[webdev] Web Design Update: September 29, 2006

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Sep 29 06:30:56 CDT 2006

- Volume 5, Issue 14, September 29, 2006.

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:

05: FLASH.
10: PHP.
12: TOOLS.
15: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


On Handicapped Access, Target Fights the Wrong Fight for the Wrong 
By Evan Schuman.
"...What if Target took this argument to its next stage and decided 
that discrimination laws and hate laws didn't apply to their Web site 
because those federal laws-many of which were written long before 
today's Web was prominent-didn't specifically mention them? Would it 
feel free to flout those laws on its Web site by publishing racial 
slurs and hate-filled death threats?. E-commerce is such an ingrained 
part of retail today that all physical laws-where possible-must apply. 
But even if Target had a more sound defense to this litigation, why in 
the world would it want to pursue it? Why is it spending a mountain of 
legal dollars to justify keeping a large segment of potential consumers 
from easily using its site?..."

DTI: 'Our blind guy can use it so it's fine'
By Bruce Lawson.
"...It shows that the DTI (United Kingdom's Department of Trade and 
Industry) top-brass regard their duty as merely 'allowing' access; they 
haven't thought about the accessibility of the site for a blind member 
of the public just surfing in for the first time, who doesn't want to 
practice daily in order to accomplish their business with the DTI. A 
similar argument to this is rumbling through the courts in the USA. 
Compare this with the NFB/ Target lawsuit. Target has found three 
screenreader users who say 'we can use it, so it's not inaccessible', 
although Jim Thatcher's declaration to the court suggests to me that 
it's hardly doing its best to assist screenreader users who aren't as 
proficient as Target's stooges..."

Finally, Caption Playback
By Google.
"By now, you may have noticed that we've just introduced a small but 
significant new feature that many of us have long awaited: playback of 
captions and subtitles! If you haven't tried it yet, you can go to this 
page, select a captioned video, and while playing it you can click on 
the [CC] symbol to turn captions on and off..."


Create Pages That Fill the Browser With CSS
By Zoe Gillenwater.
"A frequently asked question in CSS forums is how to create pages that 
stretch vertically to fill the browser window, regardless of the amount 
of content. With tables, you would nest your entire design in a table 
with a single cell and set both the cell and table's height to be 100 
percent. With CSS, it's also quite simple and easy. In this tutorial, 
you will learn the basic CSS technique for making pages fill the 
browser window, which you can also use any time you have a div that you 
want to stretch to fill its parent. Please note, however, that this is 
not a tutorial about making a footer stick to the bottom of the browser 
viewport or about emulating frames. These are more complicated layout 
requirements that may be covered in further tutorials, building on the 
100 percent height technique introduced here."

Push My Button
By Aaron Gustafson.
"...Unlike the input-based buttons, the majority of browsers do not 
force any particular design on the button element, leaving it a raw 
ingot which we can cast and shape to our liking..."

12 Lessons for Those Afraid of CSS and Standards
By Ben Henick.
"If you're new to CSS and web standards, you may feel as though you've 
fallen down a rabbit hole. Ben Henick is here to ease your pain."

Long Live the Q Tag
By Stacey Cordoni.
"IE/Win's lack of support for the Q tag has stymied fans of semantic 
markup. Stacey Cordoni offers a CSS-based workaround."

Vertical Centering in CSS
By Dusan Janovsky.
"Though there is a CSS property vertical-align, it doesn't work like 
attribute valign in HTML tables. CSS property vertical-align doesn't 
seem to be able to solve this problem.."

Methods for Containing Floats
By Ed Eliot.
Ed Eliot describes techniques for clearing floats.

Standard Forms
By Anthony Eggert.
"I have finally standardized my XHTML forms. The final result is the 
combination of many hours of experimentation and input from numerous 
sources. This is still a work in progress and, as with all my source 
code, will be updated. I tried to eliminate as much usage of containing 
elements and stick with standard form tags. Are they accessible? Yes. 
Validate? You bet."


Remote Usability Testing Wiki
By Bolt Peters.
"We put this Wiki up to help folks understand remote usability testing, 
and find the software and web apps for conducting remote usability 

+04: EVENTS.

Webcontent.gov Training and Workshops
Sessions September - December, 2006.
Most sessions are in Washington D.C. U.S.A.

Web Directions North
February 6-10, 2007.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

IA Summit 2007
March 22-26, 2007.
Las Vegas, Nevada U.S.A.

International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media
March 26-28, 2007.
Boulder, Colorado U.S.A.

Annual Writers U.A. (User Assistance) Conference for Software User 
March 25-28, 2007.
Long Beach, California  U.S.A.

+05: FLASH.

Accessibility In Trouble 1: Flash
By Mike Davies.
"The web accessibility community is in deep trouble. It's a train-wreck 
waiting to happen. Unfortunately when the collision eventually happens, 
disabled people lose out. Its time to get web accessibility back on 
track. Take it back from the zealots with their own private agendas and 

How to Position Movie Clips Based on Browser Resizing
By David Stiller.
"It's not hard to make a SWF resize itself to the dimensions of the 
browser.  All it takes, in fact, is to set the width and height 
attributes of the HTML's <object> <param> element and/or <embed> 
element to 100 percent.  There are a number of ways to determine the 
SWF's display, too:  show all (default) makes the entire movie visible 
while maintaining the original aspect ratio of the SWF (if the 
browser's aspect ratio differs, you'll get the equivalent of 
'letterbox' borders either horizontally or vertically); no border gets 
rid those potential borders, but may crop parts of the SWF instead; 
exact fit distorts the SWF, if necessary, to make the entire movie 
visible without borders or cropping.  See Adobe TechNote 12701 for 
complete details. Fine and good.  Now, what if you want to allow the 
Stage to resize, but not its contents?  What if you want to adjust the 
position of various movie clips ? such as a logo, navigation, or 
content area? in response to the Stage's new dimensions as the browser 
is resized?  Luckily, that's not hard either..."


6 Ways to Fix a Confused Information Architecture
By Jakob Nielsen.
"When your website's users consistently go to the wrong sections, you 
have many options for getting users back on track, from better labels 
to clearer structure."


Event Handling Versus Event Delegation
By Christian Heilmann.
"It is not new, but it still is rather clever: In order to avoid having 
to add event handlers to each and every element you want to monitor, 
you can use one single handler on a parent element and let browser 
event bubbling do the rest of the work for you."

Unobtrusive Table Sort Script (revisited)
By Brian McAllister.
"My first free Sunday morning in what seems like an epoch produces a 
complete rewrite of the original (and by far most popular) lab 
experiment, the 'Unobtrusive Table Sort Script', that addresses speed 
issues present within version #1..."

.NET, WCAG, Javascript and Accessibility
By Jack Pickard.
"...Microsoft .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio are fantastic products 
and tools for developing applications, but they aren't without their 
faults and limitations. The faults being that they don't produce 
standards-compliant css-styled code, and the limitations being that to 
add behavior outside standard HTML behavior, they need to use 
javascript, both of which can potentially cause problems for someone 
trying to develop an accessible website, particularly if they aren't 
aware of them..."

JavaScript Contrast Class
By Gez Lemon.
"I was contacted by Andrew Waer  about a JavaScript class he had 
written to help determine the color contrast between two color, based 
on the algorithm suggested in the 26th of April 2000 working draft for 
Accessibility Evaluation and Repair Tools . Andrew has kindly allowed 
me to publish the details of the class. The class can either be used to 
create your own color contrast checker, or to select appropriately 
contrasting colors on the fly."

IE7 JavaScript Improvements
By Dean Edwards.
"The IE Blog recently reported some improvements  in IE7's JavaScript 

JaS Gallery
By Robert Nyman.
"JaS is short for JavaScript Slides and it is a highly customizable 
JavaScript library for easily turning your images into a collection 
viewable as a slideshow, and with fading effects, if desired. It also 
supports automatic thumbnail creation and tagging of images, so the 
viewers can find the exact images they're looking for. You can use it 
any way you like in your own web site, and adapt it to your specific 
needs. It's also a way to showcase the independence and separation of 
the interaction and the design of a web page."

7 Things About AJaX
By Dion Hinchcliffe.
"It's been approximately 18 months since Jesse James Garrett fatefully 
coined the term that would go on to nearly reinvent the face of Web 
development.  A lot has happened in the last year and a half, including 
the Web 2.0 phenomenon getting into high gear, the creation or 
resurrection of many a company building or using rich Internet 
technologies, and the proliferation of really great dynamic, online 
software.  It's clear that Ajax as a name, a concept, and a popular 
browser development technique is here to stay, and our Web applications 
will never be the same again..."

The XMLHttpRequest Object
By W3C.
W3C Working Draft 27 September 2006.

Roadmap for Accessible Rich Internet Applications
By W3C.
"The Roadmap for Accessible Rich Internet Applications addresses the 
accessibility of dynamic Web content for people with disabilities. The 
roadmap outlines the technologies to map controls, AJAX live regions, 
and events to accessibility APIs, including custom controls used for 
Rich Internet Applications. The roadmap also outlines new navigation 
techniques to mark common Web structures as menus, primary content, 
secondary content, banner information and other types of Web 
structures. These new technologies can be used to improve the 
accessibility and usability of Web resources by people with 
disabilities, without extensive modification to existing libraries of 
Web resources."


Developer Spotlight: Gian Sampson-Wild
By Chris Duckett.
"Gian Sampson-Wild is an accessibility expert and one of the speakers 
at this year's Web Directions conference to held in Sydney this week. 
Gian is currently working for Monash University where she leads the 
User Interface Design Team and is also a member of the W3C Web Content 
Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Working Group. Builder AU interviewed 
Gian via e-mail prior to the commencement of Web Directions to talk 
about accessibility, how to make it a part of the development process 
and where to from here."

WaSP Interviews Lars Gunther
By Rob Dickerson and April Siegfried.
"Lars Gunther is an educator in gymnasium (senior high/secondary 
school) from a small town in Sweden. Lars freely admits that he is not 
a well-known person. When the Education Task Force first approached 
Lars Gunther proposing an interview, Lars had one stipulation; that he 
not be portrayed as a web guru. Although not famous, we found Lars to 
be a tireless advocate for change. We also discovered that one person 
can make an impact. During the past year Lars Gunther has been working 
for change that would affect the entire gymnasium system. What were the 
challenges? How did he overcome adversity?..."

Webmaster Jam Session (Podcasts and MP3s)
Podcasts and MP3s are now available from this event. Included are: 
Decade of Style, Why use Web Standards, Essential Web Skills, Building 
Accessible Websites, Photoshop Tips and Tricks, Why Good Content Must 
Suck, Starbucks Tribal Knowledge, Designing with CSS, Be a Web Design 

What, When, Who... Internet History Timeline
By Mike Cherim.
"This article is my version of the What, When, and Who of Internet 
history - with a few of my own additions - from when it was 
wood-burning to present. I have hopefully made it inclusive and 
comprehensive but please be sure to read the Credits and my Disclaimer. 
That said, I hope you find it as interesting reading it as I did 
writing it. I must confess that it was a pretty big challenge, more so 
than I had envisioned. Enjoy..."


How Indexes Support Good Information Scent
By Celeste Lyn Paul.
"Information foraging is a theory which describes adaptive strategies 
users employ to find information. Information 'scent' is the idea of 
using environmental cues to reinforce information the user is seeking 
(Pirolli, 2003). This idea is what helps the user know if they are 
going in the direction towards their information goals, or if they need 
to back up or begin their search over. Think of it as the game of 'hot 
and cold' applied to information seeking behavior..."

Fresh Presentation on Search Analytics
By Louis Rosenfeld.
"Gave this talk (2.1 Mb PPT) on search analytics a half hour ago at 
Webcontent.gov's Web Manager University; enjoy."

Google, Meet Web Standards
By Roger Johansson.
"...the Google Search Appliance XHTML Stylesheet is now available for 
the Google Search Appliance. The Stylesheet will make the GSA interface 
use Web standards - XHTML 1.0 Strict for structure and CSS for 

+10: PHP.

User-Friendly Contextual Navigation With Simple PHP Includes
By Shirley Kaiser.
"Usability experts continue to tell us not to have a live hyperlink 
pointing to the current page, as it can be confusing for visitors. With 
some basic, simple-to-use PHP and one PHP include file, you can 
customize your navigation so that the current page does not have a live 
hyperlink to itself. In addition, you can manage your entire site's 
navigation from that one include file, making your site's navigation 
management convenient, efficient, and easy to maintain. Today's post is 
a short tutorial on how to create this type of navigation with a couple 
of short snippets of PHP code, clean and lean HTML markup, and one PHP 
include file for your entire site."

Object-Oriented Programming Through Design Patterns
By George Schlossnagle.
"If you're looking for an overview of the new object-oriented features 
of PHP 5, you've found a good place to start. This article, the first 
of several parts, is excerpted from chapter two of the book Advanced 
PHP Programming, written by George Schlossnagle..."


W3C Change Full Independence
By Eric A. Meyer.
"Transform the W3C from a member-funded organization to a financially 
independent entity."

Professional Body for the Web Design Industry?
By Mark Boulton.
"I was listening to the atmedia 'Hot Topics' podcast the other day, 
which unfortunately I had to miss. The section of it which I found 
really interesting was the discussion on a professional body (which is 
about two thirds of the way through). Although the panel agreed that a 
professional body for our industry is overall a bad idea, I actually 
think they were talking about several different things..."

+12: TOOLS.

Web Developer Toolbar and Menu for Opera
"The web developer toolbar is a menu and toolbar setup for Opera which 
brings together functions related to web development, validation 
services and links to standards and other documentation..."

By Khoi Vinh.
"Shorty is a simple tool for creating shorter, human- readable links 
from long URLs. You install Shorty on your server, so the links you 
create with it never go away."


A Survey of Browser Text Size Settings
By clickdensity.
clickdensity has now been up and running for over 3 months, during 
which time we've recorded about 20 million visitor sessions from nearly 
1,500 websites. With this quantity and variety of data, we thought it 
would be worthwhile finding and publishing useful generic statistics 
that are not currently available elsewhere on the web. We'll start with 
Text Size settings."

Looking at Type
By Mark Boulton.
"Choosing the best fonts for your site is about more than making it 
look pretty: different typefaces send out different signals. Here are 
some tips..."

They're Not Fonts!
By Allan Haley.
"...It seems that just about everyone is using the word 'font' when 
they are referring to a typeface. 'Fonts' and 'typefaces' are different 
things. Graphic designers choose typefaces for their projects but use 
fonts to create the finished art..."

Everything I Know About Programming I Learnt from Typography
By Matt Patterson.
"Here are the slides from my presentation at BarCamp London a few 
weekends ago..."


Research-Based Web Design and Usability Guidelines
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. General 
Services Administration replaced the 2004 edition of the Guidelines, 
with the updated 2006 Guidelines. HTML version has been replaced by PDF.

The Ridiculous Discussion About Monitor Sizes and Screen Resolutions
By Robert Nyman.
"...A monitor's size has no correlation whatsoever to the resolution 
used on it...No connection exists between web browser window sizes and 
the maximum resolution available on a monitor...my main point is to not 
design for a specific resolution, and to instead use elastic layouts. 
What I mean with that is to create web sites whose width will adapt to 
the area available in the visitor's window...It's the web! It's a 
living medium where we never, ever can control what the end user 
chooses to use, and neither are we entitled to do so. Do you know how 
many web browsers, devices, platforms and settings there are out there? 
So please, look to yourself and your design flexibility options instead 
of trying to label your visitors. Now I please ask you to stand up in 
the next meeting. Explain to designers and decision makers how the web 
really works."

Not Designing for Most Common Screen Resolution
By S.R. Emerson.

Designing for Older People - Hints and Tips
By Ann Light.
"The HCI 2006 workshop on 'HCI, the Web and the Older Population', run 
by Joy Goodman of the University of Cambridge, Anna Dickinson of the 
University of Dundee, and Suzette Keith and Gill Whitney of Middlesex 
University, is no newcomer to the conference. In its fourth year, it 
welcomed Roger Coleman of the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre, Royal 
College of Art, and Rick Crust of Hackney's Silver Surfers to talk and 
participate in the development of personas, the afternoon's activity. 
12 summary points from the workshop follow. "

+15: XML.

How to Explain RSS the Oprah Way
By Stephanie Quilao.
"So, to make RSS much easier to understand, in Oprah speak, RSS stands 
for: I'm 'Ready for Some Stories'. It is a way online for you to get a 
quick list of the latest story headlines from all your favorite 
websites and blogs all in one place."

So Address Tags are Rubbish for Microformat hCards?
By Chris Heilmann.
"...So, is this the end of address? Seeing that it is an inline 
element, I always considered it a bad choice for marking up an address 

[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.]



WEB DESIGN UPDATE is available by subscription. For information on how 
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The Web Design Reference Site also has a RSS 2.0 feed for site updates.


As a navigation aid for screen readers we do our best to conform to the 
accessible Text Email Newsletter (TEN) guidelines.  Please let me know 
if there is anything else we can do to make navigation easier. For TEN 
guideline information please visit:


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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