Better than Ajaxian on web dev

I mention little of what online reading I consume, but for the part of my readership that swim in the deep end of the pool, I'd like to recommend a really good read in Hedger Wang's blog, appropriately subtitled "The more you know about WebDev, the more you you find here". This post is a small tribute and / or love story about it.

Superficially and at first glance, it looks a bit like just another Yahoo 360 blog among the masses, much like this blog is just another *.blogspot.com blog, or like some run-of-the-mill opt-in community blog on MySpace, LiveJournal et al; same kind of visual furnishing and jump-the-hoops-to-access-visitor-commentary functionality. But there is startlingly little, if any, narration in the actual blog.

In reality, it's really more of a raw feed of applied web research and development, condensed to absolutely minimum commentary about purpose, when especially difficult to situate into a usefulness context. It's the kind of blog you read as much in below-surface "view source" mode as in surface rendered HTML mode. It does one thing, very well, per post, often outlining portability scope, and it's rather written in the universal language of code than in English, rarely wasting any of the reader's time at all with words. It's a growing repository of reference knowledge.

To get a complete list of all 150+ posts from the last year, visit www.hedgerwow.com. That takes a while to load, as each post gets pulled in to the page from the Yahoo 360 back-end via asynchronous proxied XMLHttpRequest fetches. So the 360 surface is mostly a front; Hedger really uses Yahoo as a storage/persistence/feed backend for his writing, perhaps as a way of focusing on content rather than ephemeral surface and presentation.

At least that's my take on it; when I went back to blogging after a few years' worth of non-blogging, I specifically picked a blog provider that would not let me tweak the server side, so I'd spend more time blogging than hacking the blog framework itself.

In hind-sight, I sort of failed, instead spending time polishing up solutions to work the same kind of magic client side, even in the limited confines of a Blogger blog. (I left Advogato for its total absence of visitor commentary functionality.) Blogger's template customizability just offered enough of an open but limited environmental confinement to allow creativity to expand on it, unleashing and flexing all the new-found powers that HTML, CSS and javascript have gained in recent years, and end up again with the kind of unwieldy rusting blog I had in the nineties. :-) But enough about me.

Reading Hedger's posts has something of the same kind of thrill as diving into either of the Myst / Riven / Exile saga games, not in a visual or musical setting, but in unraveling things, finding what logically goes where and discovering the mechanics, purpose and possibilities of things. It offers ingenious tricks and new takes on things, tracking the technical web development front and how to trick web browsers we are stuck with today to perform the tricks we expect them to but which web standards typically do not yet address.

It's not for everyone, but it's a gold mine for its target audience. I keep coming back to things like his neat PNG transparency in Internet Explorer 5.5+ hacks when I need them. (And by the looks of things, I won't remain for very long in a line of work where I do now.)
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