Simon Willison’s Weblog

Entries in Jan, 2005

Filters: Type: entry × Year: 2005 × Month: Jan ×

Don’t build web apps that only work in IE

This is a rant, for which I will make no apologies. The wonderful thing about web applications is that they free you from being tied down to a specific platform. A well written web application is accessible from any platform that can run a web browser. Netscape and Microsoft both realised this back in the mid-90s, which is why Microsoft pulled out all the stops in winning the browser wars; they knew that the browser as an open application platform was a direct threat to their Windows lock-in. It’s not inconceivable to argue that this was the main reason they added so many weird little proprietary DHTML extensions to IE in the following years—and it’s those that are the root of the problem.

[... 311 words]

New eclipse downloads page

Back in November I had a bit of a whinge about how hard it was to find the right file on the Eclipse download page. The Eclipse project have unveiled a prototype of a new, friendlier page and it’s an enormous improvement, thanks mainly to the invaluable new “Looking for Eclipse?” box:

[... 95 words]


Reading between the lines (which in this case isn’t particularly hard), this and this (don’t forget to view source) suggest that Google are soon to announce that they won’t be calculating PageRank for links with a rel="nofollow" attribute. Finally, an official way of fighting the economics of comment spam by denying PageRank on user-submitted link content. Sam Ruby points to Mark Pilgrim’s prediction that spammers won’t care—they’ll spam anyway, on the offchance that they hit somewhere undefended. I’m optimistic—if the major weblog (and wiki) vendors get behind this one it could help stem the tide.

[... 133 words]

I need a new backpack

I’m a big fan of for this kind of thing, because it lets you pick the model of your laptop and then tells you which bags it will fit in. I bought a bag from there last year and the e-commerce / delivery side of things was flawless.

[... 62 words]

Fixing MSDN with Greasemonkey

Site specific browser customisations have been a a recurring theme on this site over the past six months. Thanks to the ever inventive Aaron Boodman that problem is pretty much solved. Greasemonkey is a plugin for Firefox that lets you create user site customisation scripts (.script.js), easily install them in Firefox and then set which sites they should be run on. Michael Moncur has a handy tutorial on getting started.

[... 318 words]

Forget about Google Suggest; if you want to see some really impressive dynamic web content go and have a play with It uses XMLHttpRequest and a bunch of other tricks to let you smoothly pan and zoom over an enormous and detailed map of Switzerland, based on satelite photos (so you can zoom right in to individual streets and see the houses). Even better, it supports hackable URLs letting you link directly to cities or even street addresses.

[... 166 words]