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Shady Illuminations

The Death of Blinky

by John Shade

Generic image illustrating the article
  John exposes the Blink Tag Conspiracy.  

Mozilla developers are plotting the death of the blink tag.

You remember Blinky:

  <p>Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell scores again
  with his latest book, in which he explains how to
  <blink>think without thinking</blink>!</p>

Blinky has been bleeding for years from many wounds, but this final cut is being administered by the Mozilla Foundation, and that should trouble you. Because the name Mozilla means “Mosaic Killer” (you can look it up). So it should be obvious to anyone who lives their life by conspiracy theories that the true secret agenda of the Foundation is to kill every innovation introduced by the first visual Web browser, Mosaic, famously developed by Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, may their praises never cease.

Actually I think the blink tag was first implemented in the Netscape Navigator browser, not Mosaic, and by some anonymous engineer engineer, not by Andreessen or Bina, but that’s close enough for conspiracy theory. And mark my words, Blinky is just the start.

But for Blinky, this is the end. If the Mozillers do this thing, the blink tag will no longer be supported by Firefox’s Gecko HTML rendering engine, which means that it will no longer be supported by any current browser implementation anywhere.

A sad day for fun-loving Web design, right? The end of an era. It is that, but it’s also appropriate, because that thing needs to die. The blink tag was a mistake from the very start. Blinking clearly doesn’t belong in html.

It should have been implemented in CSS.

And of course it was. It’s right there in CSS3, hiding in the text-decoration property. It looks like this:

  <p>Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell scores again
  with his latest book, in which he explains how to
  think without thinking!</p>
  /* Nothing funny going on here.
  Or IS there? */
  p {text-decoration:blink}

Well, it looks like a maniacally throbbing paragraph or whatever, but this is how you use it. But only if it’s supported in your browser, and you know what I’m going to say next: Blink style support is sadly lacking in most browser implementations.

Well that tears it. In a situation like this, it clearly becomes incumbent on developers to take matters into their own hands and reinvent blink.

There’s Flash, of course. And who knows, now that its champion at Adobe is working for Apple, maybe the Steve Jobs Flash fatwa will be reversed.

But I wouldn’t count on it.

This hero tried to solve that problem, but failed. The comments in the article suggest a workaround, though.

I sure hope somebody solves the problem. And so should you. Because even if you never blink any text, are you going to stand idly by while the Mozillers take away everyon’s right to blink text? I don’t think so.

John Shade was born under a cloud in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1962. Subsequent internment in a series of obscure institutions of ostensibly higher learning did nothing to brighten his outlook. The blink tag was pretty much his only unadulterated pleasure, and now they’re taking that away. Follow John on Twitter, send him your feedback, or discuss the article in the magazine forum.