The future of web standards

Jeffrey Zeldman on the future of web standards.

“Cheap, complex devices such as the iPhone and the Droid have come along at precisely the moment when HTML5, CSS3 and web fonts are ready for action; when standards-based web development is no longer relegated to the fringe; and when web designers, no longer content to merely decorate screens, are crafting provocative, multi-platform experiences. Is this the dawn of a newer, more mature, more ubiquitous web?”

The Future of Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman

Originally written for .net magazine, Issue No. 206, published 17 August in UK and this month in the US in “Practical Web Design” Magazine. Now you can read the article even if you can’t get your hands on these print magazines.

See also: I Guest-Edit .net magazine.

HTML5 For Web Designers is a hit in the US iTunes store.

UPDATE: As of today, 27 September 2010, Jeremy’s book is ranked 33. It has climbed 11 points since yesterday.

Jeremy Keith’s excellent HTML5 For Web Designers, the first publication from A Book Apart, is a hit in the American iTunes store.

Comments, if you wish, may be left at Flickr.

Of Thee I Sing

According to Lanyrd and this Amtrak ticket, I’m on my way to Washington, DC, home of the 9:30 Club, Embassy Row, museums and monuments, and the site of An Event Apart DC—three days of design, code, and content for people who make websites.

Jeffrey Zeldman Presents

I love DC the way someone who used to live there loves a town. In DC I fell in love, played in some little-known but great bands, wrote for City Paper and The Washington Post, and started an advertising career that would take me to New York and lead me to web design.

And now, in the very neighborhood where I once struggled to pay rent, a place haunted by a friend’s ghost and memories of ordinary madness, I’m co-hosting a three-day celebration of a profession that didn’t exist fifteen years ago and that is only now coming to maturity. (I can relate.)

An Event Apart DC features 12 great speakers and 12 sessions. The sold-out, two-day show is followed by A Day Apart, a one-day learning experience on HTML5 and CSS3 led by our good friends Jeremy Keith (author, HTML5 For Web Designers) and Ethan Marcotte (co-author, Designing With Web Standards 3rd Edition).

I’m truly looking forward to this conference and to meeting some of you there. For those who can’t attend, there’s A Feed Apart, An Event Apart’s official aggregator of live tweets, and, of course, the Flickr group. These should start filling with content shortly after the conference begins on Thursday morning.

Kisses.

My other iPad is a Kindle

Zeldman.com as seen on Kindle

The new Kindle has a lot going for it. It’s inexpensive compared to a full-featured tablet computer like the iPad; you can slip it in your back pocket, where it’s more comfortable than an old-style paperback; and it includes a Webkit browser. This last point is where folks like us start to give a hoot, whether we’re fans of epub reading or not.

The flavor of Kindle’s browser concerns us because it affords us the ability to optimize the mobile viewing experience with a single line of markup. You can see this in action in the photo at the head of this article (published and discussed on Flickr).

I made no tweaks for Kindle per se; the Kindle is simply responding to a line of markup I’ve been putting into my web pages since 2007—namely, the viewport meta element, which controls the width of the viewport, thus enabling mobile devices with a limited number of pixels to focus all available pixels on your site’s core content (instead of, for instance, wasting part of the small screen on a background color, image, or gradient). The technique is as simple as web design gets:

meta name="viewport" content="width=770"

(Obviously, the value of “width” should be adjusted to match your site’s layout.)

I learned this little trick from Craig Hockenberry’s Put Your Content in My Pocket (A List Apart, August 28, 2007), which I naturally recommend to any designer who hasn’t seen it.

Episode 18: Roger Black on web type and templates

Roger Black

Legendary art director Roger Black guests on tomorrow’s episode of The Big Web Show, co-hosted by Dan Benjamin and taped in front of a live internet audience.

Roger co-founded the following new companies: Webtype, creators of high-end fonts for online typography; Treesaver, a platform that uses CSS, HTML, JavaScript, and the principles of responsive design to publish beautifully formatted content on any device with a web browser; Ready-Media, which designs templates for newspaper and magazine publishers (and attracts controversy); and Nomad Editions, a series of digital weeklies designed directly for mobile devices.

Roger is also a founding partner in Danilo Black, an international design agency he co-founded with Eduardo Danilo, and The Font Bureau, a leading type foundry he co-founded with David Berlow.

“He pioneered the use of computers in design, cut the best deals, and made himself synonymous with the modern magazine,” wrote Michael Wolff in a New York Magazine profile of Roger back in the 1990s, when Roger was the best-known magazine art director in the world. (Among many others, he designed Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, The New Republic, Fast Company, Advertising Age, and Esquire.)

He also co-founded Interactive Bureau, one of the biggest and most successful web design agencies of the dot-com era.

In his free time, Roger putters around in his award-winning West Texas vacation home made of recycled shipping containers.

Roger Black is an astoundingly prolific creative force; we hope you can join us for this Episode of the show.

The Big Web Show (“Everything Web That Matters”) is taped live in front of an internet audience every Thursday at 1:00 PM ET on live.5by5.tv. Edited episodes can be watched afterwards, often within hours of taping, via iTunes (audio feed | video feed) and the web.


Photo of Roger Black at Happy Cog by Jeffrey Zeldman.


HTML5 For Web Designers: The eBook

HTML5 For Web Designers

Jeremy Keith’s HTML5 for Web Designers is now available as an epub at books.alistapart.com.

If you bought the paperback, watch your inbox for a special discount on the ebook. (To take advantage of this offer, enter the discount code in page 2 of the shopping cart’s checkout process, after you put in your billing information.)

Also, be on the lookout for our second book, CSS3 For Web Designers by Dan Cederholm, forthcoming this Fall. Upcoming A Book Apart topics include progressive enhancement, content strategy, responsive web design, and emotional design by industry-leading authors Aaron Gustafson, Erin Kissane, Ethan Marcotte, and Aarron Walter.

I guest-edit .net magazine

Web 2.1. Zeldman guest-edits .net magazine.

A List Apart and .net magazine have long admired each other. So when .net editor Dan Oliver did me the great honor of asking if I wished to guest edit an issue, I saluted smartly. The result is now arriving in subscriber post boxes and will soon flood Her Majesty’s newsstands.

In .net magazine Issue No. 206, on sale 17th August in UK (and next month in the US, where it goes by the name “Practical Web Design”), we examine how new standards like CSS3 and HTML5, new devices like iPhone and Droid, and maturing UX disciplines like content strategy are converging to create new opportunities for web designers and the web users we serve:

  • Exult as Luke Wroblewski shows how the explosive growth of mobile lets us stop bowing to committees and refocus on features customers need.
  • Marvel as Ethan Marcotte explains how fluid grids, flexible images, and CSS3 media queries help us create precise yet context-sensitive layouts that change to fit the device and screen on which they’re viewed.
  • Delight as Kristina Halvorson tells how to achieve better design through coherent content wrangling.
  • Thrill as Andy Hume shows how to sell wary clients on cutting-edge design methods never before possible.
  • Geek out as Tim Van Damme shows how progressive enhancement and CSS3 make for sexy experiences in today’s most capable browsers—and damned fine experiences in those that are less web-standards-savvy.

You can also read my article, which asks the musical question:

Cheap, complex devices such as the iPhone and the Droid have come along at precisely the moment when HTML5, CSS3 and web fonts are ready for action; when standards-based web development is no longer relegated to the fringe; and when web designers, no longer content to merely decorate screens, are crafting provocative, multi-platform experiences. Is this the dawn of a newer, more mature, more ubiquitous web?

Today’s web is about interacting with your users wherever they are, whenever they have a minute to spare. New code and new ideas for a new time are what the new issue of .net magazine captures. There has never been a better time to create websites. Enjoy!


Photo by Daniel Byrne for .net magazine. All rights reserved.

HTML5, CSS3 default templates

Free for use in all web projects, professional or personal, HTML5 Reset by Monkey Do! is a set of HTML5 and CSS templates that jumpstart web development by removing the styling native to each browser, establishing basic HTML structures (title, header, footer, etc.), clearing floats, correcting for IE problems, and more.

Most of us who design websites begin every project with bits and pieces of this kind of code, but developer Tim Murtaugh, who created these files and who modestly thanks everyone in the universe, has struck a near-ideal balance. In these lean, simple files, without fuss or clutter, he manages to give us the best-practices equivalent of everything but the kitchen sink.

Tim Murtaugh sits beside me at Happy Cog, so I’ve seen him use these very files (and earlier versions of them) to quickly code advanced websites. If you’re up to speed on all the new hotness, these files will help you stay that way and work faster. If you’re still learning (and who isn’t?) about HTML5, CSS3, and browser workarounds, studying these files and Tim’s notes about them will help you become a more knowledgeable web designer slash developer. (We need a better name for what we do.)

My daughter calls Mr Murtaugh “Tim the giant.” With the release of this little package, he earns the moniker. Highly recommended.

HTML5 Fuzzies


Jeffrey Zeldman Presents

Yesterday, in response to something Tantek Çelik said here, Jeff Croft wrote a thoughtfully provocative piece arguing that informed web designers should encourage—or at least not worry about—the widespread misuse of the term “HTML5” as a buzzword covering everything from CSS3 and web fonts to excitement about the new Webkit-powered mobile platforms:

…I think there’s actually a very good reason why we should, in fact, embrace the term “HTML5” as an overarching buzzword for this latest round of web standards and specifications. Our industry has proven on several occasions that we don’t get excited about new, interesting, and useful technologies and concepts until such a buzzword is in place.

“AJAX,” of course, is the canonical example of this. DOM scripting, XMLHttpRequest, and dynamic Javascript all existed long before the term “AJAX”. But it wasn’t until the clever term was coined that anyone really cared. As soon as we had a single, simple word we could all get behind, Javascript really took off. A proliferation of frameworks and libraries hit the scene, and suddenly we were all building dynamic web projects. And the term was misused. Badly. Left and right. Much of the great code being written didn’t use XML. Much of it wasn’t asynchronous. But most of it was pretty great, and it was usually called “AJAX” wether it really was or not.

There is much to be said for Jeff’s point of view, although such fuzziness is a slippery slope. In the upcoming issue of .net magazine which I guest-edited, I refer to the current set of opportunities half-jocularly as “Web 2.1,” and while the title is a goof, it is also an attempt to encapsulate an exciting new phase of web design and experience. Instead of forging such constructions, perhaps it is best to go with what the market has seized upon—and “HTML5” is certainly that.

To encourage what should be encouraged, yet not add confusion to an already over-vague understanding, folks like us might want to say, “HTML5 and related technologies,” or “HTML5 and other new technologies,” or something along those lines.

Sure, it’s a bit stiff. But such a construction allows us to participate in the current frenzy and be understood by non-technical people while not fostering further misunderstandings—particularly as we also need to concern ourselves with web colleagues’ and students’ knowledge of what HTML5 is and is not.

via JeffCroft.com: On the term “HTML5”.