Current ALA: A Search Engine in Perl | Backward Compatible Style Sheet Switcher
Current Glamour: From the Forest
Current Spew: Alley of the Shadow
Current Interviews: CNET | pixelview | Library Journal
10 Feb. 2002
Retooling: a message from The Web Standards Project.
The Wall Street Journal Online reportedly spent US $28,000,000 redesigning its site. Why so much? In part, because special features authored to the quirks of 4.0 browsers had “stopped working [in] the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape” according to Online Journalism Review. (Hat tip: Peter Jordaan.) As builders begin authoring to W3C standards instead of to the shifting goal posts of specific browsers, absurd costs like this should go away.
8 Feb. 2002
[1 pm | 10 am | 8 am]
In this week’s oldschool double issue of A List Apart, for people who make websites:
A Search Engine in Perl, by Joseph Ryan. Everything you wanted to know about Perl but were afraid to ask—including how to build a simple search engine for your site.
Backward Compatible Style Sheet Switcher, by Daniel Ludwin. You asked for it, you’ve got it: an Open Source alternate Style Sheet switcher that actually works in Netscape 4.
Congratulations, Kate and Eric.
Happy Birthday to Leigh, the Queen of Photoshop.
7 Feb. 2002
No entries. Working to launch multiple music brands.
6 Feb. 2002
[3 pm ]
An earlier post has been removed, as the site to which it linked worked only in IE.
“Crayola Brain,” at Kristian Walker’s handsome personal site, Thinking Around the Corners, nicely summarizes the often–observed connection between creativity and childhood.
Digital Web (“the web designer ’s online magazine of choice”) has gone weekly, Lord help them.
Warum gestalten Sie nicht für Netscape 4? is an authorized German language translation of ALA’s Why Don’t You Code for Netscape? (7 Dec. 2001), the article that introduced the concept of Forward Compatibility.
Of course, W3C standards have always been about long–term viability, but nobody ever explained the benefits in a way site owners and developers could immediately grasp and remember.
“Forward Compatibility” is a two–word marketing hook that might help you penetrate the defenses of combative clients or co–workers who view “web standards” as an Ivory Tower issue instead of a practical means to a desirable end. :::
5 Feb. 2002
[6 pm ]
We might all be living (or dying) under Fascism if not for the astonishing courage of women like Lilian Rolfe, Noor Inayat Khan, Odette Hallowes, Yvonne Cormo, and Violette Szabo. Launched today, the Real Charlottes section of the Charlotte Gray website tells their stories. :::
4 Feb. 2002
[2 pm ]
In yesterday’s Report we thanked Microsoft’s IE/Windows engineering team for their efforts to fix an IE6 bug that “apparently affects only one site (ALA).” The “thanks” part still goes—these engineers are great for doing this—but the “apparently affects only one site” part was apparently wrong.
Readers have been sending us their CSS layouts that break in IE6 in the same way ALA’s layout breaks in that browser, and we’ve shared appropriate examples with the IE/Win team in hopes of helping them track down and fix the bug. Thanks to all who sent examples of valid CSS layouts IE6 doesn’t like. If more examples are required, we’ll ask for them here.
Having complained that “cookie–cutter,” two- and three–column CSS layouts were boring him to tears, Chris Casciano is doing something about it. Every day in February, he’ll be posting a CSS redesign of the index page of his personal site, with explanations to follow toward the end of the month. We can’t help observing that the wily Casciano chose the shortest month of the year for his experiment in daily CSS redesigns. :::
3 Feb. 2002
[9 pm ]
Thanks to feedback from ALA readers, Microsoft’s browser engineers have determined that problems experienced by some IE6 users are not hardware but “timing” related. (Details.) No fix yet for the bug.
We’re indebted to Microsoft’s browser engineers for their efforts to solve a problem that apparently affects only one site (ALA), and we trust that they will eventually discover a solution.
ALA’s layout was designed by us with help from two world experts on CSS. Yet for many visitors it fails in the most compliant browser Microsoft has yet produced for the Windows platform. We can’t help wondering what this suggests about CSS layouts and browsers.
Is CSS design really ready for prime time? We’ll have more to say about that later, in another place. :::
2 Feb. 2002
[9 pm | 1 pm | 8 am]
Oops! Section 508, the U.S. Government site dedicated to “Section 508 compliance and accessibility of websites,” is neither Section 508 compliant nor accessible. It’s as if the Feds were to erect an “Americans with Disabilities” museum lacking access ramps. Our guess is that clueless bureaucrats prevented staff developers from building the site to comply with the law it promotes.
Nate Steiner’s new “Show Divs” bookmarklet for CSS designer/developers “makes all DIVs have a dashed gray border and all spans have a solid black border.” Useful for figuring out how a CSS layout was created without viewing source, the bookmarklet works in Mozilla/NN6 and IE5+.
Publish Jr. is a simple content management system created in Perl and PHP by Dan Cederholm, and available free from his site. When visiting, be sure to hit Dan’s Customize page, so you can view the site in your favorite size and typeface.
Quick Links: Kottke curates The Mirror Project. ::: Subterrane lists affordable stock photo sites. ::: Visitors discuss “web standards” at Signal vs. Noise. ::: Leo Robert Klein spills guts at pixelview. :::
1 Feb. 2002
[3 pm | 11 am | 8 am]
In Issue 135 of A List Apart, for people who make websites: the web services concept being championed by computing giants like Sun, Oracle, HP, Microsoft, and IBM is a great step towards simple access to software over the network. By promoting standards–based communication, web services might change the way we build websites.
Evolvs Media’s newly launched Filmstill highlights the photography of John Rees in an elegant presentation. Requires Flash 5 and makes heavy use of pop–up windows. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Iconfactory’s Pixelpalooza 2002 icon design contest is on. Now in its sixth year, Pixelpalooza is “a fantastic opportunity for talented icon artists to create original and compelling icons for the Macintosh platform and win great prizes in the process.” Prizes include an iPod, as well as products from Aladdin Systems, Font Diner, Fonthead Design, Microsoft, Panic, and Vizspring Software. Yo, get pixellatin’!
Book of the Week: We can’t imagine why, but when many designers hear the word “usability,” they envision blue underlined links and hellfire preachin’. Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think! paints a brighter picture.
Krug’s common–sense approach is all about ensuring that your site’s main idea comes across, that visitors see the content you want them to see and understand it as you intend it to be understood, and that those with specific goals can easily find what they seek instead of leaving your site in frustration. The book also offers low–cost and free methods of usability testing, ideally suited to today’s economy–hammered clients.
When one’s own eloquence fails, a well–written book can often persuade clients to do the right thing. If a $40 book saves a $40,000 project, that’s money well spent, if you ask us. :::