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You probably don’t need me to tell you about today’s issue of A List Apart, but just in case you hit this entry in your feed reader before reaching the ALA feed, head on over.  If you have anything to do with web development, there’s news of a coming change that you absolutely need to read.

I know there will be many people who disagree with my take on version targeting.  As did I, at first.  Originally I wasn’t even going to be part of this ALA issue but as I argued with Aaron about it on the ALA editorial board and started to shift my perspective, we realized that having someone document that thinking process would be valuable.  So I did.

Already I’ve seen a lot of negative reactions to the idea, and they remind me of my initial reactions.  That’s not to say that my views are more advanced, nor that everyone will eventually come to the same way of thinking.  It’s entirely possible that after due rational consideration, many people will come to the conclusion exactly opposite my own.  I still thought it might be useful to share my thoughts on the matter as someone who has been concerned about browser compatibility and standards advancement for a very long time now.

Comments are closed here, but discussion is open at ALA.

Update: I wanted to point to some other material about this topic.  I’ll probably keep updating this as time goes on.

  • Compatibility and IE8 — a post by Chris Wilson about the challenges faced by browsers when advancing standards, and the particular situation experienced in the IE7 deployment.  You don’t have to agree with the conclusions, but understanding the problem is important.

  • The versioning switch is not a browser detect — this is vitally important to any hope of useful debate on this topic.  I tried to clearly make the same point in my ALA article, but reiteration doesn’t hurt.

  • Broken — Jeremy objects to the default behavior.  I actually agree with him, and made that case at length with a member of the IE team.  I couldn’t make what I wanted square with their requirements, and came to see that I couldn’t, and was deeply saddened by it.  I sincerely hope that Jeremy, or indeed anyone, can succeed where I failed.

  • That Red-headed Monster Next to You? Yeah, that’s Anger — no, I didn’t link this because of the hair-color reference.  I’ve been deeply disheartened by the overall tenor of the reaction.  Disagreement is fine, in fact welcomed; but the level of vitriol, name-calling, and outright personal attacks came as a rude and unwelcome surprise.

Two Books Together

Last Thursday, I came down from the office to discover a stack of five boxes on the front porch.  Three were for Kat, who is one of those annoying people who plans way ahead for Christmas, and two others were my author copies of CSS Web Site Design (formerly “CSS Hands-On Training”).  This is a title I did for lynda.com, and published by Peachpit, and it’s most tersely described as “Eric Meyer on CSS, but for beginners”.  It’s also the hard-copy version of the video training title “CSS Site Design“, and includes all the videos and exercise files from the video title on a CD-ROM bundled with the book.

After I’d hauled all that into the front hallway, I grabbed my car keys and headed out the back door to run my errand.  At which point I nearly fell over two more boxes, these containing my author copies of the third edition of CSS: The Definitive Guide from O’Reilly.  This is of course an update of the second edition, which contains some updates based on the latest version of CSS 2.1, expanded selector coverage, updated compatibility notes taking IE7’s improvements into account, and corrected errata from the previous edition.  It’s not a major update compared to the second edition, admittedly, but if you don’t already own the second edition, it’s well worth acquiring (if I do say so myself).

It’s a bit funny that both sets of books arrived on my doorstep the exact same day, considering that the two projects started out well separated, and gradually synched up.  At first I was going to write one and then the other, but various complications set in and they started to interweave.  I finished their final reviews with a whole lot of overlap—that was a fun couple of weeks—and now, the waves have fully amplified.

What really cracked me up was that the next day, I got packages from both Peachpit and O’Reilly, each containing a single copy of the respective books, and each containing a note along the lines of “Here’s your advance copy; the rest should arrive in a few weeks!”.

Broken Rights

Once I got a look at the markup of my latest Vitamin piece, “Stand Up For Your Rights!“, I winced.  Four paragraphs, with each alternating bit of dialogue separated by a line break?  Ay caramba!

And yet, I’m not sure I could have done better, structurally speaking.  The only semi-reasonable alternative that comes to mind is a set of four blockquotes with paragraphs instead of line breaks, but that doesn’t work for me.  They are, after all, invented conversations.  I’m not quoting anything.

Maybe paragraphed text with a div, possibly classed, for each section (yes, all right, each division) of the article would have been a better choice.  Or maybe not.  What do you think?

Taste the Vitamin

The new weekly web-design ‘zine Vitamin (a.k.a. Yet Another Major New Project From The Carsons) launched earlier this week to generally positive notice from the design community.  I was glad to see this for three reasons.

  1. I wrote one of the launch articles, “Making Popular Layout Decisions“.  Although now that I think about it more, maybe that should have been “Making Unpopular Layout Decisions”.  Anyway, it’s a commentary piece that will probably annoy a few hard-core purists.  That always makes for a success in my book.
  2. I’m a member of the Advisory Board, so I have some stake in seeing it do well.  I’d hate to have things go badly due to my being a bad advisor!  Especially since I’m kind of new to the advisory game.
  3. It demonstrates that there’s plenty of room in the web design community for such resources.  Not that there’s anything wrong with what we have—after all, I love A List Apart so much, I wrote the markup!—but it’s a sign of renewed health and interest in the field.

Oh, and speaking of Carson projects, I hear this May’s Professional CSS XHTML Techniques workshop is almost sold out—so if you’re interested, better get cracking.  (The same is true for AEA Chicago, as it happens.)

DevEdge Content Returns

Once was lost, now is found: “Images, Tables, and Mysterious Gaps” has been resurrected from the Great Bit Bucket Beyond and given new life on Mozilla.org.  In fact, it looks like just about all the technical articles written by me and the other members of TEDS are available.  Look through the full list of CSS articles, for example.  You can dig into any number of topic areas from the main page of the Documentation section.  (Scroll down to the “Mozilla Developer Center Contents” headline.)

Some other popular articles from my Netscape days gone by:

So far as I’ve been able to determine, some of the less technical pieces, like the interviews with Doug Bowman and Mike Davidson, are not available.  Not now, anyway.  Perhaps one day that too will change.

ALA’s New Print Styles

You asked for it, you begged for it, you demanded it: A List Apart is sporting a working print style sheet for the articles.  Want to know more about it?  Read “ALA’s New Print Styles“, my new article over at ALA.

Believe it or not, that’s only my second ALA article ever, and the first one was the classic “Going To Print“.  Maybe one of these days I should write an ALA article that doesn’t involve ink on dead trees.

Of course, if I stick to the interval established by my first two ALA articles, the next one won’t appear until 2008 early 2009… so I guess I have some time to think about it.

Stripped Down Style

I was recently honored with a request to contribute to Design In-Flight magazine, and so the latest issue contains a piece titled “Stripped Down Style”.  The article is an expanded version of Really Undoing html.css, accompanied by some screen shots and containing a copy of Tantek’s undohtml.css.  The magazine also includes an article from Jon Hicks about his icon design process, focusing on the icons he’s created for NetNewsWire 2; a piece from Keith Robinson on public speaking; a how-to guide for mapping out the structure of your style sheets by Yasuhisa Hasegawa; and a good deal more.

It does cost a few bucks to get a copy the magazine, but they really are a very few—certainly several less than you’d spend on a comparable magazine in print.  You can also get a yearly subscription of four issues for ten bucks.  Having read the first two issues of the magazine, I’m definintely feeling an urge to subscribe.  Editor Andy Arikawa has proven a master at pulling together some great content from interesting authors, and at covering a diverse set of topics.

I must also admit to some amusement at how the title of this issue, “Not Your Father’s CSS”, echoes (most likely coincidentally) the title of my radio show.

MEMoC Under Review

Andy King, author of the excellent Speed Up Your Site and purveyor of fine content at the new Optimization Week, has posted a very nice review of More Eric Meyer on CSS.  I think this might be the first official review of the book, and if he posts it over at Amazon it will very likely be the first review there as well be one of the first few reviews over there (someone posted the first review some time today!).

According to Andy, Jeffrey Zeldman (who just launched a superfine redesign over at The Daily Report) and I “actually make standards sexy.”  Oh, yes, big boy… mark up my content, you style stud, you…

Okay, I promise never to do that again.

If there are other reviews out there and I’ve missed them, please let me know!

January 2015
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