[webdev] Web Design Update: March 20, 2009

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Mar 20 06:12:54 CDT 2009

- Volume 7, Issue 38, March 20, 2009.

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:

08: PHP.
10: TOOLS.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Accessibility Support (II)
By Olga Revilla.
"So, after you have read my last post, you will probably wonder which web 
technologies are accessibility supported and which not. And the answer 
is? nobody knows, not even the WAI! Now, the consultancy best phrase: 'it 
depends'. How is this possible after 5 years of  WCAG 2 developing? Well, 
some reasons for this vagueness..."

How Can I Determine If a Web Technology is 'Accessibility Supported'?
By Olga Revilla.
"Let's assume that nobody knows which technologies are and aren't 
accessibility supported. Now what? Well, the WAI has tried to bring a 
definition, not very clear, but a definition after all..."

The Way We Use the Technology Determines its Accessibility Support
By Olga Revilla.
"Remember these categorical clauses? 'Don't do your web in Flash because 
it will not be accessible' or 'Avoid PDF, because a blind person won't be 
capable to read it'. Industries participant in the redaction of the new 
guidelines have adopted a tougher line protecting their products from 
legal barriers. So that's why there is no mention to which technology is 
accessible and which not, because it depends on the way that they are 

Corporate Websites and the Case for Accessibility
By Helen Baker.
"As more and more companies provide and actively encourage their 
stakeholders to access corporate information online, accessibility is 
becoming an even greater issue. Accessible websites benefit everyone, 
both visitors and business. But research shows that many corporate 
websites are still failing to reach even minimum accessibility 

Acronym/Abbreviation Best Practice
WebAIM Thread.
"I'm struggling a bit with how best to expand acronyms and abbreviations. 
Any insight you can provide would be valuable. Which of the following do 
you believe is the best approach"

Untangling the Web
By Janet Ingber.
"A New Way to Find Old Friends: A Review of the Accessibility of 

Happy Birthday, World Wide Web!
By Marco Zehe.
"...I consider access to information just like anyone else to be a right 
I have as a human being, and the web is the only independent means of 
doing so. If anyone would try to take that away from me, I promise that 
I'd prosecute them to the full lawful extent possible...rather than 
whining about Bespin not being accessible, and pushing the developers 
into the defensive by reflexively yelling before thinking things through, 
we should get our act together and find out a way to make it accessible 
soonish! Bespin is a chance, not an evil deliberate move to exclude 
people with disabilities."

Error Correction
By Joe Clark.
"Every six months, somebody writes a new story about captioning that gets 
a dozen facts wrong. This time it's Sue Ellen Reager's turn. She makes so 
many mistakes she should go to work for Aberdeen Captioning, the scrappy 
little company that suppresses the comments I post correcting their 
umpteen error..."

AccessForAll to eLearning
By Martyn Cooper.
"In the last ten years there has been a burgeoning of systems for web 
based delivery of educational content, activities and services..."


Unique Pages, Unique CSS Files
By Chris Coyier.
"I received a question the other day from someone who was curious how I 
handle multiple different page styles and layouts across one site with 
CSS. It's a very common scenario I think. For example, you have a 
homepage that is different from your blog post pages that is different 
from your about page that is different from your contact page..."

Performance Impact of CSS Selectors
By Steve Souders.
"A few months back there were some posts about the performance impact of 
inefficient CSS selectors. I was intrigued - this is the kind of browser 
idiosyncratic behavior that I live for. On further investigation, I'm not 
so sure that it's worth the time to make CSS selectors more efficient. 
I'll go even farther and say I don't think anyone would notice if we woke 
up tomorrow and every web page's CSS selectors were magically 

Performance of CSS Selectors is Irrelevant
By Jens Meiert.
"...if you like to have a 'black or white' interpretation of Steve 
Souders' recent research. Currently we've still got few yet a few more 
numbers than before backing up what we always suspected, that merely 
optimizing selectors is kind of micro-optimization, micro-optimization 
that might for example..."

Site Compatibility and IE8
By IE Blog.
With the release of IE8 seemingly imminent, and with many developers 
still not testing their sites with IE8, the IE team has detailed of how 
IE8's compatibility mode is not necessarily identical to IE7 saying, "We 
strive to make Compatibility View behave as much like IE7 as possible, 
but we do make exceptions. Many of these exceptions enable improved 
security and accessibility features immediately, even for sites that have 
not yet migrated to IE8 Standards Mode."

CSS3 Panel Slides from SXSWi
By Molly E. Holzschlag.
"These are the CSS3 panel slides from SXSW Interactive. A the moderator, 
I apologize to the 40+ people who could not get into the room. It was a 
really informative and fun panel, so we've made these slides available to 
the public at large to extend that information. David Baron, Mozilla 
(XHTML format). Sylvain Galinau, Microsoft (PDF format for download). 
Hakon Wium Lie, Opera (HTML format)."


A Nice Chat with Adobe about Dreamweaver
By Tom Arah.
"Following my recent post, I'm Sorry but Dreamweaver is Dying and the 
ensuing online discussions/abuse, I was summoned for a chat with the 
headmaster - Devin Fernandez, senior product manager for the web products 
at Adobe..."

+04: EVENTS.

April 6, 2009.
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.

HighEdWeb Regional Conference
April 23-24, 2009.
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, U.S.A.


WAI-ARIA: Accessible Rich Internet Applications Basics
By Estelle Weyl.
"ARIA stands for Accessible Rich Internet Applications. With the 
proliferation of internet applications, there has been an increase in the 
number of sites requiring javascript that update without page 

WAI-ARIA role support - How the browsers stack up
By Steve Faulkner.
"For the roles defined in WAI-ARIA it is expected that browsers expose 
the role values via an accessibility API, on the Windows platform the 
information is usually exposed using the Microsoft Active Accessibility 
(MSAA) Application Programming Interface (API)..."

WAI-ARIA Role Support, part 2: How the Mac browsers stack up
By Steve Faulkner.
"For the roles defined in WAI-ARIA it is expected that browsers expose 
the role values via an accessibility API, on the Apple OS X platform the 
information is exposed using the Mac OS X Accessibility Protocol. "


Video of Tim Berners-Lee's TED Talk
"In February, W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee spoke at TED 2009 about the 
Semantic Web and linked data (see slides). The video of his TED talk is 
now available..."

Obama's Groundbreaking use of the Semantic Web
By David Peterson.
"In a revolutionary move, Obama's administration is set to utilize next 
generation web technologies to bring an unprecedented level of 
transparency to government. In this case it will shed light on how the 
roughly US $800 billion dollar economic stimulus will be spent."

Remembering the Day the World Wide Web Was Born
By Larry Greenemeier.
"What drove Tim Berners-Lee to imagine this game-changing model for 
information sharing, and will its openness be its undoing?"

The Death of Web Development and Design, and What to do Next.
By Marco van Hylckama Vlieg.
"...Old school web development is dead. Long live old school web 

What to Know, What to Learn
By Robert Nyman.
"Let's talk about what we should know and learn, shall we?..."

Social Networks 'Are New Email'
By Darren Waters.
"Status updates on sites such as Facebook are a new form of 
communication, the South by SouthWest Festival hears."

How to Deal with Jerk Programmers
By Scott Berkun.
"...there are four assets you have: charm, ability, roles and allies..."


Sites Without Menus: Do You Really Need a Main Nav?
By Dustin Boston.
"Is Navigation Useful? Jakob Nielsen posed that question in an Alertbox 
article from 2000. He came to the conclusion that “users look straight at 
the content and ignore the navigation areas.' In essence, navigation is 
not as important as most designers make it out to be..."

Breadcrumbs In Web Design: Examples And Best Practices
By Jacob Gube.
"On websites that have a lot of pages, breadcrumb navigation can greatly 
enhance the way users find their way around. In terms of usability, 
breadcrumbs reduce the number of actions a website visitor needs to take 
in order to get to a higher-level page, and they improve the findability 
of website sections and pages. They are also an effective visual aid that 
indicates the location of the user within the website's hierarchy, making 
it a great source of contextual information for landing pages..."

+08: PHP.

The ABC's of PHP II - What do I need to make it work?
By Peter Shaw.
"In this part of the series I'm going to show what you need in order to 
start developing using PHP..."


By WaSP.
A living, open curriculum based on standards and best practices, designed 
to teach students the skills of a web pro.

HTML Evolution
By Sam Ruby.
"...No concrete action is asked for today, again, this is just a level 
set. Blocking Last Call until consensus is reached and supporting the 
publishing alternative documents as Working Drafts will be important down 
the line. Note: it is not important which spec 'wins', just that there is 
enough competition to keep everybody honest. ARIA is an exemplar."

HTML5 Canvas Accessibility Issues
By ESW Wiki.
"The new canvas element is used for rendering dynamic bitmap graphics on 
the fly, such as graphs, games, et cetera. HTML5 currently lacks 
mechanisms to add accessibility hooks for content produced using this 
element. The vision impaired are currently shut out based upon their 
disability and/or use of a specific technology (screen readers). A 
fallback solution is essential for the vision impaired. If <canvas> is 
really needed, then accessibility should be incorporated into the design 
and the specification should include an appropriate fallback strategy..."

Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones...
By John Foliot.
"...If HTML5 is to achieve the oft stated goal of 'accessibility just 
happening', then you must set the conditions for that to actually happen 
- and 'suggestion' alone falls very short in this regard. This is not 
about setting impossible conditions for authors to meet, it is about 
establishing systems that actually do ensure that accessibility happens. 
I've said it before and I will say it again: accessibility *MUST* be 
foundational, it cannot simply be a bolt-on solution applied at the 11th 

Thoughts Towards an Accessible Canvas
By John Foliot.
"a basic problem: there is no standard for applying and conveying this 
alternative, or 'fallback' content, and so authors are left trying to 
guess what to do...."

If It Fails for Some, It Should Fail for All
By Mark Pilgrim.
"On the topic of <canvas> accessibility..."

Thoughts Towards an Accessible Canvas - Comment
By Martin Kliehm.
"I would propose to make the child objects available in the DOM where 
they can receive any ARIA enhancements you can possibly bolt on by 
scripting. It is true that currently is just a flat bitmap that you can 
save as PNG or data URL, but when creating shapes and contents in a 
canvas, why shouldn't you be allowed to add semantics at the same time? 
But a prerequisite would be browsers mapping those child objects to the 
DOM, and perhaps using the RDF features of the XHTML role module to 
expand the available roles by textnodes or things to describe 3D image 
galleries or future progressive UIs I can't imagine at this time."

On Flash Killers
By John Dowdell.
"There is no 'HTML5 standard', only a process which might potentially 
lead to a Recommendation"

The Evolution and Future of HTML
By Roger Johansson.
"...Once I realized that it would not be about fixing the Web I pretty 
much lost interest..."

<section> is not just a "semantic <div>"
By James Graham.
"HTML 5 introduces new elements like <section>, <article> and <footer> 
for structuring the content in your webpages. They can be employed in 
many situations where <div> is used today and should help you make more 
readable, maintainable, HTML source. But if you just go through your 
document and blindly replace all the <div>s with <section>s you are doing 
it wrong..."

A Lecture about HTML5
By Henri Sivonen.
"I was invited to give a lecture about HTML5 on a course titled WWW 
Applications at the Department of Media Technology of Helsinki University 
of Technology..."

+10: TOOLS.

"Conditional-CSS allows you to write maintainable CSS with conditional 
logic to target specific CSS statements at both individual browsers and 
groups of browsers."


Serif Fonts Vs. Sans Serif Fonts: A Working Case Study
By Alyssa Gregory.
"The standard style for most content on the Web is sans serif fonts, such 
as Arial or Verdana. And this is sensibly the case for a number of 
reasons: sans serif fonts are easier to read on-screen, they look pretty 
good when their size is reduced, and they tend to retain their visual 
appeal across different platforms and browsers..."


Usability Body of Knowledge Project
By Usability Professionals' Association.
"The UPA has initiated a long-term project to collate a comprehensive 
Body of Knowledge for the usability profession, which will provide an 
authoritative source of reference and define the scope of the 

Web Form Elements
By Christopher Schmitt.
"For SXSW Interactive 2009, I was fortunate to be on the Designing Our 
Way Through Web Forms panel with Kimberly Blessing from Comcast 
Interactive Media and Eric Ellis from Bank of America. We covered a lot 
of ground in the panel. three mini-presentations and a q+a. My main 
contribution to the panel was covered in Web Form Elements 
(presentation): a brief look at how CSS and browsers display form 

Getting a Form's Structure Right: Designing Usable Online Email 
By Jeff Parks.
"I had the opportunity to speak with Afshan Kirmani on her article...We 
talk about the design of an online web based application. Part 1 of the 
series focuses on the web based form where the user experience is 
critical before the user enters the application. The various aspects 
include a good entry point into a form which determines if users stay or 
leave. The beginning of every form is most important as details like 
usability set your apart from your competitors."

25-Point Website Usability Checklist
By usereffect.com.
"I've been thinking a lot lately about my process. Experience is a 
powerful thing, but it's rare that we really sit down and try to map out 
what we know. A while back, as part of my 5-point Website Clinic, I 
developed a 25-point website usability checklist - a way to create some 
method out of my madness and make sure that I don't forget anything 
critical when I'm working with a new client..."

Removing Poor Quality Content Increases  Customer Satisfaction
By Gerry McGovern.
The Microsoft Office Online content team has found poor quality content 
to be like weeds in a garden. Left unchecked it smothers the quality 

Your End Users Shouldn't Have to Know Technology
By Robert Nyman.
"Don't demand of your users to know what Flash is, or to try and turn 
JavaScript on. Offer a fully functional base that works without 
JavaScript and Flash, and then, if you want to, use JavaScript and/or 
Flash to enhance your web site on top of a solid base. Don't harass your 
users, they deserve a seamless experience."

[Section one ends.]


+13: 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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