[webdev] Web Design Update: December 7, 2007

Laura Carlson lcarlson at d.umn.edu
Fri Dec 7 06:31:49 CST 2007

- Volume 6, Issue 24, December 7, 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:

07: PHP.

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

[Contents ends.]

++ SECTION ONE: New references.


Voiceover 2 - A WebDev+s Guide
By Alastair Campbell.
"VoiceOver, the screen reader for Apple's OS X, has undergone a major 
update. This article looks at the new functions, and what that means 
for people browsing websites. I am not looking at VoiceOver in general, 
just how different aspects of web pages affect the experience when 
using VoiceOver..."

IBM Contributes Framework to Eclipse Foundation
"Open source community to adapt IBM Technology to make Web 2.0 content 
accessible for people With disabilities..."


Choose an Accessible Image Replacement Method
By Roger Johansson.
"...What surprises me a little is that I still see people using 
image-based techniques that do not work at all for people browsing with 
images off. One of the tests I perform when checking sites for 
accessibility and universality is to simply turn off images in my web 
browser. In some cases that makes text disappear because an image 
replacement has been used that does not account for people with CSS on 
and images off..."

I Don't Hate CSS but CSS Hates Me
By Reinhold Weber.
"...What drives me most nuts is how the promise of CSS is crippled by 
all the hacks needed to do anything really useful with it. Many 
designers are very clever in finding all these ways to do 
what-should-be-ordinary things that will mostly work over a variety of 
browsers and browser versions, but all those hacks shouldn't be 
necessary. And the legacy of junk they'll leave in our sites is 
horrible to think about. Who really wants to come back in 2 years and 
try to maintain or clean up all those hacks when there is a new set of 
(probably equally buggy) browsers to code for."

Zooming Backgrounds in Internet Explorer 7
By Stephanie Sullivan.
"...So don't give up hope on the fabulous faux column technique just 
because IE7 has some issues. Continue to use it all you need to -- just 
keep the above parameters in mind to decide what you need to do in your 

JumpStarts Fix: IE7 Zoom Body Background Image Bug
By Adrian Senior.
"This is a fix for all JumpStarts [and any other web page design] that 
use background images set against the body tag..."

CSS Reference
By Tommy Olsson and Paul O'Brien.
"Welcome to the SitePoint CSS Reference! We've worked hard to make this 
the most detailed and up-to-date reference on the subject available..."

A CSS Walkthrough
By Christian Montoya.
"This CSS walkthrough was written by Christian Montoya for those 
interested in learning CSS. The final outcome of this tutorial will be 
a complete one-page design suited to handle various forms of content 
and featuring a few extra details..."

+03: EVENTS.

Functional Testing of Websites
December 12, 2007.
Time: 1:30 - 2:30 (CST) Chicago Local Time
Registration: (The webcast is free, but registration is required)

Gel 2008 Conference
April 24-25, 2008.
New York, New York, U.S.A.


JavaScript 2 and the Open Web
By Brendan Eich.
"...Standards often are made by insiders, established players, vendors 
with something to sell and so something to lose. Web standards bodies 
organized as pay-to-play consortia thus leave out developers and users, 
although vendors of course claim to represent everyone fully and 
fairly.  I've worked within such bodies and continue to try to make 
progress in them, but I've come to the conclusion that open standards 
need radically open standardization processes..."

Beyond Ajax: Software Development, Two Years from Now
By Esther Schindler.
"Ajax and rich Internet applications are today's big development 
challenges. But what about tomorrow?"

Capturing Caps Lock
By Stuart Langridge.
"One of the more annoying aspects of having to remember passwords 
(along with having to remember loads of them) is that if you've got 
Caps Lock turned on accidentally when you type one in, it won't work, 
and you won't know why. Most desktop computers alert you in some way if 
you're trying to enter your password to log on and you've enabled Caps 
Lock; there's no reason why the web can't do the same. What we want is 
a warning - maybe the user wants Caps Lock on, because maybe their 
password is in capitals - rather than something that interrupts what 
they're doing. Something subtle..."


On Experts and Expertise
By Andy Budd.
"We currently live in a world dominated by experts. You only have to 
open a newspaper or switch on the television to see experts giving 
pronouncements on everything from parenting to the economy. In a world 
of multifarious complexities, the need for such experts is clear. We 
need experts to filter the huge flow of information and simplify it 
into something more digestible..."


Providing Context for Ambiguous Link Phrases
By Gez Lemon.
"It's not unusual to stumble upon ambiguous link phrases on web pages 
(phrases such as, 'Click here', 'More', and so on). Some screen readers 
allow users to gather a list of links from a page, but these types of 
link phrases are usually meaningless when read out of context. This 
article demonstrates a technique that allows ambiguous link phrases to 
be rendered visually in a page, whilst making sense to screen readers, 
and other non-graphical devices, that might render the links out of 

10 Ways to Orientate Users on Your Site
By Jonathan Webb.
"Imagine you're driving along and due to a road closure you have to 
follow those conspicuous yellow detour signs. You're now on an 
unfamiliar road, but because of the signs you confidently proceed, 
comfortable in trusting the arrows to tell you where you need to go..."

+07: PHP.

PHP Advent Calendar
By Chris Shiflett.
"Welcome to the PHP Advent Calendar. If you are unfamiliar with the 
format of an Advent calendar, Wikipedia has a pretty good description. 
The PHP Advent Calendar is similar in spirit to the Perl Advent 
Calendar, a tradition the Perl community has sustained for several 
years. Each day, starting today and ending on Christmas Day, a member 
of the PHP community will be sharing a PHP-related tip or trick..."

Auto Loading Classes in PHP 5
By Alejandro Gervasio.
"Undoubtedly, the release of PHP 5 has had a remarkable impact on the 
way that object-oriented applications are developed nowadays. This 
highly-improved model has provided PHP programmers with features that 
were only present in mature object-based languages, like Java and C++, 
but now, fortunately for you and me, they are generously offered by 
this powerful server-side scripting language..."

An Introduction to the Art of Unit Testing in PHP
By padraic.
"...Unit Testing is often seen as an arcane, time consuming task - 
which it sometimes can be! But the point of spending time writing tests 
is to improve the quality of your source code so it has fewer overall 
bugs, many of which are detected early, a continual testing process to 
prevent new changes from changing the behavior of older code, and to 
provide confidence that your code can be depended on. There are other 
benefits too, and we'll detail these later..."


A Preview of HTML 5
By Lachlan Hunt.
"Who's afraid of HTML 5? Not Lachlan Hunt! As both a front-end web 
developer and a contributor to HTML 5, he tells us what we can expect 
from the emerging markup specification, whose goals include more 
flexibility and greater interoperability."

Semantic HTML 5? Pfft.
By Jonathan Nicol.
"...How ironic then, that the new HTML 5 header and footer elements 
describe content based on where it appears on the page, rather than 
what it means."

HTML5 Needs a CarterPhone
By Sam Ruby.
"...what we really need here is a radically open standardization 
process.  The two standards are quite different, so different solutions 
may be in order.  In the case of HTML5, I believe that a smaller spec 
which focuses on two things: fixing HTML4 (including things like well 
defined error recovery), and setting the basis for separate (often 
overlapping) groups to work on things like canvas.  No, I'm not 
suggesting that canvas needs to be in a namespace, but just that the 
rules for extending HTML be written down."

HTML5 Authoring Guidelines, Editor's Draft
By Lachlan Hunt, editor.
"This document illustrates how to write HTML 5 documents, focusing on 
simplicity and practical applications for beginners while also 
providing in depth information for more advanced web developers..."

Why HTML 5?
By Shawn Medero.
"In response to the publishing of the HTML Design Principles Gary 
McGath asks, 'What bothers me most is that the document doesn't say 
anything about why there should be an HTML 5 at all.'...Simon Pieters, 
from Opera Software, answers..."

HTML 5: Doctype to Version
By Karl Dubost.
"It would help the HTML validators, syntax checkers to identify the 
intent of the author. It would also make it easier for writing 
converters. It would also ease people who wants to jump from HTML to 
XML back and forth."

HTML5 and CSS3 are Doomed for Disaster
By Kyle Neath.
"...if you're a real-world-developer, you should quickly realize these 
technologies were doomed from their inception. They will never become 
the language of the web..."

Conversation with Bill Gates about IE8 and Microsoft Transparency
By Molly E. Holzschlag.
Yesterday I was once again honored to have the opportunity to speak 
directly with Bill Gates at Mix n’ Mash about issues pertaining to 
standards and the upcoming IE8. Concerned about a lack of forthcoming 
information to the designer and developer community regarding IE8 and 
Web standards, I asked Bill if he could, in the spirit of a more open 
Microsoft, find out what was going on. Here is the transcript of our 
conversation (with some repairs where the transcriptionist couldn't 
hear), along with a photo of the fantastic Mix n’ Mash crew.

The Semantic Web In Action
By Lee Feigenbaum, Ivan Herman, Tonya Hongsermeier, Eric Neumann and 
Susie Stephens.
"Corporate applications are well under way, and consumer uses are 

Failed Redesign: Metrolinx
By Joe Clark.
"This new site cost what, $150,000 including software licenses? It 
doesn't comply with any accessibility guideline you could name and is, 
in practice, inaccessible. Who wants to launch a human-rights 
complaint? Those seem to be turning out well lately..."


Every Website is NOT Different
By Gerry McGovern.
"Every time I hear someone say that 'every website is different' I want 
to rush outside, grab an ancient oak, rip it up by its roots, swing it 
wildly and lop the top off the nearest mountain."

The Perpetual Super-Novice
By Paul J. Sherman.
"In this column, I want to further explore one of the issues I 
mentioned in my inaugural column. I call it the problem of the 
perpetual super-novice. What is this? Simply put, it's the tendency of 
people to stop learning about a digital product--whether it's an 
operating system, desktop application, Web site, or hardware device..."

The Repertory Grid: Eliciting User Experience Comparisons in the 
Customer's Voice
By Michael Hawley.
"Chances are that, if you do user research, you conduct a fair number 
of user interviews. When conducting interviews, our training tells us 
to minimize bias by asking open-ended questions and choosing our words 
carefully. But consistently asking unbiased questions is always a 
challenge, especially when you're following a participant down a line 
of questioning that is important, and you haven't prepared your 
questions ahead of time. Also, if you do a lot of interviews, you might 
fall into a pattern of asking the same types of questions for different 
studies. This might not bias participants, but you can bias yourself if 
you always investigate the same types of issues. Finally, are you sure 
you are asking the right questions? Your interview questions might be 
relevant to you and your project team, but are they the questions that 
will get at important issues from a user's perspective?..."

Usability Is Not a Verb
By Scott Berkun.
"I started my career in usability, but switched within a year for a 
management role on the same project. Why? I realized that usability is 
not a verb. For all the data and advice I gave my smart team, I was 
dependent on them to make decisions. I realized my effectiveness in the 
cause of ease of use would improve dramatically by taking a management 
role on the development team, rather than an advisory one..."

Designing For Flow
By Jim Ramsey.
"Ask a web designer what makes a site great, and you're likely to hear 
"ease of use." Jim Ramsey begs to differ. Web applications in 
particular, he tells us, work best and engage most profoundly when they 
challenge users to overcome difficulties."

[Section one ends.]


+10: 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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