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Book due

Designing With Web Standards has gone to the printers. Pre-order at Amazon.


Winners of WThRemix competition.

Free seminar on accessibility and usability, NYC Hilton, 2 May.


XHTML 2: groundless fears, genuine concerns.

Hot cache: teaching your browser to load changed style sheets.

Preloading hover states in CSS rollovers.

Recent ALA: Night of the Image Map. CSS Design: Creating Custom Corners and Borders. Retooling Slashdot With Web Standards II.

Link summary. Google related. Google links. Google Zeldman. Google Jeffrey. Teoma links. Technorati links. Zeldman vs. Nielsen. Legend of Zeldman.

The Daily Report

18 April 2003 :::

10 am EST

Susan Kare, creator of the original Macintosh icons, has released another set of high quality bitmap fonts through Atomic Media.

Winer and CSS: enough already

Dave Winer’s Userland Software has released products that make life easier for independent web publishers, and has contributed to major XML-based protocols that facilitate syndication and web services. Mr Winer has for years written prolifically on his personal sites, and in so doing has encouraged others to create personal sites and blogs, thus fostering aspects of the web’s independent content movement and helping to create a friendly climate not only for his company’s products but also for competitive publishing tools including Blogger and Movable Type.

In his copious writings, Mr Winer has developed a distinctive and occasionally quirky way of expressing himself. Mean-spirited people have sometimes made themselves feel big by parodying Mr Winer’s style of writing, but this only makes them look small. When people make fun of you or attack you, it is a sign that you are having an influence. (Just ask Jakob Nielsen.) Mr Winer’s positive influence on web publishing and web development cannot be overstated.

Mr Winer’s XML-based contributions get some of their due in our upcoming book, Designing With Web Standards. His actions speak louder than his words, and his actions command our respect.

That said, we are puzzled by Mr Winer’s continual sniping at CSS. In his latest anti-CSS mini-rant, published this morning, Mr Winer gripes about being locked in a trunk with people who want to smear ketchup on his tie. We have no idea what that means or why Mr Winer, who is first and foremost a programmer, has such trouble grasping the benefits of a lean, cache-able, standardized visual formatting language for the web.

Over the past two years, Mr Winer has repeatedly complained about CSS and structural, semantic markup, and has even asked what is wrong with tag soup. As one who sees the web as a vehicle for writing, Mr Winer should know instinctively what is wrong with tag soup. Tag soup bloats web pages, slowing their delivery for all users and especially penalizing dialup users. Tag soup corrupts data by yoking it to nonstandard formatting instructions. These formatting instructions work in some environments but fail in others. For instance, they get in the way when trying to deliver content to text-oriented devices with small view ports, such as Palm Pilots and web-enabled cell phones. Why should the users of these devices be forced to download 40K of HTML formatting instructions that will not work for them? And then have to download 40K more when they link to a new page? And 40 more on the next?

CSS is significantly leaner than HTML formatting tags, and it only has to be downloaded once. As you link from page to page of this site, you are downloading fresh content, not content plus formatting. The file that controls formatting remains cached. The site loads faster as a result, particularly as you visit subsequent pages.

In most cases, formatting instructions are hidden from devices that can’t handle them, making it even faster. It’s true that some devices, like the Hiptop, attempt to display style sheets intended for desktop browsers, but the problem is with those devices, not with CSS, and the device makers have been informed of the problem and are theoretically working to fix it.

Like any specification, CSS takes getting used to, and not every browser or Internet device supports all parts of CSS1 and CSS2 correctly. (But guess what? No browser, with the possible exception of iCab, supports all of HTML perfectly either, and that hasn’t stopped the web.) CSS combined with lean semantic markup makes sites faster, more portable, and more accessible. The combination helps sites work in more existing environments and is the best hope of preparing them for environments that have not yet been developed.

It would take a book to cover half the benefits of CSS and semantic markup, but we hope these few paragraphs provide at least a hint. And we also hope that Mr Winer, whom we respect, will reconsider CSS with a more open mind in the future. :::

17 April 2003 :::

noon EST

Redesign in progress. Kindly reload.

WThRemix Winners Announced

Winning entries have been posted in the WThRemix contest. The W3C creates essential technologies and guidelines, but its site is less than engaging because W3C geeks are not designers, writers, or IA specialists. The contest was created to see if the W3C’s site could be made “better looking, better organized, better branded, and much easier to use and understand.”

Radu Darvas’s bold and colorful entry took the Grand Prize. It was our favorite as well, because, out of all entries submitted, it was the one with the most flair and panache – the most style. We think the W3C’s lack of style prevents some designers from appreciating W3C standards. After all, how can a visually oriented person become excited over web pages that look like this? The issue of appearance is not superficial. Besides being uninspiring, the existing look and feel is insufficiently differentiated and thus hard to use. A site that is hard to use is less likely to be used. Radu’s entry and some of the others show how clarity, balance, eye appeal, and a sense of brand could be brought to

All the entries have something going for them, and the honorable mentions include subtleties that will repay your attention.

Eleven judges evaluated entries against a set of criteria including overall design aesthetics, usability, “thought for the user,” and W3C appropriateness. Each site was run through W3C validation tests and Bobby accessibility tests. We would love to see some of these criteria find their way into other new media design competitions.

Winners will receive prizes including Topstyle Pro, Style Master, Layout Master, and New Riders books by Joe Clark and Eric Meyer. Congratulations to the winners and to all who entered. :::

XHTML 2 Migration

Mark Pilgrim has written an excellent introductory tutorial — the first of several to come — that is ostensibly about elements dropped from XHTML 2 (and what replaces them). But the piece works equally well as a general primer on how to make the transition from old-school presentational markup to modern, structural stuff. We’ve bookmarked this piece and look forward to reading next month’s follow-up. :::

16 April 2003 :::

3 pm | noon | 10 am EST

It came from 1998: Powischewitz, one of the rotating cover pages of, back when personal sites had cover pages. Rave is another. Those were the days.

Free seminar: accessibility and usability

On Friday, 2 May 2003, The New York State Forum for Information Resource Management and co-sponsors are offering a free seminar on accessibility and usability at NYC’s Hilton Hotel. A free lunch is included. (No, really.) The wonderful Andrew Kirkpatrick, Manager of WGBH, Rich Media Access Project, will deliver the keynote. The one-day session also includes speakers from Cornell University and New York State and an industry panel moderated by Paul Maguire. Preregistration is required. :::

Notes from all over

Due to yesterday’s post on XHTML 2 and Friday’s on the i3Forum conference, we’ve delayed writing about a number of interesting sites and articles, a shortcoming we will now belatedly correct:

TwoThirty Media, Inc., a web and application design agency, has redesigned its corporate site using CSS for layout and XHTML for structure. TwoThirty’s new design is elegant and clean, and makes exceptionally creative use of ordinary stock photography.

A 3 column CSS layout generator based on float. Not only that, but the layouts the tool generates work acceptably in Netscape 4. By the same author, but perhaps less useful: a 3 column CSS layout generator based on absolute positioning.

The smartest man we’ve ever met, an absolute genius, seeks work.

Steve Silberman’s well crafted Wired article on The Matrix Reloaded includes background information on the influence of Paul Debevec’s Campanile Movie, discussed in last Friday’s Report.

Back in the 90s, Eric Meyer created a series of CSS Compatibility Charts showing what worked and what didn’t in then-current browsers from Microsoft, Netscape, and Opera. These useful and much-linked charts went offline when the publication that housed them died as the tech economy crumbled and the world began smouldering with flames of apocalyptic destruction. The world is still smoking, but the CSS Support Charts are back, in a permanent new home at Netscape DevEdge.

Influxor is the lovely DHTML-based portfolio of Michael Lisboa, designer, among other things, of the Oakland Raiderettes site. Alas, the clever in-page navigation (for instance, in the portfolio section) does not work in Apple’s Safari browser. :::

Koch tease

Peter-Paul Koch is a bright DHTML geek who often offers valuable insights about conceptual or usability problems with elements of various W3C specifications (standards). For instance, he is one of several people who’ve pointed out that CSS box model is too complicated, and that the box model used in MSIE 4, although it was incorrect, was easier to work with — especially when you are trying to create liquid layouts that reflow to fill the screen. When Koch complains about W3C standards, we pay attention because he may be on to something. He may even be on to something that can be improved or fixed.

So when Koch published “Forward Compatibility and Web Standards,” an opinion piece at, we naturally checked it out. We’ve read the thing four times now, and we still don’t get what Koch is going on about. He seems to make a statements that aren’t true and then point out that they are false, as proof that ... well, we don’t know what. Maybe it’s us. :::

15 April 2003 :::

9 am EST

OBJECT of desire

In “OBJECT and Internet Explorer,” Mark Pilgrim raises XHTML 2 dilemmas we’ve mentioned in the past. For instance, that XHTML 2 kills the familiar IMG tag and tells us to use OBJECT instead, even though OBJECT has been known to fail in IE/ Win and (sometimes) Mozilla. Mark’s point: XHTML 2 asks us to stop coding pages in ways that work, and start coding them in ways that don’t.

This would be a big deal if everyone in the web business was itching to use XHTML 2. But aside from a few academics and XML geeks, nobody we know is in a hurry to use an unfinished, unsupported markup spec that abandons familiar methods to achieve unknown benefits. Web designers have been slow to adopt even technologies that provide clear benefits and are known to work well, like CSS1.

That there are problems with the proposed XHTML 2 specification, few outside the committee that is creating it would deny. If the final version resembles the current draft, even sophisticated hand coders may be forced, for the first time in their careers, to use an authoring tool simply to generate web markup. XHTML 2 may deliver increased semantic purity at the cost of decreased usability and impaired user-friendliness. This possibility does not seem to disturb most of the framers of XHTML 2. It does not disturb us either – because nobody will be forced to use XHTML 2.

Many designers will likely ignore XHTML 2 when it is finalized. Many will continue to ignore it as browsers begin to support it. Based on past acceptance speeds, many might well ignore XHTML 2 even when all new browsers and devices support the spec correctly and completely (if that ever happens). They might stop ignoring it only when 98% of their audience sports an XHTML 2 compliant browser or device. And even then, they might continue to use XHTML 1 or HTML 4 it if they find XHTML 2 too difficult to work with or insufficiently beneficial relative to the difficulty of transition.

Regardless of the 2 in its name, XHTML 2 will not make XHTML 1 obsolete. Browsers will not stop supporting XHTML 1. Designers will never have to use XHTML 2. Those who find it beneficial will adopt it. Those who don’t, won’t.

That many designers might never use the emerging specification does not seem to bother most of the framers of XHTML 2, nor does it seem to make them question the value or practicality of what they are creating.

The W3C makes draft specifications public to solicit feedback, but don’t expect the group crafting XHTML 2 to rethink their core premise that HTML is broken and must be scrapped in favor of a semantically richer language that radically departs from the markup we know.

You might be inclined to request that XHTML 2 be made more compatible with existing markup standards – for instance, asking that the IMG tag be deprecated rather than entirely removed. But such requests have already been made, and most folks working on XHTML 2 are not amenable to the idea. Remember, lack of backward compatibility with XHTML 1 and HTML was a design decision, not an oversight, on their parts. If one or two W3C folks involved in shaping the spec would like to see XHTML 2 be more human-friendly and more backward compatible (and thus easier for browser and device makers to implement), their views are not driving the process.

The emerging spec could be made easier to understand (and perhaps also easier for browser and device makers to implement) if it continued to include familiar elements like BR and IMG. BR is sometimes abused but it is also sometimes necessary. It could be left in and deprecated. IMG is familiar and does no harm. It could be left in and perhaps deprecated to encourage designers to switch to OBJECT.

Over the past few years, many of us have been unlearning much of what we know, learning to abstract markup from presentation, and finding ways to do so in sites we can sell to our clients. We do this work by hand. We are able to do it because we understand XHTML 1 and basic accessibility requirements like table summaries, skip navigation links, and alt attributes. Any halfway competent web builder can learn these things and write the appropriate markup by hand. Any halfway competent web builder can unlearn old methods and learn new ones that provide genuine benefits in terms of bandwidth, accessibility, and increased reach. XHTML 1 provides these benefits. Some designers are already there, others are moving there, and still others are as yet unaware of these new methods and their benefits, but they can learn. They can learn precisely because XHTML 1 is simple and comprehensible.

XHTML 2 assumes that hand coding is no longer relevant. This attitude seems like a copout for a poor data format. Although we are hand coders, we have nothing against authoring tools per se, especially excellent ones like Dreamweaver. Many Dreamweaver users go in and massage their markup and CSS by hand after the tool generates a first draft for them. They can do this because XHTML 1 and CSS are logical and comprehensible. We have a huge problem with the notion that all of us, at every skill level, might have to use an authoring tool to generate even simple web pages in XHTML 2. A spec that requires the intermediation of software is too complex for its own (and its users’) good. Besides, we don’t see the design market clamoring for a tool that will generate a new generation of purely semantic markup. And Macromedia doesn’t change its software for theoretical reasons. It changes it software in response to user needs.

The final XHTML 2 spec will likely be far more complicated than the HTML we grew up with. It will also likely give some web people the power to do things other web people don’t need to do. There is reason to wonder whether you will ever use XHTML 2 but there is no reason to worry about it – unless you are a browser or device maker who has to figure out whether, how, and when to support it. :::

14 April 2003 :::

1 pm | 10 am EST

Safari 73

Apple has just released Safari 1.0 Beta 2 (v 73). This is the first official release to include Tabbed browsing and Autofill, and it is more stable than previous “theoretical” betas offering those features. Beta 2 also handles Shockwave files better than its official and theoretical predecessors, although it still does not handle Shockwave perfectly. Safari is a standards-compliant browser for Mac OS X, based on the KHTML engine. :::

11 April 2003 :::

noon EST

On returning

We’re back from Laguna Beach, California, where we participated in the first i3forum conference. Check that partial guest list. You’ve got people like Bill Atkinson, Roger Black, and Thomas Knoll (co-creator of Photoshop) in the audience, for Pete’s sake.

Pedro Meyer, a leading digital photographer, gave one of the most moving and thought provoking presentations we’ve ever seen. Greg Gorman showed us what the stars look like before retouching. Paul Debevec, a young genius, showed how to model with light. (If you’ve got a fast connection, download the Campanile Movie, part of Paul’s Ph.D. thesis and the basis for The Matrix’s “bullet time” effect.) John McIntosh and Harry Marks presented highlights from the 2002 SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater.

We also spent quality time with Iconfactory’s Craig Hockenberry, creator of CandyBar, IconBuilder, iPulse (rated 4 Mice, Macworld, May 2003), and other fine software for digital artists. We’ve known Craig virtually since 1995 and partnered with him in the development of Furbo Filters back in the day, but had never met the man in the flesh ’til this week.

Our hotel room’s balcony jutted over the Pacific and one afternoon we watched whales surface and spout. You don’t get much whale action here in NYC – although once a year, Ringling Brothers Circus marches its elephants along 34th Street, which is cool in a different way. At John Wayne Airport (no, really) we took a red eye home to rainy grey New York and baby’s arms. :::

14px or standard 16?

Dave Hyatt asks the question, should Safari continue to offer a 14px default font size (making scalable text in Safari look smaller than it does in other browsers), or should it conform to the cross-platform 16px default used in IE, Mozilla, and Netscape? :::

Worth a look

In this week’s Meet the Makers interview, Brian Alvey talks to Bob Parsons, president of domain registrar Go Daddy Software. ::: The dullest blog in the world lives up to its name. ::: Daring Fireball’s “Translation of a Quark Press Release” deconstructs flackery. ::: @Antipixel: “Happy Birthday, Astro Boy!” :::

5 April 2003 :::

En route to: Laguna Beach, California, and the first annual i3Forum conference. See some of you there and the rest when we return.

4 April 2003 :::

4 pm | 11 am EST

Links moved

The External Links that used to live in the left-hand sidebar have been categorized, annotated, and moved to their own page. The links formerly resided in a hidden div that you could toggle on or off as you desired. Although it was convenient to have access to those links from any page of the site, and although we know some readers will miss that amenity, the change will improve user experience in at least six ways:

  1. Per-page bandwidth has been reduced, speeding load times.
  2. Some alternative browsing devices (as well as some outdated browsers) ignore anchor tags based on the id element and thus cannot skip navigation. In those browsing environments, under the old system, readers had to manually wade past all those external links to get to the main content. Now they are spared that inconvenience.
  3. Annotations are now clearly visible instead of being hidden in title attributes whose content is unavailable to some devices and browsers.
  4. Categorization and on-page annotation can help you decide which links are worth your time.
  5. Because the links now live on their own page, the entire page of links can be bookmarked if you so desire. By contrast, we know of no way to bookmark the content of a hidden div.
  6. Search engines that index only the first part of each page’s text content will now actually index relevant content instead of indexing links. This is turn should make it easier for you to find specific content you seek on this site. :::

He are the Champeon

At Meet the Makers, Brian Alvey talks to Steve Champeon, group leader of The Web Standards Project and CTO of about his popular Webdesign-L mailing list, his career on the web, and his theory of progressive enhancement, which inverts the old “graceful degradation” paradigm of web design. Worth reading not only for the ideas expressed but also for the way the two minds bounce off each other. :::

All access pass

Made For All is a newish web zine that promotes accessible web development. Its April issue features a brief interview with Joe Clark, author of the best book on accessible web design that is likely to ever be written. Joe’s book should be standard equipment in every agency or in-house division that produces web content and in every school that teaches new media design. (Read Chapter 6 of Joe’s book online.) Also in this issue of Made for All is Ian Lloyd’s upbeat report on accessibility sessions at SXSW 2003. Edited by Tim Roberts and put together by a team of accessibility all-stars, the fledgling web zine welcomes your creative contributions. Made For All is made with XHTML and CSS and is published under a Creative Commons License. :::

3 April 2003 :::

11 am | 10 am EST

Cache on demand

In the Daily Report of 31 March, we discussed the way browsers cache style sheets, and how their default behavior might prevent some visitors from seeing your site’s CSS background images. In “The Cache Trick,” Dan Benjamin of Hivelogic describes a technique you can use to force-reload images that are delivered by a script but get stored in a browser’s cache. It will work for anyone who manages their site via PHP, ASP, JSP, or ColdFusion. Dan is now researching additional problems of CSS, images, and default browser behavior; his findings and workarounds will be published in an upcoming issue of A List Apart Magazine. :::

Web ruler updated

Centricle’s Web Ruler favelet has been updated per user feedback. This amazing bookmarklet shows your mouse cursor’s current x, y coordinates in the browser window, and allows you to measure any object on a web page by clicking and dragging a marquee. With the new, improved Ruler 1.1 version, when you finish measuring, you can dismiss the favelet by pressing any key (Gecko) or by double clicking elsewhere in the browser window (Safari). Neat! :::

Roll your own RSS feed

In “Making an RSS Feed,” Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Watch shows how even hand-coding Luddites such as ourselves can easily roll an RSS feed. The tutorial is complete and easy to follow. Dave Winer points out that many independent publishers use XML-based publishing tools like Movable Type that automatically generate RSS feeds; such folks will not need to read Sullivan’s tutorial. But for the rest of us, it is good information, well presented. :::

Bits ’n bytes

A Life Uncommon will send homemade photo postcards to anyone who donates $5 or more to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. ::: Artlexis is a cleanly designed showcase of digital contemporary art. ::: Kristof Saelen describes the process behind the creation of a new logo for Digital Web Magazine. ::: A. R. Cox politicizes the 404 Not Found page. ::: Ali Davis turns a crummy job into literature. :::

Security update bugs?

OS X users, if you haven’t yet installed Apple’s latest OS X Security Update, you might want to wait. Since installing it, we’ve had many problems – including formerly stable applications consistently freezing at startup, and fonts disappearing from menus or failing to work when invoked. :::

Dude looked like a lady

Stonefishspine has redesigned yet again. What is interesting about the site’s latest visual incarnation is that it’s an all-CSS layout that resembles the table-based layouts of yore. For instance, it kind of resembles in the mid-1990s, except that it is far better designed. :::

Canada to jobless: buy a PC

If you lose your job in Canada, you’d better not own a Macintosh or *Nix computer. The Canadian Government’s Employment Insurance site claims to work only in Windows. More at Consolation Champs. :::

1 April 2003 :::

6 pm | 10 am | 9 am EST

Fast Company redesigns with web standards

Fast Company magazine is one of the latest mainstream sites to redesign using XHTML and CSS. The central column in its all-CSS, three-column layout squashes and stretches to fit your monitor. An ALA-style font size switcher makes the site more accessible to low-vision readers whose browsers forbid native text size scaling, and various accessibility enhancements have been used throughout. The site looks good and loads fast, and it is easy to read and scan in spite of having a great deal of content to deliver. Congratulations to Dan Cederholm and his design/development team. Fast Company launched in November 1995 to celebrate the global revolution that was then changing business and the world. :::

Missing siblings

Adjacent sibling selectors are a powerful tool of CSS2, enabling designers to create rules-based layouts in which elements are controlled according to their contexts. For instance, you can make a general rule where images have no margin at the top; then make another rule that says margins have 15px of white space at the top if they are preceded by an h3 header. Or you can use adjacent sibling selectors to control paragraph indentation and margination, as we do in My Glamorous Life. Adjacent sibling selectors let you do with one or two global rules what might otherwise require dozens of bandwidth gobbling classes on every element of every page.

Most CSS-compliant browsers support adjacent sibling selectors, but IE6/Windows does not. We hope that changes soon. Until it does, many designers will not even think about using adjacent sibling selectors to control their layouts – and that means that many web pages will be heavier and less semantic than they could be. :::

Image-free buttons

Marek Prokop: “The W3C buttons on this page are made without images, using pure XHTML and CSS.” The buttons look great in most CSS-compliant browsers, although their display is imperfect in IE5 Macintosh Edition. See also “Pretty Standard” in Friday’s Report. :::

31 March 2003 :::

5 pm EST

Designing With Web Standards

Amazon now sports a placeholder page for Designing With Web Standards, coming imminently from New Riders and your humble author. Amazon says 5 June, but we think it may be out sooner than that. And, golly, there’s even a Pre-order button. :::

Glam 77

My Glamorous Life No. 77: “Ballad.” If you don’t see an image at the top of the page, kindly reload. :::

Hot cache

As part of the site-wide redesign, My Glamorous Life finally has a proper header, which is embedded as a CSS background image via the FIR technique. In some browsers, like Opera 7, IE6/Win, and Mozilla/Netscape 7, the image should load automatically. In others, you may need to reload the page in order to force the browser to download the changed style sheets.

In Safari and IE5/Mac, you may need to reload both style sheets and then reload the page. To avoid that annoyance in IE5/Mac, go to Preferences: Advanced; in the Cache panel, check “Always.” From then on, IE will download changed files instead of loading outdated ones from your hard drive. To force Safari to load new files instead of outdated ones, download Safari Enhancer [URL updated 1 October 2003] and set it to Deactivate Cache.

The default setting in IE and Safari is optimized for dial-up users who primarily consume the web. It is an appropriate setting for most web users. But people who create the web should adjust the setting so they can see changes as they make them. :::

Bandwidth report

Web Site Optimization’s Bandwidth Report is a monthly roundup of connectivity figures from the U.S. and abroad. According to their February analysis, “broadband use in the US climbed to 33.5% in February. 66.5% of US home users connect at 56Kbps or less. Of European countries surveyed, Spain had the highest percentage of broadband users with 37% by the end of 2002.” :::

28 March 2003 :::

7 pm | 3 pm | 2 pm EST

Iraq Body Count

Iraq Body Count documents reported civilian casualties in Iraq and provides variously sized casualty counters you can add to your site. Counter figures are updated in real time via JavaScript. As non-combatant children and adults are reported to have been killed, the counters on your site will roll over to reflect the latest figures.

“Civilian casualties are the most unacceptable consequence of all wars,” say the site’s founders. “Each civilian death is a tragedy and should never be regarded as the ‘cost’ of achieving our countries’ war aims, because it is not we who are paying this price.” :::

We ♥ NY

NYC Wireless has a simple mission: to “provide free public wireless internet service to mobile users in public spaces throughout the New York City metro area.”

(Please note, the subhead above shows the Unicode sequence for inserting a heart character on a web page. Unfortunately, IE6/Win crashes in the presence of this standard Unicode sequence. Hence it is only safe to ♥ NY.) :::

Pretty standard

Antipixel presents “Steal These Buttons:” attractive, low-bandwidth badges to indicate compliance with CSS and XHTML, XML/RSS feed availability, and more. Raging Platypus carries the button fest to its logical conclusion with buttons for everything.

In “I Scream, ‘Floats!’” (27 March) Brian Alvey of Meet the Makers documents browser problems with a table-free CSS redesign. Short, to the point, and easy to follow, the write-up includes effective visual aids.

Inclusive Web Design for the Future” – outline of a presentation by Steven Champeon of The WaSP and Nick Finck of Digital Web Magazine. :::

Penn in hand

Requiem for Penn Station. The old Penn Station. “Moynihan to Help Recreate NYC Pennsylvania Station” (28 August 2002). The proposed new Penn Station. Pixel By Pixel original renderings of the proposed new Penn Station. :::

How the east was won

On the Diane Rehm Show, a panel discusses Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian Muslim philosopher mentioned in Wednesday’s Report. Hat tip: Jeff Wilkinson. :::

26 March 2003 :::

noon EST

Over a half billion served

CSS poster boy Eric Meyer conducts an illuminating interview with Mike Davidson of ESPN on the subject of web standards and CSS layout as used on a site that gets over a half billion page views per month. What is the justification for using web standards? How do you sell them to your boss? Mike’s answers make worthwhile reading. :::

How did we get here?

Frontline’s “The War Behind Closed Doors,” based on the television documentary of the same name, provides background information on the Bush administration’s march to war with Iraq. The entire 52-minute program is streamed in six consecutive segments.

The Philosopher of Islamic Terror” in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine tells the story of Sayyid Qutb, a Koranic scholar whose radical assessment of a believer’s religious duties in a secular world shaped Al Qaeda. If you can get hold of a printed copy of the past Sunday’s Times, do it. (Access to content on The New York Times site requires free signup.) :::

25 March 2003 :::

10 am | 9 am EST

MTM rethinks, relaunches

Meet the Makers, the free web conference featuring interviews with and for “creative people in a technical world,” has retooled its site using CSS for layout, XHTML for structure. Meet the Makers has also begun providing worthwhile online content rather than simply listing information about its upcoming events. The site now features front page news and weekly conversations with designers, writers, and other creative thinkers.

This week, MTM host Brian Alvey talks to John Lenker, author of Train of Thoughts and founder of Invioni, about “designing effective web experiences, the battle between creativity and blind usability, and what all web designers can learn from beer commercials.”

The site’s CSS layout works nearly as well in Netscape 4 as it does in IE6/Windows, Safari, and Opera 7. Interestingly, it is less coherent in Mozilla and IE5/Mac, whose CSS support is arguably more accurate than that of the browsers previously mentioned. :::

Free screen reader

Independent designers striving to make their sites more accessible often cannot afford to buy JAWS or Window-Eyes, the two leading screen readers, and thus cannot properly test their work. Tighe Lory, who attended our lecture in Albany last week, has pointed us to EMACSpeak, T. V. Raman’s open source audio desktop for Linux that is available free of charge. :::

Free site optimization tool

Andrew B. King, author of Speed Up Your Site: Web Site Optimization (New Riders: 2003) and founder of, announces a free new service for web designers. Submit your URL to the Web Page Analyzer and it will tally the weight of your markup, images, CSS and JavaScript, then offer advice on how to improve your download and display time.

The new service is not perfect. It occasionally includes messages like this one:

Caution. The total size of this HTML file is $$ HTML_SIZE bytes, which is below 100K, but above 20K.

Despite glitches of this sort, overall, the Web Page Analyzer does an extraordinary job and, as we may have mentioned, it is free. Andrew’s book, Speed Up Your Site, was reviewed in The Daily Report of 31 January 2003. A sample chapter is available online for your reading pleasure. :::

Oh! you pretty things

We recently came across the beautiful and impressive portfolio site of designer, illustrator, and Flash artist Bill Safsel. His work is inspiring, elegant, and playful. ::: Heather Champ’s The Mirror Project is running a funding drive to help cope with the cost of serving over 14,000 contributions from photographers all over the world. Give ’til it hurts. ::: Dave Shea’s Mezzoblue has a pretty surface enlivened by subtle design details and is filled with interesting bits of content. :::

Dingbats of war and peace

Hanan Cohen has informed us of No War, an open source font project offering dingbat fonts and EPS illustrations on the themes of war, peace, and terrorism. The illustrations, which can be used without attribution in any non-commercial project, include outlines of European nations; dingbats of soldiers, choppers, and tanks; and EPS images ranging from bin Laden to the Buddha. The site may offend some viewers. :::