Double issue on Flash MX
Current Hype: “Talent” Photo Contest
2 May 2002
[noon | 11 am]
For those who like their Daily Report the old–fashioned way, we’ve restored the 11px Verdana option. Click “Skin 3” in the Jakob Nielsen Corner, above right. We’ve also added a handful of affiliated sites to the bottom of the right-hand nav column. Who loves you?
The website for G4 TV is “optimized” for Netscape 6 and will not load in IE5/Mac. Which part of “current browsers support the same standards” don’t these developers understand?
Say your client maintains five versions of a site, each customized for a different marketing partner. You can spend hours on the monkey work of manually retooling the same image five ways, performing this drudgery for one image after another.
Or maybe your client frequently changes prices on a commerce site. You find yourself constantly altering images on a rush basis. Sure, it’s billable, but so is scrubbing toilets.
Adobe AlterCast imaging server software for NT or Solaris can automate tedious image repurposing tasks, and fits into the work flow of most publishing systems. Details are available.
ImageMagick™ is a free, Open Source product that does many of the things Adobe AlterCast does, and runs on nearly any operating system. (Alas, it does not directly support Photoshop.) Hat tip: Till Quack.
SpamCop is at it again. The service has good intentions: to drain the tide of unsolicited messages that flood our mailboxes. The service is simple: when a user reports spam, SpamCop notifies the offender’s ISP or hosting company and sends the accused a copy of the report.
Alas, the service is unjust: to be accused is to be found guilty. The service is also brain-dead: ignoring the person or company who actually sent the mail, SpamCop mindlessly identifies any website mentioned in the body of an unwanted email as the source of spam.
New Riders’s opt-in newsletter recently mentioned our book site’s Photo Contest. A recipient who forgot he had opted into the service wrongly reported the newsletter as spam, and SpamCop’s robot blithely alerted our hosting company to our supposed crime.
False accusations of spamming can have serious consequences: genuine spammers can lose their right to publish. We’re no lawyers, but SpamCop’s behavior seems dangerously dumb.
30 April 2002
Readers point out that Macromedia rival Adobe has significantly enhanced the CSS and XHTML compliance of its GoLive visual web editor.
Sample comment: “My site is living XHTML transitional proof, though my CSS is done by hand so I can’t comment on GoLive in that area,” writes Eric Peacock. “I let [GoLive 6] convert my HTML 4.0.1 Strict into XHTML 1.0 Transitional ... and it validated.”
We love Adobe—we’ve even done business with them. But do they call? Do they write? When Macromedia has news, they light the sky with it. Adobe buries the juice in a PDF file twelve levels below their front page.
Nevertheless, in the latest generation of their professional site design products, both Adobe and Macromedia appear to “get” web standards.
The other big comment from yesterday’s Report: “Where can I get those shoes?”
29 April 2002
[noon | 11 am | 2 am]
You had to jump through hoops to make Dreamweaver 4 support current web standards. Dreamweaver MX Preview Release came out today, offering vastly improved support for CSS, XHTML, and accessibility.
WaSP’s Dreamweaver Task Force consulted on the new version’s evolution, though the credit belongs to Macromedia’s engineers and management. Their thoroughness and attention to detail resulted in a visual editor that allows designers and developers to more easily create standards-compliant, accessible sites. The authoring tool itself is also far more accessible.
Rachel Andrew, a lead member of the WaSP Dreamweaver Task Force, today published tutorials on using the new Dreamweaver to generate valid XHTML and create CSS layouts. She’s also penned an overview on CSS best practices for Macromedia’s Designer and Developer Center. Dreamweaver users, rejoice and read up.
Iconfactory’s IconBuilder Pro, a professional plug-in for Mac and Windows icon construction, has been updated to version 3.5 for use with Mac OS X. The upgrade is free for registered users of IconBuilder Pro 3.x.
Bugs in the bughouse: Instead of ignoring white space in markup, Mozilla is converting some of it into ugly black boxes. For instance, if a line break occurs in a title attribute, garbage characters will show up on hover. It’s a known bug that will hopefully be fixed soon.
You can see the bug by using Mozilla to view W3C’s XHTML 1.0 specification or this week’s ALA feature, Flash MX: Clarifying the Concept. Hat tip: Trip Kirkpatrick.
In other “quirky browser” news, Alan Regan provides details on an unfortunate thorn bug in Opera 5 for Mac OS.
For the workers of the world, May 1st is the day that honors their struggles. For the workers of the web, May 1st means Reboot, “an international relaunch of websites by authors and creatives working within the field of Web Design.”
Happy birthday, Heather Champ!
Woof. In May, this site will turn 49 dog years old.
New desktops for your pleasure in the Wallpaper department, new photos and texts in the book site.
Everyone needs a hobby: between 14–22 April, 677 zeldman.com readers tested the book site for Section 508 compliance. You people are hardcore.
26 April 2002
[11 am | 7 am]
In this week’s A List Apart, for people who make websites:
Macromedia’s MX series is poised to change the web. Accessibility is a key component of the company’s strategy. How well have they succeeded in the case of Flash? We asked two experts:
In a detailed survey, accessibility obsessive Joe Clark evaluates Flash MX (authoring tool and player) in the context of the often confusing WAI and Section 508 guidelines, finds some things to cheer about, and draws a roadmap for future improvements.
In a companion feature, Andrew Kirkpatrick of the CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media tackles Flash MX from the developer’s perspective, showing how authors can more easily generate accessible Flash content, and where roadblocks remain.
Photo contest update
We’ve begun deploying photo contest submissions throughout the book site. Don’t see your photo? It may be used later. Haven’t sent in your photo yet? There’s still time.
It’s a small world after all
Last week’s ALA feature, Fixing Your Site With the Right DOCTYPE, has been translated into Bulgarian.
24 April 2002
SitePoint has invited its readers to interview Zeldman. Questions are now being compiled in the SitePoint Community Forum.
Panic in the streets! Zeldman complains structural purity is hard, says something nice about Flash MX, readers freak.
So after we’d dumbed down our markup to compensate for rendering oddities in CSS, Tantek found a way to make those oddities disappear:
list-style: url(/img/logo.gif) disc inside;
The “inside” value tells Opera, Mozilla/Netscape 6, and IE5+ where to place the image with respect to the text and the surrounding block level elements. Problem solved.
The images don’t show up in Netscape 4, but that’s okay. The optional “disc” value tells browsers that don’t support CSS list-style images to use a standard disc marker instead.
So now we have two versions for our client’s consideration: a structurally pure version that looks swell in current browsers and a slightly less pure version that looks swell in all browsers. (It would help if we could show you the web pages in question, but it’s client work that has not yet been approved or published.)
Mister Zeldman reminds his colleagues that web technologies are not Holy Writ. They are tools intended to deliver content and facilitate interactivity, and like this medium they are in their infancy.
The cult of web standards, of Flash, of accessibility, of usability: each reflects the passions of dedicated, intelligent people. But when passion becomes zealotry, we stop listening to each other, and when we stop listening we stop learning. Can’t we all just get along?
Mister Zeldman acknowledges that he may not be the best vessel for delivering this message.