Enable caching to upload files

You’re an Apple Safari browser user. After upgrading to OS X 10.4.8, you are unable to upload files to 37signals’s Basecamp via that application’s easy, web-based uploading tools. Or you are unable to upload your logo to Boxes & Arrows’s events listing. Or you are stymied in your efforts to upload your photos to JPG Mag.

The fault lies not with Basecamp or Boxes & Arrows or JPG. Nor is it strictly because you’re using an Intel Mac. Camino, Firefox, and Opera still let you upload images over http. The problem is Safari. But not every Intel-Mac-wielding Safari user suffers from it. Many continue to upload files after upgrading to 10.4.8. They glance pityingly at you out their passenger windows as they speed past.

What is the problem? You’re a web designer. As a web designer, you’ve used a third-party product like Safari Enhancer to disable caching in your browser.

If you don’t disable caching in your browser, then Safari becomes kind of useless to you as a web development tool, because Safari hangs onto files like a junkyard dog clomps onto a postman’s thigh. Safari will hold onto outdated CSS, outdated text, outdated images. You’ll quit and restart. You’ll check your SFTP settings repeatedly, wondering why you keep uploading updated content to your web project, but Safari keeps showing you outdated content.

Safari shows outdated content for hours after other browsers (even browsers with caching enabled) have recognized that something changed. Safari does this because it makes browsing faster for ordinary users who are not web designers. It works. Unfortunately, what makes Safari fast and fun for ordinary users makes it a pain for web designers—unless they disable caching.

Before 10.4.8, you could disable caching in Safari and still upload files over http. After 10.4.8, you can’t. It’s not a feature, it’s a bug. Until Apple fixes it, you can leave caching disabled in Safari and use Firefox, Camino, or Opera as your default browser—or re-enable caching, and add an hour of Stupid Time to your web development and testing process.

[tags]web design, apple, mac, os x, safari, browsers, web development[/tags]

Return of the Son of XHTML Fist

Issue No. 227 of A List Apart, For People Who Make Websites,™ heralds the revivification and expansion of the A List Apart Store and T-Shirt Emporium.

Redesign/Realign shirt

We are now offering new T-shirt designs that tell the world you are a rebel, a maverick, an original in a world of copies (and you know HTML): Web 2.0, -9999px, and Redesign/Realign. We’ve also stocked gently remixed classics: Warning Sign and XHTML Fist AKA Six Fingers of Doom. And, yes, traditionalists can still stock up on timeless, unchanged ALA logo shirts, avec wreath.

When you’ve donned your shirt, strike a pose in our spanking new (and hard-to-pronounce) A List Apart Shirts Flickr Group.

Testing proves testing works

As you can imagine, choosing the right T-shirt production and fulfillment partner required a massive mental effort, supported by modern research methodologies. We studied all the production and fulfillment companies out there, analyzing market data and poring over spreadsheets. But we didn’t stop there.

We completed a 72-hour card-sorting exercise (with no bathroom breaks), ran double-blind focus groups, and even hired our friends who used to call themselves information architects.

Sure, it was work—weeks of it. But it was worth it. Our grueling, science-based efforts paid off by revealing, as no sloppy shortcuts could have, the best possible choice of vendors. In short, we hired Jason’s wife’s company (also Nif’s!). They are awesome. (More shirt coverage is available at Jason Santa Maria dot com.)

All this … and content, too!

But this issue of A List Apart is not merely about re-opening our store’s doors. It’s about opening your mind. And in this issue, Rob Swan and Matthew O’Neill help us do just that:

In Defense of Difficult Clients

by Rob Swan

We’ve all had bad clients. All too rarely do we find ourselves working for someone who understands what we do, respects our craft, and defers to our judgement. But do bad clients get a bad rap? Can we turn bad client relationships into good learning experiences? Can our worst clients help us better understand and articulate our highest beliefs about our calling? Well, anyway, Rob Swan thinks so. Read this and see what you think.

Super-Easy Blendy Backgrounds

by Matthew O’Neill

Gradients and bevels, bevels and gradients. Bevels, bevels, bevels. Gradients, gradients, gradients. And sometimes, drop-shadows. But mostly, and especially, gradients. Nothing says “Buy me, Google,” like a nice gradient background—especially in a navigation bar. Wouldn’t it be swell if you could get all that goodness without opening Photoshop every time you needed a little gradient bliss? Matthew O’Neill explains how you can. Happy coding and selling out!

Monday breakfast links

Berners-Lee: reinventing HTML

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.

9 to 5 = average
To be great in design takes passion and work.
Sending XHTML as text/html Considered Harmful to Feelings
I love this.
Web Directions North
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).
Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance
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.)
I Cannot Possibly Buy Girl Scout Cookies From Your Daughter at This Time
By Charlie Nadler in McSweeney’s.
Gemini Girl
New women’s blog elegantly designed by Ray McKenzie.
eMusic: 33 Folkways LPs
Thirty-three important Folkways Recordings for download. Louis Bonfa, Mighty Sparrow, Woodie Guthrie, Henry Cowell and more.
On having layout – the concept of hasLayout in IE/Win
Technical but reasonably easy to follow discussion of why Internet Explorer’s rendering of your design may suck differ from your expectations
“Apple’s Backup App is Shit”
God bless SuperDuper.

[tags]W3C, webdirections, accessibility, haslayout, browsers, mcsweeney’s, folkways[/tags]

Better community through printing

Readers read web pages. Readers print web pages. In 1999, the way to help readers print web pages was obvious to every major site owner: buy a proprietary, multi-million-dollar content management system avec service contract to generate multiple versions of every page. After all, you needed seven versions of every page to handle all the browsers out there; you might as well treat print the same.

In 2001, A List Apart started promoting print style sheets, and by 2003, all the cool kids were doing it. They were also mostly using free or low-cost, generally open-source, content management systems. Yay, open source! Yay, web standards!

But a problem remains: all those ponderous 1999 websites have trained readers to expect a “print this page” button and subsequent in-browser preview. How can you satisfy this basic user expectation while still enjoying all the benefits of web standards?

In Issue 226 of A List Apart, for people who make websites, Pete McVicar shows one very good way to do it. His “Print to Preview” combines alternate stylesheets and scripting to…

show how the page will look when it’s printed, perhaps display a preview message explaining what this new view is about, and then automatically print the page.

McVicar’s method isn’t the only way to do this—others will likely be mentioned in the comments—but his technique is straightforward and clean, and it takes care of users without making the mistake of trying to educate them about something in which they’re profoundly uninterested (namely, web development).

Also in this issue: “How to be a Great Host,” by John Gladding. These days, many people’s web business plan looks something like this: “Ajaxy goodness + ???? = Profits!” Other straw men seem to think five blog posts plus text ads by Google plus discussion board software guarantees a buyout by Google. It doesn’t.

Building a community takes time and work. No amount of social bookmarking and tagging can rush that process. But you can learn to avoid mistakes. And you can save time by following time-tested approaches. (Learning from your mistakes is overrated.) Gladding’s article is filled with smart, “first do this, then do that” tips that can help you grow your site’s audience with discussion that works.

Better printing. Better community-building. Better read A List Apart 226!

[tags]alistapart, webstandards, community, forum, printing, stylesheets[/tags]

Black and Brown and 960 all over

En route to An Event Apart Seattle, I leave you with these:

Optimal Width for 1024 Resolution?
Spoiler: Turns out to be 960px.
Brown University homepage
It’s HTML! (Don’t let the smooth taste fool ya.)
Rogerblack.com
Black’s back! Black blogs! Site design by Rob Hunter. Love the “simplify” button. Red-and-black visual joke works, but shade of red needs fine-tuning. Having to employ drop-shadows on every character of body text (only Safari supports this) should be clue, if one were needed, that the background color doesn’t work.
Reflections are the new drop-shadows.
Yup.
RSS 2.0 & Atom compared
I finally get this.
Netscape 4-ever!
Scott Andrew’s back pages.

[tags]design, webdesign, 1024, rogerblack, brown university, rss, atom, standards, browsers, aneventapart[/tags]

ALA 223: tricks, guides, and giggles

A guide for the first-timer. A new trick for the size-conscious designer. And a bit of a giggle. Three pleasures await you in triple-thick Issue 223 of A List Apart, for people who make websites:

The ALA Primer: A Guide for New Readers

by Erin Lynch

New to A List Apart? Welcome! ALA’s own Erin Lynch has picked out a selection of articles that you may want to start with.

Text-Resize Detection

by Lawrence Carvalho and Christian Heilmann

It’s still hard to create page layouts that don’t break if the user increases the type size by more than a few settings. Chris Heilmann and Lawrence Carvalho serve up a way to detect your visitor’s font size settings using JavaScript.

A Standardista’s Alphabet

by Jack Pickard

“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]

ALA 222: wraparounds and wordsmithing

Save time by tricking PHP into managing your tricky text-wrap problems; use that time to fix your About page. Everybody wins in Issue 222 of A List Apart, for people who make websites:

Your About Page Is a Robot

by Erin Kissane

Everyone has one. No one likes to talk about it. No, not that. It’s your About page, and it needs a little love. ALA’s Erin Kissane guides you through a beautiful journey of self-discovery.

Sliced and Diced Sandbags

by Rob Swan

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to get text to flow around an irregularly shaped image? Wouldn’t it be even better if we could automate the process? Have no fear: Rob Swan is here to show us the way.

[tags]design, a list apart, alistapart, webdesign, php, writing, copywriting, about[/tags]

Get your kicks on Pier 66

Sorry, An Event Apart Seattle is all sold out!

There are still a few seats available for An Event Apart Seattle, featuring Kelly Goto, Erin Kissane, Jason Santa Maria, Eric Meyer, and Zeldman. Grab them (the seats, not the speakers) before the price goes up! Our early bird discount ends this Friday, August 18th. (Schedule | Map | Registration)

[tags]design, events, seattle, aneventapart, an event apart[/tags]

Get a job, fill a job

Some people who read zeldman.com have positions to fill. Others are looking for work. The ones with positions to fill are looking for clued-in designers and developers; they can’t find enough of them. The ones looking for work have had their fill of ordinary jobs; they seek greater challenges, and they have the chops to succeed. So I’ve added the 37signals Job Board to this site’s sidebar.

There were job boards before 37signals had one, and new job boards have popped up since. But of all the job boards old and new, 37signals’s seems to me to do the best, uh, job of connecting smart people with good positions. Recent job board postings include:

The Job Board is linked on pages at Signal vs. Noise, A List Apart, and zeldman.com that generate millions of page views a month. It’s the best place to find or post a web tech or design job.

[tags]webdesign, webdevelopment, jobs, 37signals[/tags]

Thursday links

Designspotter.com
A web-based platform (public group blog) for design publication, protection, and publicity. Upload an image of your work and a linked description to feature your product at no cost.
Oliver Stone, Terror Tourist
Fred Gates pimp-slaps Stone’s 9/11 blockbuster (movie review).
Google Strict vs. Google Deprecated
Does Google’s crap markup really save bytes? Philipp Lenssen finds out.
GraphicDesignBar:Design Forum
Fine new design blog, rich in inspiring links. (Yes, that’s one of Douglas Bowman’s standard Blogger templates.)
P22 News: Lanston Type Co. Summer 2006 releases
Goudy, Bodoni, and Broadway, oh my! P22 announces the latest installment of remastered fonts from the historic Lanston Type Company.
We are the Web: Fighting for Net Neutrality and Internet Freedom
Net neutrality and internet freedom are being disbanded by greedy corporate swine and the lobbyist-fattened US lawmakers who are their lackeys. In case you didn’t know.
Natural language hCard
Jeremy Keith on adding hcard semantics to ordinary body copy—naturally. (I’ve done it here.)
David Hughes Illustration
Kind to your eyes.
AsylumNYC
AsylumNYC presents all non-US artists with the opportunity to exhibit and live in New York City, providing a solo show at a recognized New York institution and the legal aid necessary to obtain an artists visa in the United States.
Weekly inspiration – 14 July
Thought-provoking UX/IA blog posts noted.
New York Times Librarian Awards
“The New York Times Librarian Awards were created to support and recognize public librarians, who do so much to nurture a better-informed society.” Nominate your favorite librarian from anywhere in the U.S.
Ben Hammersley’s Dangerous Precedent
Concise, uniquely conceived blog entries, elegantly written and cleverly embedded in photos which function as parallel blog entries. The creator is a thoughtful and multitalented web developer, portrait photographer, and book author.

[tags]librarian, awards, typography, design, graphic design, web design, user experience, UX, information architecture, IA, microformats, hcard, net neutrality, webstandards, web standards, bandwidth, Google, Oliver Stone, art, illustration, immigration, links[/tags]