[webdev] Web Design Update: February 9, 2007

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Feb 9 06:29:33 CST 2007

- Volume 5, Issue 34, February 9, 2007.

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.
07: FLASH.
12: PHP.
14: TOOLS.
17: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Letter to Tim Berners-Lee: Time to Cancel WCAG 2
By Joe Clark.
"The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2) have attracted 
little or no support from standards-compliant Web developers, 
grassroots people with disabilities, or really anyone other than the 
multinational corporations that stack the WCAG Working Group...It is so 
faulty in its existing form that it is essentially unfixable...The 
Working Group, and its domination by big business, are the cause of 
great suspicion and concern...It is time for the W3C to accept reality 
and cancel the entire project."

Writing Alternate Text for Images
By Sarah Horton.
"...In this article, I explore the editorial aspects of writing 
alternate text for both functional and content images by working 
through a series of images in different contexts. But let's lay the 
groundwork by first discussing the purpose of alternate text and its 
role in universal design...."

Accessibility as a Platform to Build Upon
By Emil Stenstrom.
"...Don't believe those who say accessibility rules out everything 
else. Use accessibility as a platform to build other apps on top of. 
Only require more for extras, not the basics."

The Trouble with Accesskey
By Karl Dawson.
"Last night I delivered a short presentation on the use of access keys 
to Refresh Cambridge...You can view my presentation online and if you 
do wish to print it (or view source), you'll find some extra links too."

Oracle Sued by Blind Workers in Texas
By Dan Goodin.
"Oracle is being taken to task in a lawsuit that complains software it 
sold to the state of Texas is unusable by blind employees."


CSS Techniques I Use All the Time
By Christian Montoya.
"I'm always learning new things with CSS. It's interesting because I've 
thought of myself as a CSS expert for a while now (I'll challenge 
anyone to a competition, seriously) but I still keep learning and 
improving. I've come across some techniques lately that are extremely 
valuable and worth sharing. Have a look..."

Why 'Conditional Comments' are Bad, Repeat: Bad
By Jens Meiert.
"Conditional Comments (CC) are an unadvisable thing to use. In fact, 
they contradict the goal to separate structure from presentation, and 
they will outrun you one day. But first things first. For those (in 
this case yet happy) developers who don't know what 'Conditional 
Comments/ are, please consider Microsoft's 'specification' or embrace 
the following..."

Why I Avoid Using Conditional Comments
By Christian Montoya.
"I'm not making this post as an argument against conditional comments, 
but this is my personal reason for avoiding them. To be honest, I'm 
afraid of the possibility that someday, the <head> section will be 
filled with this..."

Multi-Column Layouts Climb Out of the Box
By Alan Pearce.
"'Holy Grail', 'One True Layout', pain in the @$$'... Alan Pearce 
presents a cleaner approach to designing multi-column layouts."

New CSS Properties in Safari
By Roger Johansson.
"It seems like the Safari team has been pretty busy implementing new 
CSS properties lately. First out is text-stroke, a new (and 
non-standard, so not for real-world use) CSS property that can be used 
to control the fill and stroke colours as well as the stroke width of 
text. A description and a couple of examples are available in 
Introducing Text-Stroke..."

By Stewart Foss.
"eduStyle is a design gallery to showcase excellent College or 
University  web sites. It was inspired by sites like Stylegala or CSS 
Vault. I used them often to try and get design inspiration, but often 
had a hard time finding examples that would be workable on a higher-ed 
websites. So after many evenings and weekends eduStyle was born."

CSS3 info
By Joost de Valk.
"CSS3 is the new kid in the stylesheet family. It offers exciting new 
possibilities to create an impact with your designs, allows you to use 
more diverse style sheets for a variety of occasions and lots more. We 
created this site because we want to share our experiences of CSS3 with 
you, and want nothing more than to simply be the biggest online 
resource covering CSS3. (Hey, we're ambitious!)..."

+03: COLOR.

Ensuring Accessibility for People With Color-Deficient Vision
By Pabini Gabriel-Petit.
"This article is Part IV of my series 'Color Theory for Digital 
Displays.' It describes how you can use color in applications and on 
Web pages to ensure that they are accessible to people who have 
color-deficient vision. If you do not consider the needs of people with 
color-deficient vision when choosing color schemes for applications and 
Web pages, those you create may be difficult to use or even 
indecipherable for about one in twelve users."


The Dreamweaver Web Standards Lesson Plan Series - Part One
By Sheri German.
"There is a concern among educators that web design is often being 
taught poorly - even at the college level - and without regard for 
standards. In some cases it is because the instructor has not updated 
her skills since the turn of the century. In other cases it is because 
there is a perception that it is too hard to teach and learn CSS. Yes, 
it is true that one must go slowly, start simple, and build skills in a 
systematic way. Still, after some experimentation and a few of my own 
lessons learned the hard way, I came up with some beginning exercises 
that seem to instill the essential concepts without overwhelming the 
students. In this series I would like to share some of these lesson 
plans with my fellow educators who, like me, would like to start their 
students out with 'best practices'. Each lesson plan includes 
step-by-step exercises along with the starter and completed example 
files for each. In this first tutorial in the series, the students will 
construct a simple page, learn to wrap text around an image, and learn 
how to divide the page into a series of divs that will later provide 
the hooks for positioning page areas with CSS. "


Low-Fi Usability Testing
By Jeff Atwood.
"Pop quiz, hotshot. How do you know if your application works? Sure, 
maybe your app compiles. Maybe it passes all the unit tests. Maybe it 
ran the QA gauntlet successfully. Maybe it was successfully deployed to 
the production server, or packaged into an installer. Maybe your beta 
testers even signed off on it. But that doesn't mean it works..."

Hallway Testing
"Forums for Quick, Free Usability Feedback..."

+06: EVENTS.

IDC 2007
Information Design Conference 2007
March 29-30, 2007.
London, United Kingdom

Highland Fling
April 5, 2007.
Edinburgh, Scotland.

SOUPS 2007
Symposium On Usable Privacy and Security
July 18-20, 2007.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Jazzing IT up with MERLOT
August 7-10, 2007.
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.

Hypertext 2007
September 10-12, 2007.
Eighteenth ACM Conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia
Manchester, United Kingdom

RailsConf Europe 2007
September 17-19, 2007.
Berlin, Germany

HighEdWebDev 2007
October 14-17, 2007.
Rochester, New York, U.S.A.

+07: FLASH.

How to Write Valid HTML/XHTML Code to Include Flash
By Robert Nyman.
"Hopefully, you're someone who cares about web standards and wants to 
have valid code for the sake of web browsers' rendering and for you as 
a web developer, to more easily spot errors right away. Then, when 
including Flash content in your web page, the default code output from 
various tools and web sites out there is invalid (at least when it 
comes to using them with a strict DOCTYPE, which I'd really recommend 
you to go with). So, what should a poor caring web developer do?..."

Flash Embedding Cage Match
By Bobby van der Sluis.
"Ever had to embed Flash into a web page and just been plain confounded 
about the best way to do it? Be confused no more! Bobby van der Sluis 
cuts through the arguments and opinions about the many techniques 


Information Architecture, Meet the Enterprise Web
By Peter Morville and Lou Rosenfeld.
Chapter 19 of the new 3rd edition of the Polar Bear Book, 'Information 
Architecture for the World Wide Web'.

The Holy Grail of Information Architecture
By Christopher Fahey.
"...I call this the 'Holy Grail of Information Architecture'. It's a 
mythical, versatile, and powerful document format that almost every IA 
has fantasized about. Depending on who you talk to, embodies most or 
all of the following qualities..."


What Has AJAX Ajax Done For Us Anyway?
James Edwards.
"The slides for my talk at last night's WSG (Web Standards Group 
Meeting) meet in Melbourne are now online..."

Using Variables and Built-in Functions to Update Your Web Pages 
By Thau!.
"With JavaScript you can update the content on your pages automatically 
- every day, every hour, or every second. Here, you'll learn about a 
simple script that automatically changes the date on your web page."

Graceful Degradation and Progressive Enhancement
By Tommy Olsson.
Graceful degradation and progressive enhancement are two sides of the 
same coin. Both are -- in this context -- applied to make a web site 
accessible to any user agent, while providing improved aesthetics 
and/or usability for more capable browsers. The difference between the 
two is where you begin your approach..."

XMLHttpRequest Functions
By Peter-Paul Koch.
"This is the XMLHttpRequest function I always use; see quirksmode.js, 
the script file that's used in every page on this site. It is presented 
very shortly; section 10A of the book treats these functions in detail."


Eric Meyer - A Candid Chat 'bout CSS and Stuff (Interview)
By Amy Armitage.
"What's so great about this CSS Guru? What makes so many people attend 
his conferences, visit and comment his blog daily, or buy his published 

Interview with Aaron Wall
By Mihaela Lica.
"Why an interview with Aaron Wall? To put it simple, because he is the 
author of the Web's most popular 'SEO Book' and one of the first 100 
Google qualified professionals in the world..."

Chat with Molly for BBC Backstage
By Ian Forrester.
"Ian Forrester from BBC Backstage interviews me about W3C, WaSP, 
Microsoft, developer education, communities and other issues of 
interest to the community."

Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us
By Michel Michael Wesch.
"Web 2.0 in just under 5 minutes."


Wikiasari: The Convergence of Usability and SEO?
By Lisa Halabi.
"...Ultimately, usability is key to ensuring a good ranking. 
Concentrate on delivering good usability, employ some basic SEO tactics 
(such as placing keywords in the page title, headings and links) and 
the rest will follow naturally. Usability and SEO go hand in hand."

+12: PHP.

PHP and XML Sitting in a Tree
By Kerri Hicks.
"Developers and designers will both benefit from reading this week's 
article. XML is becoming an increasingly attractive data format, whose 
potential we're still in the infant stages of grasping, and PHP5 
introduces a nifty, time-saving, ingenious way to use PHP to harness 
XML: SimpleXML. Not into the alphabet soup world of programming? Never 
fear, this article was written specifically so that designers and 
project managers can follow along and be able to converse intelligently 
with the geekier members of their teams."

Processing Forms with PHP, a Beginner's Guide
By Joe Dolson.
"The beginning stages of a web-based form are very simple: you read the 
HTML guide, learn about select menus, options, form labels, radio 
inputs and all the myriad ways you can inveigle information from your 
visitors. You also learn about the action and method attributes. Great. 
So all of this HTML you've learned is wonderful - but won't actually do 
anything. You need to provide some kind of back-end rules to actually 
make any use of this information..."

Decision Making Using PHP Switch Statement
By Haroon Ahmad.
"Today I am going to discuss Switch Statement. The basic concept of 
Switch is similar to the IF-ELSE statement; it helps you to write 
decision making code just like IF-ELSE but it is a little more 
organized, elegant and handy when dealing with complex logics as 
compare to IF-ELSE."

PHP Security From The Inside
By Federico Biancuzzi.
"Stefan Esser is the founder of both the Hardened-PHP Project and the 
PHP Security Response Team (which he recently left). Federico Biancuzzi 
discussed with him how the PHP Security Response Team works, why he 
resigned from it, what features he plans to add to his own hardening 
patch, the interaction between Apache and PHP, the upcoming "Month of 
PHP bugs" initiative, and common mistakes in the design of well-known 
applications such as WordPress."


International Liaison Group
By Web Standards Project.
Molly Holzschlag  announces a new working group dedicated to sharing 
resources globally.

The Time to Abandon Backwards Compatibility is Now, Microsoft
By David Andersson (Liorean)
"If you've followed the discussion about the W3C HTML WG, you've no 
doubt read Chris Wilson's comments on it. I'd like to bring one thing 
up in particular..."

Talking with Microsoft about IE.next
By Aaron Gustafson.
"You may recall that the DOM Scripting and Microsoft task forces, in 
collaboration with JS Ninjas, had been compiling a list of issues, 
needs, and wants for IE.next over the last few months (a list many of 
you contributed to as well, via your feedback). The list was to focus 
on what we wanted to see happen in terms of JavaScript support (as IE7 
didn't get much of an update in that area), but when it came down to 
it, there were other areas we really felt needed some love..."

+14: TOOLS.

Poodle Predictor
By GRI Technologies.
"Enter your URL above to see what your site will look like in 
search-engine results...See how search-engine friendly your site is, 
can the spider crawl it easily? Will it get good rankings?"


At Hyphenated Line-Ends, Leave at Least Two Characters Behind and Take 
at Least Three Forward
By Richard Rutter.
"Fi-nally is a conventionally acceptable line-end hyphenation, but 
final-ly is not, because it takes too little of the word ahead to the 
next line."

Centering Text on the Longest Line
By Richard Rutter.
"Centering a block is reasonably simple if you know how wide it 
is...But if you don't know how wide your block - perhaps you're drawing 
text from a CMS - then things get tricky..."

Using Kerning for Better Headlines
By Kim Dudley.
"The success of a promotional piece is often dependent upon the setup 
of the text. If the spacing between the lines in a paragraph is too 
tight, causing the text to be hard to read, it is likely a potential 
client will skip over much of the content. On the other hand, if the 
text is set up well it not only effectively delivers the information 
but it can also portray a specific image or style for the company. The 
choice of fonts and the spacing of that font's characters goes a long 
way in the legibility of the text. In this article we will look at how 
different applications work with a font's kerning information and how 
you can manually kern your titles and headlines for a more professional 


PDFs are Evil, Lazy, Slothful and Sinful
By Gerry McGovern.
"PowerPoints are the curse of the intranet, and PDFs the curse of the 
Web. PDFs reflect print thinking. On the Web, we need web 
thinking...Every time I see a website full of PDFs I have this 
overwhelming desire to hit the Back button, because these websites 
scream, 'We don't care about your time. We took this print stuff and 
put it on our site because it saves time for us.' The Web is not print. 
What may work exceptionally well in print may fail miserably on the 
Web. Print marketing material is designed to get attention. It is 
written with the intention that the customer will read it in some 
external environment. Therefore, it often contains contextual and 
background information on the organization...Time is everything today. 
If I have to print out pages before I can complete a task, that's a 
major inconvenience and a waste of time. Unless you have solid data 
that says your customers want to print, then don't force them to 

Usability Makes Business Sense
By Isabelle Chan.
"Good usability transcends age, geography and culture, says usability 
expert Jakob Nielsen. It doesn't matter if a Web site targets an 
Internet surfer who is 20 and not 50 years old, or is Asian and not 
American. The site will succeed in attracting visitors if it is 
designed according to how humans think and behave."

Broadband Black Holes Persist
By Andrew B. King.
"Despite President Bush's promise of universal access to broadband
by 2007 there are still areas within the US that have little or no
coverage. In the UK, broadband has become cheaper than dial-up
access. Meanwhile in the US broadband grew to 78.5% in December
among active Internet users."

+17: XML.

W3C Publishes New Web Standards for XML
By Patrick Hoffman.
"The new Web standards are designed to help businesses request 
information from a database, transform and access XML data and do bond 
databases with the Web..."

X/HTML 5 Versus XHTML 2
By xhtml.com.
The competition to become the next markup language for the Web is 
heating up. This article takes a look at what's cool and what's uncool 
about the competing technologies."

[Section one ends.]


+18: 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