[webdev] Web Design Update: May 31, 2007

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Thu May 31 06:21:46 CDT 2007

- Volume 5, Issue 50, May 31, 2007.

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:

08: PHP.
10: TOOLS.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


WCAG 2.0: Woeful to Wonderful in One Easy Draft?
By Jack Pickard.
"...I was critical of WCAG 2.0 before, and it deserved that criticism. 
Now, I'm prepared to  praise it, because it deserves that praise. 
They've done a bloody good job on WCAG 2.0 over the last year, and the 
people on the Working Group -- and those that submitted comments --
deserve the appropriate credit for all of the hard work that has gone 
into fixing this. I don't say this lightly, but I think -- even with 
the known weakness regarding cognitive disability -- that WCAG 2.0 is 
now the best set of accessibility standards out there: it's  clear, 
it's understandable, the focus is on the user, and finally, finally, 
it's ready. Bring it on.."

May 2007 WCAG 2.0 Draft
By Mike Davies.
"The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 draft is out (dated 17 
May 2007). Thankfully the Working Group has backtracked from its Last 
Call last year owing to severe criticism of the document. In a lot of 
areas the document has improved, and in certain areas there's still a 
bit of work to be done..."

What's Next for Web Accessibility?
By Faruk Ates.
"...If you're a web standards-enthusiast in today's world, you belong 
to a small but growing group that is becoming increasingly aware of how 
tricky accessibility on the web really is, but at least you know how to 
deal with a lot of common accessibility pitfalls. You also know that 
valid markup will help make pages more accessible, yet that it's no 
guarantee for a truly accessible page at all. WCAG 2.0 is not going to 
make your life any easier, instead, it'll make it much more difficult 
and confusing..."

An Introduction to Screen Readers
By Victor Tsaran.
Video (27 minutes, 23 seconds) demonstrating how screen readers work 
are used.

Closing the Gap - User Agent Improvements
By Alastair Campbell.
"Following up on the responsibilities in accessibility, some of the 
most critical gaps at the moment are on the User Agent (UA) end. 
Improvements here would actually make the most difference to 
accessibility in general on the web. This post highlights the things I 
think would make the most difference to people's experience of 
accessibility on the web. If I get into too much detail for you, skip 
to Profiles, that's the most important aspect..."

Current Browsers And The User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0
By Patrick H. Lauke.
"In web accessibility, you'll often hear emphasis being placed on the 
duty of web authors to create accessible content. However, this is only 
one part of the web accessibility equation. One that has been 
particularly close to me, or rather one that has provided me with a lot 
of opportunity to rant, is the responsibility of developers of user 

New Browser For Web Video
By Mel Pedley.
"IBM recently announced that they were developing a new browser with 
the potential to enable visually impaired users to access multimedia 
such as streaming video. Currently named A-Browser, the tool will give 
visually-impaired people the same control over multimedia content that 
sighted people currently have using a mouse..."

Overcoming Objections to Accessibility
By Mike Cherim.
"Experience over the years has taught me that salesmanship often comes 
down to nothing more than overcoming objections. The prospective 
customer states they can't afford it; the salesman speaks the virtues 
of easy financing. The prospective customer claims they have no room 
for it; the salesman dons work clothes and expresses a willingness to 
make room. Once the prospective customer has had all of his or her 
objections swatted down like sluggish fall flies, he or she will often 
sign on the dotted line. This is fact. Now let's look at how this 
applies to web accessibility."

Accessibility Issues On U.S. Senate Web Site Impact Constituents Who 
Are Blind
By Darrell Shandrow.
"Mika Pyyhkala wrote the following letter to the Senate webmaster not 
only reiterating the accessibility issue already reported but also 
identifying some additional concerns with links missing appropriate 
descriptive alt text tags.  He also provides some resources for 
webmasters to begin to learn about and address accessibility issues..."

Avoiding Extreme Accessibility
By Mike Cherim.
"I've seen it before, I'll see it again, and I've been guilty of it 
myself. What is it? Extreme Accessibility, of course. But what is it 
really? What is Extreme Accessibility? And why should one want to avoid 
it? It sounds like a good thing after all. But it's really the abuse of 
features, faulty or overboard implementations, and good intentions gone 
bad. Sometime in your life, did someone ever tell you that moderation 
is the key? This logic applies to web accessibility as well..."

Making CAPTCHAs Less Evil?
By Paul Crichton.
"The Internet Archive is a not-for-profit organization that is working 
to create a digital library by scanning 12,000 books a month. Carnegie 
Mellon University, who work with them on this project, has developed a 
way to improve both the speed and accuracy of this process by using 
CAPTCHAs and the brainpower of the millions of users who come across 
them every day..."


Cascading Style Sheets Part 1: Browser Styling
By Sarah Horton.
"...This is the first in a series of articles focused on the mechanics 
of style sheets. Here, we discuss browser defaults: what they are, 
where to find them, and how to overcome them. In future articles, we'll 
discuss fun stuff like how to shorthand style sheet markup, methods for 
styling for print and small screens, and maybe a bit on voice browsing 
sprinkled in for good measure..."

User Style Sheets Come of Age
By Matthew Magain.
"User style sheets?CSS files that sit on the user's desktop machine and 
override a site's original styles..."

Supercharge Your Image Borders
By Matthew Pennell.
"...three new ways to style your images, and not an extraneous <div> or 
<span> in sight."

Fancy Form Design Using CSS
By Cameron Adams.
"Forms design is the necessary evil of web development. Don't you wish 
you had a wizard's wand to create accessible yet attractive forms? We 
have found such a wizard! Here, Cameron Adams shows you how to use CSS 
to create forms that are both great-looking and usable, and gives you 
the code you need to make the job easy..."


Managing Websites with Multiple Layouts
By Adrian Senior.
"Quickly and easily mix and match the different available layouts into 
a single CSS file."


Web's Key Management Metric: Task Completion
By Gerry McGovern.
"Supposing someone has to visit 20 pages on a web site to complete a 
task, when with better management, they would only have to visit 5. 
Thus, the more page impressions, the more frustrated customers 

+05: EVENTS.

What's New, WCAG 2.0, and Current Issues (Shawn Henry)
June 5, 2007.
London, United Kingdom.

Web 2.0 Accessibility Workshop
June 12-13, 2007.
Champaign/Urbana, Illinois, U.S.A.

Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW 2007)
July 16-18, 2007.
York, United Kingdom.

Web Directions South 2007
September 27-28, 2007.
Sydney, Australia.

Fundamentos Web 2007
October 3-5, 2007.
Asturias, Spain.

World Usability Day New England 2007
November 8, 2007.
Hanover, New Hampshire, U.S.A.


Element Attributes in JavaScript
By Jonathan Snook.
"I'd be interested to hear what the general consensus is on something. 
Consider this like a SimpleQuiz but not really simple and not really a 
quiz. More like a survey. SnookSurvey. And survey says... I've got an 
element that I'm working with in JavaScript and I wish to get and set 
an attribute. How do you do it?..."

Dot Notation and Square Bracket Notation in JavaScript
By David Dorward.
In JavaScript, everything is an object. Put simply, this means that any 
variable can have properties which are other objects. There are two 
different syntaxes for accessing properties which this article explains 
and compares."


The Next Web Documentary
"Watch this iChat Video interview with 5 Internet Influentials who 
answer 5 basic questions in almost 20 minutes. Tim O'Reilly from 
O'Reilly Media, Steve Rubel from Edelman and Micropersuasion, Matt 
Mullenweg the founder of WordPress, Marten Mickos the CEO of MySQL, 
Eric A. Meyer, CSS and HTML guru and Jay Adelson, CTO and co-founder of 
Digg.com all give their opinion and share their insights on what the 
Next Web will look like..."

+08: PHP.

PHP Interview Questions From Yahoo
By Nick Halstead.
A few questions from the exam that job applicants need to complete for 
PHP development jobs.

Good and Bad PHP Code
By Kevin Yank.
"When interviewing a PHP developer candidate for a job at SitePoint, 
there is one question that I almost always ask, because their answer 
tells me so much about the kind of programmer they are. Here's the 
question: 'In your mind, what are the differences between good PHP code 
and bad PHP code?'..."

Security Techniques: Part 2
By Larry Ullman.
"New in PHP 5 is the filter library of PECL code. This filter package 
(in beta as of this moment) offers two types of security, data 
validation by type and data sanitization."


HTML5, Microformats and Testing Accessibility
By Bruce Lawson.
"...What I really want to know from the HTML5 people is who they think 
is going to do this research that will provide the evidence that their 
gang requires before useful attributes are restored to the 
specification. The WHATWG spec is funded by big business, all of whom 
have millions in the bank. Maybe now the spec is 'official', they will 
be funding user research with disabled people using assistive 
technologies. Perhaps they will invite representatives from the 
manufacturers of the big screen readers to work with them. They could 
even fund those representatives, given that assistive technology 
vendors aren't anything like as rich as Apple, Opera, Mozilla and 
Google. After all, it's impossible to imagine that they would make 
arbitrary decisions to remove or retain certain elements, all with 
unknown accessibility side-effects, and put the burden to prove the 
usefulness of removed attributes on a small group of volunteers, isn't 

Presentation: How HTML5 can be Used Today
By Simon Pieters.
"Yesterday I held a presentation first for Creuna and then at Geek Meet 
about how HTML5 can be used today...The discussion afterwards was 
interesting, but it wasn't recorded and I can't recall all the 
questions, unfortunately. These are the ones I can recall for now 

About the HTML WG
By Lachlan Hunt.
"The following was originally written in an email to Molly Holzschlag 
on 2007-05-11 to explain the current situation in the HTML WG. It is 
being published here by request..."

Evangelizing Outside the Box: Web Standards and Big Companies
By Peter-Paul Koch.
"Contrary to popular belief, designers and developers at many big 
companies use web standards in their work every day. They just don't 
talk about it. For standards awareness to reach the next level, they'll 
have to start talking, says PPK."

+10: TOOLS.

New Improved Colour Contrast Firefox Extension
By Gez Lemon.
"The Juicy Studio Colour Contrast Firefox Extension has been updated to 
match the latest version of the draft Web Content Accessibility 
Guidelines 2.0, and includes a patch that checks for contrast for input 
elements.One of the updates from the draft Web Content Accessibility 
Guidelines 2.0 is a change to the algorithm to determine whether the 
contrast between foreground and background colours is sufficient. As 
well as updating the algorithm itself, the thresholds have changed to 
consider large and bold text (at least 18 point or 14 point bold). I've 
updated the Colour Contrast Firefox Extension to incorporate the 
changes. The extension only checked the colour contrast between 
foreground and background colours on text nodes, so didn't include 
empty elements, such as input for form controls. Maurice Lanselle 
contacted me with a patch to include input elements whose type is one 
of submit, reset, button, text, file, or password. The patch is 
included in this update; many thanks to Maurice."


Who Needs Headlines?
By Shaun Crowley.
"A designer formats and places text. Technically, the job ends there. 
But some designers go further, sharpening their clients' content to 
grab and focus user attention. In so doing, they create more effective 
sites-and gain an advantage over other designers. Drawing on decades of 
copywriter lore, Shaun Crowley discusses seduction by headline and 
other principles of writing that sells."

The Myth of the Genius Designer
By Jakob Nielsen.
"Having a good designer doesn't eliminate the need for a systematic 
usability process. Risk reduction and quality improvement both require 
user testing and other usability methods."

[Section one ends.]


+12: 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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