meyerweb.com

Skip to: site navigation/presentation
Skip to: Thoughts From Eric

Archive: 'W3C' Category

Upgrading Designs

The Amaya team has recently said they’re very willing to accept contributions of redesigned icons and color choices for the browser.  So those of you with talent in that area, get to it!  Since the WThRemix contest closes today, you should have plenty of time to devote to Amaya, right?  Right?  Right.

I recently had a very interesting conversation with Ian Hickson about fonts and font-sizing.  Both of us have thought a lot about fonts in CSS and Web typography over the years, but I think we both realized that we had more thinking to do.  When you get right down to it, there is no good solution regarding font sizing on the Web today.  Every authorial choice has a drawback for some visitors, and every choice has a lot of benefits.  Pixels penalize high-resolution visitors who can’t (or won’t) use text zooming.  Percentages and ems can penalize visitors who have changed their default font size.  Leaving the text at user default looks stupidly big for visitors who haven’t changed their default font size.

It doesn’t help matters that there are huge differences in how serif and sans-serif fonts look at the same value of font-size, and that the commonly-available fonts on the Web today are not suitable for really nice typography.  I know some people think typography isn’t something we need to worry about, but it’s critical to good visual design and our current capabilites are laughably crude.  In fiddling with some test pages, I rapidly came to the conclusion that there just isn’t a good answer.  I’m not entirely thrilled with how this site’s typography is handled, for example, but I was even less thrilled by the other approaches I tested.

Is waiting for a downloadable-font mechanism our only hope?  I wish there were another answer, but right now, I don’t see one.  It seems we’ll have to accept and work with what little typographic control we have, and cede the rest of our textual desires to future improvements in both specifications and the browsers that implement them.

Getting Mixed In/Up

Remember the redesign competition I mentioned (along with a lot of other people) a while back?  They’ve announced the prizes up for grabs, and I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the Grand Prize package includes a copy of Eric Meyer on CSS.  I do have to wonder how much use it will be to someone who can successfully restyle another person’s site with CSS… but hey, no complaints here!  Good luck to all the entrants.

Contrary to what Zeldman has to say, I generally don’t wish I were not writing a book.  When I’m writing a book, I enjoy it because it’s something I like to do and because I wouldn’t have agreed to do it if I weren’t excited about the project.  When I’m not writing a book, I enjoy the time off, but usually get back to the authorial keyboard within six months or so.

Rewriting a book, though… that’s a whole other story, and one with distinctly fewer comedic overtones.  I hate having to revise my own work, because my deep-seated impulse to tinker usually drives down the quality of the text.  The dread spectre of endless revision is tempered by the glimmer of needed new material, but to me, it’s like mixing chocolate syrup into a thick vanilla milk shake: the end result isn’t as awful as it could have been, but Lord, it sure isn’t good.

(It may help your understanding of the previous paragraph to know that I loathe chocolate.  No sympathy is necessary, because believe me, I’m not missing out on anything.  Call to mind a food that you truly despise; something that, if you accidentally got a mouthful, you would instantly spit out and then try to scrape off your tongue.  That’s what chocolate is like for me.  Kat couldn’t be happier, because I never try to steal her dessert.)

Reviewing other people’s work isn’t bad.  I’m currently reviewing two books, and this morning I started getting severe dèjá vu.  The chapters I was reviewing for both books referred to the same sites, and even had screenshots of those sites that were taken on the same day.  I’m about 98% certain it was all just a big coincidence.  Either that or the computers that run the Matrix are getting less creative.

Remixing Fun

Okay, so I’m late to the party as usual, but this is still pretty cool: WThremix, a contest to see who can take the new W3C home page and make it look less plain.  Maybe even visually striking and exciting.  Personally I think they should have added one more rule, which is that no content or structure can be altered in the restyling.  There could have at least been a “restyled original markup” category.  I’d think about entering, but as you can see from my private attempts (onetwothree) at the same thing back in late September, I’m not exactly a world-class visual artist.  Like you hadn’t guessed that by now.

Anyway, I really like the contest idea.  We have a site that uses valid structural markup to hold its content, and CSS to lay it out.  One of the great things about CSS is that the user can change a site’s presentation to suit their own needs, whatever those may be.  Similarly, it’s possible to take the same markup and completely change its layout and appearance just by changing stylesheets.  This is one of those really amazing things about the (X)HTML+CSS combination, and browsers are up to the task of making such things possible.  Contests to restyle sites may not be exactly what the specification authors had in mind, but it’s a creative application of all the promises of W3C technology.

I have been falling behind in my journal entries of late, but that’s because I’ve been trying to correct my falling behind in e-mail.  I’m getting tantalizingly close to catching up—just in time, of course, to go offline for a few days.  C’est la guerre, if I got that right.

To those who celebrate them right about now, please enjoy your holidays!

Catching Up

The World Wide Web Consortium‘s Web site has been redesigned, although visually it looks almost the same as before.  The change is that they’ve dropped tables-for-layout and are instead using CSS to set up the three columns and style the content.  It’s nice to see them trying to live up to the motto “Leading the Web to its Full Potential…” or, at the very least, finally catching up with the present.

It turns out they’re using a design approach I personally dislike, where all three columns are floated left (leaving none of them fully in the normal flow), but it’s not an inherently bad approach.  I just prefer other ways of achieving the same effect… but, as David Powers once pointed out to me, CSS is a lot like Perl in that it often embodies the spirit of TMTOWTDI—that is, there’s more than one way to do it.  That may be one of the reasons I find CSS so compelling, even though its open-endedness makes it a bit harder to learn.

(X)HTML Validator Upgrade in Beta

The W3C has released a public beta of a major upgrade to their HTML validator, and authors are very much encouraged to try it out—I did!  It adds a lot of new things to the service, including better handling of document MIME types (like application/xhtml+xml) and more.  One of the validator’s lead developers e-mailed me about it, and then dropped this comment in at the end of the message:

The new CSS is loosely inspired by your stuff (well, that’s probably true for most CSS these days I suppose).

Pardon me while my ego starts beating its chest and howling.  (And Kat’s not home to keep it under control, either.)

December 2014
SMTWTFS
November  
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Archives

Feeds

Extras