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development industry Standards

Selling AJAX by the pound

On Valentine’s Day the U.S. Government granted a patent on AJAX to an obscure web shop that promptly announced plans to “license” the technology thousands of sites and products are using. What happens next is anyone’s guess, but I suspect it will involve lawyers.

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Accessibility Design industry Standards

Beneath the law, beyond the validator

O say, can you see? If not, can you sue?
Designing With Web Standards made the point that an inaccessible site could get its owner in trouble. Now a blind student is suing Target, claiming that its inaccessible site violates the Americans With Disabilities Act and various U.S. state laws:
Unitless and Somewhat Slightly Dazed
Although the W3C validator claims that A List Apart’s CSS is flawed, our CSS is actually fine; the validator has a known bug that causes it to incorrectly flag unitless line-heights as errors. So why write unitless line-heights? Eric Meyer, who created A List Apart’s CSS, explains. His post is not only the best primer I’ve ever seen on the subject, it is the only primer I’ve ever seen on the subject—and the only one you need.
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Design industry Standards Tools

Don’t be a beta hater

Yes, Happy Cog has a layout problem in Internet Explorer 7 beta. Not to worry: According to Molly Holzschlag of The Web Standards Project, Microsoft has fixed the problem, as we’ll see in a future IE7 release. The current beta chokes on this rule:

div#headwrap h1	{
	background: transparent url(/i/happycog.gif) 
		top left no-repeat;
	margin: 0;
	border: 0;
	padding: 0;
	padding-top: 100px;
	overflow: hidden;
	height: 0px !important; /* for most browsers */
	height /**/:100px; /* for pre 6.0 IE Win */
	}

It’s an image replacement technique that uses an alternate box model hack.

Designers use box model hacks to compensate for inaccuracies in the way some browsers (mostly Microsoft’s) calculate element widths with respect to padding and borders. I wrote this rule to insert my agency’s logo at the top of the page in visual browsers while presenting a text equivalent for screen readers and nongraphical browsers. The hacks force older Microsoft browsers to display these elements correctly.

When Microsoft released IE5, it was great for its day, but not always accurate. When they released IE6, it was better but not perfect. The company then declared victory and announced that the browser was dead and there would be no more IE browsers forever.

So designers got busy compensating for the standards deficiencies of IE5, IE5.5, and IE6 (and other companies’ browsers), using hacks like those seen here. The idea is to take the hackery out of markup, where it never belonged, and hide it in style sheets.

IE7 beta’s standards accuracy is already very good and getting better, and, despite what you might have heard to the contrary, Microsoft’s engineers are working with the community (and in particular with The Web Standards Project) to identify and fix CSS bugs and errors and to compensate for hacks like the one seen here. Using IE7? Finding bugs? Microsoft and The Web Standards Project want to hear from you.

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A List Apart Design Standards

A List Apart 211

In the 211th edition of A List Apart, for people who make webites:

  • In Search of the Holy Grail — Matthew Levine’s three-column CSS layout avoids the usual semantic sacrifices. Is it the ultimate of its kind?
  • Home Page Goals — Indie web powerhouse Derek Powazek articulates the unique set of design goals a home page requires to create a smart and welcoming impression.

Plus, listen up, ALA readers! A List Apart wants to know what you love—and hate—about the web right now…whatever makes you swoon or drives you nuts. We’ll feature a selection of responses in our next issue.

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Accessibility An Event Apart Design development events Standards

An Event Apart Atlanta

Messieurs Eric Meyer and Jeffrey Zeldman are pleased to announce An Event Apart Atlanta:

On 3 April 2006, America’s favorite pastime (designing with web standards) will come to the 755 Club at Turner Field, as the famed ballpark’s spectacularly furnished club hosts An Event Apart Atlanta.

An Event Apart is a concentrated, one-day learning session on modern web design. Check the Event Apart Philadelphia page to get a sense of how the first event, held in the Franklin Institute, went down. Transpose from Philly to Atlanta, think ballpark instead of museum, and you get an inkling of what to expect.

Online registration starts soon; seating will be limited. Subscribe to An Event Apart’s RSS feed to stay ahead of the curve. Can’t make Atlanta? Event Apart seminars in Seattle, Chicago, and Los Angeles are up next.

Categories
industry Standards

iPhoto , iTunes, iForgotToTest

The headline (“Apple caught cheating on RSS standard”) and the subhead (“New iPhoto feature disregards standards”) of Tom Sanders’s article both suggest that Apple is deliberately breaking the RSS standard with its Photocasting feature in the updated iPhoto application. I think it more likely that Apple’s implementation is simply, grandly inept.

It may be inept through knuckle-dragging unawareness of best practices in web design, as is the case with iWeb’s HTML markup.

Or it may be inept because it was rushed to market. iTunes 6.0.2 and iTunes Updater are incompatible with Panther-based Macs but Software Update installs them anyway. It does this not because Apple wants to punish Panther and iPod users (at least, I hope not) but because, in rushing make its applications compatible with Intel and non-Intel Macs in time for the Macworld conference, Apple seemingly neglected to adequately test on any but the latest models of its hardware and operating systems.

This theory of insufficient testing doesn’t bring back the week I lost tracking down and working around the bugs and breaks Apple dumped on my Titanium Powerbook. And it doesn’t bring back the additional 10GB of drive space the iPod updater eats out of every iPod sold. But it is comforting to believe that these screwups are merely human error and not part of a conspiracy involving the CIA, the big pharmaceutical companies, and the Trilateral Commission.

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A List Apart Design Standards work

A List Apart 209

In A List Apart’s year-end issue, Brian Crescimanno provides an extensive yet compact checklist of ways to make your site’s forms usable. And Molly E. Holzschlag stokes the flames of creativity (or of productive argument) by advising web designers to think outside the grid. The issue also features outstanding illustration work by Kevin Cornell and Jason Santa Maria.

Thanks for making ALA 4.0 great: Erin Kissane (editor), Dan Benjamin (system developer), Eric A. Meyer (CSS genius), Aaron Gustafson (production editor), Erin Lynch (assistant editor), and Damon Clinksales (data migration director). Thanks also to the people of TextDrive for hosting above and beyond. Thanks most of all to all of you for reading, bookmarking, debating, and in other ways contributing to A List Apart. Love on ya.

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A List Apart An Event Apart Design events people Standards Tools work

ALA 208, AIGA podcasts

Back from Spain, prepping for Philly. An Event Apart is days away!

A List Apart 208

In Issue No. 208 of A List Apart, for people who make websites, we focus on simplicity, both in practice and theory.

Printing a Book with CSS: Boom!
by Bert Bos & Håkon Wium Lie
Bert and Håkon gave the world CSS. Now they give us another use for it. Namely, controlling real-world printing jobs. Call it a microformat. An innovation. A heresy. The authors call it “boom!”
Power to the People
by D. Keith Robinson
Your dad doesn’t care about AJAX, Mr Robinson discovers.

More Event Apart AIGA podcasts, Mom!

AIGA, the professional association for design, presents “Talking with Jason Santa Maria: An Event Apart, #04” and “Talking with Zeldman: An Event Apart, #03.”

Each week leading up to An Event Apart Philadelphia, AIGA talks with founders and guest artists about what attendees can expect from the conference. Subscribe to AIGA’s Podcast Directory RSS feed to stay abreast.

This week, AIGA’s Liz Danzico talks with Jason Santa Maria about being An Event Apart’s first guest speaker, his involvement with the first critiques, and upcoming plans for Stan, his virtual persona.

Categories
Accessibility cities Design Standards

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0

W3C News Flash:

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Working Group has released Working Drafts of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 and HTML Techniques for WCAG 2.0 and a First Public Working Draft of Understanding WCAG 2.0. Following WCAG makes Web content more accessible to the vast majority of users, including people with disabilities and older users, using many different devices including a wide variety of assistive technology.

When finished, WCAG 2.0 will clarify what was vague in previous Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) guidelines. It will also come with developer-friendly techniques and glosses, making accessibility easier to understand, and accessible markup easier to build into the sites we create.

At the conference here in Gijón I have spent days with some of the leaders of this WAI and WCAG 2.0 activity. What they are doing has the potential to help all web users and all of us who serve them. — 1 am Gijón, Asturias, Spain

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cities Design events links Standards

To Spain! To Spain!

To Spain! To Spain!
Tomorrow his family and your humble narrator fly away for seven days in beautiful Gijón, Asturias, Spain, where it will apparently rain all week and where your present host will address the W3C on the subject of standards-based design.
Wish you were there
The New York Public Library is hosting incredible live events. Last month, we watched John Hope Franklin and William Jefferson Clinton discuss race in America. Last night, in “The Battle Over Books,” Google’s David Drummond and an all-brain cast led by Lawrence Lessig and Allan Adler vigorously debated the Google Print Library Project (or as it was renamed yesterday, Google Book Search). My brain is still on fire. If you live in the New York City area or will visit soon, join the mailing list for your chance to attend one or more of these fascinating public programs.
Dead Can Play
Jon Noring of Sound Preserve writes:

The Department of Special Collections at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) Davidson Library recently placed online, with free access, over 5,000 sound recordings as part of its Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project. The recordings date from the 1890s to the 1920s and were transferred from Edison cylinders using state-of-the-art equipment. Besides MP3 and streaming audio, the raw transfers are also available for DIYers to try their own hand at audio restoration.

Rebooty Call
Each year May 1st Reboot invites designers around the world to rethink, re-skin, and rekindle their websites. The 2006 Reboot is now accepting sign-ups. As he did last year, creative director Paul A. Szypula is organizing the global digital event. Shake your Rebooty!
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An Event Apart Design events people Standards

AIGA/AEA Podcast II: a Man called Meyer

AIGA, the professional association for design, presents “Talking With Eric Meyer: An Event Apart Podcast #02.”

Each week leading up to An Event Apart in December 2005, AIGA talks with the founders about what attendees can expect from the conference. (Subscribe to AIGA’s Podcast Directory RSS feed.)

This week, AIGA’s Liz Danzico and An Event Apart’s Eric Meyer discuss the comparison between code and chisels, and why designers need to care about what’s under the hood.

It’s eight minutes and 16 seconds of pure design geek joy. Happy listening!