SitePoint Podcast #24: Those Frames are Ironic

Episode 24 of The SitePoint Podcast is now available! This week your hosts are Patrick O’Keefe (@ifroggy), Stephan Segraves (@ssegraves), Brad Williams (@williamsba) and Kevin Yank (@sentience).

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Episode Summary

Here are the topics covered in this episode:

tr.im nearly shuts down, short URLs in question

How the Web Looked Ten Years Ago

Designer Add-ons for Firefox

HTML 5 Drag & Drop

Host Spotlights:

Show Transcript

Kevin: The SitePoint Podcast episode 24, for Friday, August 21st, 2009: “Those Frames are Ironic”.

Kevin: Hi, there and welcome back to the SitePoint Podcast – news, opinion, and fresh thinking for web developers and designers. I’m your host, Kevin Yank coming to you from SitePoint headquarters in Melbourne, Australia and I’m joined by my panel of co-hosts.

Brad: Brad Williams from WebDevStudios.

Patrick: Patrick O’Keefe of the iFroggy Network.

Stephan: And Stephan Segraves from Houston, Texas.

Kevin: On this show today, we’ll be talking about Firefox add-ons for designers. We’ll be talking about 10 websites that are 10 years old, and we’ll be talking about HTML5’s new drag and drop feature… all this and more, including our host spotlights.

The first story today is to do with short URLs, right Brad?

Brad: That’s right Kevin. We’re actually going to talk about tr.im which is a—I’m not sure how popular, but it’s a URL shortener that has been quite a bit at controversy surrounding in the past few days.

Basically, tr.im came out with a blog post and essentially shut down their entire URL shortener service and by doing so essentially dead-linked all of the short URLs that were out there currently using tr.im. So imagine if you’re using TinyURL or Bit.ly or whatever it may be and they all of a sudden go offline, all those links and tweets that linked to those URL shorteners are now dead.

Kevin: Yeah, that’s what they announced they were going to do, but thankfully they didn’t do it.

Brad: They did for about a day and then the entire world started talking about it and then they realized, hey we’re missing all this great press.

Kevin: Oh wow! I didn’t realize they actually took down links. I thought they just announced they were going to do it.

Brad: Well, you know what; I think they took down the site and posted a message and said the links will stop working at so and so date. So I don’t think the links actually did end but they were— they had set a date saying they would die.

TechCrunch and some other very large blogs wrote about it and featured them. I’m sure they got a rush of traffic and quickly after the announcement—I think like a day or two later—they were really pushing to sell their service, sell to somebody else who could then bring it back online. After that didn’t happen, they decided to actually bring their service up on their own. So they kind of rescinded what they said and decided not to drop their service. Then after about a week of all this back and forth they finally decided to go open source. It’s been quite a roller coaster ride with tr.im.

Kevin: Especially in the TechCrunch stories—there’s been a lot of “he said, she said” around this; about Bit.ly, the competing short URL service that Twitter seems to prefer because they will auto-shorten any tweet that’s posted through the Twitter website using Bit.ly. There’s been stories about Bit.ly volunteering to buy out tr.im for a token amount of money and there’s a bit of nastiness going around about how much this service is worth and what a reasonable offer was. I don’t want to get distracted by that because I think there’s a really interesting story here about short URLs themselves and this is something that people have been warning us about for a while; that these short URLs that we rely on, these services are one day going to go away and it’s a bad idea to rely on them.

Stephan: Oh yeah, I completely agree. I mean, I used tr.im…

Patrick: Sucker. Ha ha.

Stephan: …up until the day they said they were not going to work anymore.

Kevin: Ha ha ha! No, I used tr.im too. In fact, SitePoint used tr.im. Everything we posted from our blogs automatically onto our Twitter feed, we shortened with tr.im.

Patrick: Well, it had great stat stuff, you know. So it’s like, oh, this is cool! It’s an easy-to-use service—whatever—and then they said they’re going to take it off and I’m like, “Well I can’t even go back and change the URLs that were in my tweets or anything like that because you can’t retrieve them, right? You can’t go back and edit them.” So I was like, “Well those are going to be dead.” So from now on, I’m either going to roll my own or figure out a different way to go about it.

Kevin: We’ve switched to Bit.ly; in the midst of this drama we switched our preferred provider for short URLs to Bit.ly but I think you’re absolutely right that the right way to go here long term is that if you want short URLs you’re going to have to host them yourself. Because that way the only way your short URLs go down is if you yourself take them down. So in theory they’re just as stable as the rest of the content you’re publishing.

The problem then becomes how do you keep other people from linking to you with these short URL services? It’s one thing to provide your own short URLs and use them yourself but other people who link to you… What can happen even is people shorten your short URLs with one of these other services, which is what happens when you post through Twitter. You copy and paste even a short URL into Twitter.com and then they apply Bit.ly to it, no matter what. Potentially a shorter URL could be made longer by Bit.ly on Twitter. I don’t know why Twitter is doing this.

Brad: Yeah, why don’t they keep it in-house and just build their own shortener?

Stephan: Exactly.

Brad: When I first got on Twitter a few years ago I remember it was all TinyURL and it was all automatic as well. You would paste in it and it would switch it over to TinyURL. At some point, they switched it to Bit.ly.

Patrick: Well, if tr.im is to be believed, maybe it’s not worth it for Twitter to be a URL shortener, business wise. Maybe it’s not as feasible. They have their own stability issues as is. Do we really want them now providing the URL shortening service too? I don’t know. I think there’s a lot of shorteners out there, there’s a lot of options. Obviously they’ve chosen Bit.ly which will help Bit.ly but at the end of the day it’s yet to be seen if it’s a sustainable operation.

Stephan: I almost have an issue with the short URLs in general just because, one, you can’t see where the URL goes without actually going to it or using a website that extracts the URL for you, right?

Patrick: Or some sort of router to ride on.

Stephan: Yeah, exactly. So I think that it leads to a lot of confusion, one, and I think that it’s somewhat of a hassle. It would be nice if I could just post a URL into Twitter and Twitter said, “Okay we’ll ignore the URL,” but I know where that goes. That goes to spam, right? If they say, “We’ll allow URLs,” people just put URLs in into the tweet and that’s all it is.

Kevin: Can you explain that to me because people already put URLs in their tweets?

Stephan: What I’m saying is, is if Twitter just ignored the URL, no matter how many characters it was and didn’t count it as a character, then they would allow the URL not to take up any space so you could have the full URL there and not eat up your 140 characters – which I think I would be okay with if they had some way of combating the spam.

Kevin: I would be totally okay with that. In fact, it looks like the recent announcements coming out of Twitter is that they’re going to start making retweets part of the protocol. So when you want to repeat a tweet that you enjoyed or that you support or whatever, no longer will you have to put “RT” and then the person’s @name at the front of your tweet. That will actually become part of the protocol. You can write whatever you want and that tweet will be flagged as a retweet of the original without using any of your 140 characters. They need to do the same thing for links, you need to be able to attach a link to a tweet without using characters.

Stephan: I think that comes to the spam issue. So I don’t know Patrick if you had anything to say about that.

Patrick: I think that the new retweets is a good and interesting first step to this but I think the solution has to work with how Twitter works now. People copy and paste tweets, people retweet it by pressing in TweetDeck and they have their URL. So in some manner, these URLs have to be truncated whether it’s through a shortener or with some links they add an ellipsis at the end. How does that work with the retweet? How does that work with copy and pasting? Any solution needs to keep that at mind as well.

Kevin: Yeah, Twitter has always been about simplicity and the more of these things they add to the service and the protocol, the more complicated it’ll get. If you had to paste a URL attached to your tweet in a separate field, that immediately makes it twice as painful to paste URLs. So I agree with you Patrick, whatever they do, it needs to maintain that simplicity of fire and forget that Twitter has of just pasting stuff into one field.

We’ll see where they go but for the time being I think we can all agree that if you can avoid relying on one of these third party URL shortening services it’s a good thing to do.
So I wrote a bit about this in the Tech Times this week and what Jeffrey Zeldman has recommended is he uses WordPress for his site to write his blog. So he’s using a plug-in called the Short URL plug-in for WordPress, which looks relatively nice. It integrates straight into WordPress. It even provides statistics along the same lines as you get with these third party services and you just plug it right in and it immediately makes short URL for each one of your posts.

But there are a few other newer WordPress plug-ins and plug-ins for all sources of content management systems and blogging platforms coming out. Another one for WordPress, la petite url, it supports an exciting feature called short URL auto-discovery, which means in addition to creating a short URL for every post, it also puts a <link> tag in the head of your document that Twitter clients, in theory, could sniff this tag. When they need a short URL for a particular URL they’ll download the page and look for that <link> tag and if it’s present, they’ll just use that as the short URL.

So this would go a long way towards making sure that when other people reference your content, they also use your preferred, self-hosted short URL. It would be great if even Twitter did that instead of using Bit.ly when it was available but this is all kind and still in theory, at the moment. It’s a proposed protocol. There’s a few sites out there that are doing it but there aren’t any Twitter posting tools that I’ve seen yet that handle short URL auto-discovery.

There are couple of other WordPress plug-ins you wanted to mention, right, Brad?

Brad: Yeah, there’s a fairly new that just came out called Yourls.org and this is actually a URL shortener that isn’t WordPress specific so it’s a series of PHP scripts—and I’ll work with it; I can handle PHP, MySQL, and mod_rewrite—but it also does have a WordPress hook as well.

The reason I kind of like this one it’s two fold. The two developers that created it are pretty well-known in the WordPress community, Lester Chan and Ozh Richard. Also the fact that it has a simple, little API built into it so you can actually send and GET and POSTs to your specific API URL which you can set. You can validate with username and password and you can actually pullout short URLs and stats directly from the scripts, which is really cool. It makes it a little more extendable.

Also along the same lines with WordPress, it was announced recently that wordpress.com blogs are going to have a built in WP.me redirector. So every blog post created on wordpress.com will automatically have a WP.me short URL created for it that can be used when posting in Twitter and things like that. It’s also been noted that if you’re running self-hosted WordPress and you used the WordPress stats plug-in you can also get WP.me short URLs as well.

Kevin: Oh! That’s good of them. I like that, that they don’t force you to use wordpress.com.

Brad: Yeah, it’s the only two-letter .me domain in the world is what Matt Mullenweg said, of WordPress.

Patrick: Looking at this as a person who uses WordPress, the plug-ins look really cool and it seems like a nice idea, but I don’t know that I would trust myself to use WordPress for 10 years into the future any more than I’d trust a third party URL system because you’ll always be tied to that piece of software. And I love WordPress; I don’t see myself moving off of WordPress but I’d like to leave the opportunity out there.

So if I’m going to host my own short URLs I’m looking at something like Lessn, which Kevin pointed out in his article at SitePoint, Host Your Own Short URLs—something that is independent of the WordPress software that I can plug in, that can be separate, that I can take with me. Being the average webmaster, not being a programmer, I can’t write my own WordPress plug-in so I think that’s kind of the way to go for me, anyway.

Kevin: Yeah, any way you go you’re going to be setting yourself up for this piece of infrastructure, this library of short URLs that you’re going to have to carry forward into the future. Even with a service like Lessn—which is released by Shaun Inman, whose name we mentioned a couple of weeks ago in relation to his new RSS feed reader feedafever.com, but Lessn is his newest release—it’s a nice little URL shortener that you can host on any PHP/MySQL site but, again what’s the guarantee you’re going to be hosting on PHP/MySQL forever? Even then, it’s probably a safer bet you’ll be on PHP longer than WordPress but still you’re setting yourself up to have this ball-and-chain of links that you have to carry with you.

What’s interesting to me is everyone who’s setting up their own short URLs is having to, in many cases, come up with a new short domain name for their site. Shaun Inman even; he’s got shauninman.com for his blog but he’s hosting his shortened links at shaun.in. If you thought people who are competing for short URLs before now, when everyone wants their own personalized short domain name, everyone is looking at these new two letter extensions that usually have to do with some obscure or not-so-obscure country. shaun.in, I suppose would be related to India—just off the top of my head there—but suddenly, we have no way of knowing what country a domain is actually hosted in because these country specific, top level domains are being abused to make short URLs.

Patrick: “Web developer Yank pays seven figures for kev.in.”

Kevin: Geez! No! I have to register it before we post this show.

Stephan: I see it though because I think what we’ve done is we’ve taken a pretty simple issue—dealing with Twitter—and we’ve turned it into this complex solution now where we’ve come around and we’ve realized this was dumb.

Kevin: Who is we? I blame Twitter.

Stephan: I think we blamed Twitter a few shows ago, didn’t we?

Kevin: Yeah, I still blame Twitter.

Stephan: I think we have to correct the problem. I’m guilty of it; using my short URL – that maybe I’ve posted in a tweet – in a post of mine, or something. So now I have to go back and edit that post with a full link to make sure that that doesn’t break in the future. I don’t know. I feel like we’re going to come to a point where Bit.ly dies, tr.im dies, and a bunch of web servers go down and no one can get anything on the internet because no one knows the full URL.

Patrick: To be honest, I’m going to keep using Bit.ly on Twitter until a service is in place or something is in place to replace it or to do it better. I’ve never used short URL services in my blog posts or in anything that’s long form beyond Twitter. So I’m okay there and I’ll continue to do that but as far as Twitter; I’m going to use Bit.ly. I’m not going to invest in my own service. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m already doing.

Kevin: It seems to me that Twitter’s approach is to treat tweets as completely disposable. Does anyone get that sense? I’ve read things about they’ll start deleting your old tweets when you get to 3,000 or something like that, and now these new services and scripts have started popping up to back up your tweets because Twitter is going to throw them away. There’s a service called Tweetbackup.com and you can authorize it to crawl all your old tweets and back them up so that they don’t disappear, but it seems like Twitter doesn’t want you to think of tweets that way. They throw short URLs in that may break one day. They delete old ones without telling you. It seems like Twitter’s all about the moment and keeping tweets for posterity is not part of their grand plan.

Stephan: I kind of view it that way though. It’s like, “What am I doing now?”

Brad: It’s too bad because everyone really referenced it as micro-blogging; but if you’re not keeping those posts as individual, short little blog posts then how can you call it micro-blogging?

Patrick: Good point. Good point.

Kevin: Yeah. I’m one of those freaks who backs up all my texts messages, Patrick.

Patrick: That’s great. That’s great. I’m sorry.

Stephan: People use text messages?

Kevin: Yes, I still do. I still do get text messages.

Patrick: You do have me thinking about backing up my tweets though because I do take value from Twitter. I do value them as mini blog posts and they are a picture of where I am in life at that moment—to be honest with you—and how I travel and what I do. So, it’s kind of a neat thing that I’m going to look into backing up for sure. Another service is Lifestream Backup and they are a pay service but one of those services might be getting my business.

Kevin: Tweets are one of those things that they have a certain amount of value at the moment, and then very quickly, that value goes down but over time that value is going to come back. In 10 years’ time; what you tweeted 10 years ago you’re going to feel so nostalgic about that. You’ll be like, “Oh, I wonder what I was doing 10 years ago. Wow, I was so crazy back then.” You may not care about your tweets in a week but in 10 years’ time you might want to get them, is what I’m saying.

Stephan: Then I think you guys should move to Tumblr or something. I’m just one of these guys that I’m just, like, I’m keeping up-to-date … different things … something interesting I see… I don’t know if I’m ever going to reference it in 10 years. Maybe?

Patrick: That speaks to Twitter being different for different people. Some people will use it in one way and another in another and it’s all good. Some of us collect magazines, some of us collect tweets, some of us do something else. That’s life.

Kevin: Well, speaking of what things will be like in 10 years’ time, we just got the news this week that Blogger.com turned 10 years old and that gave SitePoint blogger Jennifer Farley the inspiration to look back 10 years at some of the biggest sites on the Web at that time and what they looked like. We’ve got a blog post on sitepoint.com with screenshots of sites like Apple.com, Amazon.com, the BBC, Microsoft, and others, and taking a look at what they looked like 10 years ago. Guys I am horrified!

Patrick: Honestly, it’s not that bad I have to say. It’s not that— I remember this day!

Kevin: It’s worst than I thought it would be.

Patrick: This is when I actually got really started into developing web sites. It was in fall of 1998. So, I remember some of these—creepy.

Brad: I think the weirdest part is Amazon doesn’t look that much different. Amazon hasn’t really involved too much in 10 years.

Kevin: So, what I want each of us to do is take a look of these and pick the one you’re really glad is not around today, the worst one of the bunch and then the one that actually doesn’t look so bad. It might actually be better than the one that is up today.

Patrick: Looking at these, I think it’s a tie for the worst between the White House and Google. I mean, I think there’s a tie and when you consider…

Brad: No. It has to be the White House.

Patrick: Well, think about this though: Consider that Google is these tech students, these guys at Stanford, right, and they’re developing it. At the White House, you know, back then, “the Internet … what?” I mean, so consider that, but for me, it’s a tie as far as the worst goes between those two.

Brad: I say it’s got to be the White House, and the reason being I see two American flags and you know those were animated GIFs and those flags are just waving away.

Kevin: Everyone has seen those animated flags.

Stephan: It looks like a really bad Geocities page, like really bad.

Patrick: I know. I like how the background to the photo is not meshed to the back, but again, this is at Archive.org, so maybe there was a background? I don’t know.

Kevin: I don’t know. We could give them that credit it would still be butt ugly. I like the fact that it says ‘Good Morning’ at the top. So someone did a lot of work 10 years ago to make it say the time of day, and was that good morning on the east coast or the west coast? That’s what I want to know.

“The President and Vice-President, their accomplishments, their families, and how to send them electronic mail.”

Patrick: Before we abbreviated.

Kevin: This is just too good. The screenshot cuts off but I really want to read this whole page. It’s just so precious.

Stephan: You know which one isn’t that bad is Monster.com. I don’t think it’s that bad. It might be better than it is today.

Kevin: It looks quite narrow. I guess back then we were coding for 640×480 still. So, it’s narrow by the standards of today’s fixed width designs, but yeah, it doesn’t look too bad.

Stephan: When you look at Monster today, it’s just a mess.

Patrick: I’ll take Amazon on this one as far as the best. I mean like Brad said, there’s similarities between what they do now and what they did then but that was a nice design for then, now it wouldn’t be, but as far as this group, I would say it would bother me the least of everyone.

Kevin: Yeah. If anything, there’s a lot less clutter.

Stephan: I don’t know that Times New Roman font… I don’t know, it just kind of irks me.

Kevin: Yeah. Well, there’s sidebar of menus that are sans-serif, but yeah, the content of the page, the description of the product is all in serifed font. They still had a lot of tabs back then: books, music, video, toys and games, electronics, e-cards, auctions, and e-shops.

Patrick: Auctions? I like how it says “Z-shops are new.” So, if that’s their merchant program, it’s like that’s brand new! Okay.

Kevin: Apple does not look the best in this screenshot. There’s actually a missing image, so you got to give them credit; I’m sure that image was there back then.

Brad: This was really when they were kind of evolving their brand image to be more kind of trendy and hip than prior. So you can kind of tell they’re in that phase of making it a little more hip-looking, you know.

Kevin: Yeah. They had the transparent Blueberry iMac there.

Patrick: Yeah, the one thing about their design, though, is I think it’s the only one in the screenshots—they don’t go to the bottom, like you said, in some cases—but I think they’re the only one to have those “best viewed” sort of buttons at the bottom. “QuickTime: get it!” You know, those little buttons at the bottom… I don’t know, maybe not.

Kevin: Maybe that’s what you needed to view that missing image you needed to have QuickTime installed.

Stephan: You know microsoft.com doesn’t look that different and some of the developer pages that are around now.

Kevin: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. It’s very similar, isn’t it?

Stephan: Yeah, I mean, they… I guess they got kind of lazy. That curved GIF—I can remember back when that was a cool technique, you know, the curved GIF.

Kevin: I like in the top, “Internet Explorer 5, download it now.”

Patrick: No, I think best color scheme has to go to Wired I mean look at that, look at that left menu, it’s like bright, right in your face.

Kevin: Yeah, I’ve always loved Wired’s bald-faced bright colors. “We don’t care how it looks, it’s going to burn your retinas out; that’s what we’re here for.” The one I’m glad has changed is The Onion because it’s built with frames. I’m surprised of these top 10, only one of them was built with frames. I’m kind of relieved that we were… we had progressed that far 10 years ago. Or maybe frames had yet to catch on and The Onion is the cutting edge one that had moved into frames, but that’s one trend that I’m glad is gone. Just look at the big green bar across the bottom. The entire reason it’s there is for a teeny ad in the left hand side and yet, they’ve got the whole green bar across the bottom wasting space on what were very small screens at the time.

Patrick: That bottom frame was a parody.

Kevin: {laughs} Yeah, of course, I forgot to take irony into account when evaluating The Onion’s screenshot. So, yeah, take a look, listeners, at this blog post; there’s a link to it in our show notes and yeah, let us know what you notice in these screenshots, what’s still around today and what you’re glad is not.

Another blog post that I think is worth looking at on SitePoint this week is 19 Firefox Add-ons For Designers. We so often concentrate on developer add-ons for Firefox. I’ve said several times that it’s my development browser of choice, but this is a nice collection of add-ons that are for the designers in the crowd, so working with images and colors and things like that.

Brad, you had a look through here, which one did you like?

Brad: Well the obvious standout is Firebug; I think that’s almost an essential plug-in for anyone that works in any side of web development, whether it’s design or a developer. Firebug essentially lets you kind of view source on a site and you can right-click on a particular item, inspect it and it will drill down right to the CSS, the particular line that sets the style of that whatever it is you inspected, whether it be a graphic or text or a header, whatever it might be. It also lets you edit in real-time. So say you had a 10-pixel font and you want to see what it looks like at 12, you can easily inspect it, increase it to 12, and see exactly what it would like without actually making the change live.

So Firebug is definitely one that everyone would want to use, and the other one that I absolutely love is the Window Resizer and essentially, this makes it easy to resize your browser window to different resolutions, whether be 800×600, 1024×768, whatever it may be. You can quickly just click a button and your browser will resize so you can see exactly what looks like in that resolution without actually changing the resolution so it saves quite a bit of time when you’re designing.

Kevin: Yeah. Patrick, you used one of these, didn’t you?

Patrick: Yeah, I mean, actually Window Resizer sounds cool. I have to check that out. I mean I use Firebug too, but the one I have to highlight here is Screengrab. When I use it, it makes me happy—I guess that’s the simplest way to say it—because you can take a one screenshot of a full window, that’s what I use it for most of the time. I use it for like a media kit when I wanted to have a screenshot of the whole page to put in there to show where ads would be placed. It’s just really easy, it works. You can take screenshots just one scroll, the top scroll, or the whole page, just a visible bit, a draggable selection or whatever, it just works and it works well so that’s why I like it.

Kevin: A few of these add-ons are things that you would think… you’d look at them and you go, oh well, that’s a feature of the Web Developer Toolbar, but not every designer is going to want to wade through the menus of the Web Developer Toolbar just to find the window resizing feature, for example, and I think it’s great that some of these things have made their way into their own add-ons that are much simpler and easier to use.

The one that I quite like is ColorZilla, which lets you pick color values out of the page by clicking on pixels within the page and I just really like the interface that it puts a thing in your browser’s status bar, a little color well that shows you the color values that you’re hovering over at any given time. It’s much nicer as an interface and something that I think a designer will really want to use.

If you’re a designer or you have a designer in your life that would like to enhance their Firefox experience, check out this list of 19 add-ons. Yeah, cheap Christmas indeed.

The last story to cover in the show today is HTML 5 Drag & Drop. There’s this great blog post that I spotted by Francisco Ryan Tolmasky (apologies for what I just did to your name there, Francisco), and it’s sort of dissecting the new HTML 5 built-in Drag & Drop support. This guy is one of the developers on a project called Cappuccino, which is all about building desktop-like applications on the Web using the same coding techniques that you get when building desktop Mac applications, and experienced developers will tell you that’s quite a nice API to work for. They’ve built a project called 280 Slides on Cappuccino and it’s a competitor to PowerPoint or Keynote on the Mac that all runs within a browser. In this blog post, it starts off with a demo video that really blew my mind.

Brad, did you see that video?

Brad: Yeah, I did. It’s really awesome. If you haven’t seen this… and this is the first I have heard of the Drag & Drop with HTML 5. If you haven’t seen it, definitely go check out the video. As soon as it started, the video fires up and it’s a short one 20 seconds—and he starts kind of dragging elements around. I’m thinking, okay, this looks like jQuery, and then he drags it from one browser to another and drops it. I’m like, wow, that’s pretty amazing and wild at the same time, so it’s definitely something I want to do more research on, but this could really like really change the way that web apps are built and how they interact with each other.

Kevin: Yeah, it just goes from kind of cool to kind of amazing to really mind blowing. He drags the image from one window to another. So I’m thinking, okay well, he marked the image tag as draggable and when he dropped it in, it created an image tag in the other document and so he was able to tell what the image was. Yeah, that’s kind of cool. But then he drags an entire slide from one presentation into the other and I’m thinking “How do they that?” Like the slide with all the formatting and all of the objects in it, all dragged from one window to the other.

Looking further down in the article, he explains how this works, how when something starts dragging in HTML 5, as a JavaScript developer, you have the opportunity to set the data that’s being dragged in multiple formats so you can say this slide that’s being dragged, I can represent it as a PNG file or as a JavaScript slide object or as a URL. You bundle up these multiple formats and then on the receiving end, you decide which on you want.

He goes on to critique some of the design of this API, saying that having to fill in all those different data formats when you start dragging, can be a slow and heavy process, and on the desktop we’ve learned that the best way to do it is advertise the formats available and then only create the one that the receiver ends up requesting. He also complains that as a developer, you have no control over whether a drag actually starts or not. Once you mark something as draggable, when you start dragging, it’s going to start dragging whether you like it in that moment or not. Whereas on the desktop, you can do things like under certain circumstances, the thing will start dragging, and under other circumstances it might do a text selection, maybe depending on the direction you drag the mouse in, and he’d like to see more flexibility there.

He makes good points but still, it’s mind blowing what’s possible already. He says that this stuff is supported in WebKit browsers, so we’ll be seeing web applications running in Safari and Chrome that take advantage of this kind of stuff pretty soon.

So yeah, if you’re into the techie side of HTML and JavaScript this blogpost is a must read. Go check it out.

Which brings us to our host spotlight, gentlemen.

Stephan: Yeah, so this week, I was browsing and found that Crackle.com is offering 31 movies in 31 days and you can watch full movies on YouTube. This right now, today, I believe it’s Ghostbusters. If you’re a Ghostbusters fan … I’m sure they’re going to have other movies. The list includes Causalities of War, Crossroads, The Karate Kid, Crazy Joe…

Kevin: Is each movie only up for a day and if you want to watch all of them, you have to watch one movie a day?

Stephan: It doesn’t really explain it very well, but it looks like you can actually watch some of the movies, even after the day has gone by… like Stripes.

Kevin: Ghostbusters is celebrating its 25th anniversary, it looks like. I’m just looking at an early promo pic and, man, did Bill Murray ever look young? I’m just saying.

Patrick: No, I love Bill Murray, man. C’mon.

Kevin: I love Bill Murray too, but geez.

Kevin: Brad?

Brad: My spotlight this week is actually a web service that hasn’t launched yet but it is going to launch soon called KISSmetrics. KISS stands as the popular acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid. Essentially, they are working towards releasing a new analytics package for web sites that is supposed to be simple and easy to use for developers and web site managers and marketers.

Visit KISSmetrics.com, type in your email, get on their waiting list, and as soon as they release the open beta or the final product, whatever is coming out first, I’m sure they’ll let you know. So check it out.

Kevin: Great. Patrick?

Patrick: My spotlight is BlogWorld & New Media Expo in Las Vegas, October 15-17th. It’s, I’d say, one of the best conferences to attend if you work online or write online. I mention it for two reasons.

First, Stephan and me are both going to be there. So if you’re going to be there, please leave a comment and we’d be glad to meet up, say hello.

And the other thing is I’m speaking. I’m going to be speaking on October 16th on a panel called Social Media – What’s Not To Like. It also has Amber Naslund, Radian6, Wayne Sutton of OurHashtag and Robert Scoble of Building43 at Rackspace, and we’re going to be talking about trends in social media that concern us as far as the growth of the medium.

If you haven’t signed up already, you can use a coupon code. There is a few of them floating around, but one is IFROGGYVIP for 20% off. I don’t make any money from that, I don’t get paid from that; it’s just a coupon for 20% off.

So check it out and let us know if you’re coming.

Kevin: Great, I wish I was going.

Kevin: My host spotlight is punypng. It’s a new web-based service for shrinking your PNG files without losing any quality. It doesn’t just work on PNGs; it also works on GIFs and JPEGs.

The idea is you go to this site and you upload one, or even a whole bunch of image files that you use on your site. There is a maximum size of 500 kilobytes for each. It will analyze each of them and it uses some really clever techniques to squeeze extra space out of these image files. This is stuff that even Photoshop’s Save for the Web, doesn’t do. That’s the benchmark that they compare against in all of their analysis. And they’re saying that commonly, you can lose 35% or more of the file size, even after exporting it from Photoshop.

One of the ways they do this is called Dirty Transparency. For some reason, when you create a PNG file with transparent regions, those regions are just marked transparent, but there’s still image data there that you just don’t see because it’s been marked transparent. That image data still takes up space within the image. So what punypng does is it replaces all that image data with a solid color that compresses a lot better.

That’s just one example of the techniques they use, but it’s really a fire and forget service and it’s free; you just upload your images and they analyze them and give you a table of the savings. Unlike a lot of compression services, if their compression actually makes the image bigger somehow and that, in rare cases, can happen, they just send you back the original file, rather than sending you the bloated one that they created. They’ll even analyze JPEG images to see if they could be better compressed as PNGs and they’ll advise you one way or the other. It’s a really slick service and far more comprehensive than anything else that I’ve seen along these lines.

Check it out at punypng.com.

And that is our host spotlight section for this week, which brings us, as always, to the end of the show.

Visit us at sitepoint.com/podcast to leave comments on this episode and to subscribe to receive every show automatically. Let’s go around the table, guys.

Brad: I’m Brad Williams from webdevstudios.com and you can find me on Twitter @williamsba.

Patrick: I am Patrick O’Keefe for the iFroggy network and I’m on Twitter @iFroggy.

Stephan: I’m Stephan Segraves, and you can find me on Twitter @ssegraves.

Kevin: And you can find me on Twitter @sentience and follow SitePoint on Twitter @sitepointdotcom.

The SitePoint podcast is produced by Carl Longnecker, and I’m Kevin Yank. Thanks for listening.

Thanks for listening! Feel free to let us know how we’re doing, or to continue the discussion, using the comments field below.

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