[webdev] Web Design Update: October 13, 2006

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Oct 13 06:35:37 CDT 2006

- Volume 5, Issue 16, October 13, 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:

03: COLOR.
05: FLASH.
10: PHP.
12: TOOLS.
14: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Web Accessibility Testing
By Jim Thatcher et al.
Chapter 13 of the new book, Web Accessibility: Web Standards and 
Regulatory Compliance, by Jim Thatcher, Andrew Kirkpatrick, Richard 
Rutter, Christian Heilmann, Cynthia Waddell, Michael R. Burks, Shawn 
Lawton Henry, Bruce Lawson, Mark Urban, and Patrick H. Lauke, published 
by Friends of Ed, July, 2006.

Accessibility at Educational Institutions
By Matt Bailey.
"ZDNet Education reports on the struggle American universities and 
colleges have experienced in reaching for website accessibility. 
According to a Hannon Hill study, only 17 of 124 tested American 
institutions of higher education were in compliance with the WCAG. This 
is sad. Having worked at a couple of colleges, I know that concern with 
accessibility was nowhere near the level it needed to be: a lot of lip 
service, little action. If there is any single category of websites 
which has a critical need for accessibility, it's education. Yet these 
institutions are definitely lagging behind..."

Working with Others: Accessibility and User Research
By Maurizio Boscarol.
"Could accessibility guidelines and practices be improved by greater 
emphasis on user research? Maurizio Boscarol thinks the answer is 
probably 'yes.'"

Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory 
"TEITAC is a federal advisory committee providing recommendations for 
updates of accessibility guidelines issued under section 508 of the 
Rehabilitation Act in 2000 and under section 255 of the 
Telecommunications Act. TEITAC members represents over forty industry, 
disability groups, standard-setting bodies in the U.S. and abroad, and 
government agencies, among others. More information about TEITAC is 
available at the Access Board web site."

Too Much Accessibility - accesskeys
By Bim Egan.
"One of the worst culprits for creating what I call 'too much 
accessibility' is the accesskey attribute. Of course, it has its place 
in the accessible web author's toolkit, but when implemented by someone 
who doesn't know how other keyboard shortcuts work, it can be a 
positive menace."

Be Accessible, Don't Meet Guidelines
By Jack Pickard.
"...Do use WCAG as a useful starting point. Do learn about how users 
with disabilities, and users with different assistive technologies use 
the web. Do test your site with assistive technologies, emulators and 
as many real people as you can get your hands on. Do seek to make your 
sites as accessible to everyone as is possible...Don't treat WCAG as 
infallible. Don't think that because WCAG isn't infallible, it isn't 
extremely useful. Don't break the WCAG checkpoints unless you know 
exactly what you're doing and why you're doing it. Don't beat someone 
over the head with an accessibility stick just because they fail a WCAG 
checkpoint: check that this will actually make their site inaccessible 
to some users first, and only then beat them over the head with an 
accessibility stick..."

More On Dyslexia
By Mel Pedley.
"A number of questions were raised following Does W3C Get Its Contrasts 
Wrong?. The following was originally posted as a comment follow-up, 
but, since it's rather long, I've re-posted it here...The issue with 
contrast is sometimes referred to as 'Scoptic Sensitivity Syndrome'. 
Those who suffer from this sensitivity find high contrast text 
difficult or impossible to read. But because most 'generic dyslexics' 
suffer from more than one specific difficulty to varying degrees, it's 
difficult to find accurate figures as to how many 'generic dyslexics' 
suffer from specific Scoptic Sensitivity."


The Form Garden
By Veer West.
"A CSS Stylesheet Collection for Web Forms."

Identifying Text-Only Nodes with CSS
By Alastair Campbell.
"Floating ideas onto the CSS working group can be a frustrating 
experience, possibly almost as frustrating as seeing the same questions 
come up every few months! I think I may have made a mistake in terms of 
asking about this idea, by doing so within a thread about parent 

In Search of the Missing Run-In Value
By Molly E. Holzschlag.
"Molly E. Holzschlag encourages you to take advantage of little-known 
CSS values, such as run-in display, before they disappear..."


JumpStarts: Santorini
By Heidi Bautista.
"Santorini is structured to be as hack-free and straightforward as 
possible. So, if you've been looking for a relatively pain free way of 
getting started with CSS layouts this may be just the JumpStart for 
you. The source PNG included with Santorini is pretty simple too in 
that it doesn't have any complicated images that you need to slice up 
and shoehorn into the design. What you get with Santorini is a starter 
page that uses valid XHTML 1.0 Strict and CSS 3 markup and follows WAI 
and Section 508 accessibility guidelines making it ready for you to 
customize to suit your own requirements."

+04: EVENTS.

Texas Computer Education Association's
Educational Technology Research Symposium
February 7-9, 2007.
Austin, Texas U.S.A.

webDU 2007
March 21-23, 2007.
Sydney Australia.

CHI (Computer/Human Interaction) 2007
ACM SIGCHI Computer/Human Interaction conference
April 28 - May 3, 2007.
San Jose, California U.S.A.

UPA 2007 Conference
Patterns: Blueprints for Usability
June 11-15, 2007.
Austin, Texas U.S.A.

+05: FLASH.

The Rise of Flash Video, Part 1
By Tom Green.
"In Part One of a two-part series on Flash Video, the immensely 
qualified Tom Green gives us a spirited and insightful account of the 
rise of Flash from a face in the crowd to the dominant video format of 
choice for giants like YouTube and MySpace. If you are thinking of 
adding Flash video to your web design skill set, this series is the 
place to start."


IA for Web Developers Presentation
By Thomas Vander Wal.
"My recent presentation at Web Directions South on Information 
Architecture for Web Developers is now here live online. I am using 
SlideShare from Uzanto, which is Rashmi Sinha and Jonathan Boutelle in 
the Mountain View, California and others in India."


Today's AJAX and DHTML Best Practices
By Bob Easton.
"As AJAX has risen, we have also read frequently that it's not very 
accessible. We have a few choices: Shrug, don't worry about it, and let 
people with disabilities cope with the current state of affairs. Accept 
the pronouncements that it's not accessible and go back to our pre-AJAX 
methods (and let the world pass us by). Or, learn why some AJAX 
techniques are not accessible how we might make progress. If you're 
interested in the third choice, keep reading..."

Accessibility Is Seldom Just Up To The Interface Developer
By Robert Nyman.
"The natural place to begin with is, of course, unobtrusive JavaScript. 
But when we talk about dynamic updates on the web page, or some AJAX 
calls, there has to be some fallback when the web server can return 
different states of the web page. For instance, just some text for the 
AJAX call, or the complete web page + the new content for 
non-JavaScript users. And if the system developer/-s and/or the manager 
are under the impression that this will take just one minute more to 
develop, they will refuse and stop any such attempts whatsoever. In my 
mind, it shouldn't take any longer at all, but it's about building a 
back end correctly from scratch. If you haven't, of course it will take 
more time. And once the whole web site is delivered with numerous 
JavaScript dependencies, it is rarely a small feat to one day make it 
accessible. So, build it wrong day one and you will definitely pay in 
the long run..."

Understanding Ajax: Getting Started
By Joshua Eichorn.
"What makes Ajax possible is the communication layer with the server. 
The most complete option is the JavaScript XMLHttpRequest object. If 
XMLHttpRequest is not suitable, hidden IFrames and cookies can also be 
used. Both will be examined here."

Using DOM Methods Rather Than innerHTML to Wrap All Children of a Node 
into a New Element
By Thierry Koblentz.
"..Unfortunately, innerHTML is a proprietary property and it is said 
that it should be avoided at all cost (or at least for many reasons). 
The problem with this advice is that it doesn't really come with a 
solution and until now I had been able to find out a simple way (using 
only DOM methods) to do what innerHTML does so easily..."

The JavaScript Diaries: Part 15 - The Date Object
By Lee Underwood.
"With JavaScript you can display and manipulate the date and time. You 
can calculate the days between dates, show new items on your Web site, 
etc. In this installment we'll take a look at the JavaScript Date() 
object and learn how to utilize it in our scripts."

Tackling Automatic Field Focus Usability Issues
By Christian Heilmann.
"One of my greater annoyances on the web is sites that automatically 
focus a form field when the page has loaded. Supposedly this should 
make it easier for you to use the product, as you are to log-in 
anyways, but there is one real problem with this..."

3 Easy Steps to Avoid JavaScript Memory Leaks
By Jack Slocum.
"You may not know it, but almost every site you visit that uses 
JavaScript is leaking memory. That may sound like an exaggeration, but 
it's true. Don't believe me?"

9 JavaScript Tips You May Not Know
By Ayman Hourieh.
"JavaScript is a fully-featured Object-Oriented programming language, 
on the surface, it shares syntactical similarities with Java and C, but 
the mentality is quite different, at its core, JavaScript is more 
similar to functional languages. Inside is a list of JavaScript tips, 
some offer techniques to simulate features found in C-like languages 
(such as assertions or static variables), others are meant to improve 
performance and explore some of the more obscure parts of the web 
scripting language..."


Girl Geeks: Dori Smith, JavaScript Guru (Podcast)
By Maryam and Robert Scoble.
"Dori Smith - credited with getting Robert to blog and the author of 
the definitive book on JavaScript - speaks with Maryam and Robert 
Scoble about JavaScript issues past, present and future as she finds 
herself at the center of the Web 2.0 world, now that JavaScript is cool 
again (so is her 24-inch Dell monitor)."

Ten Questions for Peter-Paul Koch
By Russ Weakley.
Russ talks to PPK about "Quirksmode, browser detect, 'ppk on 
javascript', AJAX, JavaScript libraries and more."

Subtraction: Selling Jeffrey Zeldman on Selling
By Khoi Vinh.
"Khoi Vinh interviews Jeffrey Zeldman prior to the latter's AIGA NY 
talk next week."

World Usability Day - An Interview with Elizabeth Rosenzweig (Podcast)
By Gerry Gaffney.
"Elizabeth Rosenweig is principal of Bubble Mountain Consulting...I 
spoke to her in her capacity as Director of World Usability Day ...Why 
do we need a World Usability Day, and will it make the world a better 
place? How can you get involved? Find out from Elizabeth!"

Web Directions South 2006
Podcasts and speaker notes.


Accessible Search Now has Advanced Search Features
By T.V Raman.
"Ever since we launched Google Accessible Search in July, one of the 
most oft-requested features has been the addition of advanced search 
capabilities similar to those available on the main Google Search page. 
In response, we've added an advanced search link at 
http://labs.google.com/accessible in order to refine your searches in 
various ways. The order of results will continue to take the 
accessibility of the search results into account. Here are the types of 
advanced queries you can perform..."

+10: PHP.

Introduction to Object Oriented Programming in PHP4
By Daniel0.
"In this tutorial you will learn about OOP. OOP is short for Object 
Oriented Programming, and by coding in OOP it means that you will 
primarily use objects as much as possible. PHP5 introduces a new object 
model which changes PHP's handling of objects. The object model was 
completely rewritten for better performance and more features. PHP5's 
object model is backwards-compatible with PHP4's object model. There is 
one thing you must know: PHP4 do not support the PHP5 way. Since most 
hosting companies use PHP4 I will focus on the PHP4 way to do it. I 
might write another tutorial for PHP5's object model. In this tutorial 
I will explain the basic things that is mostly used, so if you already 
have a basic understanding of OOP, this tutorial might not be 
interesting for you."

Part 2: User-friendly Contextual Navigation with Simple PHP Includes
By Shirley Kaiser.
"Building on the previous post, User-friendly Contextual Navigation 
with Simple PHP Includes, I thought I'd take things one small and 
simple step further by using PHP once again, this time to add a CSS 
class for the current page. Then it's easy to use this CSS class to 
create a helpful visual cue within your navigation..."


Global Authoring Practices for the Mobile Web
By Luca Passani.
"This document gives general guidelines for web developers and content 
authors who are searching for directions to help create sites for the 
mobile web..."

The ALA Primer: A Guide for New Readers
By Erin Lynch.
"New to A List Apart? Welcome! ALA's own Erin Lynch suggests a few good 
places to start reading..."

The ALA Primer Part Two: Resources For Beginners
By Erin Lynch and  ALA Staff.
"...The following websites comes from ALA staff recommendations. Many 
of these are the sites that we've used - and still use - to improve our 
own skills. We hope this list can serve as a starting point for a 
larger collection of resources for fledgling web designers and 

CSS Validator Colour Warnings Are Not Errors
By Roger Johansson.
"It's quite common for CSS authors to think that the warnings the CSS 
Validator reports are errors. This is especially true for the warnings 
'You have no color with your background-color' and "'You have no 
background-color with your color'..."

+12: TOOLS.

Color Contrast Analyser: An Alternative Analyser
By Mel Pedley.
"Why 'alternative'? Because I believe that the standard analyzers that 
apply the W3C thresholds place too much emphasis on high contrasts. Why 
is high contrast a problem? It can make pages difficult to read for 
many people with dyslexia. So, what's different about this Analyser? As 
well as using the W3C thresholds, it uses the Hewlett Packard Color 
Difference threshold which, at 400, is 20% lower than the corresponding 
W3C figure. It also provides a 'high contrast' warning if the colour 
difference exceeds 600."

Web 2.0 Validator
By 30 Second Rule.
Automated web tool that scores your site based on a 'set of Web 2.0 
characteristics'. Hilarious.
The Story Behind the Web 2.0 Validator


How to Convince a Client They Don't Need a Splash Page
By Matt Inman.
"...Splash pages are the pages that the user sees before they actually 
get to a website; typically, they're flash and offer some kind of 
introductory animation.  The user clicks "Skip Intro" or "Enter Site" 
and from there is taken to the site.  Splash pages can also exist 
between pages on the same site.  Clients love to request them and these 
are the arguments I use to shoot them down..."

+14: XML.

2007 Will Be A Big Year For RSS
By Richard MacManus.
"With Microsoft's IE7 just around the corner and the other big Internet 
companies upgrading key information management products, 2007 is going 
to be the 'make it or break it' year for RSS..."

[Section one ends.]


+15: 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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