[webdev] Web Design Update: December 20, 2007

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Thu Dec 20 15:31:32 CST 2007

- Volume 6, Issue 26, December 20, 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.
09: PHP.
11: TOOLS.
14: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Beyond ALT Text: Making the Web Easy to Use for Users With Disabilities
By Nielsen Norman Group.
"75 Best Practices for Design of Websites and Intranets, Based on 
Usability Studies with People Who Use Assistive Technology...is free as 
our holiday gift to our loyal readers, as our thanks for your support 
over the years."

Using JAWS to Evaluate Web Accessibility
By WebAIM.
"Evaluating the screen reader accessibility of web content is 
important. Screen readers, however, can be complex and difficult to 
use, especially for novice users. This article provides an overview for 
beginners on how to use screen readers for evaluating the accessibility 
of web content."

Overdoing Accessibility
By Roger Johansson.
"Sometimes when people first learn about Web accessibility they look 
for quick ways of improving the sites they build. This often leads to 
misuse or overuse of certain HTML features that are meant to aid 
accessibility, but when used wrongly have no effect and can actually 
have the opposite effect by making the page less accessible and less 

Accessibility is Part of Your Job
By Roger Johansson.
"To many people who make a living from designing or programming 
websites, accessibility is something unknown. Something frightening 
even, and something that is only ever taken into account (as a bolt-on 
after the site is finished) if a client specifically requires it..."

Passive Accessibility
By Mike Cherim.
"A cornerstone of web usability is passivity. In other words, web 
interface elements should be found where expected and must work as 
expected. Accessibility, like usability, should also be passive. As 
said of usability, web interface elements should be found where 
expected and must work as expected, but I wish to offer this addendum: 
to everyone! People have said accessibility is essentially usability 
for the disabled. It's an interesting perspective ? one I won't 
dispute. I know accessibility and usability are so closely joined, 
discerning one from the other is often difficult due to the sometimes 
indistinct boundaries. I, for one, happen to think they're actually 
codependent in most instances..."

Web Usability and Accessibility Are As Important As Search Engine 
By Eugene Mulligan.
"So you've optimized your website, done the keyword research, got the 
backlinks and everything is ethical. You're sitting proudly on the 
first page of the search results. Or you've set up a pay per click 
campaign, bid on your keywords, created some ads and performance 
tracking is in place. Again, you're at the top of the pile. Either way, 
you're visible and people are visiting your website. But visitors 
aren't converting into leads, prospects or customers. What's going 
wrong? Well your website may be visible, but is it connecting?..."

Is Your Web Site Handicap-Accessible?
By Karen E. Klein.
"Making online access easy use for blind and other disabled users is 
gaining attention because of class actions against companies like 


CSS Unworking Group
By Andy Clarke.
"...Opera's decision to take on Microsoft in the European courts, and 
CSS Working Group member Hakon Wium Lie's personal backing of it, calls 
into question whether we can trust browser vendors and their 
representatives with the development of our future tools. It calls into 
question whether or not their representatives can, or are allowed by 
their employers to work together with their competitors in a spirit of 
cooperation. It calls into question the fundamental basis on which the 
CSS Working Group has operated up until this point. I suggest that 
Opera's action now makes the CSS Working Group unworkable and that 
immediate and sweeping changes are necessary...browser vendors can no 
longer be trusted with our future tools, nor to work together to 
develop them on our behalf. I propose that instead of actively 
participating in the development of new CSS standards as part of the 
CSS Working Group, that browser vendors instead form a Technical 
Advisory Group that is attached to the new CSS Working Group. Their 
role should be to advise on the technical limitations or requirements 
of the proposals that the new group creates. Along with the formation 
of this new group, new processes for communication and participation 
are needed, plus a clear strategy, with dates attached for the delivery 
of the new standards..."

Re: CSS Unworking Group
By Jeffery Zeldman.
"I'm glad you're expressing your concerns so forcefully; the web 
standards movement is painfully in need of leaders. But like others I 
don't see a connection between Opera's lawsuit and your call for the 
disbanding of the CSS working group...The web standards movement needs 
leaders who are passionate, but their leadership must also make sense. 
Proposing change when the change makes sense is good. Proposing change 
because you are disappointed and frustrated isn't good enough. Anger 
can be brilliantly motivating; but anger is not a strategy."

CSS Working Group Proposals
By Andy Clarke.
"My entry of last week, where I called for the current W3C CSS Working 
Group to be immediately disbanded, has generated some serious debate, 
and a few raised voices. I'm glad that is happening. Now, after a 
little more consideration, I thought I would outline some concrete 
proposals for how the CSS Working Group could change for the better...."

Behind the Scenes: What is the CSS Working Group Doing?
By Elika Etemad (fantasai).
"Lately there's been a lot of talk about the CSS Working Group  and 
about how we're closed, out-of-date, slow, and/or dysfunctional. I'm 
acknowledging Andy Budd's post here and other comments. It's not very 
clear what we're working on or why it's taking so long, so I decided to 
write couple posts, from my perspective as a CSS Working Group Invited 
Expert, on where we are, why we're here, and where I think we should be 

Conditional Love
By Ethan Marcotte.
"...we do have an out for those little inconsistencies that crop up 
when dealing with cross-browser testing: CSS patches."

ID Your Body For Greater CSS Control and Specificity
By Chris Coyier.
"Let's say you want to change the color of your links on just your 
contact page to red. They are blue on every other page, but it just 
makes sense for them to be red on your contact page (for some reason). 
There are a couple ways you could go about this..."

CSS Drop Shadows
By Elika Etemad (fantasai).
"I'm working on the CSS3 Backgrounds and Borders module with Bert Bos, 
and I'd like to start a new Q&A series because I think we need some 
help: This time I'll ask the questions, and you give me answers..."

Diagnostic Styling
By Eric Meyer.
"We're all used to using CSS to make our designs live and breathe, but 
there's another way to use CSS: to find out where our markup might be 
choking on missing accessibility features, targetless links, and just 
plain missing content..."

Internet Explorer 8 and Acid2: A Milestone
By Dean Hachamovitch.
"As a team, we've spent the last year heads down working hard on IE8. 
Last week, we achieved an important milestone that should interest web 
developers. IE8 now renders the 'Acid2 Face' correctly in IE8 standards 

Yes Ladies and Gentleman, We Have a Smiley
By Molly E. Holzschlag.
"During the past week's drama related to Microsoft's lack of 
transparency and problems with working groups and browser vendors, it 
literally pained me so to have to keep my mouth shut when I knew there 
were some very good things happening."

+03: COLOR.

Understanding CSS Colour Modes
By Kilian Valkhof.
"CSS 2 and 3 offer a number of different ways to pick colours. While 
everyone knows the hexadecimal notation, fewer people know the RGB 
notation and colour keywords, and the new colour modes that CSS3 
introduces are still a riddle to most. In this article I'll walk 
through all the different options we (will) have to define our 

+04: EVENTS.

WebAIM Training
February 20-21, 2008.
Logan, Utah, U.S.A.

CSUN Conference 2008
Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference
March 10-15, 2008.
Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Ausweb 08
April 5-9, 2008.
Ballina, Australia.

webDU 2008
May 7-8, 2008.
Sydney, Australia.

HighEdWeb 2008 Conference
October 5-8, 2008.
Springfield, Missouri, U.S.A.


Open Source Usability, and the Modified Delphi Card Sorting Method - an 
Interview with Celeste Lyn Paul
By Gerry Gaffney.
"Gerry Gaffney spoke to Celeste Lyn Paul about the state of usability 
efforts in open source software, and about her card sorting method - 
the Modified Delphi."

The Many Faces of Information Architecture
By Patrick Kennedy.
"A lot of confusion surrounds the term 'information architecture' (IA). 
This article explores the various labels that might be used to describe 
IA work."


Keeping JavaScript Dependencies At Bay
By Christian Heilmann.
"As we are writing more and more complex JavaScript applications we run 
into issues that have hitherto (god I love that word) not been an 
issue. The first decision we have to make is what to do when planning 
our app: one big massive JS file or a lot of smaller, specialized files 
separated by task."

Web 2.0 Can Be Dangerous...
By Jakob Nielsen.
"AJAX, rich Internet UIs, mashups, communities, and user-generated 
content often add more complexity than they're worth. They also divert 
design resources and prove (once again) that what's hyped is rarely 
what's most profitable."

Documenting the Design of Rich Internet Applications: A  Visual 
Language for State
By Richard F. Cecil.
"Ajax and Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) have revolutionized the way 
users interact with Web sites. However, documenting the design of any 
page that uses Ajax is a challenge, because the page-and, more 
importantly, components on the page-can have different states, 
depending on how users interact with the page's components..."

Sample Chapter - Pro JavaScript Design Patterns by Ross Harmes and 
Dustin Diaz
By Eric Miraglia.
"Fellow Yahoo Ross Harmes and former Yahoo (current Googler) Dustin 
Diaz have collaborated on a new book from Apress, Pro JavaScript? 
Design Patterns. As the title suggests, this volume focuses on the 
implementation of common object-oriented design patterns in the 
JavaScript language..."

Deck the Halls with Unobtrusive JavaScript
By Ara Pehlivanian.
"...A key component in a JavaScript programmer's arsenal is the 
methodology of unobtrusive JavaScript - the idea that a web page's 
behavior should remain separate from its structure. The idea for 
unobtrusive JavaScript grew out of the Web Standards movement, which 
advocated that web pages should be separated into three layers - 
structure (HTML), presentation (CSS), and behavior (JavaScript) - and 
that each additional layer should enhance the previous one..."

Yahoo Theater - Julien Lecomte: 'High Performance Ajax Applications'
By Eric Miraglia.
"Julien Lecomte, author of the YUI Compressor and the YUI Browser 
History Manager, recently gave a talk at Yahoo on the creation of 
high-performance DHTML applications."


Collaboration is About People
By James Robertson.
"This article will explores the human face of collaboration, touching 
upon a range of enterprise issues and considerations."

Web History: Middle of the Beginning
By Gerry McGovern.
"The Web has only just begun to make its mark. As we approach 2008, we 
are only in the middle of the beginning of a revolution that is 
transforming humanity."

peterme and 'The Don' Norman in Conversation
By Peter Merholz.
"I really enjoyed this chat. If we did The Believer-style keywords for 
it, they would read: adaptive cruise control, ubiquitous computing, 
human plus machine, 'user experience', 'affordances;, asking the right 
questions, coupling design with operations, busting down silos, TiVo 
has never made any money, Palm, many reasons for the Newton's failure, 
boss as an absolute dictator, Henry Dreyfuss and John Deere, design 
evolving from craft to profession, systems thinking, 'T-shaped people,' 
observing the world, water bottle caps. Sound interesting? Take a 

The Dave Shea Interview
By Christopher Schmitt.
"...Today, however, I'm happy that Dave Shea joined me for an interview 
to discuss what's on his mind. We talk about design, clients, the 
upcoming Web Directions North conference and whether or not he 
considers himself a foodie..."


Good URL Bad URL
By Aaron Goldman.
"am a nerd. I'm that guy who pronounces URL like the Duke of. I clap 
when I see a good URL and I cringe when I see a bad URL. My mission 
here is to give businesses some guidance when choosing and promoting 
their URLs so they don't waste the money they've already spent on this 
here Internet fad..."

Get In Shape
By Dave Shea.
"Pop quiz: what's wrong with the following navigation?..."

The Importance of Using Lists for Navigation
By Dustin Brewer.
"It is important to use lists in navigation for semantics, 
accessibility, aesthetics and flexibility. Not using lists for 
navigation can lead to confusion, inaccessibility and unclear markup..."

Usability Tools Podcast: Mouseovers in Navigation
By Jared Spool.
"It's tempting to spend a ton of time creating slick flyout, dropdown, 
or pop-up navigation on our site, but is it worth the effort? This 
week, Brian Christiansen and I discuss interactive mouseover techniques 
for navigation. Are they a good idea when it comes to actually using 
your site? Based on our testing, we don't think so."

Following User Navigation Paths
By Joe Dolson.
"An interesting thread at Cre8asiteforums, titled 'When lots of your 
visitors go straight to search?' discusses a member's curiosity about 
navigation patterns after noticing that a significant percentage of his 
visitors - 25% - go directly to search after arriving at his site..."

Cool URIs for the Semantic Web
W3C Working Draft 17 December 2007

+09: PHP.

The State of Functional Programming in PHP
By Troels Knak-Nielsen.
"With the rise of Javascript, and languages like Python and Ruby, 
functional programming is becoming more mainstream. Even Java seems to 
be getting closures in the next version, so does this leave PHP lacking 
behind or is there an unrealized potential hidden within?"

Intro to PHP
By Stirling Hughes.
"In this article we'll introduce you to one of the Internet's hottest 
and fastest growing server side programming languages, PHP. PHP (or 
Personal HomePage Tools) was created by Rasmus Lerdorf over three years 
ago to track visitors to his homepage. PHP has since evolved into a 
powerful server-side markup language with syntax that resembles a mix 
between Perl and C..."

Improving Exception Throwing when Auto Loading Classes in PHP 5
By Alejandro Gervasio.
"This is the third article in the series on how to auto load classes in 
PHP 5. This article will demonstrate how to trigger exceptions in a way 
that can be caught by the corresponding "catch()" block..."


On Considering the Role of W3C Members in Working Group Decisions
By Ian Jacobs.
"On 29 November 2007, Dan Connolly, co-Chair of the HTML Working Group 
pointed me to an IRC log of discussion about HTML 5 which prompted this 
question: is it acceptable to take into consideration the role of each 
W3C member organization in the overall deployment marketplace when we 
make decisions (in a Working Group)? The question led to a request for 
interpretation of this phrase from section 2.1 of the W3C Process 
Document: "The Team must ensure that ... no Member receives 
preferential treatment within W3C." As editor of the document, I 
forwarded the request to the W3C Advisory Board (AB), the body elected 
by the W3C Membership that manages the evolution of the W3C Process. 
Here was their reply, based on the consensus reached at their 10 
December meeting..."

Conversation with Opera on Web Standards
By Vlad Alexander.
"In this article, Vlad Alexander from xhtml.com interviews Hakon Wium 
Lie, Chief Technology Officer at Opera Software, regarding the Web 
standards aspect of Opera's complaint to the European Commission."

Complaint Update
By Hakon Wium.
"Last week, Opera filed a complaint with the European Commission. The 
story has been reported widely in the news and many people have voiced 
their opinion in the matter. I've received lots of messages in support 
of Opera's stand in my mailbox, especially on the issue of web 
standards. Many of the writers are frustrated web designers who spend 
too much time trying to work around the bugs and limitations of IE. 
Some people miss the Swedish Chef in our arguments. I wish humor would 
trump in all big battles..."

Opera Files Antitrust Complaint Against Microsoft
By Joost de Valk.
"...after reading the press release by Opera and Hakon Wium Lie's open 
letter to the web community, I quickly emailed him with a few 
questions, and he was kind enough to respond..."

Opera Files a Complaint to the European Commission About Internet 
By Robert Nyman.
"...Tread lightly, Opera. Are you sure you're entitled to cast the 
first stone?..."

Opera vs Microsoft
By Andy Budd.
"...The first part of the complaint seems fairly reasonable, at least 
from a certain perspective...However the issue has less to do with 
software bundling and more to do with the market effect...."

Bad Timing
By Eric Meyer.
"...It's the wrong move at the wrong time, sending precisely the wrong 
signal to Microsoft about the importance of participating in 
development and support of open standards, and I can only hope that it 
comes to a quiet and unheralded end."

Opera's Lie Blasts Microsoft on IE and Web Standards Support
By Mike Paciello.
"...I think all of us in the accessibility world know the importance of 
harmonized web standards. Let's hope that Microsoft steps up to the 
plate and does the right thing..."

Opera CTO Talks About Opera's Antitrust Complaint Against Microsoft 
By Daniel Goldman.
"Opera CTO Hakon Wium Lie, who earlier today wrote an open letter to 
the Web community, spoke on camera about Opera's antitrust complaint 
against Microsoft. Hakon also spoke with ZDNet blogger Larry Dignan."

Reigniting the Browser Wars
By Stuart Langridge.
"...Standards bodies aren't really there to think up ideas, although 
that's what they seem to have evolved into. They're there to say, now, 
hang on a second, if you do that then what about all the people with no 
working eyes / some other operating system / touchscreens / no money 
for patent licenses. They're there to make sure that the web, which is 
meant to be there for everyone, isn't separated into the haves and the 
have-nots, where the have-nots is everyone who won't or can't jump on 
the latest bandwagon. This is precisely why Silverlight is trying to 
supplant the web: to divide us into haves and have-nots. It's why Flash 
is trying to supplant the web: to divide us into haves and have-nots. 
It's why XUL as an application-development language for web apps was 

When Will HTML 5 Support <video>? Sooner If You Help
By Dan Connolly.
"To make the distance to home when I travel a little shorter, for my 
birthday I got one of these digital picture frames. With a little 
fiddling, I got the picture and music features working, but I'm stumped 
on video..."

The Truth About Nokias Claims
By Shannon Baker.
"I believe that the current draft, which was changed without open 
discussion, gives a green light for the status quo. The status quo is 
that Flash, Quicktime and WMV will remain the 'standards' for web 
video. I know this because I implement video on websites as a web 

Standards that Matter are Standards that Ship
By Sam Ruby.
"HTML5 defines a <video> element. There is an experimental build of 
Opera that supports Ogg Theora. There is an experimental build of 
Firefox that only supports video/ogg. The nightly builds of webkit 
support all the formats that are supported by QuickTime (which, by 
default, does not support Ogg Theora). Nokia felt that the mealy 
mouthed 'User agents should support Ogg Theora video and Ogg Vorbis 
audio', that was in the working draft at the time was too troublesome, 
and requested that the wording be deleted..."

Google Gives in to the Dark Side
By Peter Van Dijck.
"When Google bought Blogger, I thought they went too far. Then they 
bought Youtube...from the moment Google starts to promote their own 
content in their search, they're no longer independent..."

Define Web Standards in a <p> or Less
By Molly E. Holzschlag.
"You've got one paragraph to clearly define the term 'web standards' - 
if you can do it in one sentence, all the better..."

Let Me Hear Your Standards Body Talk
By Jeffery Zeldman.
"...You want instant gratification, buy an iPod. You want standards 
that work, help. Or at least stop shouting."

+11: TOOLS.

Create Diff Between HTML Pages
By Dominique Hazael-Massieux.
"...Every once in a while, we provide new services to make the life of 
our collaborators easier, and offer them to the public at large as much 
as possible; our latest toy in this category is an htmldiff service, 
which out of two online HTML documents will create a new document 
highlighting the differences between the two documents..."

Accessibility Probe (AccProbe)
By eclipse.
"The Accessibility Probe is a standalone, Eclipse Rich-Client Product 
(RCP) application that provides a view of the Microsoft Active 
Accessibility (MSAA) or IAccessible2 hierarchy of a currently running 
application or rendered document and of the properties of the 
accessible objects of that application or document. It can also serve 
as an event monitor for tracking the events fired by these accessible 
objects. It is meant to combine the functionality of tools like 
Microsoft's Inspect32, AccExplore, and AccEvent into one easy-to-use 
application for accessibility testing and debugging."


Increase Your Font Stacks With Font Matrix
By Richard Rutter.
"Web pages built in plain old HTML and CSS are displayed using only the 
fonts installed on users' computers (@font-face implementations 
excepted). To enable this, CSS provides the font-family property for 
specifying fonts in order of preference (often known as a font 


Killing Some Bad Layout Conventions
By Andy Rutledge.
"As good design further penetrates the Web, once highly-regarded 
conventions fall into disfavor and are replaced by more effective ones. 
Yet some flawed conventions persist. In fact, they persist on some 
pretty high-profile websites; to their detriment. In this article I'll 
examine a couple of these inferior Web design conventions and expose 
their flaws. I'll then suggest more effective alternatives to these 
conventions and explain why they work better."

7 Ways to Make Your Home Page a Home Run for Usability
By Stoney deGeyter.
"Your home page is the single most crucial page of your site. This is 
the page that will be the primary entry point for a majority of your 
visitors. It is also the page that sets the stage for the rest of the 
site giving visitors a birds-eye view of who you are, what you're 
about, what you can do for them, what you offer, and how they get the 
information needed..."

Focus if You Want Great Usability
By John Rhodes.
"...Without a doubt, the best work is done by people who are dedicated 
to their work.  The reason is pretty simple. It is hard to develop 
something amazing if you don't care about it, when there's no interest 
or passion."

+14: XML.

XForms - Who Needs Killer Apps?
By Kurt Cagle.
"The XML 2007 Conference has come and gone, with as usual a number of 
thought provoking talks and controversies. During the evening of the 
first day, there was a special XForms Evening, with a number of the 
industry gurus in that space providing very good examples of why XForms 
is a compelling technology and here to stay..."

By Adriaan de Jonge.
"While the intention of both HTML V5 and XHTML V2 is to improve on the 
existing versions, the approaches the developers chose to make those 
improvements is very different. And with differing philosophies come 
distinct results. For the first time in many years, the direction of 
upcoming browser versions is uncertain. Uncover the bigger picture 
behind the details of these two standards."

[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.]



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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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