onLine weblog archive

Saturday, January 19, 2002

Beyond Ada: The First Paranoid Programming Language
Conditional Statements ... is the field in which PPL really scores over all other programming languages. Whereas other languages only offer a generalised IF-THEN-ELSE or a CASE statement, PPL has a whole class of utterly novel wish-fulfilment statements. For example...
        IF x WAS_EVER 100 THEN
          DON'T print(x)

        IF j IS_NEARLY right
          DELETE ALL INCORRECT
          REFERENCES TO j

        UNLESS a IS "My Name" THEN
          crash_unix

        WHENEVER errors THEN
          run_in_circles_scream_and_shout

        ON_SUSPICION_OF x < 100
          CORRECT ANY OTHER
          REFERENCES TO x

        IN_CASE y NEARLY x THEN y
          REALLY x
So a couple of weeks ago Matt wrote up a little Windows Productivity Tip: How to have a useful taskbar. I took his tip to heart, and experimented with adding the quicklaunch as a toolbar on my taskbar, and found it helpful. But then I just found something even better: Dave's Quick Search Taskbar Toolbar Deskbar. If you are a web developer (or just some geek who spends a lot of time on the web) and Dave's Deskbar does not make you more efficient, well, then you must be just very efficient. It is the power of a command-line interface embedded in your Windows taskbar, and man I love it. And it is extensible by simple hacking up am HTML file. And it functions as a clock when you are not using it, so you can get rid of your taskbar clock. And since it allows lightening quick searches of Google, you can get rid of the Google taskbar in IE.

Friday, January 18, 2002

A beautiful CSS-designed site: Shou? - Igor Boog's website.
random($foo) weighs in on the lack of creativity in the CSS world:
My take on it? CSS does not benefit from this limitation issue because the limitations do not deal primarily with the medium (the CSS 'vocabulary' itself, although in the case of CSS1 and to a lesser degree CSS2, that is the case), but we're talking about bugs. Annoying, annoying bugs.
Andy King of Web reference picked up on Shirley's critique of the 2002 olympics site with this scathing site review.

Thursday, January 17, 2002

Say What You Mean Report #3, Research on web site structure
Two pairs of researchers try to discover the ideal number of links per page. They learn that sites perform better when visitors don't have to dig too deep.
Karl sent me a couple links, these on the turn-about of David Siegel: Lighthouse: David Siegel Interviewed, and The Layout is dead, Long Live the Layout (which also appears here, but with Joe Gillespie's pro-table blah blah above it).
More links from Dylan Foley!

W3C Recommendations Reduce "World Wide Wait"

SCS - Life on the Bleeding Edge

and of course, the seminal David Siegel piece, The Balkanization of the Web (complete with page titles buried in image files).

From JimThatcher.com: Web Accessibility for Section 508.
Another kind of indirection: Indirection in newspaper stories:
Newspaper writing is full of "indirection," and may be one of the primary reasons readers struggle with or turn away from newspaper stories. An awareness of the damage indirection can do in a story should be part of every writer's and editor's set of language skills.
My wife, married to me for these last seven years, would probably enjoy this article, but she does not read glish.com :(
Now here's something: Your CSS Bores Me. A nice, interesting CSS design. I love that little long first line trick, which pulls you into the piece thinking "Hey, that's a cool use of CSS". And that sets you up for Chris's message:
After browser vendors have stepped it up and given us much of the control we've been asking for, I can't seem to find web designers that are exploiting these new found powers. Everyday I see a tremendous amount of visual experimentation using web technologies other than CSS ... What I long to see is a move to embrace standards based web technologies in similar efforts...

What will it take to get people to seriously consider CSS based designs as viable outlet for their creative endeavors?
Now, while I do think these are valid questions, I think Chris might be looking at CSS design a little askew. I quote again:
"structural integrity is only one benefit [of CSS] ... can we do something more then make our content sites more readable?"
See, I think those two things (structural integrity, increased accessibility) are at this point in the game the only real reasons to switch to CSS. Frankly, browser implementations are still too disparate, too broken, to allow for the creative explosion Chris is asking for. And in large part because of these limitations, the people that have chosen to eschew tables and embrace CSS and standards-based web design are not the crazy-ass designers, who are elsewhere, doing other things, while only the geeks like you and me spend time listening to arcane arguments about markup and indirection and style sheets and trying to change the web in fundamental, but not primarily visual ways. We tend to be sympathetic to concerns about usability, interested more in making our content accessible than in exploring the design options CSS offers.

But then, on the other hand, I remember some comments from Zeldman on the 5k contest: "Limitations are the soil from which creativity grows." And from Stewart: "Since the space we have to explore is so small, we have to look harder, get more creative; and that's what makes it all interesting.". You'd think what was true about the 5k contest would be true about CSS design too, that people would find interesting little crannies in the tight design confines that CSS imposes. But that doesn't appear to be the case.

So yeah: what he said.

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

New blog: SATN.org:
This is a web site for commentary, essays, etc., from David P. Reed, Bob Frankston, and some of their friends. It was initially set up and maintained by Dan Bricklin.
Thanks Ev.
XSLT links: Vertana XSLT examples, and XSLT Questions and Answers. Thanks Chris.
Do you go to the University of Washington? This looks like a class worth taking: Basic Concepts in New Media. A nice table-aided CSS design complements a great online syllabus and class resource. The prof is my age, with a slightly better Curriculum Vita .
<-- I ♥ HTML comments -->
I still find this 5K contest entry from 2000 funny:
What does HTML mean to you? You've probably never thought about it... Maybe you've seen it affixed to the tail-end of a Web address. Maybe you've heard it mentioned in a tech column. Well, what does it sound like? That's right, HTML is the abbreviation for Hotmail, Microsoft's Web-based email system.
Dylan Foley sent me this email loaded with good stuff:
Perhaps not directly related to css, but this is the one that made me see the light:
RFC 1958
B. Carpenter, Editor
June 1996
Architectural Principles of the Internet

Especially this bit: "3.6 Modularity is good. If you can keep things separate, do so."

{ makes for a good mantra }
{ close your eyes & repeat as needed}

-- see also --
Tim Berners-Lee
Principles of Design

-- for something less tech see --
Packet/Simson Garfinkel
Deliver Us from Tables

-- For an early counter argument try --
Jukka Korpela
Why style sheets are harmful
Tim Berners-Lee: A short history of web development.
A Shockwave screen reader simulation.
More to read, from Larry Lessig: The Internet Under Siege. Thanks Steven.
To read: Extreme Programming vs. Interaction Design. Thanks Stewart.
New to me: ChunkySoup.net from Chris Casciano. And some great experiments also at his site placenamehere.com, including some very cool dhtml photo viewers like this. (And here's another such experiment of Chris's at Neuralust.)
Owen, ever the helpful friend, pointed me to this ask slashdot thread: Adapting Existing Federal Web Sites For The Disabled?
I work as part of a federally-funded Webteam for a prestigious laboratory in the states. It has recently come to my attention that our government has placed a burden on us. Congress passed the Rehabilitation Act back in '98 which instantiated a committee to ensure that all federal technologies do not treat those with disabilities unfairly. This board released a set of standards that they created to ensure that the government doesn't violate the Rehab Act. This, although wonderful for the disabled, leaves many of us media lackeys at these federal facilities with a bit of a conundrum. How do we fix all this stuff within 6 months? Our site has thousands of pages that would need to be sorted through by hand and even with us abandoning all projects for 6 months, we would not be able to guarantee all pages to be fixed. I know our team isn't the only one with this problem, so I was wondering if you guys have any good ideas on how to go about changing our site, our videos, our presentations, and pretty much anything else that relies on one sense over another. We would prefer to avoid using the 'Undue Burden' clause as much as possible.
Now there's a case for ridding your site of tables and font tags.
Slow server, great CSS design: timmorgan.info.
Starting now, I am going to be linking to a lot more things here in this weblog. Many of them you will have already seen, perhaps on another weblog. But I started this site for myself, to keep track of links, and I have found myself deciding not to link to something because someone else already linked to it, and then later I'm all like "now where was that thing I chose not to link to?" So no more. If I want to be able to find it later, I'm linking to it, whether or not I have time to give the link a write-up and a "via".
Zeldman points us to the über powerful joek.com change site design page. CSS is powerful.
RE: articles on the rationale for CSS design, Owen reminded me of this Dan Gillmor interview with Tim Berners-Lee . Sample:
When I see any Web site claim to be only readable using particular hardware or software, I cringe - they are pining for the bad old days when each piece of information need a different program to access it.
And por favor, if you have not read Owen's own Design Rant, please do so now for a great case for device independent markup with CSS style and layout.
WOW. Great tutorials, code, articles, and design from Daniel Pupius and Michaël van Ouwerkerk: 13th parallel
On the 13th of each month we'll be profiling a leading member from the web design community, releasing a range of useful tutorials and much more. We aim to provide a learning resource that will inspire you to produce good looking, intuitive, dynamic and powerful websites that degrade gracefully whilst supporting w3c specified recommendations.
Check out the Beziér Curves & DHTML tutorial.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

OK, so this is kind of exciting: Owen and I are starting on a book for Glasshaus (a new WROX imprint) on CSS. We'll be using the book to hopefully push the web forward towards standards, solid markup, and the separation of structure and presentation. Here's what I need from you: I'm researching the philosophical underpinnings of the W3C recommended approach to web design (one document containing structurally sound markup unmuddied with presentational concerns, styled with CSS for layout and visual design), and I'm looking for the best articles you've seen on the subject. I'm looking for arguments, not technical details. In other words, who convinced you to try to stop using tables and start using CSS? Send me links!

Monday, January 14, 2002

And in answer to this article from a while back: Is DHTML Dead?: No. First of all, the situation is MUCH better today in regards to DHTML and browsers than it was years ago. Second of all, oh forget it; I don't wish to go through and argue line by line with an article that appears to be little more than a pitch for .NET. I mean, how can you take an article seriously that contains something like this:
The bottom line is: DHTML is dead for serious application development; browsers, as application delivery platforms, are past their peak; and the future of distributed, interactive applications--at least on Windows--belongs to .NET. If you're developing these types of applications and you're not learning .NET, you may want to rethink your career plans.
after the Microsoft poll rigging BS of last week?
youngpup say:
...the method of authoring DHTML is changing. Or will soon. We used to ignore structure, accesibility, and degradability in favor of functionality. But that is going to change. In the future our DHTML will live on top of structure the same way that CSS style does. This will allow it to remain accessible while providing enhanced functionality.
I say: right on. Coming is the day when we won't talk about degradeable code anymore, but instead we'll be writing "augmentable code": structurally sound markup with functionality added via EcmaScript and the DOM.
archives: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85 | 86 | 87 | 88 | 89 | 90 | 91 | 92 | 93 | 94 | 95 | 96 | 97 | 98 | 99 | 100 | 101 | 102 | 103 | 104 | 105 | 106 | 107 | 108 | 109 | 110 | 111 | 112 | 113 | 114 | 115 | 116 | 117 | 118 | 119 | 120 | 121 | 122 | 123 | 124 | 125 | 126 | 127 | 128 | 129 | 130 | 131 | 132 | 133 | 134 | 135 | 136 | 137 | 138 | 139 | 140 | 141 | 142 | 143 | 144 | 145 | 146 | 147 | 148 | 149 | 150 | 151 | 152 | 153 | 154 | 155 | 156 | 157 | 158 | 159 | 160 | 161 | 162 | 163 | 164 | 165 | 166 | 167 | 168 | 169 | 170 | 171 | 172 | 173 | 174 | 175 | 176 | 177 | 178 | 179 | 180 | 181 | 182 | 183 | 184 | 185 | 186 | 187 | 188 | 189 | 190 | 191 | 192 | 193 | 194 | 195 | 196 | 197 | 198 | 199 | 200 | 201 | 202 | 203 | 204 | 205 | 206 | 207 | 208 | 209 | 210 | 211 | 212

offLine journal archive

where everything else is discussed

There are no offline archives for this period. Choose from the archives below:

archives: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49