Sitepoint tries to figure out how well the Web2.0 works for blind people.
Basically, no US gov website, and none that loves blind people, will be able to implement a AJAX-only site – a noscript verson will have to be available. And this stems from the fact that it’s too hard to make the various screenreaders act in a standard way in response to changes to the document. Which sounds to me to be a perfect problem for World Wide Web Consortium standardisation.
FogBugz 4Â½ has been released, so that amazing new ajax features can ship:
Who doesn’t like chocolate?
okay, no, seriously, what? Why are we skipping over the sandbox and into the browser?
Here’s an idea: rather than sending advertisements to user’s computers, why not send scripting code to calculate [the valuable thing, like, I dunno, pi or hacking the encryption on HDDVD or something] and send the results back to your central computer?
Come on, you know you want to. And it’s free!
Google goes after the Yahoo Geocities amateur page hosting business, with Google Page Creator. It includes a web-based AJAX-based WSYWIG page designer, themes that look remarkably Blogger-ish (no surprise I suppose) and hosting at googlepages.com.
In beta, natch.
The other day I was working on upgrading the eVision web site to the new look (as well as the latest WordPress 2.02). While I’ve been using HTML for more than a decade, I have to admit, my grasp on CSS is patchy. I’m still picking it up. So it took a bit of wrestling to get it to (more or less) match the design provided by the graphic designer. The big graphic still isn’t in quite the right spot, but no matter, it’s still a vast improvement over the old one.
I did learn a couple of (possibly) valuable tips:
- In Firefox, the background-image of a div doesn’t display in the portion of the div that has nothing in it. In my case, I had a UL (which forms the dropdown menu) in there, right justified. The background only appeared in the left hand bit in IE, not Firefox. I had to add a to it to get it to appear… and then I had to specify a height, so the background image would go to the right height, instead of just the nominal height of the non-existent text.
- Font sizes… after complaints from a colleague who is keen on big text, I had to remove all the references to pt sizes in text, in favour of em, so that IE would resize the text when asked. Firefox handles this even if you’ve got all pt sizes.
- I also learnt I need to study CSS a bit more. The next projects will be doing some more upgrades and new WordPress themes, I think. I’ve got a few that need doing.
Two new AJAX have been released recently.
Yahoo AJAX Patterns has code and a set of patterns published under a BSD/Creative Commons license.
IBM’s AJAX Toolkit Framework is IBMs version.
Of course, Microsoft have their own version, called Atlas that’s built into ASP.NET 2.0.
Am I the only person who uses Alt-D to get to the address bar in Firefox? I suppose I could also use Ctrl-L, or F6, but I’ve settled for Alt-D, probably because it can be easily done with one hand — my left hand — and is close to the bottom of the keyboard, making it easy to find.
Problem is some web sites implement access keys that conflict with this. The default setup for MediaWiki sites uses Alt-D as a shortcut for deleting pages! Thankfully it goes to an Are You Sure confirmation before actually doing it. They seem to have disabled it on Wikipedia, but others still have it.
Likewise, Horde (web mail) uses Alt-B to Blacklist mail senders, conflicting with Firefox’s Bookmarks menu.
Firefox doesn’t appear to have an about:config tweak for turning all such keys off, though altering accessibility.accesskeycausesactivation to False will merely put focus on the link with the access key, not “click” on it.
This article discusses access keys in detail, including listing the requirements for access keys on UK government sites. Alt-5 for FAQ… hmmm.
I’ve been playing around with the NVU web page editor, an open source application available for Windows, Mac and Linux. So far it’s good stuff, certainly rivalling Frontpage, and heaps better for new users looking for something cheap or free other than MS Word (which has well-known problems).
Now up to version 1.0, it probably isn’t on a par with Dreamweaver, but for basic WYSIWYG web page editing, definitely worth a look.
Are Microsoft out of their minds? Why else would they create a blogging service that gives you permalinks like this:
If they’re going to make it illegible, they should at least make it short (eg no more than 70 characters or so, so it won’t break in emails.)
Brian Jones on why Microsoft Office 2000 (and later) produces such godawful HTML:
Our scenario was that people would start saving â€œdocsâ€ as HTML on their intranet sites and browse them with the browser. We viewed the browser as â€œelectronic paperâ€ that we had to â€œprintâ€ to (i.e. perfect fidelity). We had already got a lot of feedback from our Word97 Internet Assistant add-in that any loss of fidelity when saving as a web page was unacceptable and a â€œbugâ€. As it turned out, this usage scenario did not become as common as we thought it would and a zillion conspiracy theories formed about why we â€œreallyâ€ did it. Many people assumed that a better approach would have been to save as â€œcleanâ€ HTML even if the result did not look exactly like what the user saw on the screen. We felt that the core office applications (other than FrontPage) were not really meant to be web page authoring tools, so we focused on converting docs to exact replicas in HTML. We didn’t want people losing any functionality when saving to HTML so we had to figure out a way to store everything that could have existed in a binary document as HTML. We thought we were clever creating a bunch of “mso-” css properties that allowed us to roundtrip everything. HTML didn’t take off in the same way we had expected, and today, the main use for Office HTML is for interoperability on the clipboard, though of course the biggest use is within e-mail (WordMail).
None of this explains why Office 2003’s “Filtered HTML” is so riddled with proprietary tags, though. Admittedly, a filtered HTML file is smaller than a roundtrip HTML file out of Word, but it’s still hugely bigger than the type of HTML you’d write from scratch (or in a web page editor such as Dreamweaver or Frontpage), and the source code is unreadable.
To my mind, Filtered HTML should be just that: HTML, filtered in such a way that the basic structure of the document is preserved, but none of the junk that Word (or whatever) stores along with it. Leave that for the roundtrip HTML — though I can’t see the appeal in that either, since if you want to store documents in a viewable form on the great InterWeb, PDF is the way to go. Or just store it in the native Office format for internal use, when you know every user will have the application or a viewer.
(By the way, when I was trying out the roundtrip HTML the other day, while reloading, Word presented me with a strange warning that it was going to query from some nonsense “Z” table to put data in the document. Bizarro. The test document did quote some SQL, but this would seem to suggest the roundtrip HTML isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.)
Anyway, Brian’s full article is about the progression of the Office formats from binary in the 90s into the XML to be used in the next version. Well worth a read if you want some background on the history, and where they’re going now.