Archive for May, 2005

Complex CSS Dynamic Lists

A List Apart offers yet another excellent dynamic list tutorial. As usual, it is an in depth, yet easy to follow tutorial that covers all of its bases, going so far as explaining why they don’t use Ajax for this particular trick (a usability consideration). The result of their demo isn’t exactly sexy – but I could imagine it working beautifully for a very tight, symmetrical site structure.

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Getting Started is the Hardest Part

Once again I have to agree with Scrivs, getting started is the hardest part of web design for me. I’m not sure if it’s that there are limitless options, or I feel like there’s new technology I need to learn before embarking (and there always is) or if it’s just creating the inertia. Perfectionism can be so painful, and it’s weird to try to be less perfect. If only I didn’t have any scruples related to design integrity…I’d just chuck stuff up in Front Page Dreamweaver. I’m the same way much worse with painting – major fear of blank canvas.

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Unrealized CSS Selectors

I just finished reading the Selectutorial. (Actually, I’ve read it before but my CSS skills were not developed enough at the time to make any of it relevant enough to me to remember.) I must say, now that I fully understand it, it’s an different sort of excercise in frustration. Why? There are a lot of really, really useful CSS selectors that can’t be used. At least, not on a client’s site. With every new selector my excitement would build, until the summary: "…not supported by Windows Internet Explorer 5, 5.5 and 6, but are supported by most other standards-compliant browsers."

Think child selectors, adjacent sibling selectors, attribute selectors and the :before and :after pseudo-classes are just for CSS geeks? They could be regular part of your web-design diet, simplifying things like adjusting spacing conditionally depending on whether an element is right next to another. I could have used the attribute selectors to make only my little ‘off-site link’ images inline for a recent site instead of applying a class in the structural code to every freggin image tag!

It’s a shame that the worlds richest software company, fueled with hiring power and a presumably very well-educated and/or skilled workforce can’t make their browser standards compliant. If it wasn’t for Internet Explorer’s bad but predominant browser, things could be so much more efficient for everyone. Though I’ve applauded the relative dissapearance of "This site is best viewed in…" statement, I think I would now welcome "Best viewed in a standards compliant browser (Internet Explorer, try Firefox ).

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Explaining RSS

It’s hard to explain RSS feeds to one who hasn’t used them. It’s kind of a do it first, ask questions later sort of thing. To quote the essentials from Tim Yang’s 15 Things You Can Do With RSS Feeds:

Basically, you can perform any task with RSS that requires search or information retrieval from a server. Automatically and repeatedly.

He follows to detail several tricks including staying informed of stock quotes, aggregating all of your email, and keeping up on major news from a a collective of major TV networks and newspapers. He mentions one that I wish I would have read yesterday – backup all of your posts with Bloglines. Due to a problem with a plugin installation today I lost several posts here. Had I fixed my WordPress headers I could have retrieved them. Lesson learned!

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