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Daily Report

13 November 2002

[2 pm | 11 am]

The discussion being generated by ALA’s Flash Satay is as intriguing as the article itself. Topics include alternate methods that work and validate, problems with IE/Win’s handling of the OBJECT element, and the implications of XHTML 2.

A reporter has asked us to show him an accessible corporate site—or an accessible mockup of an inaccessible corporate site. We could not think of a single example. If you can, or if you’ve created one, please share with the class.

The Designers Network is looking for a few good sites.

A public beta of Opera 7 for Windows has left the building and is said to be DOM-compliant, though Opera’s News page doesn’t mention this long-desired improvement. To compete with MSIE and Netscape, Opera not only needs to be faster and lighter. It must also support the same technologies its competitors do—and DOM support is where Opera has traditionally stalled. Early field reports indicate Opera 7 has broken the DOM logjam and enhanced CSS performance. Is this the version of Opera its users (and web developers) have been waiting for? (Opera’s scripting specs are now available.)

This one was inevitable: Brian Alvey of Meet the Makers fame has officially climbed aboard Happy Cog as head of systems and software development. Dig that bio.

We dreamed Kelly Goto, Hillman Curtis, and Eric Meyer were mobsters, planning a hit on a competitor who’d gotten too big. The guy to be whacked? Josh Davis. We need to get out more.

We’ve emerged from RFP hell and are now in pre-conference presentation prep hell. If your letters to us have met with stony silence, we’re not trying to be rude, we’re just swamped. :::

12 November 2002

[4 pm | 1 pm]

Jeffrey Zeldman is Not Obsolete.” The SXSW Tech Report interview.

The AltaVista search engine has relaunched, with an ugly design and crummy, invalid markup straight out of the 90s. Developer Trip Kirkpatrick wasn’t about to sit still for the latter. Details at

Loopland is an amazing little site featuring the illustrations of Allan Sanders. Found at Evolvs Media, Inc.

iStockphoto has re-launched. Version 8 sports new features and a fresh facelift. iStockPhoto is a collection of over 26,000 royalty-free photos, illustrations, and multimedia files created by a growing international community of artists. The site adds around 1,000 new royalty-free photos each week.

Waferbaby has redesigned. If it looks like the part of a monkey only the monkey’s wife could love, visit MyBaby and switch the site’s appearance to Waferbaby Default.

See us at Web Design World next week. (More info.) :::

9–11 November 2002

[holiday weekend edition]

My Glamorous Life No. 74: Veteran’s Day, by Maurice Zeldman.

In Issue 154 of A List Apart, for people who make websites: “Flash Satay” by Drew McLellan. “This site uses Flash. This site validates as XHTML. They said it couldn’t be done. Now it can be. Have your Flash and standards, too.” Please note, the ALA server may be slower than normal due to heavy traffic.

The veil of secrecy has lifted. Macromedia Contribute is now available. Based on the Dreamweaver MX engine, this new $99 desktop application allows non-technical people to update web content without breaking the design, code, or functionality. Designers and developers specify which pages can be changed, which templates can be used to generate new pages, and which parts of a page are off-limits. The intuitive interface has been tested on schoolteachers, writers, and other non-web-pros, all of whom were easily able to complete tasks. Users can grab content from non-standards-compliant apps like Microsoft Office; Contribute will clean up the code and can even convert presentational tags to CSS and generate accessibility elements and attributes. Version control is also included. We saw this product twice before it was released and plan to buy copies for selected clients. It is perfect for those who can’t afford or don’t need a full-blown Content Management System. Contribute for Windows is available now; a Mac version will follow. The Mac version will include an embedded copy of Opera 7, with greatly improved DOM support. :::

8 November 2002


As we hinted might happen some months back in these pages, AlltheWeb, the only search engine powerful enough to rival mighty Google, has converted to CSS layout and valid XHTML markup. The conversion makes AlltheWeb even faster than before. It also allows users to customize their search experience by choosing from a variety of style sheets or using their own. Which commercial site will be next to “get” web standards? Which will be last?

Your site complies with web standards ’til you embed Flash—at which point your page becomes invalid and your XHTML starts retaining water. It’s a common problem to which there has never been a solution. Soon there will be. The next issue of A List Apart will publish a technique allowing designers to embed Flash movies while adhering to W3C specs and eliminating code bloat. No, really. Watch this space. :::

7 November 2002

[3 pm | 11 am]

Michael did a swell writeup on yesterday’s Meet the Makers event, including links to the sites of some of the nice people who attended. He also took photos. Love that guy.

Meet the Makers: If you’ve never attended this one-day event, picture Charlie Rose interviewing web designers and developers. Matt Unger, executive producer of, explained how they’d moved to a pay-for-content model and discussed their decision to focus on what they do best instead of distracting visitors with tertiary content. (Yup.) Hillman Curtis talked about working with clients, finding creative inspiration, and keeping a design business afloat. Eric Meyer and yours truly discussed web standards as a continuum of reasonable options rather than an all-or-nothing proposition. Josh Davis was Josh Davis.

Between interviews, attendees enjoyed a first look at products from Adobe, Atomz, IBM, Macromedia, RedSheriff, Sanctum, ESRI and Netomat. New Riders books, copies of Josh Davis’s hard drive, and an iPod were raffled off. Then the whole crew crossed the street to party at Virgil’s Barbecue.

Some readers didn’t realize the event was free to qualified web professionals who requested VIP tickets. We mentioned this several times here and there, but not everyone noticed. We regret the inconvenience to those who missed out. Look for more Meet the Makers events soon.

Next up: Web Design World 2002, Boston. Four days of peace, love, and web design featuring expert advice on web standards, accessibility, usability, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and Flash. :::

6 November 2002

[7 am]

Josh Davis has been added to today’s free Meet the Makers event in NYC, which also features Hillman Curtis, Eric Meyer, and your humble narrator. We’ll see some of you there and the rest of you later. :::

5 November 2002

[4 pm | 1 pm]

Americans may vote today though many may not.

There’s fresh content in Pubs and Tour.

A schedule has been posted for tomorrow’s Meet the Makers conference. The one-day event is free. The breakfast is free. The lunch is free. Ditto the mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks. The first look at upcoming web technologies is free. The all-day networking opportunity is free. Cab fare, shoe shine? You’re on your own.

v-2 Organisation has redesigned in CSS and XHTML and its liquid multi-column layout sports lovely nuances: resize your browser window and notice what happens to the widescreen photo. Our only beef: arial is an ugly choice for body text.

The no-IMG banners below our subnav should be working better now in more browsers (when in doubt, force-reload). Porter Glendinning of WaSP hacked together a quick test proving most new browsers fail to pre-cache replaced elements in CSS background rollovers. (Only IE5/Mac pre-caches the elements.) Porter also crafted two additional CSS rules that force Mozilla, Netscape 6/7, IE/Win and Opera 5+ to pre-cache the replaced elements. In Opera and Netscape 6, you may notice a “jiggly” effect similar to what happens in Flash as a partially transparent bitmap becomes 100% opaque (visible on this page of the Charlotte Gray website, following the image of Nazi troops, as the image of the two lovers attains full opacity). We’ll take that jiggly effect over the alternative: blankouts in Netscape 6, no image at all in Opera. By the way, nothing in the CSS spec says browsers must pre-cache replaced elements, so we’re not dissing browsers that don’t. When time permits, we’ll write up how the whole thing works so you can try it on your sites.

Skip Navigation has been added to this site to make it easier to use in screen readers and PDAs. The Skip Navigation link is invisible in graphical desktop browsers that support CSS, even if their CSS support is woefully incomplete and incorrect (cough, Netscape 4, cough). A noscript element has also been added so PDA and screen reader users (and desktop browser users who dislike JavaScript) can page backward through the Daily Report. The redesign continues apace. :::

4 November 2002

[1 pm | 10 am]

Redesign in progress. For best viewing, clear cache and reload. IE5/Mac users, reload these two style sheets (1, 2), then refresh this page. You know you want to.

Launched this morning, the Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture (“AIfIA”) is a non-profit, multi-national volunteer organization dedicated to advancing and promoting information architecture. “25 Theses” are good enough for us.

Dress for excess. Thomas Brodahl of Xtrapop has just launched Stolen Shirts, a tee-commerce site featuring can’t-miss designs like Sami Reindeer, Red Cadillac, and Fingerpaint.

Fun with a purpose: In your browser’s preferences dialog, set your background color to a subtle off-white. (You might try this CMYK value: 0%, 0%, 0%, 2%. If you have an HSV Picker, try a huge angle of 0°, 0% saturation, and a brightness of 98%.) Now check your favorite websites and see how many forgot to set a background color. Glenn Davis showed us this trick two years ago at Builder New Orleans. It’s funnier and more obvious if you pick a hideous default background color, but that could hurt your eyes, and you need those things.

From, maker of validation bookmarklets and other nifty tools for geeks, comes “Using Lists for DHTML Menus,” complete with downloadable CSS and JavaScript for your design and hacking pleasure. The Dropdown Menu and the Expandable Menu work as advertised, and combine the strength of structured lists with the power of DOM-based scripting. Hat tip: is the companion site to Christopher Schmitt’s fine and recently published Designing CSS Web Pages (New Riders: 2002). The site includes downloadable projects and source code along with a fine collection of tools and links. Looks damned handsome, too, in its unfussy way.

Welcome back, Shirley!

Classics, Glamor, and selected sidebar sub-pages have gotten a facelift. Themelines have been added and contrast is enhanced. Nuances of style and positioning have been adjusted throughout the site. More to come. :::

2 November 2002


“Jeffrey Zeldman is good enough for me.” :::

1 November 2002

[4 pm | 8 am]

In Issue No. 153 of A List Apart, for people who make websites: “Inline XML,” by Lachlan Cannon. What’s in a namespace? For one thing, the power to use multiple XML languages in a single document. New ALA author Cannon explains how inline XML can extend the capability of your sites. :::

Default text style.Alternate text style.Georgia on our minds.Watch this space.
A List Apart
Happy Cog Studios

New @ ALA: Flash Satay. Have your Flash and web standards, too.

Interview: SXSW Tech Report.

See us at Web Design World.

Usability. That’s what Willis was talking about.