Web Dev News

Friday, September 24, 2004

How to Disassemble a brand new iMac G5

Great photo gallery of brave guy totally dismembering his brand new iMac G5.

Looking at his other galleries, it looks like he's been doing this for a while. A nice site for any avid Mac lovers that would never dream of endangering their favorite hardware!

http://www.kodawarisan.com/imacg5/imacg501.html

Some pages might take some time to load because of the heavy image weight, so be patient. Some of the galleries are also in Japanese I think, but still a fun read.

Cutting-Edge Usability Study using Eyetracking and User Heatmapping!

This is an interesting article and website about a new type of high-accuracy usability testing for websites. Initially, it looks like their technology (called Eyetrack) uses a heatmap of a users face to pinpoint exactly where their eyes are looking on the page. Mapping this to the screen, they can tell exactly how long a users eyes dwell on each section of a page.

Yahoo News Article about Eyetracking
Eyetrack Homepage

Pretty cool stuff, although for a full understanding of the implications of their eyetracking study, they recommend a lot of research into their site. Quoted from their site:

"First, we recommend you read Howard Finberg's characterization of Eyetracking as a tool rather than a solution. Then we suggest you seek a more detailed understanding of how and what Eyetracking actually measures from Eyetools president Colin Johnson. Finally, browse the FAQ -– and additional links on the left side of this page –- in pursuit of additional info. "

Phewph! Well I haven't read all of that, but let me know in the comments if it's interesting!

Monday, September 13, 2004

Designing Without Tables Using CSS

There are several advantages to designing using CSS instead of the usual tables. Among these advantages are the following:

  1. Write faster loading, dramatically smaller pages
  2. Speed up site maintenance by separating the content from the layout
  3. Write Device-independent pages that will work on everything from a PC to an Internet-enabled refrigerator
  4. Write search-engine friendly pages that can actually be understood by search-engine spiders
  5. Write more accessible code, which is now a legal requirement in some countries

This site provides information about how to design using CSS instead of tables, offers a free chapter for download, and offers this book for same. Worth checking out.

Ten CSS tricks you may not know (plus critique)

This article is from CodeProject again. It's a superb article about some interesting stylesheeting tricks. The ten CSS tricks are:

1. CSS font shorthand rule
2. Using two classes together
3. Css border default value
4. !Important ignored by IE
5. Image replacement technique
6. CSS box model hack alternative
7. Center aligning a block element
8. Vertical aligning with CSS
9. CSS positioning within a container
10. Background color running to the screen bottom

Here's the article: Ten CSS Tricks You May Not Know by Trenton Moss ... and here's a critique and improvement of the article by Tantek Çelik. If you're going to be seriously using these tricks on a regular basis I highly recommend reading the Tantek improved version also (even though I think it's a little harsh on Trenton Moss).

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Great Flash Menus for Download and Purchase

A bunch of great flash menus for download and purchase. Great-looking alternatives to standard DHTML navigation. Site is provided by www.coolfocus.com who have several menus utilizing Flash or Java as well as a couple of auxiliary programs. Also a couple of tools for Windows Power Users.

Netscape Navigator Browser Archive (& Flash Player Archive as a Bonus)

If you're a designer that is always needing to test a site on older browsers, you will probably have come across the Netscape Archive of outdated browsers. As these browsers have become more and more outdated, the link to this archive has been hidden on Netscape's site several times. I thought it might be useful to publish it here.

Please be aware that several download links from this page are 404 Not Found errors. Obviously I can't guarantee the integrity of this page.

Another useful resource since we're on topic: Macromedia Flash Player Archive - ideal for testing those new flashy SWF's on older players for compatibility.

Unfortunately, there is currently no golden formula for testing websites on old IE browsers, since Microsoft has completely integrated into Windows versions and it is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to downgrade your Internet Explorer browser once it's installed! Crazy, right?

Sorry folks - You'll just have to find an old PC with IE 4.0 on it somewhere to do that intense level of quality assurance!

Nice Javascript-Based Form Validation Script

This one is from the O'Reilly site so it must be good. Full length tutorial explaining the different parts of the script. Includes the following functions:

checkPassword()
checkEmail()
checkPhone()
isDifferent()
checkRadio()
checkDropdown()

...among others. Uses elegant regular expressions for some of the functions too (e.g. checkEmail).

Here's the JS Form Tutorial at O'Reilly

Introducting Javascript Object Notation (JSON)

Interesting site about the creation of a new Javascript based language for exchanging data. Quipped as the "Fat Free alternative to XML" on one of the pages. I'm still in the early stages of learning XML for myself but I'm always open to hearing the latest news about emerging technologies.

Here's the link: www.json.org

Please realize that as far as I know this technology is not widely accepted as a data-interchange format. In fact, a search on google doesn't turn up much at all, but here are some other links anyway:
http://sourceforge.net/projects/json/
http://www.codeproject.com/useritems/jsonExample.asp


Forum Discussing Actionscript 2.0 Tutorials

Forum list of discussions pertaining to tutorials purely for folks wanting to learn Actionscript 2.0! Nice!

Most discussions are locked as readonly but still should be able to glean some great info from it: www.actionhero.com/adventures/

Form Elements with Style

Nice page presented by DHTML Kitchen about adding CSS styles to different form elements.

http://dhtmlkitchen.com/learn/css/forms/index.jsp

There are also 4 nice DHTML effects that are detailed from the different sections outlined in the sidenav:

AnimTree
Tabs
GlideMenus
and Draglib

Note: some IE 6 users may experience problems viewing the .JSP pages - my IE won't view the page, but instead it performs a "save target as".

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Don't submit your website to any search engines

Contrary to popular opinion, this article recommends that you don't bother to submit a website to the most popular search engines.

The argument is that if you concentrate on gaining enough inbound links to your website (by the listed methods) the major search engines will find you (and rank you accordingly) anyway.

I personally think the most interesting information is the techniques the author lists to aquire inbound links fast, e.g. discussion forums.

The site usually takes a little while to load so be patient for his one...

http://www.codeproject.com/html/SearchEngine.asp

Here's the shortcut URL to the sister article it recommends for increasing inbound links.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


The Game


The PGI team - high on enthusiasm and low on inhibitions!


Emilio: desperately trying to keep a grip on his excitement.


Engrossed in the game... the typical developers concentration pose...


Beautiful places, smiling faces! Matt can I have some more peanuts?


The Happy Ending.

Ten Steps to speed up the download of your HTML pages

Excellent page describing how to minimize download time of a webpage. Some simple old tricks and some advanced new ones (e.g. using stylesheets instead of tables, etc).

The steps are:
  1. Lay out your pages with CSS, not tables
  2. Don't use images to display text
  3. Call up decorative images through CSS
  4. Use contextual selectors
  5. Use shorthand CSS properties
  6. Minimise white space, line returns and comment tags
  7. Use relative call-ups
  8. Remove unnecessary META tags and META content
  9. Put CSS and JavaScript into external documents
  10. Use / at the end of directory links

These steps are explained in brief on the page: http://www.codeproject.com/html/webspeed.asp

Usability Special Interest Group

This web site is a forum to share information and experiences on issues related to the usability and user-centered design. It is the home of the Usability Special Interest Group of the Society for Technical Communication. It also includes tips for planning a Usability Lab. This is located at http://www.ovostudios.com/tips.asp.