[webdev] Web Design Update: December 2, 2005

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Dec 2 06:25:48 CST 2005

- Volume 4, Issue 24, December 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:

06: FLASH.
09: PHP.
11: TOOLS.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0
By W3C.
The new public draft of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 
2.0 has been published.

Understanding WCAG 2.0
By W3C.
"This document, 'Understanding WCAG 2.0,' is an essential guide to 
understanding and using 'Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0' 
[WCAG20]. It is part of a series of documents which support WCAG 2.0. 
WCAG 2.0 establishes a set of "success criteria" to define conformance 
to the WCAG 2.0 Guidelines. A success criterion is a testable statement 
that will be either true or false when applied to specific Web content. 
'Understanding WCAG 2.0' provides detailed information about each 
success criterion including its intent; the key terms that are used in 
the success criterion; examples of Web content that meets the success 
criteria using various Web technologies (for instance, across HTML, 
CSS, XML) and common examples of Web content that does not meet the 
success criterion. Finally, this document also explains how the success 
criteria in WCAG 2.0 help people with different types of disabilities."

HTML Techniques for WCAG 2.0
By W3C.
"This document provides information to Web content developers who wish 
to satisfy the success criteria of 'Web Content Accessibility 
Guidelines 2.0' [WCAG20] (currently a W3C Working Draft). The 
techniques in this document are specific to Hypertext Markup Language 
content [HTML4], [XHTML1] although some techniques contain Cascading 
Style Sheet [CSS1] and ECMAScript solutions. Use of the illustrative 
techniques provided in this document may make it more likely for Web 
content to demonstrate conformance to WCAG 2.0 success criteria (by 
passing the relevant tests in the WCAG 2.0 test suite - to be 
developed) than if these illustrative techniques are not used."

Involving Users in Web Accessibility Evaluation
By The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
"The document introduces: benefits of including people with 
disabilities; ('users') in Web accessibility evaluation throughout 
development; involving users effectively in different types of 
evaluations; including diverse users; analyzing accessibility problems; 
drawing conclusions and reporting; resources for more information."

Testing with Screen Readers: A Hypothetical Conversation
By Paul Bohman.
"Paul Bohman takes a conversational approach in this article answering 
common questions he receives about using screen readers for testing the 
accessibility of web content."

Four Different Ways To Test Web Accessibility
By Joe Clark.
Joe Clark summarizes a comparative study in accessibility testing: 
Expert web developers with screen readers caught the highest number of 
accessibility errors.

Accessibility is Optimization
By Matt Bailey.
"More than just accessibility and search engine optimization, the 
accessibility checkpoints also provide a comprehensive outline for 
marketing a website. A consistent, easy to read layout of the content 
and navigation can help a site in building conversions, not just 
rankings. Ultimately the measure of any website is the number of 
conversions, be it sales, leads, ad clicks, etc. When site owners and 
managers start to realize this, the emphasis will be where it counts - 
on the bottom line and how to improve it."

Inaccessibility of CAPTCHA
By W3C.
"A common method of limiting access to services made available over the 
Web is visual verification of a bitmapped image. This presents a major 
problem to users who are blind, have low vision, or have a learning 
disability such as dyslexia. This document examines a number of 
potential solutions that allow systems to test for human users while 
preserving access by users with disabilities."

CAPTCHA Paper Updated
By Matt May.
"At long last, the update to the paper I wrote (with the help and 
support of the WAI Protocols and Formats Working Group has been 
published as a W3C Working Group Note...Weighing in at a hefty 3,000 
words, it's pretty long, even for me. It's more than most people ever 
need to know about visual verification schemes. But hidden in there is 
a call to think about the problem you're solving before relying on 
CAPTCHAs as a panacea. In some cases, outside of accessibility factors, 
its use is overkill. And in others, it may provide a dangerous false 
sense of security. The new paper also gets into details the older 
version didn't, and offers actual guidance at the end for solving the 
problem. The short version is as follows..."

By Matt May.
"As if you needed more evidence from me that CAPTCHA is a bad idea, 
here's some more: Amazon has just made automated Turing tests 

W3C Formally Dislikes the CAPTCHA
By Matt Bailey.
"The W3c has created a formal document on the inaccessibility of 
CAPTCHA (Turing Test) as a security device on sites as a means of 
keeping automated bots from registering as users. The main criticism of 
CAPTCHA has been the inability of blind, dyslexic or other 
vision-impaired users to use pass the test of identifying characters in 
a low-contrast or difficult-to-read bitmap..."

Visual Verification: Potential New Audio CAPTCHA Solution
By Darrell Shandrow, Blind Access Journal.
"Some in the technology industry justify the ongoing inaccessibility of 
their visual verification schemes due to the claimed 'expense' of 
implementing solutions such as audio CAPTCHA. Let's evaluate a 
potential solution that could be built entirely on open source or 
otherwise easily available technologies at a sufficiently low cost to 
insist upon its implementation..."


Printing a Book with CSS: Boom!
By Bert Bos and Hakon Wium Lie.
"You like microformats? We'll give you some freakin' microformats. CSS 
luminaries Bert Bos and Hakon Wium Lie introduce the boom! microformat 
and show you how to make book the easy way."

A Print CSS Primer
By Kenji Ross.
"Kenji Ross, web developer...has kindly written a very concise yet 
informative tutorial on how to use CSS to generate printer-friendly 
pages. Note, however, that this feature of CSS only works in standards 
compliant browsers (i.e., it won't work in Netscape 4.7x, the 
undisputed king of non-compliance)."

What are CSS Tables?
By Stefan Mischook.
"...This article is theoretical - CSS tables are not supported by the 
browsers yet, and cannot be used. I wrote this article to make a few 
points and to expose people to lessons learned in software development: 
that grids are an excellent way to layout user interfaces..."

Changingman Layout
By Andy Clarke and James Edwards.
"Changingman, a liquid three column CSS layout with a fixed positioned 
and width centre column, released under a Creative Commons Attribution 
2.0 license."


Show and Hide Content Based on User Access Levels
By Danilo Celic.
"Dreamweaver's native Log In User server behavior combined with the 
Restrict Access to Page server behavior can help you protect your pages 
from prying eyes. However, when it comes to more fine grained control 
of content on pages viewable by users from multiple access levels, 
Dreamweaver doesn't have anything built in to offer any assistance to 
you. Read on to learn how to show and hide content on a page based upon 
the access level (user group) of a logged in visitor..."


Cognitive Walkthrough
By Zhijun (William) Zhang.
"Cognitive walkthrough involves one or a group of evaluators inspecting 
a user interface by going through a set of tasks and evaluate its 
understandability and ease of learning. The user interface is often 
presented in the form of a paper mock-up or a working prototype, but it 
can also be a fully developed interface. The input to the walkthrough 
also include the user profile, especially the users' knowledge of the 
task domain and of the interface, and the task cases. The evaluators 
may include human factors engineers, software developers, or people 
from marketing, documentation, etc. This technique is best used in the 
design stage of development. But it can also be applied during the 
code, test, and deployment stages."

+05: EVENTS.

TechEd International Conference and Exposition
March 27-29, 2006.
Pasadena, California U.S.A.

+06: FLASH.

Adding Flash Video to Dreamweaver 8
By Tom Green.
"Sometimes you just have to wonder how the guys at Macromedia do it. 
For example, web video is suddenly all the rage thanks to Flash 
Professional 8, those wonderful people at On2 and Sorenson and the 
folks at Adobe who provide the video editing software. It is enough to 
make a web developer's head spin. Suddenly we are confronted with 
putting web video in our web pages because clients see the neat stuff 
the 'Cool Kids' over on the Flash side of the street are doing and we 
get caught with a '"Me too!' The guys at Macromedia must have 
anticipated this because they did something with Flash Video in 
Dreamweaver 8 that is rather amazing; they made it even easier to use. 
Best off all, it is free."


The JavaScript Diaries: Part 10
By Lee Underwood.
" There are four objects that provide information about the environment 
of the user's system. They belong to the window object: navigator, 
screen, history and location. These objects are used to obtain 
information such as screen size and resolution, color depth of the 
monitor, limited information on the browser history, and the URL. In 
addition, information such as the user's operating system, including 
the browser type, version and language can also be obtained."

The JavaScript Diaries: Part 11
By Lee Underwood.
"In this installment we take a look at JavaScript arrays. This is a 
process of study that will span several installments because arrays can 
be very useful in creating different types of scripts. At first they 
can be somewhat confusing but in time they become easier to understand."

On Web 2.0
By Bruce Lawson.
"There's a lot of talk about the so-called Web 2.0 at the moment, and 
I'm in two minds about what I think. On the one hand...It could 
genuinely be the Web is metamorphosing from rather dull dumb-terminals 
sending and receiving screenfulls of data - just like the IBM MVS 
terminals I used to use in 1988 - to a rich, asynchronous, 
application-like environment...On the other hand, I have two worries. 
The first is my natural scepticism (some might say 'cynicism') about 
the hype....I also worry about accessibility. It strikes me that people 
are so busy adding extra Ajax loveliness that the separate 
stripped-down 'html-only' versions they offer are unthinkingly accepted 
as a legitimate sop to people with disabilities. We reject separate 
'text-only sites' in Web 1.0 ; why should we accept them in 'Web 2.0?? 
Don't misunderstand me here. I love Google's maps, gmail etc, and have 
never believed that accessibility means bringing everything down to the 
lowest common denominator. Truly creative and thoughtful coding will 
ensure graceful degradation of the 'rich user experience', not banish 
those without JavaScript to the basement. But in the rush to 'Ajaxify' 
everything (whether it actually serves a useful purpose other than 
saying 'ooh look at me I'm web 2.0 too!'), the majority of developers 
are not properly thinking through the accessibility ramifications."

JavaScript and 'Serious' Programmers
By Peter-Paul Koch.
"For at least a year I've been worried about the total lack of relation 
between JavaScript and 'serious' programmers. Unfortunately it seems as 
if JavaScript is still beneath their notice. That starts to annoy me. 
The advent of Ajax makes a solution to this problem mandatory. Who will 
create the Ajax applications? Those who don't know how to write an 
application, or those who don't know the language the application will 
be written in?"


Interview: Mark Trammell
By D. Keith Robinson.
"I normally teach students with a mix of business, computer science and 
artistic backgrounds. A designer that wants to please a client in the 
long term must be able to draw on a broad set of skills that pull on 
concepts from all three of these areas. I'm not suggesting that a 
successful designer has to be an expert or hold degrees in all of these 

+09: PHP.

PHP 5.1 Released
"The PHP development team is proud to announce the release of PHP 

PHP Problems
By Noel Davis.
"Welcome to Security Alerts, an overview of recent Unix and open source 
security advisories. In this column, we look at problems in PHP, Emacs, 
ftpd-ssl, Lynx, Roaring Penguin pppoe, OpenVPN, RAR, Fedora Core 
X-Chat, HP-UX xterm, libungif4, and GpsDrive."


Beyond New Professionalism
By Holly Marie Koltz.
"...At the EduTF we realize there are no excuses and we also see many 
reasons why standards and accessible techniques are not being 
taught...Many schools are not teaching standards, guidelines, 
accessibility, and best practices. They are teaching the opposite. Just 
a few weeks ago a frustrated student in a web program contacted our 
EduTF and told us that he had to use table markup for layout on his 
final project even though he was aware of and knows how to use 
standards and CSS. If he did not use the table for layout, his grade 
would have been marked down. The student in the program is enrolled to 
get a degree so his work and skills are more recognized. There is 
something seriously wrong with this situation. What will that degree 
mean? Does it represent a quality education where needed skills are 
taught? No. The same student is keeping in touch with us and sent us 
information on his current course, a web scripting course which offers 
up the advice of not to use CSS. It's not important to single this 
institution and program out, because there are many more out there. 
Many of us feel that this situation and others like it represent the 
majority of educational institutions. We need to address this 
issue...Standards, guidelines, accessibility, and separation skills 
need to be taught to developers and designers. We need better 
applications, software, and content management solutions. We need 
better e-commerce applications, better educational software, and 
coursewares. So developers in computer science departments need to know 
and learn these standards, too."

Educating the Educators
By Vicki Berry.
"An emerging discussion on the Web Standards Group (WSG) email list has 
brought up some interesting points on the quality of web design and 
development instruction in tertiary institutions. I don't have any 
statistics to back this up (and would be surprised if any formal study 
has been conducted) but there is strong anecdotal evidence that the 
majority of institutes of higher learning don't teach web standards - 
and when they do, it's with a wishy-washy attitude..."

Learning and Teaching Web Standards
By Julian Rickards.
"If I am going to continue to teach the use of Dreamweaver and adhere 
to Web standards, I must make the effort to learn and understand the 
XHTML DTD and specifications as well as the CSS specifications. Not 
unlike researching during my M.Sc., I should go to the original sources 
and learn from them."

Encouraging Web Standards
By Vicki Berry.
"I'm a bit concerned, after some recent comments on some of the email 
lists (which shall remain nameless!) to which I subscribe, about the 
attitude of some web standards advocates towards others...Many of us 
don't even hear the term 'web standards' until we've already learned a 
different way. And then we need to somehow hear about the resources 
where information about web standards can be found. It take time and 
effort (and therefore money, because time is money) to re-train. And 
it's a process. It's not instant. I know a lot more than I did, but I'm 
still learning. Who is not still learning?"

Knowing Our Craft
By Mike Davies.
"The web standards community has spoken. If you are still building 
websites with table layout, you are just an amateur. Professionals use 
CSS for layout, and the benefits of doing so seem to be well 
established. The web is one of the few areas where standing still means 
you are really moving backwards. Web development is on ongoing learning 
process. Any developer who stops learning is effectively falling 
further and further behind on the web. What was great in 1996 is 
perhaps a very bad idea in 2006..."

Go Out, Be Loud, Be Positive. Build a Profession.
By Cameron Adams.
"From what I can see of most higher education Web courses they barely 
know what to teach as the essentials, let alone give their students a 
decent understanding of each and every competing standard or practice 
that pops up on a regular five minute cycle. Part of our job is still 
convincing clients that what we do has value. As much as I'd like to 
think it, even the Standards set out by the W3C are not well developed 
enough -- or even well known enough by the majority of people in our 
industry -- to form a codified body of knowledge which could be the 
basis of a profession. And as far I see it, this isn't a bad thing, 
just a challenge. The Internet is so immature we don't even know 
whether we'll be coding HTML and CSS in five years, so don't beat on 
the people who haven't yet decided to join the party. I don't know 
about you, but I'm in this because I have an opportunity to shape 
something, to contribute to something completely new."

The New Amateurs
By Peter-Paul Koch.
"Basically the idea is that any web developer who refuses to learn CSS 
and modern, unobtrusive JavaScript, either from ignorance or from a 
refusal to break old habits, is no longer worthy of the name 

The New Amateurs - part 2
By Peter-Paul Koch.
"To my astonishment it turns out that some New Amateurs read my site, 
and that some of them even agree with me. It seems they aren't even too 
much annoyed by the label 'amateurs'. Great! Let's review a few of 
their arguments."

+11: TOOLS.

TAW (Web Accessibility Test)
By CTIC Foundation (Centre for the Development of Information and 
Communication Technologies in Asturias).
"TAW (Web Accessibility Test) is a tool for the automatic analysis of 
Web sites, based on the W3C - Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 
(WCAG 1.0)".


Web Browser Vendors are Also Responsible for Accessibility
By Robert Nyman.
"First, we developed layouts based on pixels. Along came accessibility 
and scalability, and we started to specify our fonts with ems instead. 
Then, those of us who wanted to be really out there created whole 
layouts using ems, so the whole layout would scale accordingly to the 
user's current text size setting, giving a more consistent design 
impression. Hand in hand with this, we also created layouts that were 
elastic, expanding but with a fixed maximum and/or minimum width."


What's Different About Writing for the Web
By Trenton Moss.
"Writing for the web is totally different to writing for printed 
matter. We tend to scan content on the web hunting for the information 
we're after, as opposed to reading word-for-word. As a result of this, 
there are certain guidelines you should be sure to follow when writing 
copy for your website..."

Resurrect Your Writing, Redeem Your Soul
By Jennie Robinson.
"Bad writing that has been 'Webified' can look great on screen and to 
search engines, but to human beings, it's still just bad writing. 
Applying the new rules of Web writing to muddled thoughts is a bit like 
hiding dirty hands in clean gloves."

Why People Don't Read Online and What to do About It
By Michelle Cameron.
It's been proven that two things people will look at on the screen are 
bullet points and numbered lists. Knowing that, use them. It's called 
content chunking, and, as you can see from many of our own pieces, it's 
an effective way to pull the eye."

Power to the People
By D. Keith Robinson.
"Relentlessly simple solutions to complex design problems can be the 
difference between an average experience and a great one. D. Keith 
Robinson reminds web designers and developers that ease of use is more 
important than technological sophistication."

Is Your Homepage Immature?
By Indi Young.
"Every large corporation has a marketing strategy that outlines what it 
wants to say to customers, but many of them still aren't using their 
homepages effectively to highlight that message."

Nino Doll: Great Web Design and a Great Cause
By Gerry McGovern.
"You can't administer a website; you have to manage it. If Google 
administered its website, then every time it released a new tool or 
service, it would add it to its homepage. If you don't have genuine 
management authority for your website today, you must carefully build 
the business case for why you should be given that authority. If you 
let your website grow wild, you destroy rather than create value. 
That's not good for your organization, and it is certainly not good for 
your career. What's the hard core of what your organization can offer 
on your website? Relentlessly strip away the clutter. The Web rewards 
those who do a little well-and become known for what they do 
well-rather than a lot poorly."

Workers Waste 10 Percent of Their Time Fighting with Technology
By Lyle Kantrovich.
"From Scotsman.com: We have the technology, now tell us how to use it. 
'Office workers waste up to a month a year trying to figure out how to 
use their computers properly because modern technology is so 
complicated, a new study warns'..."

[Section one ends.]


+14: 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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