[webdev] Web Design Update: October 20, 2005

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Thu Oct 20 06:18:52 CDT 2005

- Volume 4, Issue 17, October 20, 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:

03: COLOR.
07: FLASH.
12: PHP.
14: TOOLS.
17: XML.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


How Do You Get Your Client to Pay For Accessibility?
By Gez Lemon.
"Accessibility isn't something you sell as an alternative; building 
accessible websites is what separates you from those incapable of doing 
their job correctly. Anything else is immoral. It's what gives you a 
competitive advantage over your competitors. It lets your clients know 
that they are dealing with a professional company that will ensure 
their website is not only attractively promoting their corporate image, 
but is usable by the widest possible audience. Who wants a shop in the 
back street of some dingy town? Your clients want you to do what's 
right by them, not be scared off thinking that accessibility is some 
magical ingredient that's too expensive to implement..."

No, Your Website ISN'T AAA Accessible!
By Dan Zambonini.
"OK, maybe I'm misinterpreting what these checkpoints mean. But surely 
the guidelines should have been written in "the clearest and simplest 
language" with no room for ambiguity? Especially as the guidelines 
(http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/wai-pageauth.html) claim to be AAA 
accessible? (Actually, even without me being awkward about this dodgy 
argument, I'd claim that 'R&D' towards the top of the document 
constitutes an acronym, that doesn't have an expansion in the HTML - 
hence no checkpoint 4.2 compliance. Goes to show how difficult these 
are to implement consistently.) Having said all of this, I actually 
think that these guidelines are one of the most important web 
publications of the last 10 years. No matter how some accessibility 
experts may argue, they have provided invaluable guidance and 
techniques for the millions of users who can't afford user testing. 
Possibly more importantly, they have also raised the profile of 
accessibility as a core attribute of the web - it isn't an addition, 
but something that sits at the heart of what the web is. And, in the 
end, whether you technically achieve an A, AA or AAA is irrelevant, as 
long as you've made every effort to tackle as many of the accessibility 
stumbling blocks as possible. I just wish that, some of the public 
sector in particular, would view accessibility as a real-world problem, 
and not a points-based award system."


CSS Techniques Roundup - 20 CSS Tips and Tricks
By Pete Freitag.
"I never cease to be amazed at what problems can be solved with pure 
CSS. Here are 20 CSS techniques, tips and tricks that you may find 

CSS Optimization
By Dave Shea.
"Some thoughts on how to go about writing a CSS optimizer..."

Design Shack
Another inspirational CSS and Blog Design showcase site.

+03: COLOR.

CSS Color Chart
By Shailesh N. Humbad.
"This page contains a neutral colors chart and a general-purpose color 
chart. You can use the colors in the palettes with either HTML or CSS. 
Click on the color code to select it, then you can copy and paste it. 
Click on the Toggle button to convert from Hex to RGB and back. The 
charts are printed in tabular fashion so you can narrow your browser 
window with the palette and compare the colors to your design 


Teaching Dreamweaver the Web Standards Way
By Sheri German.
"I have been teaching Dreamweaver in various training venues since 
version 2. Each new upgrade adds more features and makes my job more 
complex. How does a teacher help beginners make sense of an 
increasingly overwhelming interface that includes seemingly endless 
choices? My syllabus has changed a lot over the years, and this is what 
I have learned: pare the syllabus to the absolute essentials. Subtract, 
do not add. Aim for elegant simplicity. Focus on Web Standards. This 
article gives teachers a syllabus they can use to help their beginning 
students learn Dreamweaver within the framework of Web Standards...So 
what can my students expect when they walk into class on day one? For 
starters, they won't learn a thing about Dreamweaver! After I go over 
my expectations and review the syllabus, I launch right in with a 
little html. It saves a lot of time in the long run, and is the 
straightest path to understanding CSS...As educators, we have a great 
responsibility to start our students out with proper web development 

Dreamweaver 8 Accessibility: Create Accessible Forms
By Macromedia.
"...Here's how to create accessible forms using Dreamweaver 8..."

Changes in Dreamweaver 8 Templates
By Stephanie Sullivan.
"I've seen a few confused posters on the various Dreamweaver forums 
since the release of Dreamweaver 8 that relate to templates. These 
templates were created in Dreamweaver MX or Dreamweaver MX 2004 and now 
they're not acting/updating the same."


Recipe For an App Dev Disaster
Expect trouble when users don't have time to test drive your software.
By Anonymous.
In a nice post-mortem of a tortured CMS project, an anonymous developer 
in InfoWorld describes how a lack of user testing nearly doomed the 
effort. It turns out that --surprise, surprise -- the written 
functional specifications didn't convey what the editors really needed. 
Documents almost never can. With usability paramount for CMS success, 
it behooves you and your content contributors to come up with a plan 
their active participation in a more agile development process. If they 
won't test screens out, or you don't give them a chance, there's 
trouble ahead for everyone.

+06: EVENTS.

South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive
March 10-14, 2006.
Austin, Texas U.S.A.

+07: FLASH.

The New Face of Flash
By Andy Budd.
"Some of you may be surprised that prior to developing an interest in 
web standards, I was actually an ActionScript programmer. I used to 
really enjoy building flash based games and application, although I 
tried to steer clear of the ubiquitous 'skip intro'. However I became 
increasing frustrated with the Flash development environment. By the 
time Flash MX came out, ActionScript was a fairly reasonably formed 
object oriented programming language. However all of your development 
happened in an environment designed for visual animation. Frustrating 
to say the least..."


The Web, Information Architecture, and Interaction Design
By Jonathan Korman.
"The impact of digital technology in all faces of our lives has meant a 
proliferation of terms for the work people do to define digital 
products and services. In this article, interaction designer Jonathan 
Korman unpacks some of these distinctions to help product teams assign 
the right people to the right jobs."


WE05: Presentation notes for 'JavaScript and the DOM'
By Cameron Adams.
"Although you won't be able to get the full effect of my crazy spinning 
bow tie and manic grin, you can download my presentation notes and 
example files for 'JavaScript and the DOM' below."


Web Development Trends for 2006
By Anil Dash.
"The Bottom Line...If you have a friend who's looking to change jobs, 
or know a disgruntled person who's been laid off and Lou Dobbs has 
convinced him to blame Indian engineers for it, send them this list, 
and check back with them in a few months to see if they've taken the 
time to learn some new skills. No whining, just go do some reading. Buy 
some O'Reilly books or Google up some docs online, and then get 
hacking. By the time you're good enough to start posting your sample 
applications, employers will be searching for your blog just to find 
the talent they need."


Navigation - Our Visitors' Travel Guide
By Chris Heilmann.
"...Navigation is one of the most important parts of the site; however, 
the most important part of a page is the content. If our navigation 
grabs the visitors' attention and distracts from the content, then it 
failed its purpose. The content should determine the navigation, not 
the other way around. This is easy to forget, as navigation is one of 
the few things us web developers and designers can play with. At the 
start of the project we have a rough idea of the sitemap, whereas the 
content is not always ready or even planned out. It is up to us to tell 
the client that the content is what people will look for and come for, 
not how cool or usable the navigation is. The best navigation on the 
web are the ones we cannot remember, but pointed us quickly to the 
right place. If there is a lot of time and budget to be spent, then it 
should go into proper search functionality and defensive measures - the 
error pages, warning messages and information pages, not a singing and 
dancing navigation."

+12: PHP.

PHP 101 (part 8): Databases and Other Animals
All about connecting to a MySQL database from PHP, using the mysql or 
mysqli extensions.
By Vikram Vaswani.
"In this issue of PHP 101, I'm going to show you how to use PHP to 
extract data from a database, and use that data to dynamically build a 
Web page. In order to try out the examples in this tutorial, you'll 
need a working MySQL installation, which you can obtain from the MySQL 
Web site at http://www.mysql.com/. If you have some knowledge of SQL 
(Structured Query Language, the language used to interact with a 
database server) you'll find it helpful, but it's not essential."

PHP 101 (part 9): SQLite My Fire!
Introducing another database: SQLite.
By Vikram Vaswani.
"Built-in SQLite support is new to PHP 5.0, and offers users a 
lightweight database system that is fast, efficient and gets the job 
done. Since it's enabled by default in PHP 5.0, it provides a viable 
alternative to MySQL; you can use it out of the box, without spending 
time on version checks and library downloads; just install PHP 5 and 
start typing. That's why I'm devoting a whole tutorial to it - so get 
out of bed, make yourself some coffee and let's get started!"

PHP 101 (part 10): A Session In The Cookie Jar
Sessions and cookies - how to keep track of visitors to your site.
By Vikram Vaswani.
"...while built-in database support makes programming with PHP easy, it 
isn't the only thing that makes PHP so popular. An easy-to-use XML API 
and new exception handling mechanism (in PHP 5), support for pluggable 
modules, and built-in session management are just some of the many 
other features that make PHP rock. And all these capabilities are going 
to be explored, in depth, right here in this very series, if you can 
just find it in yourself to hang around a little longer. So close your 
eyes, take a deep breath, and read on to find out all about this 
tutorial's topic: sessions and cookies..."

PHP Form Validation System: An Object-Oriented Approach
By Mike Weiner.
A PHP equivalent of Struts ActionForms for validating form data.


An Open Letter to WaSP
By Robert Nyman and Vlad Alexander.
"...We therefore ask that WaSP put together a task force to create a 
Web Standards Charter. The Charter will define what Web Standards are 
and recommend a single implementation approach. When necessary the 
Charter will be updated as dictated by the current state of the art and 
the latest best practices. The Web Standards community will then be 
able to direct newcomers to the Charter as a solid starting point from 
which they can proceed to implement standards-compliant projects with 
confidence. Once they have gained confidence, newcomers can join us in 
ongoing debates about Web Standards, adding to the strength and 
diversity of our community."

Government Web Standards Usage: USA
By Peter Krantz.
"This is the first in a series of articles where we look at how 
government organisations use web standards. Using the mass validation 
tool from a previous article Validating an entire site, we have a look 
at our first contestant: USA. The result: only 14 of 546 government web 
sites tested use valid HTML."

+14: TOOLS.

"ATutor is an Open Source Web-based Learning Content Management System 
(LCMS) designed with accessibility and adaptability in mind. 
Administrators can install or update ATutor in minutes, and develop 
custom templates to give ATutor a new look. Educators can quickly 
assemble, package, and redistribute Web-based instructional content, 
easily retrieve and import prepackaged content, and conduct their 
courses online. Students learn in an adaptive learning environment."

ATalker add-on for ATutor
"ATalker is a Web-based text-to-speech add-on for ATutor, based on the 
Festival text-to-speech system. Using synthesized speech, ATalker can 
read text out loud over the Web. With the ATalker Theme installed, the 
ATutor interface and feedback messages can be read out loud. ATalker 
can currently produce English and Spanish voices. The potential for 
many other languages is available through the Mbrola Project."


Typography and the User Interface
By Daniel Kuo.
"While processing speed and computational flexibility have grown at 
incredible rates, our displays, the most human-facing elements of our 
digital lives, lag behind. Visual designer Daniel Kuo explores the 
issues related to selecting fonts that don't just look good on paper, 
but that work on a wide variety of display qualities."


Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2005
Jakob Nielsen
"The oldies continue to be goodies -- or rather, baddies -- in the list 
design stupidities that irked users the most in 2005."

The Struggles of Having an Elastic Layout
By Robert Nyman.
For the moment, I'm working on a fairly big project where the interface 
design will be elastic. What do I mean by elastic? Basically, there are 
three ways one can choose to design the interface’s relation to the 
visitor’s resolution and web browser window size.

Liquid Designs
By Christian Montoya.
"The purpose of Liquid Designs is to promote the use of liquid layouts 
in CSS based design. There are a lot of gallery websites out there, and 
most of the websites featured are less than 800 pixels wide, while a 
few are 1000 pixels wide...Liquid Designs exists to showcase those 
websites that have succeeded at liquid design, and serve as a resource 
to those exploring it. Liquid Designs includes layouts that are purely 
liquid (also called fluid), mixed liquid and fixed, and progressive."

Free Usability Advice
By Expero.
"The 'Free Usability Advice' weblog is a service provided by the design 
and usability experts at Expero Inc., creators of user experience 
solutions for software products and websites."

+17: XML.

The More Things Change
By Micah Dubinko.
"In the final XML-Deviant column, Micah Dubinko offers a retrospective 
of XML and discusses some of the enduring topics of debate in the 
XML-developer community."

[Section one ends.]


+18: 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.]



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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.]

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