Re: [WSG] Should logo not link to the homepage?

2006-02-23 Thread heretic
 I would like to ask your opinion here, if a web site logo should or not
 link to the homepage.

Anecdotally, I've seen a lot of users who do click the logo -
especially if it's placed at the top left of the page. It's not a
standard, but it's a common design element which many users pick up
very quickly when they start using the net. I've actually seen some
users get angry when the logo *wasn't* a link.

I don't think it should be the only way to get back to the homepage
though, it's still good to include a visible home as part of
existing navigation (not added to the logo graphic).

I don't really see a better link target for a logo, either. A
company's logo is an icon of its identity, a corporate avatar so to
speak. The logical thing for a logo to link to is that company's
primary web presence - the homepage.

I think I'm more bothered by the tyranny of logo at top left ;) Not
that I'm that bothered by that either.

h

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Re: [WSG] Confusing the users...

2006-02-21 Thread heretic
 Or do we just dumb everything down until we have some small subset that 
 everyone understands?

I've often found the Nielsen goes too far - beyond make it more
usable, through to make it more stupid or even cater to such a low
common denominator that average users actually start to get frustrated
with how dumb it is. Internal links aren't exactly rocket science,
they're just a variation on links take you to information.

There's a base level of knowledge that users need to get by online, if
they don't have that base level they need to learn it for their own
sake.

We often talk about paving the cowpaths, but I get the impression
Nielsen wants it paved, straightened, levelled, widened and labelled
Cow path, you can walk along it either forwards or backwards every
few metres.

I usually agree with the spirit of Nielsen's articles, just not the
conclusions and solutions proposed.

h

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Re: [WSG] A legitimate case for pop-ups

2006-02-20 Thread heretic
 I never thought the day would come when there actually was a legitimate
 use for pop-ups!
 It's legitimate to use pop-ups, if a court judge orders you to :)
http://australianit.news.com.au/articles/0,7204,18214048%5E15306%5E%5Enbv%5E,00.html

I suspect the judge is confused about pop ups versus alert boxes,
but still... interesting to see how specific that ruling is.

h

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Re: [WSG] Address Element

2006-02-19 Thread heretic
Hi there,

 Dear WSG members, I'm a bit confused about the correct use for
 address-element.
 W3C documentation states that it should be used to supply contact
 information for a document or a major part of a document such as a form..
 Now as I'm working on phone (and address) directories, I am currently using
 the element to mark up addresses of all listings (no matter how many of the
 listings are on a page).
 What do you think? Is this correct usage or not?

Well the spec is not clear, but it seems the intention of the element
is to provide contact details for the page itself; rather than the
subject of the page. It's an odd element - extremely specific.

For contact details, you could use definition lists; a well-structured
table (depending on whether you feel a single-row/column table is
acceptable) or even just an unordered list. It depends on exactly what
you're providing.

If you do want to implement the hCard microformat, you will probably
find the tag nesting requirements don't work all that well with
definition lists unless you never have to type an entry. If you do
have type entries, it gets more difficult.

I did an hCard implementation recently and went with a mixture of
headings, paragraphs and unordered lists with strong tags. The other
contender was a series of single-entry definition lists, which I
wasn't quite so keen on at the time but I may swap it in future :)

Sorry, that drifted away from your question. Basically, going by the
spec as I've been led to understand it; no your usage of the address
element probably isn't correct.

cheers

h

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Re: [WSG] Opera Labs and Opera 9 Preview 2

2006-02-07 Thread heretic
 I just noticed Opera have opened the Opera Labs page and they now have
 Opera 9 Preview 2 available for testing. The site has minimal content
 at the moment (after all it just opened) but there is a short speil on
 Opera supported web standards and the direction they are heading in:
 http://labs.opera.com/webstandards/

The beta has some really good new features and some changes that a lot
of people should be happy to see (eg. matching Firefox nomenclature of
tabs/windows). Hopefully the AJAX fraternity will have fun with the
widgets.

That said, I've noticed that despite Opera's commitment to standards,
the standards community really only gets excited about Firefox/Safari
(depending on your platform). Beats me why.

h

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Re: [WSG] Opera Labs and Opera 9 Preview 2

2006-02-07 Thread heretic
  Maybe the standards community prefer to ride ponies instead of real
  race-horses? ;-)
 Must be something to do with keeping nearer the earth. Opera spoils
 web developers, and makes Internet Explorer (and Firefox, to a lesser
 extent) that much more shocking ;-)

hehehehh ahhh dear, we're the mac users of the browser world aren't we
;) [grabs his fireproof suit]

speaking of macs, i wonder if the new mac version of opera will change
the stuff that angered joe clark?
[http://blog.fawny.org/2005/02/01/opera/] i don't have a mac to try it
out.

 More seriously, I still use Firefox as my primary browser chiefly
 because of its great web dev tools. Whenever not working, however, I
 love to use Opera.

I have to admit the firefox developer toolbar really is good (despite
some really irritating limitations). but the rest of the time, opera
all the way.

I haven't yet heard whether the new version of Opera is a bit kinder
to javascript - the guys at work complained that v7-8 had some
particular quirks that really got them off side. They haven't been
overly specific but claimed that some were actually bugs, not strict
interpretations of standards.

h

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Re: [WSG] Call for a new (scalable) business case for web standards.

2006-02-06 Thread heretic
 The problem is that many small/micro businesses don't see it
 (y)our way.  They only see the shiny coat of paint, not the rust
 underneath it, or the engine under the bonnet.  Bombarding them
 with technical jargon isn't going to help.  They just see a web
 page in their browser. It either looks good or it doesn't.

So you have to tell them - without using all the jargon - that you
will build a site using the latest techniques, which will be simple to
maintain, use less bandwidth and be easier to redesign in future than
the site built by the next guy.

Every prospect will have to be approached differently, and yes you're
right basically none of them ask for standards/accessibility/etc.

I'd also point out that I'd never say you should hire me because I do
valid XHTML 1.0 Strict with separated style and content layers, using
valid CSS and some unobtrusive DOM scripting to add a
gracefully-degrading behaviour layer! (unless of course I was asked
directly, which has happened).

I am talking about the business case, not the exact way you go pitch
that business case.

  # maintenance
  In my experience, standards-compliant sites are far easier (hence
  faster and cheaper) to maintain
 Only if the person maintaining it understands standards in the
 first place.  It's no use to a FontPlague jockey who wants to
 maintain his/her own site.

I don't think it's a given that a frontpage user gets no benefits. If
they can add a new item using an h? and a p, rather than an entire
nested table, then it's going to be easier no matter how you do it.

  small business really need to minimise costs. Every dollar counts.
 Yep, so they want to maintain the site themselves. See above.

Ultimately if they're doing it themselves it's not your problem either
way. If they are paying you to do it; then they can relax knowing that
you're not wasting their money.

  # lower bandwidth
  Many small businesses have a very small web budget and very very low
  bandwidth on their hosting.
 Nearly all my customers are on a very cheap plan with (virtually)
 unlimited bandwidth, so perhaps the rest are paying too much.

Depends what's cheap for the company in question, I guess.

 Of course, having 1MB of graphics or flash on the home
 page isn't going to help, but that's not a standards issue.

I would say that optimising pages is actually part of a
standards-based approach. I don't split hairs over which bit is
technically a *standard* and which bit is just doing a good job. It's
part of the package.

If you do want to take a pure standards line, then yes ok it's outside scope.

 Sure, a flash-only or frames based site is not SEO friendly, but
 I have seen no clear evidence that a clean, Strict (x)html site
 gets any better treatment than a site with tag-soup.  There are
 many other factors that influence SEO, but this is of course not
 the place to discuss those.

I didn't say it has a massive advantage over tag soup, just that a
benefit of standards is that it will have good search engine
visibility. Besides, there is some anecdotal evidence
(http://www.mikeindustries.com/blog/archive/2006/01/the-roundabout-seo-test)
that well formed documents have a slightly better time in search
engines. So if we're being really technical, it's better.

In any case, the client is hardly going to argue the toss between
valid XHTML and tag soup. But you don't want them going for all-flash,
all-graphics, etc.

  # accessibility
 Many are either unaware, don't care or are willing to take the
 chance. Besides, a standard compliant website is not necessarily
 more accessible than a site with tag-soup, although it may help.

Didn't say it was a silver bullet, but again it's part of an overall approach.

  # usability
 Standards compliant does not necessarily equal usable, nor does
 tagsoup necessarily equal unusable.

Which is what I meant when I said Not strictly a standard... :)

 True, but many of them don't plan that far ahead.

They should; and if they don't and you've been hired then you should
be helping them plan ahead. There are plenty of other businesses out
there that take on the relevant forward planning aspects of a job
since the client doesn't know they have to.

If an electrician wires up your house without getting you to put in
some extra loops to add more power points later on, they're not doing
their job right. If a mechanic puts crap tyres on your car, knowing
they'd wear out in two months, they're not doing their job right.

  Small businesses often have to prove that everything they do is better
  than the big businesses... so their website needs to reflect that.
 Define better, from the (non web design) small business owner's
 point of view.  I think that's what this whole thread is about...

Faster to update, cheaper to run, lasts longer, more flexible.

On a more general level I was talking about that less tangible better
job, better value vibe that you get when you're dealing with a real
master of a trade. You know it when you see it. 

Re: [WSG] Call for a new (scalable) business case for web standards.

2006-02-05 Thread heretic
 So here is the question:
 What are the benefits of web standards for small business that can be 
 sufficiently
 measured in results for the business both in the long and short term?

I've been thinking a bit about this one...

Actually, I think some of the benefits touted for large-scale sites
are actually more urgently required and keenly noticed by small
business. In particular...

# maintenance
In my experience, standards-compliant sites are far easier (hence
faster and cheaper) to maintain because the markup is clean. Again,
small business really need to minimise costs. Every dollar counts.
# lower bandwidth
Many small businesses have a very small web budget and very very low
bandwidth on their hosting. An image-frenzy site is likely to blow out
their budget in terms of hosting (not to mention being harder to
update). They don't have the luxury of slow, heavy pages - they need
each page impression to cost as little as possible for the greatest
gain.
# seo
Small businesses need good search engine visibility, far more than
bigger businesses in many ways. I can think of one local business
which had zero visibility due to their flash-only website. When I
originally wanted to try them, I only found the website by guessing
the URL - not something the average user will always try. They've
since changed their site, thankfully.
# accessibility
Large companies can simply wear the costs of bad accessbility. In the
(sadly unlikely) event that they get sued, they just pay up and move
on. A small business would be ruined. What's more likely is that
they'd simply lose a customer, which they'll notice more than a big
company.
# usability
Not strictly a standard, but in any case... small business may get
their one and only shot at someone's business by having an easy to use
website. eg. An online grocer with an unusable site is going to
struggle - using their site has to be easier than going to the shop.

Small businesses need more longevity in their website. If they have
decent style/content separation they can redesign in future without
redoing every single page. It'd be like having the ability to change
their stock of letterhead without paying to have it printed again (ie.
just pay for the design).

Small businesses often have to prove that everything they do is better
than the big businesses... so their website needs to reflect that. In
many ways, it should just be a matter of course that they do it once
and do it properly. Sell the concept of craftsmanship - this is how
the most professional web developers build sites right now. Big
business couldn't care less, small businesses tend to run at least
partly on the pride of the people within it. They want everything they
do to reflect their work ethic, and that should include their website.


That's my 2c anyway :)

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Re: [WSG] IE7 Now what?

2006-02-01 Thread heretic
 You should seriously consider how you are doing your CSS right now and how
 you should begin planning for the not so distant future of IE6 being the
 minority browser.  Microsoft wants to ditch IE6. IE7 will be part of a
 service pack upgrade to xp and as part of the fabled vista platform.

Just because Microsoft *wants* to ditch IE6 doesn't mean it happen
just like that. Based on that logic: considering how old IE6 is right
now, you'd think that would mean nobody would be using IE5. Right?
Wrong.

I know thecounter isn't scientific, but it's a big sample; and they're
still reporting 3% IE5.x.
http://www.upsdell.com/BrowserNews/stat.htm shows up to 8% for some
samples, which highlights the slow-moving software of large
organisations (including .gov).

In any case, that's a lot of people still sitting on *really* old software.

Pushing IE7 out as part of a service pack doesn't guarantee anything
either; consider all the users out there who don't have broadband yet
- many of them don't install service packs. A lot of people just don't
update their machines at all, for whatever reason.

 I will
 put my neck out on a limb right now and say that the majority of your
 traffic by the end of October will have the ability to use :hover pseudo
 classes, first-child, alpha-transparency png graphics, attribute selectors,
 etc.

You are far more optimistic than I am. I'd guess a high take-up rate;
but after the IE userbase gets to about 50/50 IE6/IE7 I think it will
slow down a lot.

We certainly won't be able to ignore IE6 in October.

...but, obviously, I really hope I'm wrong and you are right :)

 Further, they just announced their xmlhttp requests to match the other
 browsers. We will see better pages and markup very soon.

If they've really fixed the CSS bugs they claim to have fixed, life
will be much better. CSS layouts won't be subject to such a time
blowout due to IE bugfixing, which will make it more likely that large
firms will switch over from old school table designs.

 Consider this an open door. Remember the discussions about what true
 professional web developer is? Working towards an IE7 population is a true
 professional. Building pages with IE6 hacks is a 2005 professional.

Personally I think it's worth showing some caution and waiting for the
final release of IE7 before we start trying to design for it. A lot
can change between beta and final release.

Ben

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Re: [WSG] Web Standards Shetland Ponies

2006-02-01 Thread heretic
 I wanted to understand why this happened. Is standards only really
 something a small contingent of geeky developers go for?

I think it's fair to say that standards developers are still the
minority, but that doesn't make them wrong. What's right is not
always popular, what's popular is not always right.

 The more I look around at redesigns, I notice that more are failed than
 not. Sunbeam, Shiels Jewellry, VideoEzy, etc, etc, etc. Very few are
 standards compliant.

Probably mostly done by larger design firms, which tend to be using
older techniques. When your profit margins are up, it's easier to get
comfortable I think.

Also, most clients still aren't aware of
standards/accessibility/usability; they're still judging sites on how
they look and what the first few users say.

 Wouldn't it be better to be straightforwards and honest about the
 reasons for the trade-off decisions and their results?

Yes, that's true. What really sets off the standards crowd is when the
reasons are really bad, and/or people are hostile to standards. The
trap is expecting and assuming the worst of reasons, I guess :)

Ben

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Re: [WSG] Web Standards Shetland Ponies

2006-01-31 Thread heretic
Hi there,

 I've been on this list since returning from WE05 in Sydney last October,
 hoping that the same feeling of sharing and openness would prevail. It does
 to a certain extent, but the few glaring exceptions have tended to put me
 off posting to the list.

I doubt an email list could ever quite reproduce WE05 :)

 Some people write as if there were a club, a them and us, people who get it
 and people who don't, and never the twain shall meet.

There are plenty out there that feel it's us and them, those meddling
standards people so occasionally people display a bit of a bunkered
mentality.

I think people are really taking exception to developers who *know*
about standards, but are actively hostile to anyone who wants to use
them.

 I remember at WE05
 Molly Holzschlag asking us what we called ourselves, and there were some
 very diverse answers (my favourite was the guy who does stuff). Elsewhere
 (on Flickr) I've seen her reminding us that lots of us are good at
 different aspects of what we do and together we make a good team. I'd like
 to think that this web standards community is a team, not a club where only
 some of us are truly web professionals.

That's true and it was a wonderful keynote (I'm web standards
developer ;)), but a few weeks later Molly also reminded us that web
developers have to be open to learning new things -
http://www.molly.com/2005/11/14/web-standards-and-the-new-professionalism/

It's a balance, I guess. We can't be too passive or nothing gets done;
we can't be too aggressive or people just bunker up.

cheers,

h

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Re: [WSG] Failed Redesign and the Media

2006-01-30 Thread heretic
 My question is: is web-standards really considered a part of the
 professionalism of web people considering that even the IT media
 (AustralianIT) ignores this aspect?

Well, yes. The IT Media really haven't caught on to standards. That
doesn't mean web professionals haven't, or shouldn't.

I'd also point out that checking your facts is part of being a
professional journalist, yet this article is basically just a big
promo for Sunbeam and Clear Blue Day. Dodgy reporting? Yes. Someone
got shmoozed.

There are no unbiased/third party/contrasting views included; about
the only negatives reported were brushed over. The fact that the
project ran to double the projected timeframe and might be hard to
keep up to date suggests they had some serious scope creep and now
have a huge, high-maintenance monster to keep up with - great if they
manage it, a disaster if not.

I wonder how much traffic the Sunbeam site is getting at the moment, I
hope for their sake it's being pummelled. Otherwise, they have some
*serious* server response time issues.

I'm pretty sure Sunbeam's new site has actually been up for a few
weeks; since it looked the same when I was stuck using it a few weeks
ago (researching espresso machines). My fiance got utterly frustrated
with it, since you can't just get a list of espresso machines. You
have to click through endless mixers which happen to be included in
the cafe series.

We actually bought a sunbeam, but it was *in spite* of their website.

h

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Re: [WSG] mailto: and email-subjects

2006-01-28 Thread heretic
 Always use example.com, example.org or example.net in examples in the

Heh I never knew about those! You learn something every day :)

thanks!

h

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Re: [WSG] small screen rendering

2006-01-19 Thread heretic
 I have just discovered the 'small screen rendering' tool in Firefox (web
 developer toolbar).  Am I right in thinking this is an attempt to show
 what a site looks like on a mobile device or similar?  Is it a good
 guide? etc.

That's the theory, but with the vagaries of handheld/small screen
devices it's not the last word.

You might also like to try Opera's small screen rendering feature as
well [View - Small screen]. Again, not the last word but considering
Opera's mobile browser is based on the 8.5 codebase it should give a
reasonable idea of what to aim for there. I don't have a suitable
small screen device to test on, though.

Most handhelds we've seen here at work had roll-your-own browsers
included that were invariably terrible :-/

h

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Re: [WSG] Form editor that doesn't use tables for layout

2006-01-08 Thread heretic
Hi,

 I've recently put online a free visual form editor that allows the creation
 of html forms without using tables for layout and I'd appreciate any
 suggestions for the editor and the html/css code it generates.

Once I had added a couple of items it wasn't clear to click to the
next tab to view it. I would add a standing item on the left somewhere
See how it looks; and on the presentation tab Edit this form. Just
to make it clear how to move between them.

I'd change show table to show list of form items or something. I
was wondering why we're suddenly making a table :)

I'd consider doing a show/hide of the advanced features like taborder
that the average user shouldn't worry about (better to have a natural
flow than a half-set order..). Just default to the minimum required to
generate an accessible form, with a show full options or something
like that.

Also; by default I'd suggest using widths in % rather than px.

Finally... how do you get the code? I was looking for something like
get the HTML, or export markup or something. So I haven't really
reviewed markup/css it generates.

Hope that helps :)

h

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Re: [WSG] Source Attribution for data tables

2005-12-18 Thread heretic
Hi,

 Should the caption be changed to include the attribution?
 Table 1 - Summary of Key Indicators (source: Foo Corp 2005)

I'd go with this solution. It's a logical place for attribution and it
doesn't really go anywhere else without losing specific association
with the table contents.

h

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Re: [WSG] Frames ?

2005-12-15 Thread heretic
 I have a client who wants to set up his business site in such a way that his
 logo and business presence is always maintained when the client visits a
 link to one of the manufacturers that my client represents.
...
 Now, I am not a proponent of frames, but this sounds like frames to me.  Is
 there a way to do this using Web Standards and CSS (my preference) ?

No doubt the list will erupt into complete hysterics about the word
frames; but the technology isn't the issue (you could do it with
object and script tricks, for example; but IE in particular would
fight you every step of the way).

Pulling someone else's site into your frameset is extremely hazardous
territory. They could face lawsuits, regardless of whether they
represent the other company or not. These other sites are not owned by
your client and they should not act like they are.

Besides that, users hate trapped sites. Much better to clearly mark
the intention to launch new windows; or (even better) give the user a
choice.

From memory, I think about.com may use this sort of approach; as do
image searches like Google. Search engines can probably get away with
it a little since it's pretty clear that they don't own the site;
about.com really pushes that line since they load tutorials and so
forth.

If they do insist on doing this; a) get something in writing from the
client that they are doing this against your advice - I'm serious. At
minimum keep a copy of something you've sent to the client in writing,
advising them not to do it. b) you're probably going to need to use
frames.

hope that helps,

h

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Re: [WSG] CSS Driven?

2005-12-13 Thread heretic
 As for a standards-based
 page, agreeing that it is not a hard and fast rule that tables be
 banned for layout, can you present some logical arguments against this
 page - keeping strictly within the context of standards:
 http://www.projectseven.com/csslab/zealotry/linear_basics.htm

I would pose the counter question: agreeing that it could have been
done easily enough in CSS, why use a table?

...

But, anyway, arguments against that example:

1) The standards say tables aren't for layout; this page uses a table
for layout; it is not a standards-compliant page. Whether it validates
or not, it is not true to the intention of the standard ... your
opinion may differ, but that's mine :)

2) Building in a table means the page won't display so well on a small
screen device - it's wide, small screens are mostly narrow (sony psp
aside... :)). The side-by-side design also means it wouldn't lend
itself to a zoom layout either.

3) The table means you are tied to that specific layout for the life
of the page (or you have to modify every single page to change the
layout). You can't use CSS to switch the navigation to the other side
or any nifty tricks like that. Of course, that might not be an issue -
but the example doesn't give a scenario so let's assume longevity and
maintenance are a factor. At work I deal with a site with 20,000+
pages so these factors are big for us :)

4) Screen readers will hear the table before the content. Depending on
their settings, users will be hearing 2-column page layout table
instead of getting into the content. In the grand scheme of things,
not the end of the world. But it's not necessary.

Accepting the break from pure standards; it's not bad. I have actually
recommended people use simple layout tables when other solutions fail;
or as a transition stage from tables to CSS. Some specific things like
vertical centring are still poorly supported in CSS (or more
accurately, poorly supported in browsers).

The example certainly doesn't prove that tables are ok for layout;
just that you can build something which does use a table for layout
and is still ok. To put it another way, if you were to put that in
production I wouldn't really care; there are far bigger problems to
tackle ;)

h

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Re: [WSG] CSS Driven?

2005-12-13 Thread heretic
  I would pose the counter question: agreeing that it could have been
  done easily enough in CSS, why use a table?

No arguments for the table? :)

 Fair enough. Of course, my opinion differs in that I believe that
 there is no standard mandating that a table not be used for layout.

Personally I'm going with the W3C, since they're the best we have ;)

 Small-screen devices have a completely different relevancy than many
 people allow - or admit. But rather than get into a debate over the
 futility of writing to a Twer of Babel mix of small-screen browsers, I
 submit that standards-conformant small-screen user agents have no
 problems linearizing a simple layout table (let's sic the WaSP on the
 bad guys there). Remember, we're not talking about ugly, messy, nested
 table layouts as done by Photoshop or Fireworks, we're talking clean,
 simple, layout tables used to render stable columns.

Unless the device actually linearises tables properly, simple/complex
doesn't matter - it's tables used yes/no. I wouldn't bet anything on
any mobile device getting anything at all right. We've tested quite a
few and most of them are absolutely rotten.

 Have a look at this page:
 http://www.projectseven.com/csslab/zealotry/linear_basics_ssi.htm

There must be a point here, but I'm not seeing it. Are you trying to
suggest we should use SSIs? For one thing, we do. For another.. to
separate the layout table from the content you'd have to pepper the
file with SSI hooks - not something I'd do.

 Agreed. And I hope you realize I'm not advocating the use of tables
 for layout becoming the dominant force in page design :-)

It's not entirely clear, but I had guessed that

 What I'm
 trying to do is to let people know that if a certain projects and
 clients could be more efficiently dealt with by using a simple, clean
 table structure, they don't have to feel stupid, evil, or unclean.
 There is alleged to be a small faction of intolerant, and somtimes
 condescending, people within the standards/CSS community.

I've found that many developers out there would take that point and
turn it into that standards guy said layout tables were fine and
spray nested tables and font tags all over their apps again. Give an
inch, they'll take ten miles. That's why standardistas can come across
as being so inflexible I guess :)

Basically though, my stance is that if people are willing to use
simple layout tables instead of nested horrors; it's still a step in
the right direction.

 Designing with CSS is sometimes like barreling down a crumbling
 mountain road at 90 miles per hour secure in the knowledge that
 repairs are scheduled for next Tuesday.

hehehe I'd say that about all web development...

h

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Re: [WSG] Abbreviations and Acronyms

2005-12-13 Thread heretic
 [snip] ACRONYM and ABBR

I take a fairly simplistic view on this one:

1) Future standards only include ABBR.
2) Acronyms are a form of abbreviation.
3) For the sake of good writing, you should spell out the full term on
first use anyway. That covers bad browsers, too.

so, I just use ABBR for anything which is a shorter form of
another term or phrase.

Obviously people don't usually spell out all acronyms, even though we
really should. For specific industry terms it would get tedious; so a
bit of discretion is good. Write for your audience and so on.

h

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Re: [WSG] CSS Driven?

2005-12-12 Thread heretic
 I guess your assertion hinges on how one interprets the word should.
 Perhaps I am English-challenged, but I always took should to have a
 suggestive or advisory connotation, while shall or must are
 obligatory :-)

One quick comment on this... I always write must in draft policy
documents; but the higher-ups change them all to should before the
final version. I am told that should is Policy-Speak for must,
since it allows for discretion in considered instances.

Basically, it means for all intents and purposes, you must not do
this on pain of death but there is wiggle room to plead your case if
greater evil might occur by following the rule.

Personally I'd keep must and let people sort it out for themselves,
because you should never suggest the rules are still being followed if
they're being broken. But policy speak dictates should.

In any case, we are dealing with a language (English, that is) which
produced the rule I before E except when it's not. I know, it used
to be ...before C but that's not actually true (weird isn't it).
Crazy language :)

h

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Re: [WSG] *Why* doesn't Google validate? was New logo scheme was talking points for standards

2005-12-08 Thread heretic
  What, when I can whinge on a mailing list?
  No, no - I'm leading open and earnest discussion, honest I am ;)
  OK, OK, I'll try to figure out what email address to use later today :)

Yeah, good luck finding usable contact details on their site ;)

As far as I can tell, Google doesn't write valid/accessible markup
since a) there's no money in it for them, or at least not enough that
they care; and b) the average punter won't give it any cool points.

Google is motivated by money and cool. Standards don't get either one.

man, I think I need a beer now ;)

h

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Re: [WSG] *Why* doesn't Google validate? was New logo scheme was talking points for standards

2005-12-08 Thread heretic
 OK, OK, I'll try to figure out what email address to use later today :)

Interesting timing rumour is that http://www.google.com/ig is
going to become their new My Google style portal page.

The markup still stinks.

h

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Re: [WSG] Oracle/Peoplesoft and accessibility/standard code

2005-12-04 Thread heretic
Hi there,

 - Does anyone know of an accessible PeopleSoft built application?

I haven't heard of one which is what I would call accessible :)

 - Has the issue of PeopleSoft generated code been an issue or is the
 responsibility that of the company using it?

The PS code is all tables and bad markup - so, it's the code, not the client.

 - Does anyone know if, besides white papers, Oracle/PeopleSoft are
 actually working on standard code that is accessible?

Can't say for sure. PS claim their current product is accessible, so
it's very difficult to evaluate any claim they make :) I have heard
hope for better in Fusion, since the current code base would just
take too long to overhaul.

 - How customizable is the HTML PeopleSoft spits out?

You can customise bits and pieces, but overall it's not customisable.
PS would say otherwise; and you can probably customise it with a vast
injection of time and money; but in a practical sense with a
real-world budget no, it's not customisable. You might be able to
change a few colours and a logo.

You can probably tell I'm not a fan of PS :)

cheers,

h

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Re: [WSG] starting ordered lists from a number other than 1

2005-11-23 Thread heretic
 the first, for example:
 ol start=40
 li
 divtext info in here/div
 /li

 What do people suggest?

I'd vote for:

ol start=40
  litext info in here/li
/ol

I think the specs should not have deprecated the attribute - breaking
up huge lists into separate pages is entirely legit, which means the
numbering is an important part of the *content*.

The idea that all numbers should be added with CSS goes against the
idea of separating style and content, IMHO.

I'd recommend using li value=n, but I'm not clear about the future
interpretation of the attribute. I notice it's included in XHTML 2.0
(http://www.w3.org/TR/2004/WD-xhtml2-20040722/mod-list.html#adef_list_value),
but the spec doesn't say whether following items should continue the
numbering from the previous value. That would be *logical*, but
...well, specs aren't always logical :)

cheers,

h

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Re: [WSG] advices for using headings more correctly

2005-11-02 Thread heretic
Hi there,

One reason there is so much debate is the HTML 4.01 spec actually
whimps out of making a call ;) In other words, it doesn't actually say
if skipping a level is wrong; it just says some people think it's
wrong.

What the spec DOES say is that the headings are ordered from 1 to 6 in
order of importance, so it does actually imply that they should always
be kept in order.

Personally I think they should always be in order, never jump from 1
to 3 to 2, always go 1-2-3. So as you'd expect I would go with this:

  h1My site titleh1
  ...navigation...
  h2My section name/h2
 h3Latest Articles/h3
h4Article 1 Title/h4
   pparagraph/p
h4Article 2 Title/h4
   pparagraph/p

I would actually ask whether the latest articles heading is actually
needed - do you separate latest from older on the same page? If
not, then just remove the latest articles heading, since their
presence implies that they are the latest articles (as a general rule,
people do not publish their oldest articles at the top of the page).

If you *do* divide the articles then you need to leave in the
semantically correct latest/old headings to define the sections. It
would be incorrect to bump up the articles' heading level if they are
actually contained within another section.

As a general rule, when in doubt about heading levels I think how
would this go in XHTML 2.0, using section and h elements?. It
helps think in terms of sections and levels/groupings of content.

I hope that helps :)

cheers,

Ben Buchanan

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Re: [WSG] standards, accessability and validation?

2005-11-01 Thread heretic
 i dont know if i will be able to sell them on
 it. I was going to try the angle that web standards are helpful/essential
 for accessability-which they get alot of requests for these days. The
 programmers dont want me to do any coding or as little as possible-so as not
 to step on thier toes.

If they actually care about accessibility, that'll be a good angle.
Just make sure they don't turn it into you're making more work for
us. Also be careful not to let them mistake validates for is
totally accessible since they are related, but not the same.

I'd also talk about how going to standards will make future
redevelopment much easier. If they're worried about you stepping on
their toes, they're missing the point about separation of code and
interface. If they've seen the CSS Zen Garden they probably don't
think it has any practical applications... put the idea in their head
that the swap could be from a client's old look and feel to their new
corporate identity.

That and clean XHTML is easier to hand-code than tables, which coders
tend to like :)

Hope that helps.

cheers,

Ben Buchanan

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Re: [WSG] standards, accessability and validation?

2005-11-01 Thread heretic
  That and clean XHTML is easier to hand-code than tables...
 Without wanting to open a can of worms here; how so? Do you mean in
 conjunction with CSS, or just that XHTML markup is cleaner than that of
 HTML?

Just that XHTML markup is faster to type by hand than nested tables
and font tags. Most coders I know/work with code by hand, so less
typing is definitely better :)

cheers,

Ben Buchanan

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Re: [WSG] to border or not to border, that is the question

2005-10-31 Thread heretic
Hi,

 However, today I disabled styles on a fairly complicated table and realized
 it made very little sense without any demarcation between the cells.
 It would be simple enough to do table border=1.

I've found that tables really need a border to make sense, much the
same as a fieldset needs the border.

I think it should be the default, basically. So, for all my tables I
include border=1 and style however I want over the top of that.

Ben Buchanan

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Re: [WSG] Emulating text browser

2005-10-25 Thread heretic
Hi there,

 One of the Technical Guidelines is to use a text browser such as Lynx to
...  But recently I found that the Opera browser has an option to view your
 web in the way a text browser should do ( View/Style/User/Emulate Text
 Browser). Do anyone knows if the Lynx's browser is something like this
 option?

It's not 100% perfect but I reckon it's close enough for what you
need. Just remember to disable tables as well (it's an option in the
same menu as the text emulator). Also use the quick preferences (F12)
to disable javascript and plugins, to be thorough.

Some people are taken aback by the colours, forgetting that Lynx has
different versions and people had different system settings even Back
In the Day :) So, Lynx for me was grey on black; but for others it was
black on grey, and so on.

cheers,

Ben Buchanan

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Re: [WSG] Emulating text browser

2005-10-25 Thread heretic
 Does anyone actually use lynx anymore though

Actually I know someone who uses it on a daily basis, due to an
extremely limited network/bandwidth quota at his workplace.

He can't install a second browser (locked down desktop), and he has to
keep IE set up for sites that don't work without graphics etc. He uses
Lynx via telnet since it's installed on the server, since that
preserves his quota (meaning he can read the morning news without
destroying his quota).

 AFAIK
 links, w3m, and other text browsers are far more popular. All these
 other browsers preserve table structure.

I thought the more recent versions of Lynx supported tables?

cheers,

Ben Buchanan

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Re: [WSG] WE05 - who's going?

2005-09-27 Thread heretic
Me too^H^H^HWhy yes, I'll be there :)

 Will be doing a little 'live-bloggin' on http://notinteractive.com/
 and more professional coverage on http://leftjustified.net/

Man, is this conference going to be buzzword compliant or what.

WE05! Comin' atcha! We got podcasts! We got liveblogs! We got photo
galleries! Gitcher fershnicket attendees, five for a dollar friday
night! ;)

I'll most likely end up blogging something over at
http://weblog.200ok.com.au/ whether live or later.

 Or how about everyone interested just bites the bullet and posts their
 photo  contact details like I just did?

Because I look horrible in photos...!

 N���.�Ȩ�X���+��i��n�Z�֫v�+��h��y�m�쵩

I'll most likely be wearing a tshirt which mocks unicode. That should
cut it down to about ten people in the room ;)

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Re: [WSG] Opera 8.5 released, now no registration fee ad-free permanently

2005-09-20 Thread heretic
 Yes, Opera has gone insane with happiness and have released their
 browser free, without an ad bar permanently.  I guess it was inevitable.

Yeah, to really get competitive they needed to go free. People might
use their browser pretty much constantly, but it doesn't occur to them
that perhaps that might have made it worth paying for a better one ;)

It's annoying really. People use the net as a fundamental part of
their lives, but they resent any suggestion that perhaps that makes
their computer important enough to rate some maintenance and update
outlay (time/money).

 I'm most interested in what this will mean for us web developers --
 Opera support might become even more of a requirement now than ever?

Well, with my standards-moral-highground hat on, I'd say it should
make no difference ;)

Realistically it's still really hard to know how many people out there
actually use Opera, since browser stats are an imprecise science at
best (I talk on this at length at
http://weblog.200ok.com.au/2005/06/lies-damn-lies-and-browser-statistics.html
so i'll skip it here).

Now that it's free it's reasonable to expect some level of increased
usage - particularly at a time when a lot of security holes have been
found in Firefox in quick succession. Many people are now vaguely
aware that IE is not the only browser around, so it's as good a time
as any for Opera to take this step.

So... for developers I'd say it just means you should (still) test
your pages in Opera. Those who are new to including Opera in their
development routine might want to check out the resources offered by
Opera... again, I've posted on this before so I won't repeat it all
here: 
http://weblog.200ok.com.au/2005/07/opera-development-resources-open-web.html

cheers,

h

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Re: [WSG] Click here--reference

2005-09-19 Thread heretic
 linked. Does anyone know a rule I can point to (and send my client to
 read) re accessibility and click here?

Dey Alexander has a neat and concise paper on the issue -
http://www.deyalexander.com/papers/clickhere.html

Covers usability and readability as well as accessibility.

cheers,
h

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Re: [WSG] wishing not for picky browsers (was) Barclays standards redesign

2005-09-14 Thread heretic
 At 03:44 PM 9/7/2005, Christian Montoya wrote:
 I was actually thinking the other day, browsers should be more like
 compilers... they should refuse to parse incorrect code. Then the
 enforcement would be on the output end, too.
 Why on earth would I want to use a browser that refused to show me
 pages that didn't validate?  I'd be blocked from seeing 98% of what's
 on the internet.

You're right in terms of what the user wants, but I would say that
what the user wants is not what is best for them. For example, we want
rich tasty food but it's not what's best for us all the time :)

Realistically the horse long since bolted on the concept. But imagine
two scenarios:

1) Code compilers were as forgiving as browsers

In this scenario, it wouldn't matter how broken, inefficient or
vulnerable (security holes) the program was; the compiler would
cheerfully let it through and it could end up on your computer.

Now think about how often you have to patch the average windows
machine to plug up the latest hole. Imagine how much worse it would be
if there was even less standards enforcement! :)

2) Browsers were as unforgiving as compilers

If this had always been the case, everything you could view on the web
would be standards-compliant. Or at least, as compliant as a computer
can test for... there would still be any number of ways for the human
element to create problems :)

So it's a nice daydream to think how things might have been; but
to introduce it now would be marketshare suicide for the browser
concerned.

Personally I'd be fine with it; but most of the people on this list do
not fall in the average category and our pages are more likely to be
compliant. I think I'd just love to see the fallout against big
application vendors when all of their products ceased working
overnight.


That was an awfully long way of saying, you're right in the current
practical sense; but I think the sentiment is more accurately applied
as if we could turn back time

cheers,

h

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Re: [WSG] label for=

2005-09-10 Thread heretic
I'm wondering about the use of the label tag in certain cases where thelabel relates to multiple fields.
Is there a recommended practice here? Should each select box have itsown label?
Yes, each one should have its own label; with the set grouped in a fieldset (with appropriate legend tag).
Also, should the label be descriptive. Can you have a label for=""

The contents of the label should obviously be descriptive; however the
for="" attribute relates to the ID attribute of the associated element,
which doesn't really need to be human-readable (although it may as well
be :)). If I recall correctly, IDs can't start with numbers so your
specific example would not be valid.
Hope that helps :)

cheers,

h
-- --- http://www.200ok.com.au/--- The future has arrived; it's just not --- evenly distributed. - William Gibson


Re: [WSG] web accessibility toolbar

2005-09-01 Thread heretic

 It alleviates the problem, but realistically I still think designers are better off using relative units
Just as a matter of clarification: pixels *are* a relative unithttp://www.w3.org/TR/REC-CSS2/syndata.html#length-units
However, they're relative to the screen resolution, rather than beingrelative to the viewport dimensions or the user's preferred font size.


I didn't actually know pixels were defined as relative... but you're right, there it is :) 

So it's technically true, yes; although in a *practical* sense they are
fixed. People don't tend to change their resolution per web page, the
way they might change text size :) Also, with current technology (I'm
looking at IE) pixel-based designs won't resize like other relative
units. 

So I certainly wouldn't want people using pixels thinking they are
relative in the same way as EMs or % are in the current real-world
situation.

All that said, I'm sure someone will now speak up and flame me since
they *do* change their rez several times per viewing session. Or argue
that zoom readers constitute changing rez, although that form of usage
is not what I'm driving at.

h
-- --- http://www.200ok.com.au/--- The future has arrived; it's just not --- evenly distributed. - William Gibson


Re: [WSG] web accessibility toolbar

2005-08-30 Thread heretic

Hi there,
I ask the question partly tongue-in-cheek, but it does make me wonder iftools such as this should be the butt of responsibility?

No, I'd say tools like this are workarounds for the failings of the
native browser. You certainly can't start using pixels for sizing just
because a user *could* go and install a third party toolbar (even it if
it is NILS' excellent WAT :)).

Basically, my view is that everyone remains responsible for their part
of the puzzle. Rather than write at length, I'll be a little cheeky and
point to http://weblog.200ok.com.au/2005/04/whos-responsible.html which
I wrote in response to a related topic here :)
I just wondered, as it does seem to put the pixel argument into adifferent perspective.

It alleviates the problem, but realistically I still think designers
are better off using relative units - personally I favour the EMs +
%-on-the-body combination. 

If you can use the best-practice method to produce the results you
want, there's no reason to use pixels. Eventually you should be able to
use whatever unit of measurement you like, but until then we are stuck
with most IE users (and hence most *users*) being unable to resize
pixel-sized pages.
cheers,

h-- --- http://www.200ok.com.au/--- The future has arrived; it's just not --- evenly distributed. - William Gibson


Re: [WSG] Online Resources for HTML Beginners

2005-08-29 Thread heretic

Hi,
http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/
http://validator.w3.org/
I'm all for teaching students how to look up the answer, but in this
case I also recommend they read
http://www.alistapart.com/articles/readspec/ first so they have a
better chance of understanding the answers :)

I've never found a standards-compliant html for beginners resource
that I'm 100% happy with, although W3Schools isn't too bad. I also
direct people to A List Apart, as has already been suggested; although
some people find it a bit daunting depending on the issue they read
first :)

As a student improves they can probably get something out of the links at http://zeldman.com/externals/#cssmarkup as well. 

cheers,

Ben
-- --- http://www.200ok.com.au/--- The future has arrived; it's just not --- evenly distributed. - William Gibson


Re: [WSG] Need recomendations for CMS system

2005-08-16 Thread heretic
 I am looking for a CMS system that will produce code/mark-up that
 follows web standards. A lot of systems spits out tables and weird
 tags that doesn't validate. I'm mostly interested in freeware, but if
 I need to buy one to get such a system then that's fine too. I have
 been searching the net for awhile, but I'm not sure that I will
 recognize the best system even if I find it.

What kind of scale project are you looking at? Small site, large site,
large enterprise...?

h

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Re: [WSG] Reason for leaving

2005-08-15 Thread heretic
 Are the disabed really the main priority when it comes to web
 standards? 

Not exactly, they're just one of many groups that benefit. They happen
to benefit quite a lot, of course.. :)

Standards benefit pretty much everyone, whether they realise it or
not. Standards compliant sites are generally (not always) more
lightweight (faster for the user), easier to update, rank better in
search engines etc. There's also the consideration of making your
sites future-robust (I never say future *proof* :)). Stick to
standards and you have a better chance that they'll still work in the
next version of browser X.

If nothing else, you - as in the developer - should be a priority for
going with standards, since it'll be you doing updates and fixing bugs
:)

 Is there really that many disabled internet users? I would like to know. :)

Well I've often said that search engines are blind, deaf, mobility
impaired users with scripting and plugins turned off
(http://weblog.200ok.com.au/2005/06/search-engine-optimisation-is-new.html).
So there are a couple of disabled users like Google that you probably
want to cater to in some way :)

More directly on your question though, there's enough out there in
America alone that Microsoft decided they could make money from them.
M$ commissioned a study which showed 57% of all computer users are
likely to benefit in some way from accessible technology
(http://www.microsoft.com/enable/research/).

Figures vary, but they generally show a significant number of either
disabled or people who benefit. With an ageing population in many
countries, simple things like being able to resize text will become
more important.

cheers,

h

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Re: [WSG] accessibility - opening new windows philosophy

2005-08-15 Thread heretic
Hi,

 We've had a discussion at work about pdf documents and hijacking the user's
 browser / making it more user-friendly.  What is the general feeling towards
 having pdf and other non-html documents open in a new window? 

I view PDF, .MS Office documents etc as *non web content*. That is,
they are not web pages and should not load in the browser as though
they were web pages. However this view is mostly gut feel rather than
based on any kind of statistics on what users think :)

So anyway, in order of preference my approach to PDF is this:
1) Don't use PDF in the first place, if at all possible.
2) If you do use PDF, it's critical that the link is clearly marked as a PDF. 
3) I choose between new window/same window based on context
(particularly what I know about the target audience). But I do lean
towards new windows.

The reasons for choosing new window:
1) In IE, the PDF will hijack the browser and - very slowly - attempt
to load the PDF content inside the frame. It won't launch a separate
Acrobat window with the PDF, as it should.
2) You only get a cut-down set of interface options when trying to
view the PDF within IE.
3) In my experience there's a reasonable risk that the IE/Acrobat/PDF
mashup will break and crash the window. You lose the web page as well.
4) No matter what browser, as I said before PDFs are separate from the
originating web content and should get a separate window.

When launching any new window, I favour a simple target=_blank or
the ALA method if users would benefit from more detailed control of
the popup (http://www.alistapart.com/articles/popuplinks/).

Basically my view there is that scripting should enhance the
experience but the page should remain functional without it.
Preferably it should function in much the same way, which is usually
not possible but in this case it's entirely within our grasp.

cheers,

h

-- 
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--- The future has arrived; it's just not 
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Re: [WSG] Does anyone still design for 640x480?

2005-08-03 Thread heretic
 What sizes are you designing for?

For the sites I work on, the majority of the audience has 1024x768 *or
better*, but a significant amount (10-25% depending on the site) still
have 800x600. So we design for 1024x768, but designs have to remain
usable/functional at 800x600 without horizontal scrolling. What that
means is that if a client wants some content above the fold, we will
measure at 1024x768 (of course, if we can get it to sit above the fold
at 800x600 anyway, then so much the better). Users choosing lower
resolutions will have to accept their choice means a little scrolling
sometimes.

640x480 is not intentionally catered for in the design; any user still
browsing at that res would probably have to switch off CSS and go with
the raw, linear page. They'd still get the info though. I haven't seen
that resolution at more than 0-1% in any stats for a long time.

Much the same for small screen devices, although in many cases small
screen devices are also relatively low bandwidth devices so they
aren't loading css and images anyway. Until small screen devices start
obeying the handheld media type, we aren't going to start building
custom stylesheets for them (really not a big part of our userbase
yet) although we are watching developments in that area.

cheers,
h

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--- The future has arrived; it's just not 
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Re: [WSG] Opening external links in popup windows with no extra markup

2005-07-31 Thread heretic
 In a controlled input situation (eg: a web developer's blog), a
 solution like Patrick Lauke's 'type' link styling expermient (
 http://www.splintered.co.uk/experiments/38/ ) adds more useful info to
 the markup and can be used the same way; but when a client is in
 control of the content you set up whatever automated help you can and
 cross your fingers ;D

The client factor highlights why inobtrusive/separated Javascript is
the way to go... things have a chance so long as the user doesn't have
to do anything extra, much less have to *consistently* do something
extra.

If we don't have to teach them anything, they can't get it wrong and
we avoid offending the academic/client ego ;)

h

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Re: [WSG] HR - Presentation or Structure?

2005-07-12 Thread heretic
Hi,

 Incidentally, I'm surprised that more people here haven't jumped in on
 the discussion. Are all other web standards folks on here really in
 agreement that (X)HTML is a visual language by design, or at least has a
 strong bias towards the visual? I would have thought not, but there you
 go...naive little old me...

Well, since you prompt... :)

I see XHTML as a fairly generic method of marking up content according
to meaningful definitions of communication items. We define which bits
of data are headings, paragraphs, etc... but ideally when creating the
XHTML we should have absolutely no thoughts about how it will look
(eg. screen), sound (eg. reader) or feel (eg. braille printer).

When I say generic I mean it's purposefully independent of any
specific deliver/rendering mechanism. Realistically there is a limited
set of options; we don't have a way to have our content spoken by
robots including gestures, intonation and facial expressions. But
within available options XHTML has no bias.

Any bias towards the visual is just a reflection on the fact that
today's computers are mostly used to silently display visual
renderings of information. To put it another way, it's the way we use
the web which puts an emphasis on the visual aspects... it is not the
underlying markup.

The line was definitely blurred with earlier versions of HTML, which
included non-structural elements like FONT, B, I, U, etc. I think -
getting back to the original post - the HR element suffers due to bad
naming.

Horizontal Rule is a visual description of how a separator might
commonly be rendered. Its purpose is to separate two areas of content.
It is not actually a style item, since it provides a clear boundary
between pieces of content which need to be retained at all times. 
Separator is a much better description/definition, but we're not up
to XHTML 2 yet so HR it is.

So... yes, I think HR has a place as content despite the name. I
personally use them between blog posts, since blog posts are a series
of unrelated sections with the same heading level. I tend to hide them
using CSS, replacing them with something I consider more aesthetically
pleasing (eg. a border around the entire post).

But that's also since I expect people with screen readers to disable
CSS. If you're blind you don't need CSS and it's a waste of time and
bandwidth; if you're using a screen zoom you'll stick with the page
design. Both ways there is a clear separator.

h

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--- The future has arrived; it's just not 
--- evenly distributed. - William Gibson
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Re: [WSG] base css

2005-07-05 Thread heretic
Hi,

 Hi Heretic, please explain this. How does setting a % for text-size in body
 prevent the appearance of smaller than 1em font sizes? Is 100% a good
 starting point for body? Enquiring minds want to know.

Basically the idea is this: don't use settings smaller than 1em, for
example don't set text to 0.7em... there's a bug in IE which causes
miniscule text in certain circumstances (nested elements multiply the
fraction, or something like that). So, the smallest text size is 1em
and you go up from there.

The problem with that method is that the text can get very big,
particularly for H1 headings. If you set a % size for body{} then you
reduce the size of all text without losing the advantage of relative
unit settings.

As for the exact % to set on the body, there are many theories;
however I usually settle somewhere between 85-95% since I am partial
to fairly large text anyway.

I'm a little overbuzzed on caffeine so I hope that makes some kind of
sense... my apologies if it did not :)

cheers,

h

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Re: [WSG] base css

2005-07-04 Thread heretic
 plug
 Couldn't help myself  ;)

Patience is a virtue, young padawan ;)

h

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Re: [WSG] base css

2005-07-04 Thread heretic
Hi there,

 what are you guys using as a base css file to start a site with common hacks
 and what not?

These days I invariably kick off with the global whitespace reset (hi
Andrew!) http://leftjustified.net/journal/2004/10/19/global-ws-reset/
...and some controlled whitespace settings.

If I know the base font I'll set that and some default colours, then
set a % text size in the body {}, to avoid any font-size setting
smaller than 1em. I set the font early since different fonts have such
different alphabet lengths and apparent sizes.

If I expect a lot of edits/versions I'll add a comment at the start
with a name/description, version number and date. That does mean I
need to remember to increment the version later, but if you have that
mindset it really isn't hard.

After that it depends on the job, really. I've found the whitespace
reset notably reduces the number of hacks you need to use, though
(assuming of course that you use % and EM for all size settings).

cheers,

h

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Re: [WSG] looking for an accessibility reference on why text-only is bad

2005-06-29 Thread heretic
 We're doing a tender for a client that has requested a text-only
 version of the site, for accessibility reasons. Now, *I* know that
 that's ridiculous and text-only is not an acceptable alternative to an
 accessible site, but I need some good verbage/references to explain
 that (and what we propose instead) but I'm kinda lost for the right
 words.
 Does anyone know of a good online article/resource to help me out?
 Something specific to Australian legislation would be fantastic.

There's nothing inherently wrong with providing a text only
alternative (if there was, we'd have to outlaw alternative stylesheets
too). The problem generally comes from that version missing content or
getting out of date; plus the human problem of getting lazy on the
default site thinking the text site will bail you out.

Text sites are ok if they are generated automatically (so they don't
get out of date) and the original site doesn't bury everything in
Flash or something. In the long run, alternative stylesheets should
replace them.

If you can't auto-generate the text site, then you can probably defeat
the idea based on doubling maintenance costs for the entire life of
the site. The ROI on a compliant site with graceful degradation should
come out to be far higher than trying to maintain the entire site
twice over.

I'm not sure that I've seen much online on the topic, though. So I
guess this didn't really help, sorry :(

h

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Re: [WSG] accesability and backwards compatibility - WAS [Hi there!]

2005-06-21 Thread heretic
 requirement; I have said that if they want an accessible site written in CSS
 they can't have it looking exactly the same in older browsers that don't
 support CSS 2.0 unless I use 'old skool' presentation techniques. Has anyone
 else run into this problem? I suspect there are plenty of people, I'd be
 interested to hear what thoughts others had on this subject. 

I use a wording trick when dealing with this issue: I say very old
browsers are supported via graceful degradation. Supported is a
positive word and doesn't imply that the site will break in old
browsers.

The other thing is to get some idea of browser usage in your target
market. If your site - for whatever reason - has a huge proportion of
users with an old browser, it will be worth putting more effort into a
nicer degradation for that browser.

But I would sacrifice future-robust design for the sake of supporting
old and busted browsers. Roads are not optimised for horse and cart,
after all.

h

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Re: [WSG] Followup to Tuesday's Brisbane Meeting

2005-06-19 Thread heretic
 Sticks, carrots  staying sane: An approach to standards advocacy in
 large organisations and very interesting it was.

You are too kind ;)

 The presentation is online at
 http://weblog.200ok.com.au/2005/06/sticks-carrots-staying-sane.html
 and the video appears to have been successful, so hopefully that will
 be available soon.

Video is still in the works. We'll probably be looking for volunteers
later on to help us caption the sucker...

cheers,

h

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Re: [WSG] CSS List Separator

2005-06-14 Thread heretic
 Wondering how we can get CSS to specifity the spearator used in ordered
 lists (ie: the thing between the list item number and the value of the list
 item). For example... 

As someone has already mentioned,
http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-CSS2/generate.html#counters will eventually
be the way to do this, but right now only Opera natively supports it.
You could test the extent of support for IE that the IE7 script adds:
http://dean.edwards.name/IE7/compatibility/ ...you might be able to
support exact formatting in IE6 and Opera 8.

I guess it depends on your required browser list. If you have to
support Netscape and Firefox as well I'd say you'll be stuck using
standard ordered lists and type=a ordered lists; hide the numbers
using list-style-type: none; then add the exactly-formatted numbering
using Javascript (I'm sure it can be done, but I can't tell you how
;)).

That way, if styles are disabled then you get the closest possible
reproduction of the style; but your average user will probably see the
exact formatting.

If styles are on but javascript is off, you'd have a problem; so you'd
have to use your noscript messages to alert the user.

 I need this ability to replicate government legislation and apparently it
 has to be an EXACT duplicate. 

I'm assuming of course this is entirely non-negotiable.. if they can
handle an extra full stop in there you could insert the extra
formatting, it wouldn't be pretty, but it would mark the difference
between : and ) points.

Not sure that helps... sorry :-/

h

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Re: [WSG] the use of reset buttons on forms

2005-06-14 Thread heretic
 Seriously: how many people enter data into a form and go so completely
 wrong that they want to erase everything they have just done and start
 over new?

Some users may want to do that; alternatively some users will change
their minds about submitting at all and do not trust simply closing
the page - they want to see the form blanked out.

Or if they've accidentally entered their postal address into street
address fields and vice versa...
 
 On the other hand, how many people *accidentally* press the reset
 button when they actually wanted to hit the submit button? 

On some forms I've used CSS to make the Submit button much larger and
a different colour/border than the Reset button to lower the chances
of confusing the two... you can also add a JavaScript behaviour to get
a confirmation prompt (enhancing the interface and all that).

regarding just hitting refresh

Many users won't think like that. Plus, if you're stepping through a
series of forms you might lose your session/variables and have to
start over. Or you might have a form inside a frameset, so hitting the
refresh button will reset the frameset and take you to the default
content, which might be some considerable number of clicks away from
where you were.

In the end I guess it's a question which draws heavily on context -
what kind of data is being entered? How are the users arriving at the
form? Is it a confidential survey which they might decide not to
submit after all?

Just my 2c :)

h

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Re: [WSG] Making PDF and Word files accessible

2005-06-03 Thread heretic
Hi there,

 My first question is that if I convert the PDF files to HTML to make
 them more accessible, am I right in thinking that this is only half my
 job done? If the original file wasn't marked up correctly in the first
 place before being saved as PDF (with headings, etc) does this mean
 that its still not really accessible?

As an extremely broad generalisation, yes - bad source gets bad
output. However every case is different so you'll have to check your
resulting (X)HTML to make sure it's standards compliant/accessible.
 
 Secondly, with the Word documents, if there is an easier way to convert
 them to HTML? At the moment I am saving as HTML from Word, taking them
 into Dreamweaver and using 'Clean up Word HTML'. 

Try http://textism.com/wordcleaner/  I've found it's pretty good,
esp. in conjunction with the DW tricks you mention.

If you have a large amount of this sort of work, you might like to
invest in http://cita.disability.uiuc.edu/software/office/

cheers

h

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--- http://www.200ok.com.au/
--- The future has arrived; it's just not 
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Re: [WSG] Definition lists for comments in blogs

2005-05-27 Thread heretic
 dtAt x:xxpm so-and-so said:/dt
 ddblah blah blah/dd

Accurate I suppose although I'm a bit undecided about numbering
inserted as content. Similarly been thinking about markup for search
engine results.

 ol
 liAt x:xxpm so-and-so said:
  blockquoteblah blah blah/blockquote
 /li
 /ol

Thinking this through q and blockquote mark up sections of
content which did not originate from the document's author. So I guess
this is semantically correct on the basis that the hosting site did
not create the content.

Thinking back to my search results scenario, the document summary
could be considered a quote as well.

Hmmm. Mental cogs grinding. Hang on, it's supposed to be friday night ;)

h

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Re: [WSG] A way to skip a Flash-intro if Flash is not installed?

2005-05-24 Thread heretic
 I thought that if Flash wasn't installed, the browser would prompt you
 to download and install it rather than just displaying the alternate
 content? 

Not necessarily - plus many browsers now give the option to *disable*
the plugin which may result in different behaviour. For example I use
Opera 8 with plugins disabled; which simply returns the alternate
content (if any) as per specification.

What I've found is most Flash sites just return a blank screen (oddly
enough, they don't turn up in Google much either).

h

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Re: [WSG] frames

2005-05-12 Thread heretic
hi,

 Can anyone tell me if/when it is 'OK' to use frames?  Since the W3C spec
 still includes them, I wondered (if) when it was considered legit to employ
 them - on a par with tables, which are avoided at all costs, except when
 displaying 'tabular data'.  So I assume the W3C have included frames in the
 spec for some good reason?
 An example URL (or two) would be great.
 Please don't turn this into a rant (or worse) - it's a serious question.

Frames are not inherently evil, it's more that people tend to use them
very badly. It's sort of fashionable to abhor frames, too ;) I've
heard it all, since I am currently stuck with them at work.

You'll find that a lot of major portal applications and content
management systems tend to produce framesets (or use them for their
admin interface), so it's not like they're about to vanish.

On top of that, a frameset which validates will not look right. eg If
you want invisible frame borders you're basically stuck with invalid
documents (if anyone can show a technique to the contrary I'd be very
happy :)).

The key problem is that you have to leave off the DOCTYPE, however you
can mark everything up so that it *works* even though it doesn't
validate.

The key things to do are 
1) keep the frameset as simple as possible, 
2) ensure you title each frame appropriately
[http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10-HTML-TECHS/#frame-names],
3) avoid nesting framesets, and 
4) make sure the noframes includes links to all framed documents. if
nothing else, search engine bots generally don't read framesets, they
read the noframes.

No doubt I'll need to retreat to a fireproof bunker now ;)

cheers,

h

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Re: [WSG] realistic placement of 'high contrast' 'text too small?' links?

2005-05-10 Thread heretic
Hi Jamie,

 Aside from this though, the links are in the same size as the body text,
 wouldn't a high contrast link need to be massive and bold? There's no WAY
 anyone can do that on a high profile site, surely? 
 What to do? Any help and ideas would be great, thanks in advance, 

I'd suggest giving marketing the top left to do as they will, but keep
the top right to do as you will. Remind them that the average user
scans diagonally from top left to bottom right on the first glance, so
their prime spot is at the top left.

Someone looking for an alternative design will probably be a little
more motivated to scan the screen - having watched users with page
zoom software, they are probably faster and certainly more thorough
than the average user. They will more than likely find links at the
top right.

If marketing are having trouble swallowing the idea that the site
needs some functionality as well as sales pitch, you can fall back on
arguments of general usability (backed by legislation).

You could also change the pitch to site customisation for all users.
Change the links into one link to a preferences page - Customise font
colour and size or something. That way it's not for a small subset of
users, it's for everyone. The prime users will still be that small
percentage, but you can argue that actually everyone will use it.

Hope that helps.

cheers,

h

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Re: [WSG] Headings within ul Navigation

2005-05-05 Thread heretic
 Does anyone know whether it's correct to use headings in your navigation? 

I'd say it's not correct; although I'd counterpoint by saying that
nested lists imply the sort of structure I think you're trying to
define.

That is... the nested lists are one level down from the containing
LI.  So adding the headings is doubling up, semantically speaking.

Plus, headings should be attached to content; which they aren't in the list.

h

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Re: [WSG] IMAGE(was Mystical belief etc)

2005-04-21 Thread heretic
 I would argue that in a heartbeat - when you're talking about an
 architectural or otherwise design showcase site - what designer is going to
 give half a though to blind or visually impaired users?  Quite honestly, in
 a situation like this site... who cares about them? - it's not for people
 who are blind or visually impaired.

hmm. I think you place far too much stock in selling the image when
you talk about architecture. Your argument seems to be that
architecture is solely about aesthetics and so architects' sites don't
need to be accessible.

Maybe architecture is different in america, but here in australia
architects write the construction specification which has very little
to do with how anything looks. Yes, aesthetics are a really
significant part of the job; however so is function... and if they
forget the wheelchair ramps they're in some serious trouble.

In your email there is an implication that blind people don't need
architects. Errr... yes they do, just like anyone else who needs to
build something! If they go to a flash-only architect's site... as far
as they are concerned, the architect is incompetent. So I guess it
does help them make a choice.

So... I would say a better attitude would be that the purely-visual
showcase section of their website doesn't have to be accessible; but
the rest of it does need to be accessible and the HTML site needs to
sell their services just as effectively as the Flash site.

It's not just for blind people, either. By reflex I went into the HTML
version of the site, then backed out and went into the Flash site.
Then I remembered to switch Flash back on. It's not just vision
impaired users who don't want Flash! :)

An art gallery site might argue that the pictures don't need to be
accessible because no matter what, they can't make it possible for a
blind person to see them. BUT they must have a site which allows a
blind person to find out their phone number and address, so they can
come in and buy an artwork for their significant other.


Anyway, that's *my* two cents :)

cheers,

h

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Re: [WSG] IMAGE(was Mystical belief etc)

2005-04-21 Thread heretic
 So, the point is, to say that 'Flash is awful because it's not accessible'
 and all that stuff is to completely miss the point - it isn't for folk with
 disabilities - the html option is.
 Surely?

I'd say Flash is mostly a problem because it frequently breaks all
usability and accessibility guidelines AND it's the only thing on the
site. Which is fine if your site has absolutely no serious purpose,
but not good if you're a business.

Not that Flash is incapable of being created in an accessible manner
or anything; just that it is a format which lends itself more to art
than communication.

As I've taken to saying... there's a reason it's called Flash and
not Substance ;)

Most of it boils down to how you use it... just like PDF, it's ok if
used carefully; but terrible when used for vil ;)

cheers,

h

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Re: [WSG] Mystical belief in the power of Web Standards, Usability, and tableless CSS

2005-04-20 Thread heretic
 http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com/biggest-web-design-mistakes-in-2004.html
 What do you think?

Well... the piece would would have made sense if his point was you
still need to do this, but you need to filter the way you tell the
client. Instead, the implication here is that we should stop
bothering with web standards since there's no financial return (which
is utterly incorrect anyway).

The whole which brand of hammer demonstrates a lack of understanding
of the process. Standards would equate to building methods, not tools.
Our *tools* are the editors and graphics packages we use, along with
validators etc.

So... I'm not all that impressed. The idea is sound, but the conclusion is bad.

h

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Re: [WSG] skip flash intro question

2005-04-17 Thread heretic
hi there,

 I'm wondering if a site would be more accessible if the flash intro (never
 mind how it's a bad idea to have a flash intro!) skipped automatically if
 the viewer had seen the intro before.  I'm also wondering if I could detect
 browser for the sight impaired and skip the intro then too.

I'd suggest a couple of broad guidelines for Flash intros:

1) Avoid if possible :)
2) Ensure the skip link is not embedded in the Flash itself.
3) Ensure the OBJECT tag has alternate content for users with Flash
disabled (not to mention search bots).

If you want to auto-detect something I'd suggest detecting whether
Flash is enabled (script gurus tell me this is possible) and skip if
it's not. Again, remember to include alternate content.

cheers,

h

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Re: [WSG] Skip Navigation Visibility

2005-04-17 Thread heretic
 Oh Damn, I guess I will have to make it visible again. I have only tested
 it on FF, IE6 and IE5.

FYI, on the first tab Opera 8 beta 3 jumps to the name input at the bottom.

h

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[WSG] Re: Hidden Content

2005-03-30 Thread heretic
 Flash actually is searchable. 

Hmm. Does it have to be a specific version of flash, built a specific
way? Just thinking of claims that flash is accessible, which
actually means flash mx can be accessible if the developer really
knows what they are doing; and the user knows how to use it, has the
latest plugin and doesn't have flash disabled.

 If your site is entirely Flash, it _is_ a good 
 idea to have an (X)HTML-based alternative for 
 those who don't have, or won't install, the 
 plug-in (the number of which is declining daily). 

The flip side is that an increasing number of users now
disable/selectively enable Flash content. Opera and Firefox both have
easy ways to control plugins; and now that Flash ads are the new
popups, people are motivated to disable Flash. As you can probably
guess, I'm one of those people :)

It's amazing how many sites have absolutely no content at all when
Flash is disabled - not even a turn flash on message.

h

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[WSG] Re: Hidden Content[This Was Not My Idea]

2005-03-30 Thread heretic
 Sometimes I think this web design game is more like a (neurotic) jigsaw
 puzzle than an intelligent occupation :-)

*laughs* ... only sometimes? ;)

h

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[WSG] Re: you've been framed!

2005-03-28 Thread heretic
 Let me get it off my chest - I use frames sometimes!

You're not alone, although admittedly I didn't get to make the decision :)
 
 However, what I want to know is, which browsers don't support frames? 

As far as I know all of the common browsers support frames, but you're
forgetting that it's not just browsers you need to think about.

Many search engine bots act like Lynx - ie. what you see in Lynx is
roughly what a search engine sees. I know for sure that Google uses
the noframes content in its result listings.

It's no big deal though, just make sure you have meaningful content
inside your noframes, including a link to your navigation document.
Give your framesets meaningful names/titles and you should be ok.

I'm not entirely sure about handheld and mobile devices, although I
think someone has already suggested they may not support frames. Given
that I'm highly unfashionable and don't use my mobile for anything
other than phone calls and sms I can't really comment :)

cheers
h

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Re: [WSG] SEO, Semantics, and Web Standards

2005-02-24 Thread heretic
hi,

 I recently paid a visit to a certain SEO forum and had a look at the
 forums there.
 Whilst reading the threads, I couldn't help but be shocked and appalled
 at the FUD being spread there.

Most SEO seems to be either complete FUD or ideas with very
questionable sources/backup info. Separating fact and fiction is hard,
since not all search engines are as helpful as Google
(http://www.google.com.au/webmasters/seo.html).

 So can I hear it from the experts (ie: you guys) what the truth behind
 SEO really is. Are semantics worth anything?

Well, it's hard to find the hard data to back this up... but what does
come up consistently is this: semantically-correct markup will improve
rankings. I can't say definitively how much it will improve, but it
does seem to work :)

Specific tags which are apparently weighted quite highly:
- heading tags, esp a page's H1
- the link text in a/a tags
- the contents of a page's title/title 

The other general principle I have heard many times is that search
bots will see pages much the same way as a text-only browser like
Lynx. So, anything requiring JavaScript (including js-only popups)
probably won't be indexed, convoluted URLs (ie. really long nasty ones
from dynamic apps) are often truncated, any media object with no
alternative content won't be indexed.

Flash content is invisible, at least anecdotally (my favourite coffee
supplier doesn't turn up in Google at all for that reason).
 
I don't have hard data to back this stuff up - but from what I've seen
I do believe it :)

 ...Is it worth sinking so low as to use 302s on Googlebot and display:
 none; on keyword paragraphs, what about mini-linkfarms (a table
 style=display: none; (not a ul) full of hyperlinks to other pages
 on other sites full of similar content) just to get a slightly higher
 pagerank?

Theoretically speaking you can get caught out using such techniques
and find yourself blacklisted. In reality I don't know of any specific
cases, but personally I just wouldn't take the risk.

Besides that, you're better off spending that time and effort creating
compelling content which people will link to :)
 
 Perhaps we should petition Google to produce a Semantic Cralwer that
 looks for a special HTTP Response Header or page meta telling the
 spider that the page is semantic and doesn't use any tricks.

...which would only work for bots/searches which honoured that tag.
MSN apparently doesn't honor nofollow or robots.txt instructions,
based on a conversation I had with a colleague yesterday (their aging
server is being hammered by MSN, using up valuable sessions).

Hope this helps... 

h

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Re: [WSG] accessible ways to avoid spam

2005-02-23 Thread heretic
 I'm wondering if any of you have any tips on creative ways to keep
 spambots from harvesting email addresses on you page, and still keep
 then accessable to diabled people and text-browsers.  Here's my thoughts

If you only need to protect a small number of email addresses, there's
another approach: throwaway email addresses.

I use www.sneakemail.com email addresses on various sites (not to
mention email lists with public archives)... when an email address
gets too much spam, I just kill it off. The real email addresses are
never visible, so they can't be harvested.

For the user, the only downside is the email address looks a bit odd.
It's not suitable for long-term contacts, but then it shouldn't need
to be used more than a couple of times before that relationship is
established.

Of course you can protect the email address using encoding tricks and
forms, etc; it still makes a good fallback position to be able to get
rid of the email address.

Just a thought, anyway :)

h

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Re: [WSG] Peoplesoft and standards

2005-02-10 Thread heretic
Hi there,

 I am not too sure where else to ask about this. I have recently been part of
 discussions about the Peoplesoft application that we and many Universities
 use (not my fault) and its adherence to accessibility recommendations, and
 web standards. Peoplesoft claims to adhere to section 508.. Is this true?
 Looking at the default framed, JS dependant, table ridden code I don't
 believe it.
 Does anyone have any experience with Peoplesoft applications?

We have PeopleSoft portal/financial systems deployed at work and my
experience matches yours - they claim section 508 compliance but the
*reality* is that they do not produce accessible or
standards-compliant output.

I can only assume the 508 thing was an automated check since no human
would ever give it a pass.

The key problem as far as I can tell is that most of the interface is
*hard coded*, so clients can't actually fix the problems even if they
are committed and willing to spend the resources.

To make it worse, most organisations quickly realise that any
modifications made will have to be redone every time PS issues a new
patch or version increment. The result - orgs will lock down and
refuse to make any modifications which are not absolutely required for
the system to function.

In short, I don't know how PS justifies their claims to accessibility;
but they don't meet anything which could be described as good
practice.

The best thing PS clients can do is ensure that PS are aware that they
are not meeting requirements in terms of standards/accessibility. This
should be one factor included in decisions about whether to pay for
upgrades. Big companies only care when they might lost money.

All strictly IMHO, not an official stance of my employer ;)

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Re: [WSG] accessibilty and responsibility

2005-02-10 Thread heretic
Hi all,

Jumping in on all these architectural analogies... nobody seems to
have made this point: ultimately EVERYONE has some level of
responsibility, since everyone is and will remain involed.

Let's continue the analogy, for a new building:

1) The government sets out physical access requirements for buildings
in broad terms (there are also other bodies which produce building
standards but we'll keep this simple). Web equivalent is the W3C.
Their responsibility is to get the standards right and communicate
them in such a manner that people know what to do. They also need to
keep things in the realm of possibility - W3C has a checkpoint to
ensure that a proposed standard is actually possible, governments do
not specify that venues provide levitating wheelchairs.

2) The architects (and possibly structural engineers) have to
interpret the standards and apply them correctly in the design for the
building. They will have to find the balance between the goals of the
building and the many standards the building will have to meet. They
also have to make sure the building won't fall down ;) The architect
will probably also have to wrangle the interior decorators to ensure
their wonderful additions don't contravene critical requirements.

The web equivalent is the web developer, who has to sit between the
client, the W3C, the graphic designer and the application
developers/programmers. Some people might call this the Web Producer,
but most of us don't get the lofty title nor the lofty pay ;)

3) Then the builders/tradespeople come into the picture. They are
responsible for the actual physical creation of the building according
to the plan. If they don't follow the plan they have failed in their
own responsibility (ignoring the legal horrors of real-world
architecture). Web equivalent is the web/application developer(s) who
actually put the whole thing together.

4) The government inspects and enforces the standards. This area is
starting to take shape for the web, with test cases appearing in
various countries. It is a very weak area, though.

5) Then the public comes into the building. They will be arriving in
wheelchairs which don't levitate, shoes with no grip, they might be
drunk, who knows. Nobody who built the place can make them all wear
decent shoes (so they don't slip on the stairs) nor can they make
everyone's wheelchair levitate. Ultimately people should be allowed to
choose whatever shoes they wear. But, they also have to accept falling
down if they turn up drunk wearing shoes with no grip.

The shoe/wheelchair manufacturers might be grossly negligent but
they'll get away with it. Just like browser manufacturers get away
with failure to comply with standards.


No matter how well any one group/individual conforms to the overall
goals; they will always have a responsibility since their part of the
process must still be done well.

Even if wheelchairs do start levitating, buildings will have to be
designed and built with enough space allowed for them to fly around.
Nobody will ever become free of responsibility.


So 

1) The W3C will always have to make good standards and update them.
2) Clients will always have to resource projects well enough to
facilitate compliance.
3) Web developers will always have to apply standards properly.
4) User Agent manufacturers will always have to conform to standards.
5) Users will always have to maintain a reasonable level of technology
to make use of the standards.

The problem right now? Only (1) and (3) are currently happening with
any level of success; with (3) carrying the hardest tasks.

It's unfair but life is not fair. That's why web developers and
architects like to go to the pub ;)

h

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Re: [WSG] XHTML Strict alternative to ol start=11

2005-02-07 Thread heretic
Hi there,

 ol start=11liFirst result/li
 liSecond.../li
 ...
 /ol

My two cents: use this method. It's one of those times that the
standards are too strict without providing a robust alternative (more
the fault of browsers than standards, though).

I would support the idea of using Transitional on those pages, taking
a very clear case to the client based on *the best result for the
user*. If they are serious about doing the right thing by their users
they should be open to discussing an approved dispensation for that
specific use.

At the end of the day, my guess is a user with serious accessibility
needs would rather the page actually worked than have it break but
conform to the perfect standard.

The other argument is that in terms of semantics, the results set is
one long list. The semantic meaning of each point is a certain order
in those results (regardless of the fact the list has been split into
smaller pages for ease of use). For that reason I'd avoid using a
table or definition list.

I guess this really sums up a sort of pragmatic fallback approach:
when pure standards fail, go with the solution that works and is the
best actual result for the user.

If the client refuses to budge on the standard, I guess you're dealing
with Cargo Cult Standards and you'll have to use a DL or table
(probably a table, semantically a little dubious but at least it gives
structure :)).

Hope this helps.

h

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Re: [WSG] Browser Checks

2005-02-07 Thread heretic
 This is more of a general standards question, but if you are designing a
 page for the public in general (in my case a university) at what point (
 % wise _or_ # of browsers) do you say 'Okay this is the site, no more
 trying to accommodate obscure browsers/older versions of browsers. ? I
 know there is no stand pat answer but I would like to know what
 particular people use and if there is a common thinking.

Given that you have a university client...

1) Find out what is in their standard desktop install right now, AND
also what will be in their next release. That way you'll get an idea
of how the standard install is skewing the stats. eg. you might find a
disproportionate amount of IE5.5 or Netscape 6 users, since that's
what everyone on campus is using. The good news is that standard
installs can be updated - that's why you do them.

2) Universities have to support everyone to some extent, although
there are still limits. The key term I'd use (for any client) is
supported via graceful degradation - don't say a browser is
unsupported, since that sounds negative. Instead use @import and
other tricks to make sure old browsers get an absolutely vanilla - but
functional - version of the site. Voila. supported.

3) If you're looking at % of market, rank each browser in terms of
incoming or outgoing. A new browser with a 5% share is very
different from an ancient browser with its last 4% trailing away. That
will help.

4) Watch out for obscured browsers - Opera for instance is set to
identify as IE6, which makes it a major pain to get real stats if your
browser sniffer doesn't see past that. Similarly, some versions of
Safari will identify as Mozilla in many stats setups (it has a long
and strange ID string). You might also want to collate/collapse the
many variations of Firefox and Mozilla - both tend to fragment really
badly so to get a real idea you have to add all the bits up.


Hope that helps.

h

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Re: [WSG] standards and meta tags

2005-02-03 Thread heretic
[meta-data]
 Good Lord!  You could spend your whole life devoted to this area! :-)

you could, very easily. in fact, if you have major questions about
meta-data i recommend asking a librarian :)

when you get into serious meta-data and controlled vocabularies, you
discover an entire industry.

h

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Re: [WSG] Has news.com.au redesigned to Standards?

2005-01-23 Thread heretic
 I had a pleasant surprise this morning when I saw this redesign.  Good to
 see another big site making the effort.

Mmm, I had a pleasant surprise; followed by disappointment; followed
by a rude shock; followed by sustained aggravation.

Pleasant surprise: hey, looks nice.

Disappointment: not a single heading tag, paragraph or unordered list
to be found.

Rude shock: crashes Opera. Restart Opera - crashes instantly. Have to
lose the other windows as well to get back to the site. Hope the error
does not reoccur.

Sustained aggravation: They've included a time-based REFRESH on their
feedback page. So if you take more than a couple of minutes to give
real feedback, the page reloads and you lose the information you are
trying to send to them. They got my short, cranky third attempt :)


Looks to me like cargo cult standards - they know they're supposed to
use CSS, but they don't actually know why. Which is how you get a
href=blah class=h1

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Re: [WSG] Site Tracking and Validation

2005-01-10 Thread heretic
Hi,

 SO, question... is there a tracker that I can use that will still allow my
 page to validate?

On some sites where I have no server log access, I use Nedstats
(http://www.nedstatbasic.net/service/) with my own rewritten version
of their code. Validates ok and gives reasonable info. It does require
a little graphic, though.

Ultimately, real server log stats will always be better :)

-h

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Re: [WSG] ATO - shame shame shame...

2005-01-06 Thread heretic
I just fired that page up in NN7, but rejected their
applet/certificate. I got this priceless error message:

You have chosen not to trust the ATO.
Please close all browser windows and start again.

You know, I never did trust the ATO ;)

 Can I sue the ATO over this - like the SOCOG case.
 I can't get my digital certificate without installing IE again...
 I dont want NN either (its good, but I love my firefox)...
 Can they force me to download IE to complete my business registration?

This is actually a good question, particularly if you view IE as a
security risk (which many experts clearly do). I wonder perhaps if
being forced to install software would constitute undue hardship?

You could probably get the ATO into HREOC arbitration.

-h

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Re: [WSG] Slightly OT... Interview with IE Dev team

2005-01-06 Thread heretic
 How does microsoft benefit by offering IE at all?  It's free.  Updates
 are free.  It costs them bandwidth for downloads and updates.  It costs
 them staff time to code, fix, patch, etc.  and they don't get a dime off it.

Rhetorical I guess but it's a good point. MS benefits from ubiquity.
MS Office has become almost universal because everyone has it, so
everyone just keeps buying it. They don't want people to break that
lack of thought by using some other company's product to browse the
web.

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Re: [WSG] Intro and first question

2005-01-05 Thread heretic
hi,

 I haven't spent a lot of time worrying about the disabled or impaired
 users of my projects because of the youth-focussed intent of them.

Just a thought on demographics: there are plenty of young people with
relevant disabilities. Plus there are people with technological
disadvantages or acquired/temporary disabilities (eg. broken arm) that
wouldn't call themselves disabled but actually have similar needs.

*shrug* you may have already considered that, but I thought it was
worth mentioning.

cheers,

h

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Re: [WSG] Is sending abusive spam doing standards good or harm?

2005-01-04 Thread heretic
 http://members.optusnet.com.au/~night.owl/morons.html
 Effective design principles would dictate that the whole point of the page
 is to get the information to the target audience, but really does it? Its
 offensively written, rude, long and even a bit angry

I've seen this page before and had a good laugh at it - personally I
see it more as someone having a major vent about the web design habits
which drive them crazy. Obviously it's rude - I seriously doubt it was
written as a serious attempt to change anybody's ways.

Your point is good though - anyone seriously expecting results would
be crazy to take such an approach.

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--- The future has arrived; it's just not 
--- evenly distributed. - William Gibson
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Re: [WSG] being framed!

2005-01-04 Thread heretic
  I'm having a bit of trouble using frames without a border and getting the
  frameset to validate.
 This may be of interest
 http://www.stopdesign.com/log/2003/03/04/swf_seeking_vwm.html

Hard as it is to accept, borderless framesets just won't validate. The
best thing to do is go for something which is accessible but doesn't
validate. Anecdotally, so long as your framesets aren't too complex
and they are titled properly, it shouldn't be a big deal for
special-needs users.

It's probably the only time I would ever give up on valid code :)

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--- The future has arrived; it's just not 
--- evenly distributed. - William Gibson
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Re: [WSG] rationalising my refusal to support IE/NS4

2004-12-21 Thread heretic
Hi Nick,

We successfully moved NN4 off our primary support list a couple of
years ago, despite the lingering in-house installs due to NN4 once
upon a time being the standard browser.

My thoughts on your situation

 I have a requirements document here that I'm quoting for, that
 mentions that the web site should be optimised for IE4 and Netscape 4.

Does it actually say optimised? I'm guessing yes. We convinced
people that you should optimise for browsers which are current
market leaders. Note that doesn't say most common, just market
leaders :)

 I would like to educate them on why 
 supporting these dinosaurs is not a good idea.

To be honest, don't get too hung up on actually getting them to
Believe In Better Browsers, since the people who make decisions and
hold the purse strings generally don't really care. They might like to
feel good, but they'll skip that if they have to.

Wording is your friend here. We used phrases like legacy browsers
will be supported through graceful degradation. Meaning you are still
supporting NN4 - just in a particular way. This is like car companies
who stock parts for old models for decades, since there are still a
few people out there driving the vehicles.

Semantics are your friend - you're not saying anything about NN4 being
good or bad, just that it's a legacy browser. Most managers
understand that means it might even have been shit-hot once, but now
it's behind the times and we're just letting it run out its life.
Meanwhile you've used two very positive words - supported and
graceful. Avoid using negative words since managers might latch on
to them.

If questioned you can talk about different browsers offering more
efficient protype and development paths but be very careful going
down that path - you might get caught supporting the *most popular*
browser.

A potentially winning argument is quoting two prices: one to build a
site which works normally in NN4/IE4; and one which supports those
browsers via graceful degradation. Since the graceful degradation
price is likely to be quite significantly lower, they might vote with
their budget.

If the site has any form of secure content you can also talk about the
encryption support, or lack of it, in old browsers. This argument
alone can send IE4/5.0 flying off the support list faster than you can
say privacy breach and litigation.

None of this is foolproof though and you can get caught out playing
this game - there is always the risk that they'll misinterpret what
you're saying and tell you to just support the most common browser
and you're in IE6 hell.

So... I hope this helps; and I feel your pain :)

cheers,

h

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--- The future has arrived; it's just not 
--- evenly distributed. - William Gibson
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Re: [WSG] Dreamweaver : was [ Standards Macromedia Contribute]

2004-12-16 Thread heretic
Hi,

Michael Wilson wrote:
 What would you consider to be the key standards and accessibility
 settings for Dreamweaver that some of us might be overlooking?

The settings I recommend to people at work

Accessibility tab:
Enable all of the Show Attributes when Inserting options

Code Format tab.
Set Default Tag Case to lowercase
Set Default Attribute Case to lowercase...
Set Centering to Use DIV tag

Code Rewriting tab. Enable...
Fix invalidly nested and unclosed tags
Encode , , , and  in attributed values using 
Encode special characters in URLs using %

New Document tab.
Set the Make Document XHTML Compliant option.

I also give instructions on how to change the default HTML file
extension from .htm to .html but that's more about our naming
convention than anything else.


Obviously many people on this list will already have done this; but we
have a lot of users with varying skill levels creating web pages, so
we try to get DW to prompt them for extra info. We have support
material and training to tell them what it all means... of course, you
can lead a horse to water but you can't make them pay attention in
accessibility class :)

h

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--- The future has arrived; it's just not 
--- evenly distributed. - William Gibson
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Re: [WSG] Standards Macromedia Contribute

2004-12-16 Thread heretic
 You can edit pages which contain SSI's, just not any of the content IN
 the SSI's. This is the perfect way to lock parts of the design you
 don't want the client to touch. No need for DW Templates at all! :)

Slightly OT, but anyway: Is there a way to get DW to display the
contents of SSIs on a remote server, while editing on a workstation?

h
-- 
--- http://cheshrkat.blogspot.com/
--- The future has arrived; it's just not 
--- evenly distributed. - William Gibson
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Re: [WSG] Dreamweaver : was [ Standards Macromedia Contribute]

2004-12-15 Thread heretic
Hi all (hmm, this would be a de-lurk..),

  Also, I must admit I'm growing rather weary of all the negative remarks
  about Dreamweaver. From my humble perspective I use Dreamweaver MX 2004
 I must say I agree. As with all tools, you find out how best to use them and
 what (if any) downsides there are.  I must say I rarely use design view with
[snip]

Not sure if this has been mentioned already, but we have to remember
that DW comes with most of its key standards/accessibility options
*switched off by default*.

So a misleading message can go out to the less savvy people out there
- they may think they're creating standards-compliant/accessible pages
because they're using DW MX2004, when actually they'd have to change a
large number of preferences for this to become the truth.

Part of the idea of a WYSIWYG is to create a certain output without
the user having to be an expert. You still have to be an expert to
create valid pages with DW; and as you note don't bother trying to use
design view on a div-based design.

Realistically... we probably could have stuck with HomeSite :)

All opinion, obviously.

h

-- 
--- http://cheshrkat.blogspot.com/
--- The future has arrived; it's just not 
--- evenly distributed. - William Gibson
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