Jeffrey Zeldman Presents The Daily Report

23 January 2004 12 noon est

Book Party

Today The New York Public Library is throwing a party to celebrate the launch of The Wife’s excellent book, Web Design on a Shoestring.

One refrained from reviewing this masterful work because such a review might be deemed less than impartial.

One got as far as the opening phrase, “The most important book ever written on any subject,” before rethinking the entire enterprise.

Shea there, big fella

In the new issue of Digital Web Magazine, Craig Saila interviews Dave Shea of Mezzoblue and CSS Zen Garden fame on the subjects of designing with web standards, coping with clients, and developing a thick skin:

We’re still at a point where a lot of fanfare greets each new standards-based launch, which means each new site is still under a lot of scrutiny. With that comes praise and criticism. ... I’ve been noticing that a lot of critics have pet causes, and unless you meet their entire list, you’ll have done something wrong.

Indeed, there is a group of people in the web community for whom fixed-width design is not acceptable under any circumstances, and another, smaller group for whom liquid design is always wrong, wrong, wrong. You will inevitably hear from one group or the other. Our favorite recent reader critique of the redesign consisted of a single emailed sentence:

Old site was better.

The Shea interview takes you behind the scenes of the redesign and behind the thinking of the CSS Zen Garden. When you’ve finished enjoying that one, fine web interviews of Dan Rubin, Ryan Carver, Matt Haughey, and other design and community innovators may be found among the sidebar links at right.

The version problem

In a recent interview about standards-based design, we were asked which browser people should use. We said they can use whichever browser they like, but should download the latest version, as most browsers are continually improving their support for CSS and other standards.

We modestly believe this is good advice — but sometimes you can’t act on it.

As most readers know, Surfin’ Safari is the personal weblog of Dave Hyatt, a leading developer behind Apple’s Safari web browser. Hyatt is a fine fellow and his blog provides a way for Mac-using members of the web design community to keep abreast of — or to report — standards compliance issues in Safari.

The recently redesigned blog includes a now de rigueur, ALA-influenced CSS layout switcher. Unfortunately, the switcher and its UI are broken (and just barely usable) in a popular web browser: namely, Safari.

That’s right. We just said that a key section of the Safari guy’s Safari blog doesn’t work right in Safari 1.0. And the general layout is also broken. If you can find it in Safari 1.0, load “Contemporary – Green Linear.” Then view the site in Mozilla and load “Contemporary – Green Linear” again. The two displays are not from the same planet.

We suspect Safari 1.1 handles the site’s display and behavior correctly, but to get Safari 1.1 you must buy OS X 10.3 (Panther) and we have not done so. We hear it is good and we don’t mind sending Apple a few bucks, but this is a hectic time for us — note the relative scarcity of recent posts — and one does not install a new operating system while handling multiple, frighteningly hyperactive accounts. (We know designers who are so busy they haven't yet made the dazzling leap to OS 9. Which, if you not are reading closely, means they are still using OS 8.)

Browsers are free (Opera and Omniweb are exceptions). If you can make a buck by linking browser improvements to next-generation OS sales, well, you’re not in business just for your health. Still, it would be nice if you could download Safari 1.1 without buying and installing a new operating system.

Highlights from recent Daily Reports