Ever designed or developed a beautiful interface only to find your hard work ruined months later by gaudy graphics or invalid markup? With proper documentation you’ll have a better chance at seeing your interface stay beautiful. Jina Bolton guides us through the process of developing an interface style guide.
An Event Apart, the design conference for people who make websites, has posted its San Francisco 2008 schedule. Join us August 18–19, 2008 at the Palace Hotel for two jam-packed 9.5-hour-long days of learning and inspiration with Heather Champ, Kelly Goto, Jeremy Keith, Luke Wroblewski, Dan Cederholm, Tantek Çelik, Jeffrey Veen, Derek Featherstone, Liz Danzico, Jason Santa Maria, Eric Meyer, and Jeffrey Zeldman.
Launched today, WebAssist Professional’s CSS Menu Writer™ for Dreamweaver takes the pain out of creating standards-compliant horizontal or vertical navigation menus with nested fly-outs.
I got to spend an hour with the program prior to its release, and was impressed with its flexibility and extreme ease of use. For instance, creating primary and secondary menu levels is as simple as pointing to your files and folders. If the client changes the approved site structure after you’ve already created your page templates, no problem: just drag files and folders to their changed locations and CSS Menu Writer will update your navigation.
The program comes with four horizontal and four vertical menus, each in 12 different color schemes—96 menus to start—with unlimited sub-levels. You can easily create Doug-Bowman-style “sliding doors” effects, as well as doing all the obvious stuff you’d expect to be able to do, like changing menu width, height, margin, and padding; swapping backgrounds and images; and saving custom creations as new presets to reedit or share with colleagues. The program also integrates easily with Eric Meyer’s CSS Sculptor.
CSS Menu Writer costs $99.99, but if you buy before May 27, it’s just $74.99.
The “why” of Ruby on Rails comes down to productivity, says Michael Slater. Web applications that share three characteristics—they’re database-driven, they’re new, and they have needs not well met by a typical CMS—can be built much more quickly with Ruby on Rails than with PHP, .NET, or Java, once the investment required to learn Rails has been made. Does your web app fall within the RoR “sweet spot?”
The “how” of Ruby on Rails: Hivelogic’s Dan Benjamin prepares non-Rails developers, designers, and other creative professionals for their first foray into Rails. Learn what Ruby on Rails is (and isn’t), and where it fits into the spectrum of web development and design. See through the myths surrounding this powerful young platform, and learn how to approach working with it.
In Issue No. 256 of A List Apart, for people who make websites, Wilson Miner shares techniques for incorporating data visualization into standards-based web navigation patterns, and Paul Smith shows how to replicate Google Maps’ functionality with open source software to produce high-quality mapping applications tailored to your design goals. Read and enjoy.
Findability, Orphan of the Web Design Industry – Aarron Walter, author of Building Findable Websites: Web Standards, SEO, and Beyond (New Riders, 2008), provides an overview of this essential web discipline, explains how it is like SEO but different, and tells how every member of your team can contribute to your site’s content’s findability. (See Aarron speak about findability and web standards live and in person at An Event Apart New Orleans, April 24–25, at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside.)
Sign Up Forms Must Die – Luke Wroblewski, Senior Principal of Product Ideation and Design at Yahoo! and author of Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks (Rosenfeld Media, 2008), calls for the abolition of sign-up forms where web services are concerned. Via “gradual engagement,” says Luke, we can get people using and caring about our web services instead of frustrating them with forms. (Get more Luke live and in person at An Event Apart Boston, June 23–24, 2008 at the Boston Marriott Copley Plaza.)
As a glance at the masthead suggests, thought-provoking content about web form design and findability isn’t all that’s happening in this issue of A List Apart:
Deeply gifted and seriously experienced web design magazine editor Carolyn Wood finally joins the ALA staff as acquisitions editor, taking that post from …
… the witty and excellent Krista Stevens, who now becomes editor of the magazine.
For his profound contributions to branding and usability, art director Jason Santa Maria becomes creative director.
And after eight years at the magazine, Erin Kissane steps down as editor (but will stay with us as contributing editor). The improvements Erin has made to the magazine in her years with us cannot be counted, not even by the angels.
Zeldman on Talk Radio Today
Live today from 3:00 to 4:00 pm Eastern Time, I’m this week’s guest on “Design Matters with Debbie Millman,” the leading internet talk radio show on the “challenging and compelling canvas of today’s design world.”
If you listen live today at 3:00 pm ET, you can use a call-in number to participate in the show.
Voted “Most Popular Podcast” by the readers of if! Magazine, “Design Matters with Debbie Millman” is an opinionated internet talk radio show with over 150,000 listeners. Previous guests have included Milton Glaser, Stefan Sagmeister, and Ellen Lupton.
The show is produced in the Empire State Building in NYC.
The WCAG Samurai Errata for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 are published as an alternative to WCAG 2. “You may comply with WCAG 2, or with these errata, or with neither, but not with both at once.” Published 26 February 2008. Read the intro first.
Free Mac OS X application lets you share files fast. Drag any file or folder onto the Dockdrop dock icon, then choose how you want to send it. Dockdrop uploads it and puts a URL for your upload on the clipboard, ready for pasting into an email, chat program or website.
Four years ago today, Tantek Çelik and Kevin Marks gave a presentation on real-world semantics. Working backwards from HTML extensions like XFN (created by Tantek, Matt Mullenweg, and Eric Meyer), the paper showed how designers and developers could add semantics to today’s web rather than starting from scratch or waiting for a “purer” markup language to bring us an “uppercase semantic web.”
As with ‘most all great ideas, the principles were simple and, in hindsight, profoundly obvious. Do what designers were already doing. Instead of toiling over new languages that might or might not get adopted, use existing (X)HTML elements such as rel and class, and agree on such things as common class names for simple things like relationship definitions.
On behalf of all web designers and developers, thank you, Tantek and friends, and happy birthday.