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Archive: January 2006

Before I Forget

At the risk of being a bit backward-looking, on 21 December 2005 I was quoted in the article “Year in Review: CSS, Standards, Microformats and Flash“.  (And I wasn’t even the one who talked about microformats, Jon!)  This was the second half of a year-end review by Stephen Bryant; part one, “The Highs and Lows of Web Design in 2005“, is also online and quotes many familiar names.  I was going to blog both at the time, and, well… I forgot.

For historical purposes, here’s the whole block of text from which I was quoted, in response to the question “Generally speaking, did you see much progression in the adoption of Web standards this year? In CSS use? Can you give some specific site examples?”:

As in previous years, 2005 saw standards adopted more slowly than I’d have liked, but faster than in previous years.  I think this was the year when it became self-evident that standards-oriented design is the way to go.  I can’t remember the last time I had to defend the practice, and whenever that was, it wasn’t in 2005.  At this point, it’s basically all over but the training.  I think the biggest gap now is between the people who want to go standards-oriented, and their ability to do so.  That’s not an easy gap to bridge, but I think we’ll get there.

I mean, it’s the point now that desktop applications are using XHTML and CSS to drive their layout.  Just recently I discovered that Adium, a multi-service chat client for OS X, uses XHTML+CSS for its chat windows.  [E]very chat session in Adium is just a single XHTML document that’s dynamically updated.  Which means that you can define your own markup and CSS to create your own chat window theme.  It’s amazingly slick and powerful, and some of the themes are just gorgeous.  There are other programs doing similar things, and I expect the trend to continue.

The new-in-2005 CSS-driven sites that immediately come to mind: Apple, Slashdot, Turner Broadcasting, AlterNet, McAfee… and I’m sure there were hundreds of others I missed.

Hopefully this won’t lose me the bonus points Jeremy awarded me.  C’mon, man—at least I didn’t post my answer to the question “Best books, blogs, design? Best CSS layout?”!

Keeping Up Appearances

A quick summary of where I’ll be speaking in the coming months, presented as a public service for the seven of you who care about such things.

  • In March, I’ll be joining the massive herd of folks headed to Austin, TX, for SXSW Interactive.  I’m currently scheduled to be on two panels, with a third likely but not confirmed.  The ones I already know about are “How to Roll Your Own Web Conference” and “Web Standards and Search Engines”.

    That’s right: no CSS.  For whatever reason, as CSS talks have ramped up at SXSW, I’ve not been part of the trend.  I could play the grizzled veteran and mumble something about letting the kids have their shot at fame and glory, but the truth is that I see SXSW as a place to stretch out.  I talk about CSS everywhere else.  In Austin, I kick out other jams.  Can you dig it?

  • In April, I’ll show up at NOTACON right here in sunny Cleveland.  Details are extremely sketchy right now—I don’t even know how many times I’ll be gabbing, let alone what about.  It doesn’t matter, though.  NOTACON is an overclocked monster of a deep-geek weekend, they get fascinating speakers, and the admission price is a steal.  You should be there.

  • Come June, I’ll be delivering the keynote address for @media 2006.  It’s a huge honor, really, especially considering the speaker lineup.  All those amazingly smart, talented, and attractive people to pick from, and I was chosen?  Astounding.

    Odds are very high that I’ll be up on stage for another session or two besides the keynote.  It looks like I won’t be onstage for the CSS3 panel, which is probably all to the good: who really needs to see me up there sobbing quietly about the snail’s-pace progress of the more interesting parts of CSS3?  Nobody, that’s who.

Note that there will also be some new Events Apart coming, but we’re not quite ready to take the wraps off the 2006 lineup.  I’ll let you know when we do.

S5 1.2a1

It’s back: S5 1.2 alpha 1 is now available (177 KB Zip archive), and you can play with either the OSF or XOXO versions of the latest development version if you just want to preview it online.  In addition, I’ve set up a contact address specifically for S5 questions and feedback.  You can find a link to this new address on the main S5 page.

New to S5 1.2:

  • The progress indicator (e.g., 6/10) is now a permalink to the currently-displayed slide.  This will require an update to any S5 1.1-era themes, but it’s a minimal thing.  Granted, the current alpha doesn’t have updated styles to handle the presence of a link.  I’ll get to it.

  • Bug fixes intended to make it more Konqueror-friendly.  I do not know if Konqueror will run S5 1.2.  I do not have access to Konqueror.  The fixes I included were sent to me by helpful S5 users, and may or may not have resolved all problems.  If there are still bugs in S5 when displayed in Konqueror, you are invited to submit bug fixes in the comments, or via the contact address I mentioned before.  Bug reports should be done in the comments, where other Konqueror users can see them, and not via the contact address.

  • Vastly improved integration with Opera.  As chronicled in “Opera and S5 1.1“, S5 was originally intended to be a cross-browser emulation of OperaShow.  As time went on and features were added, the two diverged.  Thanks to efforts by Hallvord Steen, Opera should now be shut out of a lot less of S5 than it was.  In fact, it may well be feature-complete as compared to S5 1.1, and will get most of S5 1.2′s features.  With one possible exception…

  • A “notes” window capability.  The notes view is largely the work of Shaun Inman, who wrote me last week to say, “Hey, I did this.  Interested?”  Was I ever!  I’d been meaning to do it ever since I saw the notes view in Keynote, but Shaun got there first, clever wolf that he is.

    To see this in action, in either the OSF or XOXO versions, hit “n”, or call up the controls and click on the three-line icon on the left.  A new “notes” window will open, looking very much like the “notes” view in Keynote.  This window displays whatever notes the author has created for the current and next slides; these are done by placing content in an element with a class of notes, pretty much exactly like the handout feature from earlier versions of S5.  The notes window also includes timers showing the time elapsed since the presentation was opened and the time elapsed since the current slide was loaded.  There’s also a pauseable countdown timer for those who prefer to keep track of time that way.  (I added the countdown timer.  Yay me!)

    The general idea is that you load up your presentation, open the notes window, and put the presentation up on the projector while keep the notes window on your presentation machine.  (Which is of course only possible if you turn off video mirroring.)  As you move through the slide show, you can see notes to yourself and keep track of time so you don’t run over.  Keen.  I don’t know how much I personally will use the notes, but I’m all over the timers like they were a stack of pancakes and I were Mrs. Butterworth.

    At the moment, the JavaScript that opens the notes window is minimal, so the notes window is fairly chromeless and not resizeable in IE/Win.  It’s also a bit rough in terms of some of its layout, as befits the alpha status.  I’m also considering adding a keyboard command for “fullscreen”, which would maximize all open S5 windows to fill the screen they’re currently occupying, and possibly also strip away the browser chrome.  I did a few experiments along those lines, but wasn’t satisfied with the results, so it didn’t get into this release.

    On a related note, I’m not sure that notes can be made to use with Opera so long as S5 relies on OperaShow, because OperaShow by its very nature makes all browser windows fullscreen.  If there’s a way to get OperaShow to put one window on one monitor, and a second on a second monitor, then that would be the answer.  If not, I’m not sure what to do short of abandoning OperaShow usage entirely, which seems strange and wrong.  But we’ll see.  If nothing else, we can verify that everything in S5 besides the notes feature works in Opera, and push those changes into an S5 1.1.1 release.

One known problem is that when Firefox displays an S5 show using the text/xml or text/xhtml+xml MIME types, which is necessary for slide shows that incorporate things like MathML and SVG, things break because innerHTML ceases to be supported.  I have a proposed fix submitted by an S5 user, but did not get it into 1.2a1.  I plan to correct this before reaching the first beta release.

A number of people have asked for a merging of effects libraries like Script.aculo.us and FACE, and there have even been scattered implementations of same.  It’s definitely tempting.  I’m not at all confident that this will happen for 1.2, though, mostly because I don’t understand enough programming to make the connections.  I’m also not sure how many of these I could pile into the code before the whole thing came crashing down.  I have hopes that we’ll be able to work out a “best practices” way to add such capabilities to any S5 presentation file, and let each author add them or not as they see fit.

So there you go.  Have at it!

Japanese Color Blending

What is it about the Japanese that they loooove to blend colors?

Lest you think I’m indulging in some sort of bizarre racial stereotyping, I submit for your consideration the Technorati search results for blogs and other sites pointing to my Color Blender.  The Blender been moderately popular ever since its release, but so far as I can tell, the Asian market is just eating it up.  If I see a new Japanese site appear in my egorati feed, the odds are 49 out of 50 that it’ll be linking to the Blender.

So what’s the deal there?  Anyone have insights, specuation, or even translations that might shed some light on this little enigma?

(Note: it turns out that these are Chinese blogs using Japanese fonts, and not Japanese sites as I originally thought.  I’m leaving the original entry intact rather than update it.  Still, this means that the essence of the original question remains, even if the geography was off by a bit.)

Catching Up

Yes, two posts just showed up that are dated in the past week.  Just correcting a little holiday glitch—one of several, as it happens.  Anyway, move along, there’s nothing to see here!  Well, besides those two old-yet-new posts.  And this one.

I’m sorry, let me start over.

Look for posts in the next few days regarding Japanese color blending, my 2006 speaking schedule (as it currently stands, anyway), and the alpha release of a new version of S5.  Now with The Wolf!  (…cue salivating sounds from Mike Davidson.)

DropSend

In my work with Happy Cog Studios, which is a strategic partner with Complex Spiral Consulting, we’ve had occasion to send each other really big files, like Photoshop design comps and so forth.  As just about everyone knows, this is hard to do via e-mail, since SMTP servers usually cap attachment sizes at 10MB.  Even if a file size is below that limit, it’s kind of a pain to send large attachments.  Your e-mail client sits there slowly uploading the attachment, and then on the other end, someone else’s e-mail client gets to sit there slowly downloading it.

This is why we started uploading our files to our personal web sites via FTP, and sending around the URLs in email.  That’s great for macho geeks like us, even if it is a bit tedious, but not so great for most people.

You know what would be great for most people?  DropSend.  You can upload files via your browser, or grab a desktop application (for both Mac OS X and Windows!) to handle that part.  Then you just send a link to the file to people who need it, and you’re done.  There’s a basic free account which ought to satisfy any occasional user, and some fairly cheap paid account levels to add more storage and sending capabilities.  If you’re in search of a better way to send really large files, it’s worth a look.

Nice site design, too.

Disclaimer: the creator of DropSend, Ryan Carson, is also the founder of Carson Workshops, for whom I’ve done a couple of seminars.  For that matter, he’s a co-founder of BD4D.

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