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Archive: 18 June 2004

Elemental Nomenclature

A while back (so I’m slow), Andy Clark did a bit of digging and compiled a list of the most common ID names used to label pieces of layouts.  I’m out of step on every count except for the footer.  Does that mean I march to a different drummer?  Probably, given my musical tendencies.

Andy’s work interested me quite a bit, not least because he actually sifted through the markup of forty sites (this one among them) to compile his list.  I was also happy to see someone taking a practical approach to the question of naming conventions.  From time to time people ask me about CSS best practices.  While Andy’s conclusions aren’t necessarily the final word on naming best practices, they are a useful starting point for such inquisitors.  Some complained that by listing the ‘best’ (read: most common) names, Andy is stifling creativity, which strikes me as being faintly absurd.  Does the existence of blueprints for ranch houses stifle architectural creativity?  I mean, yeah, maybe sometimes they should, but in general I think the world is safe for Dutch Colonials and skyscrapers.

There’s certainly room for more detailed and extensive work on the subject of naming conventions, as well as other best practices (apparently people are souring on that term, but until I hear something better I’ll stick with it).  I just hope that more people do work like Andy’s, looking at what’s been done as opposed to endlessly theorizing.

Andy also mused:

Is it right to stick to ‘content’ and ‘main-nav’ for the sake of our users’ control or is that just too boring? And do we want to make it easy for others to change our precious designs on a whim?

I’m all for it; giving users the ability to restyle this site on a whim is what led me to propose CSS signatures, and employ one on this site.  Does my site design not serve your needs, or bore you?  Create something better suited to your tastes!  I promise I won’t mind; in fact, I’d like to see what you devise.  If a set of ID naming conventions does firm up, I’ll likely adopt it here so visitors can restyle my site consistently with others that use the same nomenclature.  This is, it seems to me, the least I can do.

June 2004
SMTWTFS
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