[webdev] Web Design Update: November 2, 2005

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Wed Nov 2 06:18:18 CST 2005

- Volume 4, Issue 19, November 2, 2005.

An email newsletter to distribute news and information about web design 
and development.


SECTION ONE: New references.
What's new at the Web Design Reference site?
New links in these categories:

11: PHP.
13: TOOLS.
15: XML.

16: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


TITLE Attribute What Is It Good For?
By Steven Faulkner.
Steven Faulkner shares his presentation from www.we05.com and related 

Screen Reader Software Support for the TITLE Attribute
By Steven Faulkner.
"This testing [ongoing] has been motivated by the desire to clarify how 
and if screen reading software renders text content contained within 
the TITLE attribute. There have been many discussions, recommendations 
and opinions published about the practical use of the TITLE attribute, 
but there has been a paucity of data to back up the recommendations and 
opinions expressed. This is an attempt to provide such data so that 
more informed recommendations can be made in the future."

Assistive Technology Users Test TITLE Attribute Access
By Steven Faulkner.
"Conclusions Drawn: 1.) Most users of screen reading software do not 
change their default settings to access the TITLE attribute information 
on links.  2.) Most screen reading software can access TITLE attribute 
content on form controls by default.  3.) Some screen reading software 
cannot access TITLE attribute information. 4.) Users of screen 
magnifiers can read TITLE attribute text at lower magnification levels. 
5.) Users of screen magnifiers cannot read TITLE attribute text, that 
contains more than one or two words, at higher magnification levels."


Interaction Design Association (IxDA).
"The Interaction Design Group (IxDG) has officially changed its name 
and organizational status. We have incorporated as the Interaction 
Design Association (IxDA)?a non-profit, member-supported 


CSS is Not Hard to Learn - If You Recognize It for What It Is
By Christian Heilmann.
"Web design was never easy, but it can be if we start embracing the 
complexity of our development environment and be flexible enough to 
develop for it."

IE Blog: Clean up your CSS Hacks
By Kimberly Blessing.
"The IE Blog today issued a call to action, asking developers to help 
'clean up' CSS hacks that are failing in strict mode in IE7..."

Call to Action: The Demise of CSS Hacks and Broken Pages
By Markus Mielke.
"We're starting to see the first round of sites and pages breaking due 
to the CSS fixes we have made. We would like to ask your help in 
cleaning up existing CSS hacks in your pages for IE7. It is has been 
our policy since IE6 that under quirks doctype we will not make any 
behavioral changes so that existing pages will continue to render 
unmodified, but under the strict doctype we want to change behavior to 
be as compliant as possible with the web standards. For IE7, we 
introduced new CSS functionality (see Chris’ blog post for the full 
list) and cleaned up our parser bugs. This leads now to several CSS 
hacks failing. If you are using IE7 (you are MSDN subscriber or 
received a copy at the PDC) you may notice major sites breaking due to 
the use of CSS hacks and the strict doctype."

Bye Bye Tan Hack
By Dave Shea.
"However, it’s been clear for some time that * html was going to be 
fixed. And now today, via WaSP, comes news that IE7 is going to be 
fixing a whole lot of other hacks. Wording on the IE Blog (“how easy it 
is to fall into the CSS hack trap”) seems to indicate that IE 
developers are against hacks in general, so it’s probably reasonable to 
assume that they'll be looking to fix any others in the forthcoming 

IE7 and IE7
By Eric A. Meyer.
"As noted on the WaSP site, the IE team is asking developers to clean 
up their CSS hacks because they’re causing sites to break in IE7 
builds. I have to admit that this call elicited an arid little chuckle 
from me, because it’s a case of chickens coming home to more than one 
roost. There's the fact that bugs in older versions of IE led us to use 
hacks, and so they’re making life harder for the IE team. And then 
there’s the fact that the use of hacks is an inherently risky and 
fragile process, so the release of IE7 will make life harder for those 
who used them. No smug self-superiority should be read into that second 
point, by the way: I quite firmly include myself in that crowd...Oh, 
and before people start exhorting the use of conditional comments 
instead, it’s still too soon to know how good an idea that might be. 
Doubtless they'll come into play, but exactly how is completely 
unpredictable until we know what IE7 actually does. Perhaps we'll start 
using conditionals around the call to IE7 (the script). Perhaps not. 
Time will tell. As I said before, it’s too soon to know which hacks to 
clear away or how to rework our code, but thanks to Dean Edwards' 
efforts, I'm feeling a distinct lack of stress over the impending 
shifts. "

To Hack With It
By Eric A. Meyer.
"To follow up on what I said recently, there’s another major reason to 
remain un-stressed about the impending release of IE7 and the use of 
CSS hacks. If you read over the list of things that have been fixed, 
they read like a who’s who of CSS hacks?and a who’s who of the reasons 
we use most CSS hacks in the first place."

Internet Explorer and the Expanding Box Problem
By John Gallant and Holly Bergevin.
"It's an unfortunate fact that Internet Explorer will always 
incorrectly expand any dimensionally restricted block element so that 
oversize content is unable to overflow, as the specs require that 
content to do. I will be comparing IE/win's way with the correct 
behavior as seen in Firefox. The W3C says a rigidly sized block box 
should allow oversize content to protrude or overflow beyond the edges 
of the sized box. There is no real 'fix' for IE/win's incorrect 
behavior, except to work around or avoid it..."


Teaching Dreamweaver Part 2
By Sheri German.
"Part two of my Dreamweaver course series is devoted to how I teach 
students to create database-driven web pages and web applications. 
During the course of the semester we put together a form that is 
processed by a script, a login system based on access level that uses 
Dreamweaver's Authentication Server Behaviors, and a blog as introduced 
in a tutorial by Tom Muck. In the process, the students learn the 
basics of the various skills they'll use: form construction, SQL, 
database and web application design, and server model concepts..."

Introduction to Designing with CSS--Part 3: Creating Your First Design 
Without Tables
By Adrian Senior.
"Create a CSS-positioned layout of a fixed-width page with a horizontal 
navigation system...Note: This article has been updated for Dreamweaver 

Introduction to Designing with CSS--Part 4: Creating a Two-Column Layout
By Adrian Senior.
"Modify the layout of your design by easily making dramatic structural 
changes to your page...Note: This article has been updated for 
Dreamweaver 8."


Too Fuzzy: Personas and Scenarios
By Michael Andrews.
Michael Andrews raised some concerns about personas and scenarios.

+06: EVENTS.

OZeWAI 2005
December 7-9 2005.
La Trobe University
Bundoora, Victoria (near Melbourne), Australia


The User Advocate: One Size Fits None?
By Dave Rogers.
"As an independent contractor, I routinely peruse the latest job 
listings for information architecture (IA) positions. (Simply Hired 
makes this a breeze.) And what I see often sticks in my crawl. Too many 
companies seek individuals with a kaleidoscope of skills rarely found 
this side of Mount Olympus. You know the job listings I mean..."


Variable Scope for New Programmers
By Jonathan Snook.
"I routinely see new programmers running into trouble with the concept 
of variable scope. It’s an extremely important concept, however, and 
one that must be understood in order to develop a reliable application. 
If you work in multiple programming languages, it can get even more 
confusing?each language has its own set of rules about how variable 
scope is handled."

Perpetuating the Myths of JavaScript Degradation
By Jeremy Keith.
"In many ways, it’s easier to make an Ajax enhancement degrade 
gracefully (compared with non-Ajax JavaScript) because all of the 
processing is shifted to the server rather than the client. When the 
client environment is limited (by a lack of JavaScript), you can still 
allow your visitor access to the core functionality, which is handled 
on the server side. Whether that functionality is delivered through 
discrete updates to an already loaded page (i.e. Ajax) or whether that 
functionality is delivered through old-fashioned page requests simply 
becomes a matter for the visitor’s browsing device. Once you can view 
Ajax this way, then it becomes clear that graceful degradation is built 
in from the start, almost without thinking about it..."

The Hows and Whys of Degradable Ajax
By Ryan Campbell.
"...So we've developed some solid strategies to help us use Ajax in our 
apps without having to worry if they’re essential or not to the 
application. After some heavy experimenting, we've developed a method 
for making web pages work regardless of the user’s browser settings. 
While other sites have implemented their own versions of degradable 
Ajax, we found the lack of documentation on the subject discouraging. 
And so it is with great pleasure that we present to you the 
Particletree method of degradable Ajax..."

Exception Handling in JavaScript: Validating forms Introduction
By Alejandro Gervasio.
"’...I'll explain through an illustrative example how exceptions can be 
used to perform client-side form verification. Even when this approach 
can be considered as an alternative method to regular form validating 
techniques, it’s worth it have a look at this implementation..."

Exception Handling in JavaScript: Addressing Browser Incompatibilities
By Alejandro Gervasio.
"Welcome to the last part of the series “Exception Handling in 
JavaScript.” As you might guess, I'm winding up this tutorial focused 
on exploring the huge terrain of JavaScript exceptions, by running 
through numerous examples about their application in real client 
programs. Indeed, the topic is by far more extensive than can be 
treated in a few articles, thus complete coverage is nearly impossible. 
However, I've explained in a friendly way the basics of exceptions, by 
introducing their core concepts as well as their direct implementation 
in concrete cases."


What Is Web 2.0
By Tim O'Reilly.
"In the year and a half since, the term "Web 2.0" has clearly taken 
hold, with more than 9.5 million citations in Google. But there's still 
a huge amount of disagreement about just what Web 2.0 means, with some 
people decrying it as a meaningless marketing buzzword, and others 
accepting it as the new conventional wisdom. This article is an attempt 
to clarify just what we mean by Web 2.0..."

It’s Hard Being A Custodian
By Robert Nyman.
"Robert Nyman laments on the fact that the hard work you put into a 
design might all be for nothing once the client gets their hands on it."

Web Design and Development Personality Indicators
By Molly E. Holzschlag.
"I've had enough! Frustrated with the range of attitudes and opinions I 
deal with as a standards-oriented educator, I've decided to begin a 
project (very) loosely based on the Meyers-Briggs personality 
So, dear readers, I'm hoping you'll help me add and refine my 
categories, but I'm off to a start with the following..."

Ten Questions For Jeremy Keith
By Russ Weakley.
"Jeremy Keith talks about the DOM, Javascript, ECMAscript, bad 
good and evil, learning resources, a new book, liquid layouts and more."


Value of Breadcrumbs
By Jared Spool.
"...Where breadcrumbs are useful is in a context we call teleporting. 
Teleporting is what happens when a user suddenly finds themselves in 
the middle of the information architecture, often because of a search 
result. For example, a user we observed on eBay typed 'accoustic 
guitar' into the search engine and found several guitars, all listed 
with this incorrect spelling of the word 'acoustic.' The user, 
realizing that there might be more guitars, clicked on the eBay’s 
breadcrumbs to see all of the listed guitars, regardless of spelling. 
These days, where users teleport in because of Google searches and 
internal search requests, breadcrumbs give the user a way to find solid 
ground after they land."

+11: PHP.

PHP 101 (part 13): The Trashman Cometh
A primer in basic security.
By Vikram Vaswani.
"Over the next few paragraphs, I'm going to show you some basic tricks 
to validate user input, catch 'bad' data before it corrupts your 
calculations and databases, and provide user notification in a gentle, 
understandable and non-threatening way. To prepare for this exercise, I 
suggest you spin up a CD of John Lennon singing 'Imagine', fill your 
heart with peace and goodwill towards all men, and take a few deep, 
calming breaths. Once you've exhaled, we can get going."

Core Web Application Development with PHP and MySQL, Part 2
By Marc Wandschneider.
This content is excerpted from Chapter 13 of the new book, "Core Web 
Application Development with PHP and MySQL."


Making it Legal: Validating Your (X)HTML and CSS
By Zoe Gillenwater.
"As a web designer, your goal is to create a page that works well and 
looks good across browsers and platforms. Validating your (X)HTML and 
CSS is one way to achieve this goal. Validation catches the silly 
mistakes and typos that everyone makes in their pages, so it's an 
important first step in creating a great web page ? but remember, it's 
only a step. Validation is not the end goal itself. Learn why 
validation is important but not the holy grail of web design, then 
learn how to use and understand the W3C validators."

Better Control and Cost Savings with Style Sheets
By Robert Nyman.
"By using style sheets you will gain better control, achieve easier 
maintenance and increase performance while saving bandwidth. Together 
with correct semantic code, you will also reach a better search-engine 
ranking and automatically increase your Web site’s accessibility."

+13: TOOLS.

Lumberjack (The Javascript Logger) Demo
By Corey Johnson.
" Do you write javascript? Are you sick of using alerts to find out 
what is happening in your code? Then Lumberjack is for you! It helps 
beat down the nightmare that is cross-browser javascript debugging."


How Usable is Jakob Nielsen?
By Frank Spillers.
"Jakob Nielsen is still very popular outside the usability community. 
Amongst his colleagues however, his popularity has been eroding 
steadily. Why? There are a couple of reasons for this..."

Usability Studies 101: Forests and Trees
By Joseph Carrabis.
"NextStage's Joseph Carrabis shows how fixing problems with your 
creative design can create new problems, unless you know the right 
questions to ask..."

Usability Studies 101: Maslow's Hammer
By Joseph Carrabis.
"NextStage's Joseph Carrabis lets us know that the key to a good test 
is finding out what really causes the subject's reaction."

+15: XML.

The xml Prolog, Strict Mode, and XHTML in IE
By Chris Wilson.
"I realized as I read through the comments to my last blog post that I 
forgot to mention one important item that was in my presentation.  We 
have fixed the DOCTYPE switch so it will skip an XML prolog, so that 
valid XHTML can be handled in strict compliance mode rather than quirks 
mode. I've also been reading comments for some time in the IEBlog 
asking for support for the 'application/xml+xhtml' MIME type in IE.  I 
should say that IE7 will not add support for this MIME type ? we will, 
of course, continue to read XHTML when served as “text/html”, presuming 
it follows the HTML compatibility recommendations.  We fixed the 
problem with our DOCTYPE switch explicitly so that this mechanism is 
easier to use, and it is generally easy to set up most servers to 
conditionally serve content as 'text/html' when the 
“application/xml+xhtml” MIME type is not supported.

[Section one ends.]


+16: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?

Accessibility Information.

Association Information.

Book Listings.

Cascading Style Sheets Information.

Color Information.

Dreamweaver Information.

Evaluation & Testing Information.

Event Information.

Flash Information.

Information Architecture Information.

JavaScript Information.

Miscellaneous Web Information.

Navigation Information.

PHP Information.

Sites & Blogs Listing.

Standards, Guidelines & Pattern Information.

Tool Information.

Typography Information.

Usability Information.

XML Information.

[Section two ends.]



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Until next time,

Laura L. Carlson
Information Technology Systems and Services
University of Minnesota Duluth
Duluth, MN U.S.A. 55812-3009
mailto:lcarlson at d.umn.edu

[Issue ends.]

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