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Designing With Web Standards

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Art direction vs. design: noncommunication arts.

Rules-based design: beyond grids, below spec.

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

13 May 2003 :::

11 am | 10 am

Bibbity bobbity boo!


Sneak preview of Couloir (“Altitude Slickness”): clean, sexy, and all CSS. “My Superpower,” spankin’ new story at {fray} – tale by Fake, illustrations by Bishop. The Big Head Kids. The redesign at Surfin’ Safari (now it is possible to enjoy the feeling of the site as well as its content). That big ole Recommended Reading column at Dive into Mark. And these: :::

Digital Web hits seven

Happy seventh birthday to Digital Web Magazine, still publishing free content, “not because we have to, but because we can and we want to.” Congratulations to Nick Finck and his outstanding, all-volunteer staff on seven years of top-notch web design and development articles, tutorials, interviews, and unbiased product reviews. :::

Veer themes

Taking a tip from Heather Champ’s The Mirror Project galleries and Evolvs’s iStockphoto galleries, hip stock photo, illustration, and font shop has begun posting image collections based on themes chosen by its creative team. Newly posted themes include Non-stock Architecture, Concepts for Sale, and Low Budget, High Design (looking good in black and white). :::

More image rotators

In the Daily Report of 9 May, we linked to Dan Benjamin’s free Hivelogic Image Rotator 1.5 and mentioned that the theory behind its construction would be incorporated in an upcoming PHP tutorial on A List Apart. A few hours later, Matt Mullenweg had tweaked Mr Benjamin’s code and come up with what he modestly termed A Better Image Rotator. (Improvements include support for PNG images.) But wait, there’s more!

Reader Charles Dietlein has pointed us to his own Image Randomizer of July 2002. Charles’s rotator supports multiple directories, PNG files, “and plays nicely with invalid directory input.” It also attempts to ensure that a new image will be displayed each time the file is requested.

If you don’t know from PHP, there’s always good old JavaScript. You’ll find an oldie but goodie random image script on the scripts page of the companion book site for Dori Smith and Tom Negrino’s JavaScript for the World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide (Peachpit Press, 4th Edition, 2001).

Digging back even further into the web’s roots, the CGI Resource Index has a page of image rotation PERL scripts for your pleasure. :::

Discovering Montana discovers standards

Discovering Montana, the official state website, has redesigned using CSS for layout and XHTML for structure. There are some minor display quirks in Apple’s Safari browser (which is still in beta), and some of the smaller (fine print) text hovers at the bleeding edge of legibility in other Macintosh browsers, but essentially the site’s multi-column, div-driven layout looks good and works well. :::

Grassroots marketing in the online space

Designing With Web Standards will not arrive in stores until tomorrow, and, like all design and computer books this year, its ad budget is only slightly larger than a gnat’s eyelash. That the book hit an Amazon sales rank of 210 this morning testifies to the power of grassroots marketing in the online space – web people promoting web stuff on their websites. To those who are already supporting the book with text links or banners, we are most grateful. :::

12 May 2003 :::

7 pm | 10 am | 9 am

Made it, Ma, the top of the world!

Banners for you

Ready or not, here they come: Designing With Web Standards banners for your site, and the humble beginnings of a book site. :::

Top of the pops

Pinch us: Although Designing With Web Standards is not yet in stores, has not been advertised, and has only been linked from this site and one or two others, today it hit an Sales Rank of 551. :::

Looking for one great designer

Have you got what it takes? 37signals is looking to hire that one perfect designer, coder, and usability pro. :::

Taking Tiger Mountain by strategy

According to Amazon, our book will hit stores in two more days. To help promote it, we plan to use the power of the web – and that means you. We will create small banners and text ads. You, if you are into it, can use any of these mini-ads to link to Amazon (US, UK, etc.) or any other online book seller with which you are affiliated. The retailer will pay you a commission for each book sold from your site. K10k and Waferbaby are already on board. Banners and details to follow.

Note: Some may reject this idea as crass commercialism. We think of it as promoting within the community. After all, the battle to improve standards support in browsers was fought by this community, one website and one mailing list at a time. :::

Seven years ago in

Closer to home than your mailbox, more baffling than Kabuki: Lawrence Welk, Post-Modernist. :::

10–11 May 2003 :::

weekend edition

Updated from time to time throughout the weekend.

No more new windows

Because we really, really love you, third-party links here will no longer load in a named, new window. We haven’t changed this eight-year-old behavior across the entire site, but we’ve covered many of the more recent pages. If you prefer to load links in a new window, you know what to do. :::

Cookie persistence, layout resistance

Since yesterday’s launch of the new look, several readers have complained that their browsers no longer retain alternative (orange, white) CSS layout preferences as they click from page to page of this site.

The simple (though annoying) solution: open your preferences, delete any cookies, quit and restart your browser. We apologize for the inconvenience. The upside: you may discover other cookies you’d like to remove, including those sent by advertisers.

Editing cookies fixed the problem in any browser here that had suffered from it except Camino, which did not respond as expected to the cookie flush. All full-featured browsers and even some beta browsers allow you to edit cookies.

The problem would not arise in the course of normal development, but we are redesigning in public. In normal development, you create and test and debug a site and then launch it. Designing in public introduces technical issues that may tax the reader’s patience. To introduce the new pink look, we changed the default style sheet. It is natural that long-time visitors’ browsers would become confused when their cookie told them one thing, and the site told them another. (On the other hand, several browsers handled the whole thing without a hiccup.) :::

Other feedback came our way. One reader complained that our deletion of the redundant home button “violates the most basic tenets of usability.” Perhaps it does. But this site is not Yahoo. Your Dad doesn’t come here. Web designers come here, and in part they come here because we are always experimenting. Site identity markers will undoubtedly return in a new way sooner or later. :::

Friends of Ed, Glasshaus, redux?

A few weeks back we commented on the tragic collapse of Glasshaus, Friends of Ed, and other Wrox developer-to-developer imprints. Meet the Makers reports that “The Author’s Press” has acquired the rights to these imprints. This may be a new lease on life for some of our favorite design and development books of the past few years. :::

9 May 2003 :::

noon | 10 am est

Think pink!

Girly-girl makeover

There’s a new default style sheet in town. Think pink. Think ribbons and bows. Think valentines and pale pink stripes. Think panties and gentle to the hands dishwashing liquid. You’re soaking in it.

In most browsers, you will see the new look automatically. In some, you may need to reload. If reloading doesn’t work, click the first button of the style switcher in the left-hand sidebar.

If you prefer the old looks, modified versions of them are available (click the second or third buttons of the style switcher). The old orange and white layouts are exactly as they were before, except that the redundant logo/home button that formerly graced the top of the page has been replaced by a few pixels of stripey color.

In all three layouts, the XML feed button has been integrated into the CSS nav bar instead of sticking out like a sore thumb, and the style switching widget has been modified slightly.

In Mac OS X, this page is set in gently antialiased Lucida Grande. In Windows and Mac Classic, the font of choice remains Verdana. In some Linux distributions, you will see Lucida; in others, Helvetica or your default sans-serif.

Speaking of changing the look of a site by making a few adjustments to a style sheet and tweaking a couple of image files, Dave Shea of Mezzoblue recently unveiled his CSS Zen Garden, intended to demonstrate how CSS can be used to present the same content in beautifully different ways. Dave was inspired by Chris Casciano’s similarly experimental Daily CSS Fun and the recent Hack Hotbot contest. Currently, one or two of Dave’s layouts display incorrectly in Safari, but they work perfectly just about everywhere else, and Safari workarounds are apparently in the works. :::

In briefs

Want your site to display a different image each time a reader visits? Don’t feel like manually changing images each day? Hiveware’s new Image Rotator 1.5 randomly rotates images on any site that has PHP installed on the server, and is available absolutely free of charge. What a deal! Look for an ALA article on its construction soon.

If you loved Wednesday’s pixel fonts, you’ll also love the pixel fonts of 04, an oldie but goodie to which we’ve linked in the past. We’ve used their excellent and free bitmap fonts for years.

CandyBar 1.5.2 has been released. New feature: compatibility with Mac OS X 10.2.6. A co-production of Panic and IconFactory (two good things that go even better together), CandyBar does one important thing: it lets you replace the somewhat unattractive default OS X icons with stuff of your choice that looks much better. :::

XHTML 2: a change in direction?

In “XHTML 2.0 Considered Hopeful,” Tantek sees signs that the W3C has begun listening to designer and developer criticism of the direction in which XHTML 2 was headed. As Tantek says, “Just because XHTML 2 can break backward compatibility, doesn’t mean it should.” Or, as we’ve often put it, just because XHTML 2 is more semantic doesn’t mean it has to be less practical or harder to understand and use. Apparently other web designers agree, and happily the W3C seems to be paying attention.

In response to community feedback, the W3C has restored the cite element and rescued the style attribute. And a new <blockcode> element has been introduced, facilitating proper semantic markup of code samples. With Tantek, we urge codeheads to read the latest XHTML 2.0 Working Draft and send reasoned feedback to the W3C’s HTML Working Group. :::