[webdev] Web Design Update: December 20, 2006

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Wed Dec 20 06:25:40 CST 2006

- Volume 5, Issue 27, December 20, 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.
06: FLASH.
11: PHP.
13: TOOLS.
16: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


The Twelve Days of an Accessites Christmas
By Jack Pickard.
"On the first day of Christmas, my website gave to me DOCTYPE 

By CATEA (Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access)
"CATEA's ATWiki serves as a collaborative, online encyclopedia on AT, 
allowing for dynamic online organization and editing of a wide variety 
of content related to AT.  It includes complete articles, research 
briefs, definitions, demonstrations of AT and links to other resources. 
It also includes discussions and opinion of AT."

Making Compact Forms More Accessible
By Mike Brittain.
"Space constraints can put the squeeze on accessibility and usability. 
Mike Brittain shares his method for making itty-bitty forms more 
accessible and easier to use."

Most Websites Flunk Basic Standards for Disability Accessibility, Says 
UN survey
By United Nations News Center.
"Only three out of 100 leading websites around the world meet the needs 
of persons with disabilities, such as the visually or manually 
impaired, according to a United Nations-commissioned report unveiled 

Quarter of Web Sites Investigated Could be Made Accessible Quickly, 
Says Expert
By Government Technology.
"As reported yesterday, only three out of 100 leading Web sites around 
the world meet the needs of persons with disabilities, a disability 
expert told the United Nations, but business is stepping up to the 

Making the Internet More Disability-Friendly is Good Business, Experts 
Tell UN Panel
By United Nations News Center.
"Making Internet sites accessible to persons with disabilities is not 
just a moral issue but also a business opportunity to tap into a larger 
share of the global market, according to business executives speaking 
at events marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities at 
the United Nations today..."

97 Percent of Websites Still Inaccessible
By Roger Johansson.
"...It is a sad fact that most Web 'professionals' still do not even 
try to make the sites they build accessible. I have performed similar 
surveys, focusing on Swedish websites, with similar results. Public 
sector sites are generally slightly better than those in the private 
sector, but only slightly. A couple of years ago I believed that by 
now, the majority of people who make their living from designing or 
developing websites would have realized the importance of 
accessibility. I was wrong. Unfortunately the majority are simply not 
interested in creating high quality work as long as they can produce 
junk and still get paid."

Completing the Windows Accessibility Picture - IAccessible2
By Peter Korn.
"Pretty much the entire computing industry has come to recognize that 
the best way to meet the needs of people with disabilities is through 
supported programming interfaces for accessibility. With a rich, 
extensible, programming interface for accessibility, assistive 
technologies can get everything they need from applications (and 
applications can provide full support for accessibility). Today, IBM 
has announced their contribution of the IAccessible2 accessibility 
programming interface for Microsoft Windows...."

Making Web Accessibility Accessible
By Mike Cherim.
"...If a senior developer really wants people to practice web 
accessibility, they themselves should be accessible, or approachable I 
guess. Being a guru got you down? Sorry, questions and whatnot come 
with the territory. Try to remember back when you didn't know stuff. 
Web accessibility and the people who know it best need to be friendly 
and willing to put it into bite size chunks if need be. If web 
accessibility is in itself accessible, more people will try it on for 
size. Once it's realized sites don't have to look like crap or remain 
function-free, it will meld into mainstream development more quickly 
and more readily..."


A Message To You, Rudy - CSS Production Notes
By Andy Clarke.
"Andy Clarke details an approach for embedding production notes inside 
your document - a useful aid to project management and team 
communications throughout the development phases of any project. Sounds 
like Santa isn't the only one who'll be getting notes this Christmas."

Styling hCards with CSS
By John Allsop.
"John Allsop applies a little bit of style to exhibit how life can be 
breathed into any instance of the hCard microformat. Like the wrapping 
on a good gift, add a little sparkle to your pages with this handy 
step-by-step tutorial."

The Mobile Web, Simplified
By Cameron Moll.
"Cameron Moll eases us into the idea of developing for the mobile web 
with four quick tips to get you started. Sleigh bells ring, are you 
listening? In the lane someone has a mobile device and they're trying 
to get to your content. Hark!"

Switchy McLayout: An Adaptive Layout Technique
By Marc van den Dobbelsteen.
"The introduction of new mobile and computing devices challenges us to 
look beyond the liquid layout. Marc van den Dobbelsteen offers a way to 
bring appropriate layouts to a wider range of screens and devices."

CSS Advisor
By Adobe.
"Welcome to CSS Advisor public beta. Use this site to: Find solutions 
to CSS and browser compatibility issues; Share solutions and 
workarounds you've discovered with the community; Comment on and 
improve existing solutions..."

New CSS Commands for Internet Explorer 7
By Trenton Moss.
"There are a small handful of new CSS commands that you can now use for 
Internet Explorer 7. Well, they're not really new - most other browsers 
have supported them for a long time and IE is only just catching up. 
These new commands basically give you more control over HTML elements 
and eliminate the need to use classes or ids in a lot of instances. 
Once IE6 becomes outdated you'll be able to use the commands outlined 
in this article. Actually, that's not strictly true - provided that 
your website doesn't rely on these commands and is still legible in IE6 
and before then there's no problem using them..."

Cascading Style Sheets: Current Work
By Cascading Style Sheets Working Group.
"This page contains descriptions and a rough schedule of what the CSS 
WG (Cascading Style Sheets Working Group, formerly 'CSS & FP WG') is 
working on. If you want to follow the development of CSS3, this page is 
the place to start..."

+03: COLOR.

Colors and Accessibility Issues
By Stanford University.
"It is not the use of color that is an issue in terms of accessibility 
- rather, it is the use of colour as the only means to convey 
information or insufficient color contrast that poses potential 


Fast and Simple Usability Testing
By Natalie Downe.
"Natalie Downe describes a simple approach to usability testing for 
those of us working to tight timescale's or budgets. That'd be nearly 
all of us then. Learn how to make the most of your available user 
testing time, and perhaps this year you'll not end up quizzing auntie 
as she stuffs her face with turkey."

Site Testing with Text Based Browsers
By Jonathan Christopher.
"...If you don't currently give your sites a quick run through with a 
text based browser, it's a good habit to get into. It really helps you 
keep an eye on the semantics of your document, and it also gives you a 
new look into the usability of your website as a whole. At the same 
time, you're able to see how your documents behave without all that 
fancy Ajax you have going on."

+05: EVENTS.

India's 7th annual national conference on Advanced User Interface 
January 5, 2007.
Bangalore, India

Future of Web Design
April 18, 2007.
London, United Kingdom

WebVisions 2007
May 3-4, 2007.
Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.

eduWeb Conference
July 22-24, 2007.
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.

August 5-9, 2007.
San Diego, California, U.S.A.

Mobile HCI
September 11-14, 2007.
Singapore, Republic of Singapore.

October 14-17, 2007.
Tempe, Arizona, U.S.A.

+06: FLASH.

Flash, AJAX, Usability, and SEO
By Shari Thurow.
"Get with the program, developers and marketers. Don't assume your 
target audience wants an enhanced experience, not even advanced Web 
users. Analyze your target audience's search behavior. Don't skip SEO's 
usability aspect."


Usability and IA are Core Skills for Intranet Teams
By James Robertson.
"Usability and information architecture (IA) are core areas of 
expertise for intranet teams, and all organizations should take steps 
to build this expertise internally."


Is this Overrated?
By Jonathan Snook.
"In many of the JavaScript tutorials, there's plenty of concern over 
this. The this keyword is used to reference the current function/object 
context. The problem is, a function can easily be 'detached' from the 
object it was originally defined as a method of. As a result, the this 
keyword no longer references what you thought it should and errors 


Cameron Moll (Interview)
By .Net.
Cameron Moll is one of the world's leading figures on the future of 
mobile web. .net caught up with him to find out exactly where the 
mobile web is headed, and why we'll all be using it."

Design Inside Yahoo!: Luke Wroblewski (Interview)
By Joshua Kaufman.
"...I interviewed Luke Wroblewski, Principal Designer for Social Media. 
I talked to Luke about the role of design vision at Yahoo!, the tools 
he uses to communicate ideas, Yahoo!'s personality and more..."

Personas and Outrageous Software - an Interview with Alan Cooper 
By Gerry Gaffney.
"I asked Alan Cooper (over a rather echoing connection) why he is 
outraged by bad software, and how he developed the concept of 
'personas'. I was interested to hear the 'father of Visual Basic' say 
'What I need is a computer that doesn't make me feel bad and a cell 
phone that doesn't make me feel stupid'."

The Task Analysis Grid
By Todd Warfel.
A usable and efficient alternative to the requirements doc.

10 Years of CSS
By W3C.
"In 2006, the World Wide Web Consortium proudly celebrates the ten 
years of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), the technology designers use to 
create attractive, economical, and flexible Web sites. In these pages 
you will find history and highlights from 10 years with style..."


Boost Your Hyperlink Power
By Jeremy Keith.
"Jeremy Keith appraises the humble hyperlink and highlights some of the 
more interesting, and perhaps lesser-known attributes that can be used 
to enrich the semantic value of your links. Consider it something to 
mull over whilst you polish off that gingerbread."

Where Are All the Visited Links?
By Lisa Herrod.
 From an Accessibility perspective, visited links act in the same way. 
Imagine a user who has an acquired brain injury, or someone with a 
cognitive disability. Reducing the memory load of a user by 
highlighting visited links improves the accessibility of a site and is 
also one of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Google Accessible Web Search for the Visually Impaired
By Dan Johnson.
"In recognizing the benefits of providing their resources to the 
visually impaired, as well as other handicapped individuals, Google 
Labs is developing a product known as Accessible Search."

Seeing the World in Symbols: Icons and the Evolving Language of Digital 
By Jonathan Follet.
"Of all the objects that occupy our digital spaces, there are none that 
capture the imagination so much as icons. As symbols, icons can 
communicate powerfully, be delightful, add to the aesthetic value of 
software, engage people's curiosity and playfulness, and encourage 
experimentation. These symbols are key components of a graphic user 
interface-mediators between our thoughts and actions, our intentions 
and accomplishments."

+11: PHP.

Introduction to Creating Command Objects with PHP 5
By Alejandro Gervasio.
"In this article, the first part of a series, you'll learn the basics 
of applying the command pattern with PHP 5. As always, plenty of 
hands-on examples are included."

PHP and RSS: Getting It Together
By Tracy Peterson.
"RSS Syndication is virtually ubiquitous these days, so it's imperative 
that a PHP developer at least understand RSS and how it works. This 
article explains the basics of RSS, some of its many uses, how to use 
PHP to create an RSS feed from a database, and how to use the XML_RSS 
module to read an existing RSS feed and translate it into HTML."

Automatic Merging and Versioning of CSS/JS Files with PHP
By Ed Eliot.
"Most sites include a number of CSS and JavaScript files. Whilst 
developing it's usually easier to manage them as separate files but on 
a live site it makes sense to merge files to reduce the number of HTTP 
requests the browser has to make. For JavaScript this is particularly 
important as browsers block rendering whilst downloading. It's also 
important to version your files to ensure that browsers download the 
latest copies when you've made changes. I hate maintaining this stuff 
manually so I've written a PHP script which takes care of merging files 
on the fly whilst also versioning the merged file automatically as the 
various component files change..."

Security Specialist Leaves PHP Security Team
By Heise Security.
Stefan Esser, PHP security specialist and member of the official PHP 
Security Response Team has, he says, had enough - in his blog he has 
announced his immediate resignation from the PHP Security Response 
Team. He states that he has various reasons for doing so, the most 
important of which is that his attempt to make PHP safer 'from the 
inside' is futile."

PHP Security
By Zeev Suraksi.
To set things right about a misquote on Slashdot, Zeev Suraksi has 
posted this long statement mentioning what he really said and a few 
other things.

PHP Cookies vs Sessions - The Breakdown
By Mike Bernat.
"Knowing the basics of cookies and sessions is essential to any 
successful PHP programmer. It is useful to store pieces information on 
the users computer for later use. Things like when they last visited, 
language of choice, age, etc. Cookies and Sessions are the perfect 
solution to our needs. Now it is important to understand that while 
these two are very similar, one is not better than the other. Many 
times, both can be used side by side without any problem. Lets start 
with Cookies and how they work."

Dynamic XML Document Construction with the PHP DOM
By Melonfire.
"When working with XML-based applications, developers often find 
themselves facing the requirement to generate XML-encoded data 
structures on the fly. This tutorial introduces you to the main 
functions in PHP's DOM API, showing you how to programmatically 
generate a complete well-formed XML document from scratch and save it 
to disk..."


Who Questions Bill Gates' Commitment to Web Standards?
By Molly E. Holzschlag.
"On a rainy Wednesday in Redmond, Washington, 14 invited bloggers and 
industry leaders gathered at building 20 of the Microsoft campus for a 
full day of discussion regarding Microsoft's outreach to its 
communities via the upcoming MIX07 conference. The very interesting and 
productive meeting was topped off with an hour spent with none other 
than Bill Gates, during which we had the fantastic opportunity to 
discuss issues of concern to the industry. We were asked not to publish 
any audio, video, or photos (except for the group photo here, which you 
can also see on Flickr for more detail). I wish I could publish the 
audio, I think folks would enjoy it, but since I promised not to, I'll 
make good on that and provide you the transcript of my discussion with 
Bill on the issue of Web standards here..."

Firefox 3.0: Passes Acid 2 CSS Test
By Dion Almaer.
The latest nightly build of Firefox 3.0 passes the Acid 2 test for CSS 
standards compliance, joining Opera, Konqueror and Safari. Internet 
Explorer is now the only major browser not to pass the Acid 2 test.

Christmas Quiz - An Answer
By Brian Kelly.
"In my Christmas Quiz posting I asked which of the following are open 
standards: Flash, PDF, RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, MS Word. Before giving my 
thoughts on this, I will comment on the responses..."

The Fuji CSS Validator Release
By Karl Dubost.
"Did you start to hear here and there songs flowing in the streets? Yes 
it is Christmas. Olivier Thereaux and Jean-Guilhem Rouel (W3C), and 
Peter Zhelezniakov (Sun Microsystems) worked hard with help from users, 
translators, developers to offer a new version of the CSS validator 
just in time for the 10 years anniversary of CSS..."

+13: TOOLS.

Open Document Format (ODF) Accessibility Evaluator
By University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
"The ODF Accessibility Analyzer is a tool to be employed by users of 
Open Document Format compatible authoring tools to ensure that a 
document in this format, be it text, spreadsheet, presentation, etc., 
is accessible to people with disabilities. The Analyzer will adhere to 
the ODF specification, as put forth by the OASIS organization 
(http://www.oasis-open.org/). Where possible, the software will also 
adhere to upcoming accessibility features and standards in forthcoming 
ODF specifications, such as ODF 1.1. In addition, the Analyzer will 
check for accessibility issues common to most interactive 


Knockout Type - Thin Is Always In
By Shaun Inman.
"Shaun Inman reveals a powerful method for keeping light-on-dark text 
looking lean, mean and fighting clean. Stay looking trim this Christmas 
with tantalizing tree-topping typography trick from the internet's Mr 
Cool himself."

Simple Relative Font Size Equation
By SixThings.
"For those of you working with relative font-sizes in your CSS, here is 
a basic equation for getting the exact size equivalent in ems, given a 
desired px value..."


Don't Let the Graphics Grinch Steal Your Christmas
By Andrew B. King.
"Know what jolly old site owners get when they let their graphics
get so plump they shake like a bowl full of jelly? A lump of coal
for Christmas. Let our Rudolph guide your way to a merry Christmas
and happy New Year with an inspirational rendering of 'Twas the
night before Christmas."

The Fixed to Liquid Toggle Needs to Die
By Christian Montoya.
"Have you ever seen those web designs that have a button or link that 
allows you to switch the fixed width layout to a flexible one? The new 
Mezzoblue design has one at the very bottom of the 'About Mezzoblue' 
page, a Jeremy Keith (R) button in honor of my favorite advocate of 
liquid designs. It's funny and cute and worth a jolly good laugh? and 
it's about as ridiculous as breaking a walnut with a sledgehammer..."

Don Norman: Simple Doesn't Sell
By Mark Hurst.
"Don Norman is technically right that simple doesn't sell, because what 
people are really buying is a good experience. Sometimes simple is 
good, and sometimes complex is good, depending on what a good 
experience is in a given context."

Simplicity Ain't So Simple, Part IV: The Blessed Curse of Power Users
By Nick Bradbury.
"...It really boils down to doing what I recommended in part I of this 
series: figure out which features - and which options - you need to 
make obvious and which ones you need to hide.  You can hide things that 
only power users want...Power users can accept that some features need 
to be buried beneath a menu or obscure setting, and they usually won't 
complain if they have to spend a minute or two customizing your 
software to get it to work the way they want. By all means keep your 
power users happy, but make sure you don't increase your software's 
complexity in the process.  Both sets of customers will be happier for 

Simplicity Ain't So Simple, Part V: Combine Features
By Nick Bradbury.
"In this series of blog posts for developers, I've talked about 
simplifying your software by hiding non-essential features (or not 
adding them in the first place).  But sometimes you can simplify your 
software by combining features..."

Simplicity Ain't So Simple, Part VI: Simple = Secure
By Nick Bradbury.
"If you want to create software that's used by a lot of people, you 
already know you've got to make it simple.  But if you're designing a 
desktop application which connects to the Internet, you've also got to 
make it secure..."

The Laws of Simplicity
By John Maeda.
"I wrote The Laws of Simplicity in late 2005 to early 2006 to get my 
thoughts down about simplicity. In the course of 100-pages, I outline 
the Ten Laws as used on this website."

+16: XML.

By Adobe.
"Mars is the code name for technology being developed by Adobe that 
provides an Extensible Markup Language (XML)-based representation of 
Portable Document Format (PDF) documents. Adobe PDF is a universal file 
format for representing documents in a manner independent of the 
application software, hardware, and operating system used to create 
them and of the output device on which they are to be displayed or 
printed. XML is a cross-platform, extensible, and text-based standard 
for representing data that was created so that richly structured 
documents could be used over the web...The content on this wiki is 
licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License. Macromedia 
requires no attribution..."

Adobe MARS: Looks Interesting
By Eliot Kimber.
"MARS is an XML-based format that is intended as a functional 
replacement for PDF. It's not really accurate to call it an XML version 
of PDF because it's not a simple transliteration of PDF into tags 
(which could be done easily enough) but a ground-up exercise in 
designing and XML-based scheme for doing what PDF does...MARS tries to 
use standards as much as it can and it seems to do so to a remarkable 
level of completeness. It uses SVG for representing each page, supports 
the usual standards for media objects (bitmaps, videos, etc.). Uses Zip 
for packaging, and so on...Within Acrobat, the user experience off MARS 
is identical to that for PDF: all the behavior and functionality is the 
same. There is a MARS plug-in for Adobe 8 (reader or professional)..."

[Section one ends.]


+17: 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 
to subscribe and unsubscribe please visit:
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.]

More information about the Webdev mailing list