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HTML5 is a wonderful new technology which allows many new possibilities in a web standards context. Working on a paper, about this wonderful technology and its possible effect on the future of the web, I decided to interview Andrew Hoyer.

Andrew Hoyer is a technical and experienced javascript (amongst many other languages) developer, known for various web experiments. I learned about him looking when researching the possibilities of HTML5, and found a really cool and realistic simulation of cloth, in the web.

…And the interview is here

How would you name the position or work you currently do?

I’m currently a Javascript (among other things) Engineer at a startup called Inkling. I work daily to make web-pages rich and dynamic.

What made you choose your field?

For my first two years of University, I was Enrolled in Computational Physics (combination of computer science and numerical physics). This was more or less because I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after high school. By the end of my second year I realized that I was enjoying my computer science courses a lot more than my physics, so I just transferred over. As far as getting into Javascript, that happened more or less by accident when I was hired as a web developer for a summer internship.

What things influence you and your work / How do you get ideas on what to do on your work?

Everything influences my work and that is sometimes a bad thing. Because of this I sometimes have trouble focusing on single projects. Ideas are always just popping into my head, but very few actually get implemented.

Who are your favorite web designers/developers?

There are two web developers who I respect immensely. First off is my fellow Javascript engineer Scott Kyle (www.appden.com). He is incredibly talented with any kind of programming, but more importantly he has been an incredible mentor of sorts. Secondly is Ricardo Cabello (www.mrdoob.com). I first found this Cabello via chrome experiments when I submitted my cloth simulation experiment way back at the beginning of January. All of his work, as well as the speed at which he produces his experiments, is absolutely amazing.

What do you feel about this field as to its status and importance in our modern society?

Computer science in general is something that is so deeply ingrained in our society that it is nearly impossible to imagine a world without it. As far as its status, I feel that computer scientist and engineers are generally forgotten about by the vast majority of their users. Either that or there is this stigma that dealing with computers is difficult and that only really smart people can do it… I think this is utterly false. Working with computers, like any other profession, requires effort and patience. Something that I feel is lacking in a lot of individuals (including myself sometimes).

What do you feel is the future of the web?

To me the future of the web is looking incredibly bright. With the constant improvement of web frameworks as well as introduction of new technologies, more and more applications will have no choice but to move into “the cloud”. This is definitely an incredibly exciting time for engineers everywhere.

I really like your work which pushes modern technologies, and would like to know what you think HTML5 will be used for, in the near future?

HTML5 although it is barely in its infancy is incredibly powerful and versatile. This being said it is extremely difficult to predict what it will produce. I guess the only thing that I know html5 will do for sure, is improve the usability of the internet (assuming that users upgrade to a decent web browser). Basically a new era of rich interactive content that does not rely on proprietary software… *cough* getting rid of flash *cough*

Do you feel the future of the web will be a merge of the hard sciences, along with classic development? (I’m basing this on the cloth experiment)

I think the cloth simulation is really just an example of what html5, in particular, and what optimized Javascript and the canvas can do. I do not see it as being any kind of guide as to what might come out in the future. In fact, considering how difficult it was to get the cloth simulation to perform in a decent manner, leaves me hard pressed to believe that html5 will be a source of other numerical projects.

What technologies/ languages do you feel are necessary for a web designer?

The interesting thing about the web is that it is a big mash of so many languages and technologies. I personally believe that a web designer should have a fairly extensive understanding of Javascript (and at least some experience with libraries like jquery and mootools), and of course CSS and HTML. As far as other languages it is really incredibly project dependant, but I would say python, ruby and PHP are all good languages to at least have a basic understanding of.

The cloth experiment… What drove you to work on that?

Again, this was just one of those things that popped into my head one day… sorry, not really all that glamorous.

How do you feel about it? It’s a very popular experiment on the web and one of the things people show when they want to show what HTML5 is capable of.

I am incredibly flattered by its popularity, and in fact would not be where I am today with out it (Inkling found me via the chrome experiments website). At the same time I often feel like a bit of a one hit wonder, in that it has been very difficult to come up with an idea that might “top” the cloth simulation. Regardless of this, I am incredibly happy with the buzz that it has generated for html5 and javascript. I certainly had no intention of this.

Are there any other projects you’d like to talk about?

I’ve always got a million ideas floating around and it’s difficult to try and decide which ones are feasible. That being said, I should fairly shortly have another experiment coming up. I don’t want to say too much about it because there are definitely some things I need to polish and figure out. What I can say is that involves lots of animation, quite a few images and absolutely no code. I’ll send you an email when it goes live.

How do you feel about flash, and what it is doing in the web? Pros? Cons?

As far as flash goes, I feel like it’s an absolutely incredible technology, but is constantly used to abuse users on the internet. I find nothing more aggravating than animated/hidden menus, long loading times and ultimately poor performance (if any) on mobile devices.

As far as I see it the only pro of flash is its complete flexibility for designers and developers, as wells as a huge community of resources (such as tutorials and code samples). This flexibility and ease, however, can also be thought of as a con as it ends up leading to many of the user unfriendly experiences described above.

I feel that flash definitely served a purpose before the introduction of html5. I also feel that html5 will not completely remove the need for flash, but can at least tone down some of the annoyances of the internet as wells as transition developers away from using proprietary and closed technology, to something that is standards compliant and community developed.

Ultimately, flash has done many good things for the internet and has in fact fueled the development of html 5 in some ways. Without it we wouldn’t have some of the coolest websites on the internet (Pandora, Youtube, Vimeo etc).

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks a bunch for interviewing me. I am routinely amazed at the kindness the cloth simulation has brought my way.

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3 responses


Kyrie

You are the awesomest!
Great interview.

March 9, 2011 9:26 pm

Andres Gallo

hey thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. I learned a lot just from Hoyers answers about the web.

March 11, 2011 2:33 am

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