Archive for August, 2003
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.
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).
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:
- Submitted chapter for CSS: Separating Content from Presentation.
- One contest doing well (The Old Technology Giveaway), the other (Sidebar Redesign), not so well.
- Meetings and phone calls with clients and prospects, some want work for no money, others want to pay, just not enough. One client is stalling the project intentionally, due to internal power struggles; we may lose a lot of money because of their problems, which are unrelated to our project.
- New sections are being developed for SuperfluousBanter: SuperfluousPhotos and SuperfluousCode (a photo gallery and code repository, respectively).
- Design for the new sections has inspired exploration of an entire redesign for the site.
- SoBig is filling my mailbox with SPAM and bounces from people who think I spammed them (note: It wasn’t me. First, I’m on a Mac, which are impervious to most of these Microsoft-related viruses, and second, the emails you think came from me were actually sent by the virus, which can spoof the “From” header in an email).
- Blaster is not causing me (or my office) any problems whatsoever.
- Today will involve many phone calls, none of which will be profitable, but all of which must be taken care of.
- I go to the dentist tomorrow for a cleaning–they won’t be happy with me.
- I tweaked some code on web-graphics.com: Posts now display the MovableType AuthorNickname field if it has been filled out by an author, otherwise the AuthorName will be shown. I did this so my posts would show up as something other than DanRubin (Dan R. is my current choice). It also allows more flexibility for the other authors, since they are no longer relegated to posting under their login name.
- I’m playing around with my own take on CSS tabs–two of them, actually. One is used in my chapter for CSS: Separating Content from Presentation, the other is a variation on Dan Cederholm’s Mini-Tab Shapes, putting the images above the text, so they are not hidden by the mouse pointer (this issue has irked me about this sort of link highlighting for quite a while).
- This is a short work week, as I am heading up the state for a relaxing Labor Day weekend with a few hundred other Barbershop and a cappella music enthusiasts. By the pool, on the golf course, or in the penthouse suite, I expect to be singing the entire weekend, and will spend quality time with friends I only get to see in person two or three times a year.
- Speaking of Barbershop, I’m almost finished redesigning my quartet’s web site. No link yet, I’ll post when it’s finished.
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.
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.