[webdev] Web Design Update: May 2, 2008

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri May 2 06:24:06 CDT 2008

- Volume 6, Issue 45, May 2, 2008,

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:

09: PHP.
11: TOOLS.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


WCAG 2.0 Candidate Recommendation Ready to Test Drive
By Shawn Henry.
"The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Working Group is 
excited to announce the publication of WCAG 2.0 as a W3C Candidate 
Recommendation on 30 April. WCAG 2.0 explains how to make Web sites, 
applications, and other content accessible to people with disabilities, 
and many elderly users..."

HTML5 Alternative Text, and Authoring Tools
By Gez Lemon.
"There is still strong debate about whether or not the alt attribute 
should be a required attribute for the img element in the HTML5 draft 
on the W3C's XTECH mailing list. The argument is currently focused 
around what authoring tools should do when the author doesn't provide 
alt text...the real issue is that some members of the HTML5 working 
group want authoring tools to conform to HTML5 so they can demonstrate 
how successful HTML5 is, or they have a vested interest in an authoring 
tool that doesn't conform to WCAG - not the other way around."

HTML5 and alt: The Editors New Clothes
By Steve Faulkner.
"...What we don't need from the editor is more Google code statistics 
and a bit of pseudo scientific prose, dressing the statistics up as 
facts to support his argument.  What is required from the editor to 
back up his claims? A proper scientific study that is based on 
scientific method. Research with firm aims and objectives stated up 
front, with an agreed methodology..."

508 and Higher Ed
By Jon Whiting.
"The National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE), a 
partner, is currently involved in a project to help educational 
institutions improve the accessibility of their online content. As part 
of the project, I recently conducted an evaluation of 100 
randomly-selected web pages, each from a different higher education 
institution website. The pages were evaluated for Section 508 
compliance. The results were a little surprising. . .only three of the 
one-hundred pages complied with Section 508. Although more details will 
be submitted for publication soon, I wanted to share some of my results 
and opinions with the WebAIM community..."

Being Internet Disabled
By Jack Pickard.
"A phrase you might have come across, if you've looked into disability 
issues at all, particularly as they relate to the web, or you've looked 
at the topic of web accessibility is people who are sometimes termed 
internet disabled..."

alt Attributes Authoring Practices
By Karl Dubost.
"There has been a lot of discussions around alt attributes on HTML WG 
mailing list..."

Presentation Layer Accessibility
By Frederic Welterlin.
"...As this white paper has shown, Web accessibility can be achieved 
with small yet effective adjustments to development methodologies. 
Until standardization between screen reader manufacturers becomes more 
prevalent, as it did with Web browser manufacturers, true accessibility 
for the Web will remain a moving target. In the meantime, it is still 
important to define the role of accessibility in the software 
development cycle in terms of client expectations and end user 
satisfaction. This requires the participation of not only developers, 
but also user experience designers, program managers, and quality 
assurance testers. Like all successful Web product launches, teamwork, 
communication, and understanding will produce results that will meet 
traditional accessibility needs while providing content accessibility 
to the maximum number of Internet-enabled devices and systems."

Q&A about the WCAG Samurai Errata
Posted by Jeffrey Barke.
"From the NY Web Standards Meetup, with answers by Joe Clark."


The Plague of Outline:0
By Jared Smith.
"The use of outline:0 or outline:none is not recommended. In almost all 
cases, this CSS can be removed from links with absolutely no impact on 
the layout or functionality of the site, but with the result of 
increased accessibility."

CSS Variables: Coming Soon to a Browser Near You
By Scott Gilbertson.
"Ever wished you could use variables in your stylesheets? Well, what 
may be the number one most requested feature for the next generation of 
CSS, finally has a formal proposal. The spec, put forth by Apple's 
David Hyatt and  Daniel Glazman of Disruptive Innovations, would allow 
web designers to use variables in stylesheets..."

Font is Dead, Vive le Style
By Karl Dubost.
Ian Hickson, one of the two editors of HTML 5 specification has sent 
this message this morning on HTML WG mailing-list. 'Summary: <font> is 
gone, style="" is made global.'

How to Organize Your CSS Code: the 'Killer' CSS Structure
By Stefan Mischook.
"In a nutshell: css code should be divided up into at least 4 separate 

Starting with CSS and Bug Fixing Tips
By Veerle Pieters.
"I receive a lot of e-mail per day and some of them are from people who 
want my help on CSS or if I know why certain things don't work or show 
up in IE 6 or 7 etc. If I could help fix their problem? In a lot of 
cases I need to e-mail back that the code they're using is full of 
errors and that they're using old school techniques (tables for 
layout), inline styling etc. So the first tip here is, learn about Web 
Standards and learn about coding with CSS for layout. There are a lot 
of good books out there to learn this from the start. This is the basis 
of good web design..."

Why the Class Name 'Wrapper' is so Common
By Emil Stenstrom.
"...CMS:es have no idea of what kind of content people will store in 
them. Their main business goal is to make something generic, that 
doesn't assume semantics..."


Dreamweaver for GoLive Users: Part One
By Sheri German.
"...In this first installment in the series, you will set up the site 
definition and file structure for the "music history" site in both 

+04: EVENTS.

Designing Web Content that is Accessible To Users With Cognitive 
NCDAE Webcast
May 7, 2008 from 3-4 PM Eastern Daylight Time.

Enterprise 2.0 Conference
June 9-12, 2008
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Web Accessibility Training
June 11-12, 2008.
Logan, Utah, U.S.A.

+05: FLASH.

Developer Beware: Using Flash to Detect Screen Readers
By Steve Faulkner.
"The facility to detect some Assistive Technology by using Flash has 
been around since ActionScript 1.0 and Flash Player 6. The method has 
usually been referred to as a way to ‘detect screen readers'. 
Unfortunately this method, using the ActionScript 
Accessibility.isActive method, is not a 'screen reader' detector..."


Stop using Ajax!
By James Edwards.
"1. I'm not saying Ajax is bad, I'm saying it's immature. 2. I'm not 
saying never use Ajax, I'm saying don't use it for the sake of it, and 
try to avoid it for now, instead sticking to accessible alternatives"

Are Ajax and Accessibility Mutually Exclusive?
By Marco Zehe.
"...So, Brothercake, I invite you to get up to speed on ARIA and what 
it can do. Get in touch with me or other ARIA developers, learn, and 
then spread the technology yourself with projects you support. I 
strongly believe that you'll be helping the accessibility community 
much more in that fashion than ranting or giving out hopeless calls 
like 'Stop using Ajax'."

Event Compatibility Tables
By Peter-Paul Koch.
"Today I unveil my most ambitious update to the DOM compatibility 
tables: the Events compatibility tables. All in all I think I spent two 
weeks' of work on them; testing all common events not only in common 
situations, but also in unusual ones. A quick test of basic browser 
support for W3C and Microsoft events completed this series of tests."


An Interview with Jakob Nielsen (podcast)
By Gerry Gaffney.
"Gerry Gaffney conducts a wide-ranging interview with Jakob Nielsen."

Open Audio
By Jeremy Keith.
"I've made a recording of the Open Data keynote I delivered at the 
Accessibility 2.0 conference last month. You can download the MP3 
directly from the Internet Archive. Or you can subscribe to the 
articles RSS feed as a podcast..."


Right-Justified Navigation Menus Impede Scannability
By Jakob Nielsen.
Users scan lists by moving their eyes rapidly down the left edge. Menu 
items that are right-aligned make scanning more difficult.
Jakob Nielsen.

User Interface Implementations of Faceted Browsing
By Mike Padilla.
"Faceted browsing is a powerful navigation tool for content dense 
sites--but not all browsing is alike. Mike Padilla explains the 
importance of remembering the users' needs when creating this 
alternative to search to avoid pushing your audience down a path you 
didn't intend."

+09: PHP.

Learn Regular Expressions in PHP
By Akash Mehta.
"Love them or hate them, regular expressions are here to stay. When it 
comes to quickly dealing with large blocks of data, batch processing 
operations or screen scraping, regular expressions are often the most 
effective solution. There's just one problem, though - learning them 
can be as hard as learning a new language altogether. Here's how to get 
off to a flying start."


Open Data and Accessibility
By Jeremy Keith.
"The talk is called Open Data, a long-zoom view of accessibility based 
on this stated premise: It is my contention that what is good for 
digital preservation is good for accessibility. I've published the text 
in the articles section. I'll also record a sound file and post that 
there too."

The Accessibility of the Date-Time pattern in Microformats
By Mike Davies.
"Jeremy Keith erupted into a hissy fit during the panel session of 
AbilityNet's Accessibility 2.0 conference yesterday. His venting 
revolved around earlier accessibility criticism of the microformat's 
adoption of the abbr element as a way of attaching machine-readable 
dates to written dates, for example in the calendar microformat. 
Unfortunately, Jeremy dodged the real accessibility issues of the 
date-time microformat pattern, instead preferring to create a straw 
man, and boisterously batter it to smithereens with his wooden sword. 
That is his choice, but it doesn't help to alleviate the accessibility 
issues of the date-time microformat pattern..."

hAccessibility, One Year On
By Bruce Lawson.
"Andy Mabbett reminded me that it's been a year since James Craig and I 
published hAccessibility- a look at the accessibility problems inherent 
in some unsemantic design patterns used in some microformats..."

Do We Really Need Microformats?
By Robert Nyman.
"A lot of web developers, at least over the years, seem to have fallen 
for Microformats. Naturally, the given question then is: do we really 
need Microformats?..."

Swedish National Guidelines for Public Sector Websites
By Peter Krantz.
"The Swedish National Guidelines for Public Sector Websites takes an 
integrated approach to usability, accessibility and standardization. 
The purpose of the Guidelines is to support the procurement, 
development, and maintenance of a website by a public administration so 
that it offers equal opportunity usage for all citizens. The 2006 
version has now been translated to english..."

Conforming target Attribute
By Lachlan Hunt.
"One of the biggest annoyances on the web, and something I really hate, 
is popup windows. It frustrates me, and many others, whenever a site 
attempts to forcibly open a new window for any reason whatsoever. So, 
it may be surprising to hear that the target attribute has actually 
been made conforming in HTML5, even though it was non-conforming in 
HTML 4.01 Strict, and that this is a good thing. There are in fact 
several valid reasons for making it conforming, which I will attempt to 

+11: TOOLS.

Kotatsu - a simple html table generator
By Alexander Kaiser.
"It's been a long time since I've used Dreamweaver for web development. 
I only find myself missing it when I need to create a table, especially 
when I want to have all cells in a particular column have a class. (I'm 
well aware of <colgroup>, I just don't subscribe.) So I created a tool 
to help create a table and throw in column classes quickly. I gave it a 
name so I can put it out there and let others use it, too."


Web Typography: Tell Me What You Want
By Jason Cranford-Teague.
"The W3C is getting ready to set the new standards for typography on 
the Web, and we need your help..."

eXtreme Type Terminology - Part 4:  Numerals and Punctuation
By Paul Dean.
"...The Roman alphabet came equipped with its own numbering system, and 
Roman numerals still have their uses. They are commonly seen, for 
instance, on clock faces, in movie credits, and on the pages of a book 
which precede the introduction and the text itself. The letters M D C L 
X V and I, used in combination and sometimes with a bar over the 
letter, Roman numerals can signify all whole or natural numbers. Well, 
everything but zero (0). The zero was invented in India, and it has 
maintained the same form, generally a circle but sometimes just a dot, 
ever since..."

Don't Be Afraid of Serif Fonts
By David Rodriguez.
As the practice of Web design ages, some common rules and "best 
practices" inevitably embed themselves in the craft. Among these are 
the processes for using specific types of semantics when coding your 
site, like using divs as hooks in your X/HTML for your CSS, and making 
your page beautiful and functional that way. Another is to ensure 
readability of your site by choosing a proper number of fonts 
(generally, no more than three or four, and for the minimalist, one or 
two). More important than that is the type of font you choose.


Average Web Page Size Triples Since 2003
By Andrew B. King.
"...Within the last five years, the size of the average web page has 
more than tripled, and the number of external objects has nearly 
doubled. While broadband users have experienced faster load times, 
dial-up users have been left behind. With the average web page sporting 
more than 50 external objects, object overhead now dominates most web 
page delays. Minimizing HTTP requests by using CSS sprites, combining 
JavaScript or CSS files, reducing the number of EOs, and converting 
graphic effects to CSS while still retaining attractiveness, has become 
the most important skill set for web performance optimizers."

Sustainability and the User Experience
By Jonathan Follett.
"Whether we're designing the user experience for a digital product or a 
physical one, as UX professionals, we are uniquely positioned to 
influence the behavior of other people, for good or ill. Our employers 
or clients charge us with responsibility for not only defining a design 
problem from multiple perspectives, but also finding solutions that are 
better than the ones that came before..."

The Redesign Must Die Talk
By Louis Rosenfeld.
Presentation slides

[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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