Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web and founder of the W3C, announces reforms:
It is really important to have real developers on the ground involved with the development of HTML. It is also really important to have browser makers intimately involved and committed. And also all the other stakeholders….
Some things are clearer with hindsight of several years. It is necessary to evolve HTML incrementally. The attempt to get the world to switch to XML, including quotes around attribute values and slashes in empty tags and namespaces all at once didn’t work.
Our Australian friends set up camp in Vancouver, for what looks like a great two-day conference on standards-based design and development (Vancouver Canada, February 6-8 2007). Speakers include Kelly Goto (Gotomobile), Andy Clarke (malarkey), Adrian Holovaty (Chicago Crime, Washington Post), Douglas Bowman (Google Visual Design Lead), Dan Cederholm (SimpleBits), Joe Clark (joeclark.org), Dave Shea (CSS Zen Garden), Cameron Moll (Authentic Boredom), Molly Holzschlag (Molly.com), Veerle Pieters (Veerle’s Blog, Duoh!), Kaitlin Sherwood (Google Maps US Census mashup), Tantek Çelik (Technorati).
By Andrew Kirkpatrick, Richard Rutter, Christian Heilmann, Jim Thatcher, Cynthia Waddell, et al. Don’t let the unsexy title fool you. Vast and practically all-encompassing, this newly updated classic belongs on every web designer’s shelf. (Better still, open it and read.)
“A is for Aaron, who fell down the stairs. K is for Kevin, menaced by bears.” No wait, those are just the notes from our last staff meeting. Jack Pickard offers a lighter look at the world of web standards.
[tags]design, a list apart, alistapart, textsize[/tags]
An angry fix
Some of the best minds working in web standards have been quietly or loudly abandoning the W3C. Björn Hörmann is the latest. His reasons for leaving the W3C QA Group make compelling reading (hat tip: Terje Bless). I believe in W3C standards, particularly the ones you and I use every day, but I worry about the direction in which the W3C is headed.
Beholden to its corporate paymasters who alone can afford membership, the W3C seems increasingly detached from ordinary designers and developers. Truth be told, we and our practical concerns never drove the organization. But after ordinary designers and developers spent nearly a decade selling web standards to browser makers and developing best practices around accessibility and semantics, one hoped the W3C might realize that there was value in occasionally consulting its user base.
Alas, the organization appears unconcerned with our needs and uninterested in tapping our experience and insights. It remains a closed, a one-way system. Like old-fashioned pre-cable TV advertising. Not like the web.
To be fair, the W3C solicits community feedback before finalizing its recommendations. But asking people to comment on something that is nearly finished is not the same as finding out what they need and soliciting their collaboration from the start.
We require coherent specifications based on our and our users’ actual needs. Upcoming accessibility and markup specifications fail on both counts. We require validation tools that work and are kept up to date. Instead, tools are still broken years after problems are reported.
Two things could happen. Either the W3C will make a course correction, or the standards-based design community will look elsewhere.
[tags]web standards, w3c, wcag, xhtml, web design, microformats[/tags]
An Event Apart NYC Schedule
A detailed schedule of An Event Apart NYC has been posted at aneventapart.com and reproduced below for your convenience. Join Tantek Çelik, Ze Frank, Aaron Gustafson, Jason Santa Maria, Khoi Vinh, Eric Meyer, and Jeffrey Zeldman for two days of design and code in the heart of New York City:
Victor Borge Hall is located on Level A, one floor below ground. Enter at the front door on Park Avenue and take the elevator located at the rear of the entrance hall, across from the ground-floor Gift Shop. Wheelchair-friendly restrooms are located on Level B, accessible via the elevator.
Seating is lecture-style, in a comfortable and exquisitely designed theater space, and doors open at 8:00 am. There is no Wi-Fi at this venue, but we will provide downloadable files the night before the show for those who wish to follow along on their laptops.
An Event Apart NYC runs from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. We have a lot to cover, so the event will start promptly. Arrive early to get a good seat! Doors open at 8:00 am; for best results, plan to show up between 8:00 am and 8:30 am. Here is what you can expect over the two days of this conference:
A fast-paced, rough-and-tumble review of markup, style, and scripting on a select group of sites created and submitted by attendees.
Catering is by Restaurant Aquavit, the country’s premier Scandinavian restaurant, and includes vegetarian choices.
July 10: Gravlax Club, Grilled Scandinavian Shrimp, and Roasted Mushroom sandwiches. Salad and potato salad.
July 11: Smoked Salmon, Spice Roasted Pork Loin, and Roasted Mushroom sandwiches. Salad and pasta salad.
All Day Long
Freshly Brewed Coffee, Decaffeinated Coffee, Selection of Teas, Assorted Soft Drinks and Sparkling Water.
Afternoon Pick-Me Up
July 10: Assorted Cookies
July 11: Basket of Fruit
It’s a non-smoking event. Sorry, smokers! Still photography is permitted, but audio and video recording are forbidden, except by our official videographer, Mister Ian Corey. Sorry, recordists and videographers! As always, please be considerate when taking pictures. And speaking of pictures…
This schedule is subject to change. We’ll do our best to make the experience live up to what we’ve mentioned here, but cannot guarantee a perfect 1:1 correspondence. We thank you in advance for understanding any changes we may be forced to make due to events, people, and other stuff beyond our control.
Just how many people does it take to properly manage a website? It depends on the website. Author Shane Diffilly offers some suggestions on determining your site’s manpower needs.
[tags]a list apart, alistapart, web design, webdesign[/tags]
An Event Apart Chicago has wrapped. It felt like the best one yet. Everything clicked.
There were as many designers as coders in attendance, as many Chicagoans as out-of-towners, as many agency people and freelancers as in-house folks, and nearly as many women as men. They engaged at “good morning” and stayed involved all day, asking shrewdly penetrating questions and sharing their own insights and experiences. Energy flowed not only between the floor and the seats but also from one seat to another. It felt like community.
This was the third time out for Eric, Jason, and me. Our talks were sharper and shorter — looser and more relaxed, yet also more focused than before. The rhythm was better. The balance between technical and aesthetic subjects, how much time was alloted to each, the way one theme flowed into another — the music of the day — felt tighter and truer than at events past.
Thanks to our sponsors at Adobe, AIGA, New Riders, and Media Temple, we were able to give away thousands of dollars worth of software, books, and services. (We’ll be doing the same at An Event Apart NYC next month.)
Guest speaker Jim Coudal‘s leisurely stories were like little grenades of inspiration. He tossed them out casually; moments later, they detonated.
The day formally ended with lively critiques of sites submitted by attendees. We tried this once before, at An Event Apart Philadelphia, with mixed results. This time it felt like it really worked. The day informally ended at Timothy O’Toole’s pub, with a mixer sponsored by Jewelboxing.
Time, and the blog posts of those who attended, will tell if the event was as good for you as it was for us. Sincere thanks to all who attended. Thanks also to Dawson, John Gruber, Amy Redell, Michael Nolan, and Orrin Fink.
And a reminder: the Early Bird Rate for An Event Apart NYC ends June 9th. That’s a week from today! On June 10th, the price will increase by $100. So if you’re thinking of attending An Event Apart NYC — two days of design and code — please register soon.
I have always wanted A List Apart to connect web designers with web design jobs and never gotten around to making it happen. Now, thanks to 37signals, it’s on.
Starting today, the sidebar of A List Apart displays one random job from the 37signals Job Board — a new job on every page. It’s a great match for ALA readers seeking work and web-smart businesses with jobs to offer.
Companies including The New York Times, CNET, Facebook, Adobe, and American Express already use the Job Board to find today’s brightest web minds. Now they will find more of them. The best designers, developers, and information architects in the world read A List Apart, to the tune of 14 million page views a month.
14 million a month! I don’t know of another web publication that reaches so many clued-in professionals. ALA readers are uniquely concerned with accessibility, web standards, and crafting exceptional user experience through deeply considered design, writing, and structure.
Over the years, ALA readers have written to tell us that they owed their careers to skills our magazine helped them hone, and concepts our magazine laid before them. Adding the 37signals Job Board to our sidebar is a logical next step.
I am delighted to think that one day soon, we’ll get email from readers who found great jobs through A List Apart. And I’m even more thrilled to think about all those web standards fans taking their accessibility concerns and user experience chops to great companies like Crate and Barrel, TBWA, and American Express.
Today, the 37signals Job Board comes to A List Apart. Tomorrow, standardistas go to work at leading companies. The revolution will be salaried.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0 is an international standard for making sites accessible to people with disabilities. Many nations adhere to WCAG 1.0 as law.
That’s great, except that WCAG 1.0 is seven years old, and parts of it are murkily conceived. The W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) committee has toiled for years to offer a second-generation spec that is clearer and more up-to-date. WCAG 2.0 is the result. It was presented to the web community for comment a few weeks ago and achieves “Candidate Recommendation” status at the end of this month.
Although WCAG 2 has its supporters, and although good people have worked hard on it, Joe Clark believes “the fundamentals of WCAG 2 are nearly impossible for a working standards-compliant developer to understand,” with untestable success criteria and strange new definitions that don’t map to concepts like “page,” “site,” or “valid.”
Because WCAG 1.0 forms the basis of international law and because the standard’s goal is to serve the disabled, the success or failure of WCAG 2 matters to all who use, own, or make websites. Whether you end up agreeing or disagreeing with Joe Clark’s assessment, time is short and the stakes are incredibly high. I urge every web designer to read this article.
Also in this triple issue of A List Apart (and only overshadowed here because the clock on WCAG 2 is ticking) are two other exceptionally fine articles:
Nifty web maps powered by Google and Yahoo! APIs are all the rage. And rage is what a visually impaired user may feel when trying to use them. Is there a way to make beautiful web maps accessible? In a word, yes. Techy designers, you won’t want to miss this step-by-step guide.
Don’t be like MySpace. Well, okay, be like MySpace in attracting millions of users. But don’t be like them in exposing your site and your users to virtual vandals. Protect your community site from malicious cross-site scripting attacks. Part one of a two-part series.
Ubiquitous computing is coming. In some ways, it’s already here. Shouldn’t we think about what we want it to be? In our last issue, we published the introduction to Adam Greenfield’s Everyware. In this issue, we run the book’s conclusion.
It’s spring in this part of the world, and this issue’s color scheme by art director Jason Santa Maria reflects that pleasing circumstance. (ALA’s color scheme changes every issue, but you knew that.) Production editor Aaron Gustafson contributed significantly to the issue’s editorial content. Watercolor illustration by Kevin Cornell. Editorial assistance by Erin Lynch. Behind-the-scenes system improvements by Dan Benjamin. Erin Kissane edits the magazine. Published by Happy Cog.