[webdev] Web Design Update: October13. 2005

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Thu Oct 13 06:56:29 CDT 2005

- Volume 4, Issue 16, October 13, 2005.

An email newsletter to distribute news and information about web design 
and development.


SECTION ONE: New references.
What's new at the Web Design Reference site?
New links in these categories:

10: PHP.
12: TOOLS.
15: XML.

16: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Essential Components of Web Accessibility
By The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
"This document shows how Web accessibility depends on several 
components working together and how improvements in specific components 
could substantially improve Web accessibility. It also shows how the 
WAI guidelines address these components."

Lawsuit Charges Online University Does Not Accommodate 
Learning-Disabled Students
By Dan Carnevale.
"A former Capella University student has filed a lawsuit against the 
online institution, claiming that it violated the Americans With 
Disabilities Act.."

AOL Gets It Right, Sort Of.
By Matt Bailey.
After posting examples of access-obstructing captcha’s from the major 
search players Google, Yahoo and MSN, I was very happy to notice that 
AOL has the right idea.

Using the Accessible Information Solutions (AIS) Web Accessibility 
By Steven Faulkner.
"The Web Accessibility Toolbar is a free extension for Internet 
Explorer (version 5 and above, Windows), it contains many features that 
can help in the assessment of the accessibility of web pages..."

Evaluating Web Sites for Accessibility with the Firefox Web Developer 
By Patrick H. Lauke.
"Patrick H. Lauke, Web Editor at the University of Salford shows how to 
use the Firefox Web Developers Toolbar extension to test for 


Introducing the CSS3 Multi-Column Module
By Cedric Savarese.
"Cedric Savarese would like you to meet the CSS3 multi-column module. 
It may not have extensive browser support yet, but this semantically 
sound method of dividing content into columns may be more relevant than 
you think."

CSS Swag: Multi-Column Lists
By Paul Novitsk.
"Multi-column lists: can't live with 'em, can't achieve perfect bliss 
without 'em. Paul Novitski offers a staggering six possible methods for 
accomplishing this commonly requested layout trick. Examine your 
options and choose wisely."

More CSS fixes for IE7
By Kevin Yank.
"Microsoft has announced several more fixes for IE7 that will have CSS 
experts dancing in the aisles."

Starting with CSS: Revisited
By Faruk Ates.
"Little over a week ago I posted about my initial.css file, which I 
have used for a few years now to start off my CSS-powered layouts. 
Posting about it publicly spurred quite a lot of interest it seemed 
(the post caused a huge traffic peak that tripled my average), but 
there were also a few concerns raised by some readers. As a result, I 
bring you the revised initial.css file."


Dreamweaver 8 Basics
By Macromedia.
"Get the most out of your Dreamweaver experience by understanding the 
basic elements of the workspace."

Consuming a Remote RSS 1.0 Feed with Dreamweaver 8
By Marius Zaharia.
"Use server-side XSL transformations to syndicate content on your site."

Overview of CSS in Dreamweaver 8
By Julie Hallstrom.
"Get familiar with all the new CSS features, tools, workflows and user 
interface improvements."

Integrating Dreamweaver 8 with Contribute 3
By Mark Fletcher.
"Explore the powerful integration features that give designers, 
developers, and contributors a powerful way to maintain websites."


Metrics That Make the Case for Quality Content
By Gerry McGovern.
"The essential business case of a website is self-service. To maximize 
value from self-service, you want a limited menu, a fast transaction 
and a significant volume of people."

+05: EVENTS.

O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference
March 6-9, 2006.
San Diego, California U.S.A.


Redesign Phase 2 - Information Architecture
By Garrett Dimon.
"The redesign is still happening, and I have some sample wireframes and 
page description diagrams to prove it. For this phase, I really just 
wanted to analyze and capture the elements that are important and 
determine the best way to display them. You can download the PDF of 
sample page description diagrams and wireframes if you're interested in 
seeing more."


Results for JavaScript - Part 1: Navigating Links
By James Edwards, Mike Stenhouse, Derek Featherstone and Ben Easton.
These results refer back to a quiz and test case from several weeks 
ago. Our first test was in Quiz 4.1.4: JavaScript - part 1. Results 
from about 60 runs of the test case were compiled by James 
Edwards...Explanation: Browser-based screen readers are able to read 
and/or navigate through a page without moving the focus (the 
dotted-line around links that otherwise accompanies keyboard 
navigation). This is because they have their own, 'virtual' cursor or 
highlight, which tracks where the user is in a document independently 
of the main cursor. Many events are only reported on links if the user 
or screenreader action sets or transfers focus to an element. This is 
further varied by whether the action would: set focus onto an element 
when none other is currently focussed; or transfer focus to an element 
from a different focussed element (as opposed to a currently-focussed 
element receiving another event that retains it)."

Embrace the Remote Scripting Revolution Via AJAX
By Tony Patton.
"If you've been involved in Web development for any amount of time, the 
latest trend of developing applications with remote scripting 
capabilities via AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript + XML) will not be a 
surprise. After all, it has been available for many years with the 
drawback being browser inconsistencies. Microsoft always promoted 
ActiveX as the way to go, but this approach has changed with AJAX's 
rise in popularity. Let's take a closer look at the AJAX revolution, 
including Microsoft's involvement and approach."

AJAX Access
By Andrew Kirkpatrick.
"Pete at standards-schmandards.com put together a post on AJAX and 
accessibility and an example back in March, but it has attracted some 
attention on WebAIM discussion list. Pete's example is a useful one, 
but there are obviously limits to how far this model can be extended. 
On an web application to book a flight there are more bits of 
information than can be easily communicated in alert dialogs, and if 
the user needs to interact with the new information in a dialog, 
additional difficulties present. Still, a useful technique to keep in 
the back pocket, and use when appropriate."

Why Ajax Matters Now
By Jesse James Garrett.
"Proprietary solutions are never as compelling for Web designers as 
open standards are. Web designers are passionate about the Web as a 
medium, and that medium doesn't belong to any technology 
provider...Technologies that don't work on a Web-wide scale are, by 
definition, not participants in this process...What's the difference 
between Oddpost and Gmail? One followed desktop interaction 
conventions, required a particular browser and a particular operating 
system, and gained a cult following. The other came along four years 
later, followed Web interaction conventions, worked across all modern 
browsers - and transformed its entire category. Some might argue that 
Oddpost is the more sophisticated solution. But Gmail is part of the 
larger Web in a way that Oddpost never could have been. Gmail 
demonstrated to the entire industry that we don't have to compromise 
anymore. Sure, there are still plenty of challenges, both for designers 
and for technologists, in creating Ajax applications that really work 
effectively for users. But the new wave of Ajax applications reflects 
the industry?s newfound (and still increasing) sophistication. We're 
smarter about the Web than we were before, and that alone opens up new 
possibilities for interaction designers."


Interview: Sarah Horton
By Alex Barnett.
"...it [universally accessible design] makes good sense, it’s just good 
design, it’s good coding, and ultimately it’s going to save money 
because, again, a lot of it is just a matter of using the medium 
appropriately. So, you know, extracting pages from convoluted table 
code, extracting that content and putting it into an accessible 
framework is going to be costly, but down the road it’s going to have 
to happen anyway in order for any kind of flexibility and ubiquity to 
happen with those Web pages. So in that sense, it’s just a good 
practice. It’s like tearing down a shack and building a decent 
building, in the long term it’s the right thing to do and it’s going to 
pay off....I still build sites from scratch with BBEdit. I have to say 
that I don't think the tools are supporting it [universally accessible 
design] very well and I think you're right in bringing up this question 
because it's the pivotal issue in terms of building accessible sites. I 
think that tools could do an enormous amount, but then from my little 
corner of the world, I don't see a lot of progress being made on that 
front. So if there are any enterprising listeners or readers, I think 
building a CMS that employs 'access by design' and makes it very easy 
for people who are just providing content to make it accessible, that 
would be such a win."

Why Good Programmers Are Lazy and Dumb
By Philipp Lenssen.
"I realized that, paradoxically enough, good programmers need to be 
both lazy and dumb."


'Skip Navigation' Links
By Paul Bohman.
This tutorial is an excerpt from the "WebAIM Guide to Web Accessibility 
Techniques and Concepts." Topics include various techniques for 
creating "skip navigation" links (visible, invisible, visible with 
keyboard focus, etc.), how to phrase the link, dealing with browser 
bugs that can make the link useless, and alternatives to "skip 
navigation" links.

Skip Links: What Are They?
By Russ Weakley.
"Skip links are designed to allow certain users the ability to skip 
over one section of content so that they can quickly get to another 
section of content. This may mean skipping over site navigation links 
in order to get directly to the content of the site, or skipping over 
the content in order to get to the site navigation, or other content..."

+10: PHP.

PHP 101 (part 7): The Bear Necessities
A gentle introduction to object oriented programming in PHP 4 and PHP 5.
By Vikram Vaswani.
"Over the course of this tutorial, I'm going to take a brief look at 
PHP's OO capabilities (both PHP 4 and PHP 5), together with examples 
and explanations to demonstrate just how powerful it really is. I'll be 
covering most of the basics - classes, objects, attributes and methods 
- and a couple of more advanced concepts - constructors, destructors, 
private methods and properties, and inheritance. And if you're new to 
object-oriented programming, or just apprehensive about what lies 
ahead, don't worry - I promise this will be a lot less painful than you 
think. And unlike dentists, I don't lie."

Understanding MVC in PHP
By Joe Stump.
"This article series demonstrates how to build an MVC web framework 
using PHP 5. This article covers the basics of MVC web frameworks, 
building the foundation classes for a framework that the other three 
articles in this series will build..."


Why Do We Have To Fight?
By Robert Nyman.
"Why do we have to fight to be allowed to make things right? I mean, 
really? Look at all the web standards advocates out there, fighting to 
get their message through; People lobbying for stylesheet-driven web 
sites and accessibility. And all these battles are not about trying to 
have something in line with cool scripts animating things all over the 
page, not about doing something to show off to your friends. These 
things are about keeping development costs down, vastly reducing 
bandwidth usage by having all presentation in CSS files that will be 
cached in the visitor's web browser, and reaching a lot more potential 
customers with web sites that are accessible."

Got Browser Woes? Think Again.
By Molly E. Holzschlag.
"If you've been losing hair due to browser incompatibilities on the 
desktop, blame your remaining gray hairs on IE 6.0..."

+12: TOOLS.

XML Schema Validator
By Christoph Schneegans.
"This service lets you validate XML documents against the appropriate 
schemas. It performs a more accurate validation than the W3C validator. 
And, of course, a much more accurate one than Validome. You can 
validate XML documents by URL, by file upload or by direct input. 
Furthermore, you can validate fragments of XML documents."

XML Nanny
By Todd Ditchendorf.
"XML Nanny is a Free Mac OS X developer tool that provides an Aqua 
interface for checking XHTML and XML documents for Well-Formedness and 
Validity either locally or across the network. XML Nanny is the perfect 
tool for the web author who cares! Checking your XHTML document's 
validity either locally or remotely is a snap, and XML Nanny's detailed 
error messages let you know about those embarrassing validation errors 
so you can debug them immediately."


Line Lengths When Reading From a Screen
By Joe Clark.
"A topic that never goes away is fixed vs. fluid vs. 'elastic' vs. 
'Jell-O' CSS layouts..."


Web Manager: You Can't Serve Everybody
By Gerry McGovern.
"Every time you serve someone, you make someone else wait. Every time 
you publish a piece of content you make other content less findable. A 
myth has grown up around the Web that it is an extremely cheap 
publishing environment. This is simply not true. Publishing is much 
more than simply physically publishing content on a website, newspaper, 
magazine, etc...Every time you add a piece of content you make it more 
difficult for another piece of content to be easily found. Sure, you 
only make it a little more difficult. However, as you keep adding 
content, the navigation becomes less intuitive, and the search less 
effective. (Most people will not go to the second page of search 
results.) It is a noble objective to try and answer everyone's 
questions when they come to your website. However, it is neither 
practical nor achievable."

Methods for Measuring Text Readability
By Peter Krantz.
"In this article we will have a look at how you can test your content 
to see give a brief overview of formulas for measuring readability as 
well as an online tool to measure readability for your texts."

Usability: One Sure Way to Maximize Sales (and Increase Conversions)
By Lisa Wehr.
"...One way to increase your conversion ratio is to make sure your Web 
site is easy to navigate and information is easy to find. In other 
words, ensure its 'usability.' Often, search engine optimization and 
marketing principles benefit a site's usability with people as well as 
search engines. Here are some tips on how to improve usability and 
improve your conversion rates..."

Jakob Nielsen on the Unwieldy Web
By Business Week.
"The Web usability whiz says some sites are getting better, but far too 
many remain too complex and frustrating for typical users..."

The Power of Defaults
By Jakob Nielsen.
"Search engine users click the results listings' top entry much more 
often than can be explained by relevancy ratings. Once again, people 
tend to stick to the defaults."

Institutionalizing Usability: Ways To Embed Usability In Your Company
By David Travis.
"Trying to embed usability in an organization needs more than 
persuasive, logical arguments. You also need to appeal to managers' 
emotions and political ambitions. This article describes five 
successful strategies that we've seen work in companies large and 

+15: XML.

Transforming XML: Automating Stylesheet Creation
By Bob DuCharme.
"Bob DuCharme shows how an XSLT stylesheet can read simplified 
XML-conversion instructions and create a new, working XSLT stylesheet 
from those instructions."

[Section one ends.]


+16: What Can You Find at the Web Design Reference Site?

Accessibility Information.

Association Information.

Book Listings.

Cascading Style Sheets Information.

Color Information.

Dreamweaver Information.

Evaluation & Testing Information.

Event Information.

Flash Information.

Information Architecture Information.

JavaScript Information.

Miscellaneous Web Information.

Navigation Information.

PHP Information.

Sites & Blogs Listing.

Standards, Guidelines & Pattern Information.

Tool Information.

Typography Information.

Usability Information.

XML Information.

[Section two ends.]



WEB DESIGN UPDATE is available by subscription. For information on how 
to subscribe and unsubscribe please visit:
The Web Design Reference Site also has a RSS 2.0 feed for site updates.


As a navigation aid for screen readers we do our best to conform to the 
accessible Text Email Newsletter (TEN) guidelines.  Please let me know 
if there is anything else we can do to make navigation easier. For TEN 
guideline information please visit:


Until next time,

Laura L. Carlson
Information Technology Systems and Services
University of Minnesota Duluth
Duluth, MN U.S.A. 55812-3009
mailto:lcarlson at d.umn.edu

[Issue ends.]

More information about the Webdev mailing list