About this site's lack of design: Yes, it's supposed to look this way — I'm helping create a new sandbox theme for WordPress (see it on GitHub).

Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Suffering from chronic idiocy since 1977

Archive for August, 2003

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View Browser Source (AppleScripts)

Friday, August 29th, 2003

Our set of Apple­Scripts was men­tioned yes­ter­day by Zeld­man, and was coin­ci­den­tally updated to ver­sion 1.3 — for those of you in the dark, Webgraph’s View Browser Source Apple­Scripts (cre­ated by yours truly) fill a still-glaring gap present in all OS X web browsers: the lack of an option to view web page source in an exter­nal edi­tor of your choosing.

Our scripts solve this prob­lem by using the Apple­Script hooks built into most OS X web browsers, as well as a few clever uses of Unix apps like cURL, to pick up the source of the site you are view­ing, and insert it into a new doc­u­ment in your text edi­tor of choice (actu­ally, the text edi­tor must be selected from the list I chose to sup­port, but I’ve cov­ered pretty much all the usual options, includ­ing com­mand line edi­tors, and I’m will­ing to add text edi­tors to the list upon request).

They are really won­der­ful, if I do say so myself (I use them every day), and for folks like Zeld­man, these scripts pro­vide a much-needed fea­ture not seen since the days of OS 9…

Down­load your copy today, and let me know what you think — I’m always open to suggestions.

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Contests, Quizzes and Semantics

Thursday, August 28th, 2003

If you haven’t checked out The Old Tech­nol­ogy Give­away, you are miss­ing some great col­lec­tions of techno-stuff. Of note so far: Grant, Emilio, Tim and Dave.

The dead­line for sub­mis­sions to Side­bar Redesign is near (the 31st of this month) — if you have any sug­ges­tions at all, any ideas, or if you just des­per­ately want those Type­Pad dis­count codes, sub­mit some­thing. Any­thing. Be cre­ative. Heck, redesign my logo if you want; at this point, I’d rather hand over those codes to some­one who will use them, than let the entire con­test be a flop. Exper­i­men­ta­tion is the name of the game…

In other news, Dan Ceder­holm has launched a series of quiz ques­tions to gen­er­ate dis­cus­sion regard­ing web stan­dards, seman­tics and the var­i­ous meth­ods employed by devel­op­ers when writ­ing markup. It’s worth a look, espe­cially Sunny’s com­ment, which nails it right on the money (you’ll need to scroll for it though: Dan has yet to pro­vide perma­links for each com­ment). I’m look­ing for­ward to the next quiz already.

There has been quite a bit of dis­cus­sion lately (Jason, Dan, Doug, Dave, Jef­fery) regard­ing the dif­fer­ence between valid markup and seman­tic markup. I find it inter­est­ing that some­thing I have taken for granted since I began my tran­si­tion from tables-based design to XHTML/CSS should sud­denly be the topic of the week. After review­ing the thought­ful opin­ions of the authors listed above, as well as the com­ments from many other devel­op­ers and design­ers, it is clear that there is are many “right ways” when it comes to the con­cept of seman­ti­cally rich markup, which makes the dis­cus­sion worthwhile.

While this site is not a per­fect exam­ple, I have been work­ing to improve the seman­tic qual­i­ties of the markup for quite a while. There are still some things that are not as I would like (the pri­mary nav­i­ga­tion, for exam­ple), but I have used the cur­rent design (ver­sion 2) to build on what I learned from ver­sion 1. New projects are even more seman­ti­cally cor­rect (it’s always eas­ier to start with a clean slate than to fix in place what is already bro­ken), and I’m begin­ning to think this site is ready for Ver­sion 3: The Seman­tic One.

As I com­mented on Dan’s post, I believe respon­si­ble design­ers will find their way to more seman­tic markup on their own. Granted, books like Design­ing With Web Stan­dards and Speed Up Your Site (both are cur­rently on my night­stand) should almost be required read­ing for any web designer, and there is no ques­tion in my mind that read­ing both will make any devel­oper bet­ter at what they do, but there is so much infor­ma­tion avail­able to help guide devel­op­ers and design­ers through the tran­si­tion to XHTML/CSS that their markup will nat­u­rally become more and more seman­ti­cally rich.

It’s all about being com­fort­able: Design­ers have to focus on design first, which means leav­ing seman­tics (a some­what intim­i­dat­ing sub­ject to begin with) alone until they are com­fort­able with writ­ing valid XHTML and CSS, and have left table-based posi­tion­ing behind entirely. This is where XHTML and CSS val­i­da­tion is a good thing: it pro­vides pos­i­tive rein­force­ment to design­ers mak­ing the tran­si­tion; for many, those “dumb” val­i­da­tion apps might be the only encour­age­ment they receive (espe­cially for in-house developers).

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Monday Update

Monday, August 25th, 2003

Post­ing has been light, so to hold you over until a longer, more detailed post appears, here’s a list of what I’ve been up to, and some things still on the draw­ing board:

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Contest: Sidebar Redux

Wednesday, August 13th, 2003

From the nice folks who brought you “The Old Tech­nol­ogy Give­away” (me) comes a new con­test, with use­ful prizes!

Pre­sent­ing: Side­bar Redesign

Objec­tives: Redesign and enhance the side­bar for this site (Super­flu­ous­Ban­ter), in keep­ing with the exist­ing look and feel.

Prizes: The Grand Prize win­ner will receive 10 Type­Pad 20% Life­time Dis­count codes, as well as your name cred­ited in the “About” page of this site, a link to your site in the “Exter­nal” col­umn, and a credit in this site’s source. First Run­ner Up and Sec­ond Run­ner Up will each receive 5 Type­Pad 20% Life­time Dis­count codes.

Require­ments: If you plan to sub­mit a work­ing demo, it should val­i­date as XHTML 1.0 (Tran­si­tional or Strict), and the CSS should val­i­date and work prop­erly in the fol­low­ing browsers: IE5/Mac, IE6/PC, Mozilla (and related browsers), Safari. All designs must work well in the 3 dif­fer­ent color schemes of this site. Things I’d like are a recent com­ments list and a “cur­rently enjoy­ing” link list, but those are just ideas. Feel free to come up with ideas for its con­tent as well (this is also an oppor­tu­nity to shape a small part of the reg­u­lar con­tent of this site). Do not feel oblig­ated to fit your design into the cur­rent side­bar dimen­sions: there is no restric­tion on size, but it should fit visu­ally with the rest of the site design and layout.

Sub­mis­sions: Post a link to your entry in the Com­ments of this post, in one of the fol­low­ing for­mats: JPG, GIF, PNG, PSD, or an actual work­ing demo of your design.

Dead­line: The Type­Pad 20% Life­time Dis­count codes expire Novem­ber 30th, 2003, so we will receive entries through 11:59pm EST on August 31th, 2003. The win­ners will be announced on or before Sep­tem­ber 30th, 2003. This will give the win­ners enough time to fig­ure out how they will use their spoils.

More prizes may be added before the con­test is over, and I’m cer­tainly open to dona­tions to the prize pool.

Ques­tions? Email me.

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A Second Voice for Mezzoblue

Monday, August 11th, 2003

Dave Shea kicks his site up a few notches with the intro­duc­tion of A Sec­ond Voice, a new sec­tion of mez­zoblue which fea­tures dif­fer­ent authors writ­ing about their areas of exper­tise, all relat­ing to web design in some way.

The first install­ment, Build it, and They Will Come, Nic Steen­hout focuses on Acces­si­bil­ity. Check out the comments–they are already start­ing to add some use­ful info to the article.

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