as far as the interface goes, the development team did a good job mimicking what it could from those applications using the lighter weight, far less mature AIR programming platform. But as I see it, in a market glutted with site creation tools for all levels of sophistication and budget, Muse looks like Adobe's first real chance to wrest designers away from using tools like Photoshop for designing and prototyping sites. However you plan to use Muse, it needs a … Read more

Mozilla jumps into Node.js server project

Mozilla, taking interest in the Node.js project to run JavaScript programs on servers, not just browsers, has passed an early milestone with its own flavor of the software.

Node.js is built with the V8 JavaScript engine from Google's Chrome browser, but Mozilla is transplanting Firefox's JavaScript technology in a project called SpiderNode. (The JavaScript engine in Firefox is called SpiderMonkey, and the hybrid technology used in SpiderNode is called V8Monkey.)

"We now have a Node executable running on V8Monkey," though it still crashes at this early stage, said SpiderNode project member Paul O'ShannessyRead more

Google answers critics on HTML5 Web video move

Google responded to critics of its decision to drop support for a popular HTML5 video codec by declaring that a royalty-supported standard for Web video will hold the Web hostage.

Much has been made this week of Google's decision to end support for the widely used H.264 video codec as it implements a key portion of the collection of technologies known as HTML5 in its Chrome browser. Mike Jazayeri, a product manager for Google, wrote a blog post today responding to some of the more common critiques of its plan to support only the WebM video codec standard … Read more

Firefox beta getting new database standard

The ninth beta version of Firefox, due imminently, is set to get support for a standard called IndexedDB that provides a database interface useful for offline data storage and other tasks needing information on a browser's computer.

"IndexedDB allows Web apps to store large amounts of data on your local system (with your explicit permission, of course) for fast offline retrieval at a later time. We're hoping that Web mail, TV listings, and online purchase history will one day be as convenient to access offline as they are online," Ben Turner, who develops IndexedDB for Mozilla'… Read more

The backlash over Google's HTML5 video bet

Choosing strategies based on what you believe to be long-term benefits is generally a good idea when running a business, but if you manage to alienate the world in the process, the long term may become irrelevant.

It was hard to miss the response that accompanied Google's announcement earlier this week that it no longer planned to support the H.264 codec for the HTML5 video tag in its Chrome browser in order to focus on the WebM technology. Depending on what you read, Google is either evil, brilliant, hypocritical, cunning, principled, or confused in dropping support for H.264, … Read more

Google yanking H.264 video out of Chrome

Google just fired a broadside in the Web's codec wars.

With its alternative WebM video-encoding technology now entering the marketplace, Google announced plans today to remove built-in Chrome support for a widely used rival codec called H.264 favored by Apple and Microsoft. The move places Google instead firmly in the camp of browser makers Mozilla and Opera, who ardently desire basic Web technologies to be unencumbered by patent restrictions.

"Though H.264 plays an important role in video, as our goal is to enable open innovation, support for the codec will be removed and our resources directed … Read more

Web developers tackle advanced font controls

The Web, ever more sophisticated, is feeble as a publication medium when it's compared to what can be done with layout software such as Adobe Systems' InDesign. But that's beginning to change.

The change is significant: digital publishing is moving to the Web, but the array of new devices such as iPads and Kindles pose a challenge. Should those overseeing the designs create native applications for those devices or Web pages that will work on just about any device? For the latter to be a competitive option, the Web has to match up better.

A foundation for change was built with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), a standard for Web page formatting that's now growing in significance and power. One big element here is support for the @font-face technology and the related Web Open Font Format, which together are letting Web developers specify downloadable fonts and use online font repositories such as TypeKit for a more polished, customized look.

A new phase is under way now, though. Firefox browser developer Mozilla has begun work on CSS features to permit higher-end font controls, Mozilla developer John Daggett said yesterday in a blog post.

Among the controls are the following:

• Ligatures, which can replace combinations of letters with fancier or more readable replacements, a classic example being a specific glyph for "fi" to keep the top of the f from bumping into the dot of the i. … Read more