[webdev] Web Design Update: May 4, 2007

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri May 4 06:22:03 CDT 2007

- Volume 5, Issue 46, May 4, 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:

10: PHP.
12: TOOLS.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


By Bruce Lawson and James Craig.
"Microformats are a great idea. They allow the embedding of parsable, 
semantic data (like contact information and event details) into regular 
web pages. With the right plug-in, that information can be saved 
directly to your calendar program or address book. Like Microformats, a 
portion of web accessibility is about making web pages more 
machine-readable, and by doing so, making them more usable to human 
beings. Most of the time, Microformats and the principles of 
accessibility coexist harmoniously..."

Where's WCAG 2?
By Joe Dolson.
"By which I mean, what is currently going on in the world of the next 
generation of web content accessibility guidelines? It's been almost a 
year since I wrote on the feelings against WCAG 2 when it was initially 
bumped to a 'Last Call Working Draft' ? so it's worth addressing what's 
been happening since then..."

Accessible Web Awards
By Accessibility in Focus.
"...Our awards are something to be proud of - they'll show people you 
care about your visitors and the fact you are keeping up-to-date with 
the latest technologies and guidelines. Not only that, but it'll show 
you've got the nod from some of the most influential people on the web. 
So make sure you submit your site..."

Web Accessibility Principles
By WebAIM.

Testing for Web Accessibility
By WebAIM.


CSS Specificity for Poker Players
By Carl Camera.
"Some folks getting on board with CSS tend to get stuck on CSS 
specificity.  The descriptions of which rules override other rules tend 
to make more sense to programmers than designers, since programmers are 
used to the concepts of inheritance and overriding properties. If 
you're not from the programming world and CSS seems a bit confusing, 
perhaps this analogy may help clear some concepts up.  Think of CSS 
rules as poker hands.  The best hand determines an element's style."

How to Prevent HTML Tables From Becoming Too Wide
By Roger Johansson.
"The layout model of tables differ from that of block level elements in 
that they will normally expand beyond their specified width to make 
their contents fit. At first that may sound like a good thing - and it 
often is - but it makes it possible for oversized content to make text 
unreadable or completely break a site's layout, especially in Internet 

CSS Support in Email Clients Still Pretty Poor
By Andy Budd.
"While speaking at web design world, one attendee asked me a question 
about styling emails with CSS. I gave my stock answer that as a 
technical person I had a strong dislike of HTML/CSS emails as I feel 
they were against the spirit of the medium. I really like the 
simplicity of text as a communication medium, so hate email messages 
that pretend to be web pages. If I want to read a web page, I'd much 
prefer to be sent a link. To me, most HTML/CSS emails are the online 
equivalent of junk mail, so I have styling turned off by default..."

Debugging CSS: My Best Productivity Tip Ever
By Jesper Ronn-Jensen.
"Firebug keeps surprising me. I've recently been working on code for 
several web designs and this little trick helped me to understand 
existing HTML and CSS much faster..."

CSS Float Theory: Things You Should Know
By Vitaly Friedman and Sven Lennartz.
"...Let's try to tackle the issue and clarify some usual 
misunderstandings, which always appear once floats are being used. 
We've browsed through dozens of related articles and selected the most 
important things you should keep in mind developing css-based layouts 
with floats..."


Review: Dreamweaver CS3
By Paul Boag.
"I finally got my hands on a copy of Dreamweaver CS3 this week and 
although I am still taking it all in I thought I would share some of 
initial thoughts...If you are new to CSS this feature might be useful. 
It basically allows you to select from a series of CSS layout templates 
to get you started. Now, this never replaces hand coding it from 
scratch, however if you are anything like me you find it easier to 
learn from example and this certainly helps with that...If you have 
tried and failed to get your head around DOM Scripting and AJAX then I 
would suggest you start off by buying 'DOM Scripting: Web Design with 
JavaScript and the Document Object Model' (J. Keith) or 'Bulletproof 
Ajax (Voices That Matter)' (Jeremy Keith). However, if even that fails 
then you might want to take a look at the Javascript framework now 
built into Dreamweaver CS3. As with CSS layout I should stress this 
isn't as good as hand coding because: 1) You are stuffed if you want to 
add or amend functionality not offered from within the framework. 1) 
The code is bloated in places meaning it will make the page take longer 
to download...The code isn't great but at least from what I have seen 
it degrades reasonably and isn't too intrusive..."


Location is Irrelevant for Usability Studies
By Jakob Nielsen.
"You get the same insights regardless of where you conduct user 
testing, so there's no reason to test in multiple cities. When a city 
is dominated by your own industry, however, you should definitely test 

Split A/B Testing
By Lisa Halabi.
"There can often be debate within any organization as to the best 
solution for a usability problem, with no one really knowing the 
optimal solution. Rather than letting the person that shouts the 
loudest get his or her own way, a better solution can be to test two 
solutions in a live environment. Whichever performs the best is clearly 
the superior solution. Welcome to split A/B testing!"

+05: EVENTS.

PHP Architect Live Online Training Courses

+06: FLASH.

MTV Drops Flash Site in Favor of (Boring) HTML
By Christian Watson.
"After only 9 months, MTV has replaced its extremely flashy Flash site 
with plain old HTML. Why? Because their users complained..."


JavaScript and Screen Readers
By Kevin Yank.
"Try to use one of the poster-child Ajax web applications like GMail 
with a screen reader and you'll never want to touch a screen reader 
again. To support those users who don't have that luxury, then, do you 
have to do without JavaScript?..."
Try to use one of the poster-child Ajax web applications like GMail 
with a screen reader and you'll never want to touch a screen reader 
again. To support those users who don't have that luxury, then, do you 
have to do without JavaScript?"

I'd Rather Switch Than Fight!
By Douglas Crockford.
"JavaScript's switch statement was inspired by Java's switch statement, 
which was inspired by C++'s switch statement, which was inspired by C's 
switch statement, which combined aspects of C. A. R. Hoare's case 
statement and Fortran's computed goto statement. Dijkstra considered 
the goto statement to be harmful, which it in fact is, which is why the 
goto has been omitted from most modern programming languages. But some 
of the goto's problematic nature survives in the switch, so some extra 
care must be employed when using it..."

The Prevalence of Slick JavaScript and Flash Effects
By Christopher Schmitt.
"With the prevalence of slick JavaScript and Flash effects available at 
a designer's fingertips, it can be tempting to inundate a web page with 
trendy 'coolness' at the expense of usability. Many of you are probably 
familiar with the case for minimalism in both coding and design: 
simpler code is easier to write and maintain, and, when done right, 
minimalist design is aesthetically pleasing while putting the focus 
where it belongs: the content..."

JavaScript and HTML: Forgiveness by Default
By Jeff Atwood.
"...They may not have realized it at the time, but the Draconians 
inadvertently destroyed the future of XHTML with this single, 
irrevocable decision. The lesson here, it seems to me, is that 
forgiveness by default is absolutely required for the kind of 
large-scale, worldwide adoption that the web enjoys..."

Draconian? Or Precise?
By Shelly Powers.
"Forgiveness for script really isn't forgiveness. Script is treated in 
its proper way - as an ancillary technology. Even being an ancillary 
technology, though, JavaScript errors left unfixed once discovered say, 
'This page was coded by my 11 year old nephew?can you tell?'..."


The Profession That Dare not Speak Its Name
By Jeffery Zeldman.
"No one has tried to measure web design because web design has been a 
hidden profession."


Keyboard-Friendly Link Focus
By Mike Cherim.
"After more than a year of judging web sites, we have a good idea of 
what developers tend to overlook. There are a few things we see over 
and over again, but the one oversight we see most often is a lack of 
link focus. It's a small thing, really, but to anyone navigating a site 
by keyboard, a lack of link focus can seriously affect the usability. 
Correcting this oversight can be addressed in a matter of minutes, and 
there's really no excuse for not doing it. It all boils down to 
thinking about it, then doing it. We can't make you think about it, but 
we can tell you how to do it..."

+10: PHP.

Code As Data: Reflection in PHP
By Zachary Kessin.
"As programmers, many of us instinctively draw a distinction between 
the programs we write and work with, and the data that they are meant 
to process. While this is often a useful thing to do, it does tend to 
hide one key fact: programs are themselves nothing but well-defined 
data. In order to run a program, some other program must parse it and 
turn it into an executable. This may be a compiler or an interpreter or 
some other tool, but it is still a program. However, for many people, 
the only parser that they use besides the one to actually compile or 
run their code is a highlighter that color-codes things in their text 


Will HTML 5 Be a Purely Presentational Language?
By Ian Hickson.
The following may be of interest to people concerned with web standards 
who haven't been keeping up with the HTML Working Group and where HTML 
5 is headed. Ian said in a post on the W3C www-html mailing list, 
"...There are people strongly arguing that HTML should be a purely 
presentational language, much, much more presentational than the 
proposed WHATWG draft. In fact, unless someone argues against it, it's 
likely that the W3C spec will be even less semantic and more 
presentational than the WHATWG draft. So if you think the WHATWG draft 
is already too presentational, I really encourage you to make your 
opinion known in the HTML working group..."

Official Instructions For Joining the HTML Working Group
By W3C.

How You Can Join the W3C HTML5 Working Group in Six Easy Steps
By Ian Hickson.
Ian has posted clearer instructions for joining the HTML working group. 
He says, "Taking part in the group is not a big commitment. You can 
spend as much or as little time contributing; you don't need to read 
every e-mail on subjects you don't care about, you don't need to call 
in or attend face-to-face meetings. In fact, the W3C has stated in the 
group's charter that no binding decisions will be made at meetings; you 
are guaranteed equal say whether you are present or not..."

'IE8 Compatible' - The Cure for Web Standards Headache?
By Gavin Clarke.
Chris Wilson, IE group program manager, told MIX07 that Microsoft
may "need authors to opt into standards", suggesting a "compatible with
IE 8.0" scheme. "By asking authors to say 'I want standards behaviors' 
means we don't have to worry about standards compatibility. That means 
we can break our compatibility with layout and CSS. We can change DOM 
APIs without breaking any current pages," Wilson said.
Comments on 'IE8 Compatible':

Rethinking HTML 5
By Tina Holmboe.
"...If the HTML working group is truly ignoring a mailing-list set up 
by the W3C with the specific topic 'those interested ... enhancing 
...HTML', then I suggest the HTML WG may need to review its policies - 
in  particular in light of the fact, as has been pointed out by several 
other participants, that not everyone /can/ join the WG. The www-html 
mailing-list is clearly a point-of-call for people with an interest in 
the principal language used on the WWW, but who cannot, for one reason 
or another, get more deeply involved. /Why/ would it be ignored? The 
answer is that it shouldn't. /All/ views should be taken aboard, 
considered, and discussed. And then a draft should be produced; an 
/incremental/ revision of what exist today. Through more work, and more 
discussion, it should be refined before a specification is produced; a 
specification that all parties should /respect/ and adhere to. No more 
willy-nillying by authors, browser vendors, or writers of 'WYSIWYG' 
tools. Resurrect the WIP, if anyone believe that'll help...."

Re: <font> (was Support Existing Content)
By Denis Boudreau.
"...Accessibility experts, among others are flipping out. Taking out 
headers and summary? I mean come on... If this is just a natural 
process and we enjoy the confrontation of ideas, fine that's great - 
these discussions ARE interesting. But if 'improving html' somehow 
means bringing back in stuff we pulled out before for very valid 
reasons or reconsidering the very foundation of the language, then I'm 
seriously starting to worry... Will we have to wait until the draft 
falls on Karl Dubost's lap to realize we're jeopardizing another 
standard by going our route?..."

The Future of HTML
By Lachlan Hunt.
"This was originally presented by Lachlan Hunt at the Web Standards 
Group meeting in Sydney on 2007-01-25..."

Error Handling in Browsers Make Web Standards Difficult
By Sean Fraser.
"...The W3C states XHTML is better; all XHTML documents must be 
well-formed; and, user agents must parse and evaluate for document 
well-formedness. That's all well and good but no beneficial results 
will be seen for those efforts when ill-formed (X)HTML documents are 
rendered by browsers (or, User Agents) (of which the previous article 
illustrated). All of the magical and miraculous things implied by the 
W3C are naught: user agents need only parse and evaluate."

HTML and Version Mechanisms
By Karl Dubost.
"There has a been a lot of debate in April on the HTML WG mailing list 
about versioning. Should the new HTML language bear a version 
mechanism. It is a difficult topic with interesting arguments. The 
debate will have certainly influences on discussions on the Technical 
Architecture Group. Versioning is one of the topics addressed in Web 

+12: TOOLS.

CSS Specificity Calculator
By Stephen Ball.
"Paste your CSS into the field below, the specificity of your selectors 
will be calculated for you..."


Usability 2.0 Questions
By Luke Wroblewski.
"I recently spoke at a Silicon Valley Web Guild event with Sean Kane 
(Netflix) and Jon Wiley (Google) about Usability 2.0. Here are my 
responses to some of the questions asked at the session..."

Comic: Content or Design?
By Joshua Porter.
"Question: Which is more important: content or design?..."

[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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