Elsewhere monthlies

This is the monthly archive for May 2007.

30 May 2007

Big companies and web standards

Stephen Hay comments on my recent ALA article. His main question is how to sell web standards to companies. First of all, you don't sell it to clients, you just do it. Selling it to large website creation companies is trickier, but basically my proposal is to make standards fashionable, after which they sell themselves (I hope).

Business, Society | Permalink

SnookSurvey: Element Attributes in JavaScript

Do we use img.src = 'value' or img.setAttribute('src','value')? It appears to be a simple question, but there's much more to it than meets the eye, I think. Comment 34 contains my answer.

DOM | Permalink

HTML 5, microformats and testing accessibility

Bruce is not entirely happy with the (WHAT-WG) HTML 5 spec. He especially wonders why nobody tested support for elements and attributes that have not been included in the spec; some of them are supported by assistive technology.

More in general, his point is that people speculate too much and test too little; a viewpoint I can wholeheartedly subscribe to. As one of the few people who has actually tested lots of stuff and wrote down the results, I'm always amazed at the abysmally low inclination to test.

Talking is much easier than testing. Pity. Maybe we should confer A-list-status and stuff only on people who actually test their stuff.

HTML | Permalink

24 May 2007

Web Developer and Professional (Part 2 of 2)

Chris continues to discuss professionalism; not the coding side, but the "soft" side.

Skillset | Permalink

So you want to be a speaker?

There's a scramble for A-speaker status going on, and Jonathan reports from the trenches. It seems I've jumped on the speaking bandwagon just in time.

Public speaking | Permalink

d.construct 2007

d.construct 2007 has been announced: 7 September, in Brighton (the town where all British web developers live.) I plan on attending.

Conferences | Permalink

17 May 2007

What’s new in JavaScript?

Dustin Diaz on prototypal inheritance. Although I don't pretend to understand all of it (I'm not really a programmer, and certainly don't have any kind of formal education in programming), I fully support his basic message that JavaScript is JavaScript, and should be approached as JavaScript, and not as, for instance, Java. If you want to write JavaScript, learn JavaScript.

Core | Permalink

Keeping your home page clean

Paul Boag on the importance of homepages.

I think it would be fair to say that we are going to see a continued decline in the traffic going to home pages over the coming years.

More in general, clients are aware of usability research from the mid nineties ("users don't scroll"), but not of more recent advances.

I like Paul's 10 point system: you can divide 10 "user attention" points among the home page features, with every feature taking at least 1 point. That forces the client to focus on important things instead of trivia or internal-politics points.

Usability | Permalink

16 May 2007

Formal Weirdness

Eric on form field styling, which is one of the most complicated areas in CSS. Interestingly, Eric doesn't give the rules (such as they are) that browsers obey (or not), but challenges you to think on what, say, select {padding: 10px} should do. No answers here, but a lot of the right questions.

CSS | Permalink

JavaScript Libraries: The Big Picture

At XTech in Paris Simon compared the Big Four libraries. Here are his slides. Interesting, altogether.

Libraries | Permalink

15 May 2007

Javascript Madness: Layout Engines

Useful table of Gecko versions used in the various Mozilla browsers.

Mozilla | Permalink

Make your site mobile friendly

Another article on how to create web pages for mobile phones. While studying it I became aware of the problem in mobile phone development: no data.

Virginia DeBolt gives a solid overview of current thinking on mobile support, but the problem is that the article contains no specific data. (This is not Virginia's fault; no other article I encountered contains specific data, either.)

I'd love to hear stuff like Note that the Ericsson QQMV5 has spotty support for the <blockquote> tag, but I've never yet encountered it, because it seems as if nobody actually tests sites on actual mobile phones (instead of emulators). I don't, either.

Virginia gives links to the Ericsson and Nokia support groups, but astonishingly they contain no data on XHTML support (at least, none that's easily findable). Ericsson natters about WAP as if it's still important, while Nokia's so-called data sheet is remarkeble only for the paucity of data it contains.

In other words, mobile phone browser vendors (with the possible exception of Opera) don't even attempt to document the standards their phone browsers support.

What we'd really need is a solid, well-tested compatibility table for mobile phones. Unfortunately that would require me (or anyone who'd create it) to buy dozens of mobile phones, something I don't have the money for.

So for the moment all "Optimise your site for mobile browsers" articles will continue to give the same advice, drawn from the same, non-mobile-browser-vendor sources, and they will hardly help developers who're searching for specific support details. Again, this is not Virginia's fault (every sigle article I read suffers from the same problem), but it does mean that I'm setting less and less store on such articles. Reality may diverge significantly.

Mobile | Permalink

Another look at HTML 5

HTML, Standards/W3C | Permalink

14 May 2007

Public Sector Forums accessibility talk

Bruce on the state of public sector accessibility in the UK. Most of his points are very recognizable.

Accessibility | Permalink

11 May 2007

Stuff and Nonsense redesigned

Andy Malarkey Clarke finally reveals his new site, on which I devoutly hope he'll recommence blogging. I already saw an earlier version during SxSW, and I helped him out by writing a bit of JavaScript for his Easter Egg (which you'll have to find for yourself).

Showcases | Permalink

I Object

Douglas Crockford once more explains hidden properties in JavaScript objects. Every object not only has its own properties that you define for your own reasons, it also inherits quite a few methods and properties from other objects, ranging all the way back to the primordial Object object.

These inherited methods and properties will give false positives: for instance, every object you define has a constructor property. If your script doesn't make exclude these inherited objects explicitly, you have a problem.

Fortunately there is the hasOwnProperty() method that returns true if a property has been defined on the object itself; false if it's inherited from another object.

Core | Permalink

SVG Please?

Dave gives an overview of current SVG support, now that Adobe is discontinuing its SVG pluign.

| Permalink

Forward Towards the Past

Tommy Olsson disagress sharply with the current HTML WG activity that wishes to define the invalid markup currently being used. He has a point.

(Via Roger.)

HTML, Standards/W3C | Permalink

Six Months Later: The New HTML Working Group

Finally a good summary of what's going on in the HTML WG. Contains an excellent overview of the current hot topics.

HTML, Standards/W3C | Permalink

9 May 2007

Accessing the document inside an iframe

Finally a good summary of accessing a document inside an iframe.

DOM | Permalink

8 May 2007

O'Reilly Media and CMP technology launch Web 2.0 Expo Berlin

6-8 November. I want to see a list of speakers before I can decide whether I'll go there.

Conferences | Permalink

Interview with Judy Brewer on WCAG 2.0

Some data on the ongoing WCAG 2.0 process.

Accessibility, Standards/W3C | Permalink

CSS hover effect

Veerle shares a few useful hover tricks for liquid layout situations.

CSS | Permalink

Microsoft and Yahoo, Sitting in a Tree

John Gruber points to some technical aspects of the rumoured Microsoft take-over of Yahoo. Yahoo is a web company that works mostly with open source software. Would Microsoft rewrite all the Yahoo sites in MS technology?

Business | Permalink

When the designer/client relationship should begin

Paul Boag continues his treatment of clients and how to deal with them.

Instead of the client issuing a normal invitation to tender (ITT) outlining all of the work that needs to be completed, they would instead issue an ITT for an initial consultancy stage. This mini project would help to define the scope of the actual development work.

Business | Permalink


Andy thinks it's time for CSS 2.2: an intermediate step between 2.1 and the proposed (and proposed and proposed) 3.

My fear is that the W3C has bitten off more than it can chew, and this is having a negative effect on the web. We currently live in a world of live texture mapping and rag doll physics. And yet as web developers, we don’t even have the ability to create rounded corner boxes programmatically. The W3C are so concerned with shaping the future, I’m worried that they may have forgotten the present. Forgotten the needs of the average web designer and developer.

This complaint is nothing new; but nowadays it comes from serious standardistas instead of fringe people. Although I completely agree, I feel that W3C may (ponderously, but still) be reverting to the right track; witness the new HTML WG that at least tries to do things differently. And trying comes before succeeding.

CSS, Standards/W3C | Permalink

What’s next for Internet Explorer? Microsoft opens up (a little)

This article contains the details that Chris was willing to give on the upcoming IE8. (In fact, this version number is news to me, too; could easily have been 7.5)

Microsoft is planning to require Web site authors to "opt-in" to standards mode when developing IE 8.0 sites.

This seems to be a sort of super-standards mode (as distinct from the doctype switch implemented back in IE6), and I'm not yet sure if I'm happy about it. I'd like to see a practical example of a situation in which this super-standard mode is desirable.

IE | Permalink

Educate Your Stakeholders!

Useful advice on educating clients.

Business | Permalink

Help keep accessibility and semantics in HTML

Roger is not happy with the accessibility knowledge level within the HTML WG.

HTML, Standards/W3C | Permalink

6 May 2007

Interviewing UI Designers

Silly answers to serious CSS/JavaScript questions:

Me: How do I add a style sheet to my HTML document?

Him: Simple. You click on 'Insert' on the menu bar, and click on "Style sheet".

It would be very funny if it weren't so sad.

Fun, Skillset | Permalink

2 May 2007

Sun’s Project Flair: Ajax without the DOM, CSS, HTML, er wait

Ajaxian warns against the latest round of Ajax bullshit; this time from Sun. Apparently an otherwise sensible, even profoundly accomplished, programmer wants to write a JavaScript "self-supporting Web programming kernel" (whatever thay may be; sounds like marketing-speak to me) that allows people to ignore those nasty, nasty details of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript when writing Ajax applications.

What annoys me most is not so much the idea itself, but the breathless arrogance that speaks from it: I'm an accomplished programmer, so accomplished in fact that I don't have to learn new langauges when I want to do something I can't do in the languages I already speek. I don't want to learn something as easy as HTML/CSS, so I'm going to re-re-re-invent the wheel.

Dion Almaer observes that we should be glad that this latest round of idiocy does not require us to learn a new programming language. The worst thing about it is that he's right.

This message may be a hoax; Ajaxian refers to a cio.in article, which generally refers back to infoworld.com, where nothing can be found about this latest stupidity.

Libraries | Permalink

Timing and Synchronization in JavaScript

Detailed treatment of how browsers handle events, with emphasis on the timing: exactly when does an event handler fire and what does the user notice?

Also treats batches of events (mousedown-mouseup-click), event queuing (when an event occurs while another event handler is still running, the browser waits for the earlier event handler to quit), how timeouts are somewhat like events, and many, many more interesting details.

Required reading for any JavaScripter.

(Via Simon.)

Events | Permalink

JavaScript and Screen Readers

A practical example of catering for screen readers when creating a nify JavaScript effect. Useful tips.

Events, Screen readers | Permalink

Reset Reloaded

Eric's latest version of his reset style sheet.

CSS | Permalink

Web Developer and Professional

Chris on professionalism among web developers; not about the standards this time, but about how you should approach working in a company.

Skillset | Permalink

POSH Patterns

Jeremy discusses the same problem as the previous entry, and tries to narrow down the definition of a microformat.

Microformats | Permalink


Bruce Lawson and James Craig are worried about microformats clashing with accepted practice in HTML; especially the hCalendar datetime.

This article seems to be part of a more general movement to clean up microformat land and define more precisely what they are and what they aren't. The underlying problem seems to be that some people who create microformats are not sufficiently versed in HTML.

Accessibility, Microformats | Permalink

1 May 2007

CSS Float Theory: Things You Should Know

Large linkdump of all kinds of float-related tutorials, examples, and articles.

CSS, Linkdumps | Permalink


See the April 2007 archive.

This is the linklog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer. You can also visit his QuirksBlog, or you can follow him on Twitter.

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