IE on Windows Phone 7 lacks html5 features

By mOrPhie on Monday 2 August 2010 22:39 - Comments (18)
Categories: software engineering, techrelated, Views: 8.015

Windows Phone 7 will come out this October. Right now, developers have the opportunity to develop software and websites for it, using the Windows Phone 7 SDK beta. The SDK features a nice emulator, which includes their mobile version of Internet Explorer. That is great, because it will help us build mobile versions of our websites.

What worries me though is that this browser does not support any html5 feature currently used in many sites to make their sites compatible with iPhone, iPad and Android devices. For example, youtube offers a fully functional html5 version of their site for iPad and iPhone users. It features the video-tag, which the iPad and iPhone already support. The canvas tag, another html5-feature, is included in both the Android browser as in Safari for iPhone/iPad.

But what happens if we put IE for Windows Phone 7 to the test:

http://tweakers.net/ext/f/Cezy5YKVep9grTUqXy8wymcW/full.jpg

We get a whopping 12 points out of 300. That’s even less than the 27 points IE8 is getting on that test. Most of the popular html5 features seem unsupported in IE for WP7. The video-tag is not supported. The audio-tag is not supported. The canvas tag is not supported.

If we test video using the sublime video player, we get the following:

http://tweakers.net/ext/f/1nazG7Ue4Pqk8435ouBz8MCw/full.jpg

It says: “Html5 video mode not fully supported in your browser. Switching to flash…”. Of course, there is no flash support yet, but for now we are unsure whether WP7 will get flash support at all, since the app platform is, well, Silverlight.

I was hoping, as a side-step, the browser would support Silverlight video, but when you visit a webpage containing Silverlight video, the site asks you to install Silverlight. I am not sure if this is a Silverlight problem, a browser problem or a website that checks for Silverlight-support the wrong way. Either way, it won’t work:

http://tweakers.net/ext/f/ADlVA7XgKv6hBQZKHnJnLxlr/full.jpg

Let’s conclude. The iPhone supports the video and audio tag from HTML5. This helps with mobile browsing on many video-sites. Android 2.2 seems to support the video-tag, but users report that the support is quite minimal. Android, iPhone and iPad support the canvas tag. Android 2.2 has a lot of performance improvements for the canvas tag, which makes it impressively speedy. I don’t know about Opera mobile, but I know the desktop versions support video, audio and the canvas tag.

IE on the emulator of Windows Phone 7 lacks all popular HTML5 tags. With IE9 supporting many aspects of HTML5, one would expect that IE for WP7 would adopt the engine improvements. HTML5 is a big part of the mobile browsing space. Let’s hope Windows Phone 7 can live up to that expectation. But with even less points on html5test.com than IE8 is getting, I guess the browser is more or less an IE7 fork.

If rumors are true that the core of WP7 will be the core of the Windows tablets Microsoft is aggressively working and marketing on right now, then that doubles the expectation for HTML5 in the mobile browser.

I like that Microsoft will get on par with the mobile market with Windows Phone 7. I dislike the possibility that it will feature an HTML5-less browser in early versions. Microsoft could be ahead of both Android and iPhone by supporting more HTML5 features than them. That would be very nice.

No standards-based modern browser on Windows Phone 7: a real turnoff.

The slow death of html-integrated Flash

By mOrPhie on Sunday 21 February 2010 12:33 - Comments (9)
Categories: software engineering, techrelated, Views: 3.010

Currently, Apple is under a lot of pressure to add Flash to the iPhone and iPad. Since, according to Adobe (http://www.adobe.com/products/player_census/flashplayer/), 99% of internet-enabled PC's have Flash installed, it's fair to say that Flash is currently a well-adopted platform. And I guess that about 70% of the online video-content is Flash. But, no Flash for iPad. It's a CPU hog and old technology, according to Steve (http://www.pcworld.com/ar...obs_bad_mouths_flash.html). Is he right? Well... a bit.

The problem here isn't Flash, or at least wasn't. 1) It's the lack of Flash-like features in native browser technologies such as HTML that should have been there. 2) It's the fact that HTML isn't a very good RIA-platform.

Why is YouTube using Flash for displaying movies? Because HTML didn't support it natively. Why is it that a lot of RIA apps are built in Flash or Silverlight? Because it's much easier to do than a RIA app in HTML and therefore you get better results. If you don't believe me, take a look at the Silverlight-version beta of Bing Maps. It's not a coincidence either that Google Street View is Flash. Ever tried building something like that in HTML?

I see a lot of change in the RIA world. HTML 5 supports video and a canvas, making it a lot easier to create animation, transitions, and video-based websites and thus deprecating the use of Flash for a lot of cases in websites that use Flash for that right now. But, the dark side of it is that it's a very premature technology. Not all browsers support it. Developers around the world still need to understand how to work with it. HTML 5 isn't done yet. And most importantly: it won't support all RIA cases.

With these things in mind, I think the following will happen in the next 3 to 5 years: HTML 5 will replace flash for video in the browser and cases where Flash was used for fluid animation and font embedding. Technologies such as Flash and Silverlight will be used more and more outside the browser (Adobe Air for example) or standalone in the browser for standalone connected applications instead of integration with HTML.

And for what it’s worth: Although it has some implications, overall, I think that’s a good thing.

Quality vs. Functionality

By mOrPhie on Saturday 12 September 2009 17:21 - Comments (8)
Categories: business, software engineering, Views: 3.004

Building software on a budget is never an ideal situation. You are forced to make a trade-off between quality and functionality. You cannot have both or you will go over budget.

Most of the time, quality is forgotten and the budget is used for more functionality. The problem with this approach is that more functionality does not always helps you get the job done better. Roughly 80% of the time, you are using 20% of the functionality. Another problem is that forgetting quality almost always leads to going over budget, because buggy software needs to be fixed.

You should find and build that 20% core functionality first and make sure it meets your quality criteria. It will keep you within budget and won’t clutter future release schedules with bug fixing old releases.

Don't forget the process

By mOrPhie on Friday 11 September 2009 00:29 - Comments (4)
Categories: business, software engineering, Views: 2.552

A lot of line-of-business software automates a previously physical process. For example: project planning used to be a process on the white board and paper schedules, but nowadays this is done with software. Planning a project can therefor be done faster, cheaper and better.

An anti-pattern of line-of-business software development is developing unneeded software. It seems like a great idea and software is used to spawn the new business opportunity. The process and business case are forgotten. The risk here is that the software won't match your expectations because there is no cohesion between the software and the underlying process.

So, if you want to be safe: set up a business case, define the goals, define the process and be sure it works. Use software to support the process instead of being the process and dodge a lot of frustrations.

Problems migrating a VM from Virtual Server to Hyper-V

By mOrPhie on Tuesday 10 February 2009 12:38 - Comments (7)
Category: techrelated, Views: 3.315

If you are migrating a VM from Virtual Server to a Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V environment, there is a point where you want to install the virtual guest services. It's like the VM Additions, but with more features. It adds speed, mouse support over RDP-sessions and some management options.

But, when I wanted to do just that, there was a problem. I got strange errors (Error 32000) that stated that the virtual guest services couldn't be installed and in the event log of the guest I got errors that stated that a SCSI device "disappeared from the system". Wait, what?

This is the point I found out that my VM still had the old VM additions of Virtual Server installed. It could be the problem. Maybe there's some interference between VM additions and virtual guest services. But when you try to remove the VM addtions, you get errors that the guest OS is not a supported OS. That is a strange error, considering that the additions are in fact already installed and that you just want to remove 'em.

Well, I did some Googling and found the solution. The trick was to mount the VHD's in a Virtual PC VM. This gives you the opportunity to uninstall the VM Additions without errors. The resulted VHD's can then be remounted on the Hyper-V VM and, hurray(!!), the virtual guest services installed without any problems.