Q & A

Everyone keeps telling me I need something called lynx. What is it and where do I get it?

Lynx is a basic text browser. You can use it to surf the Web and it will present information only in text. One of the big reasons many Web developers like it is that it can be used as a surrogate for testing for accessibility. That is, if the text version makes sense, then the site will make sense for almost any user. Using Lynx also highlights the advantages of semantically correct HTML. For example, it's easy to see why it is important to use <h3> to head a page section rather than just using CSS to style the text to look good.

You can download a copy of Lynx at http://csant.info/lynx.htm. Be sure to read the readme file and follow the instructions there.

I’m learning CSS and am confused about something. Does the div tag replace the p tag for paragraphs?

This is a common mistake because from a presentational standpoint <div> and <p> do exactly the same thing. Worse, some Web page editors make the mistake of using <div> as a replacement for <p>. However, paragraphs have not gone away and therefore <p> has not gone away.

<p> should be used around a paragraph of text. In fact any bit of text which is not captured by some other tag should probably use <p>. So your "paragraph" might be just a single line of text or a few words, don't let that confuse you.

<div> defines some division of the page. On this page you will find a div around each of the three columns. Additionally, you will find a <div> around each topic within each column. In this case "Q & A" is all one div (inside the <div> for the left column) with the following tags inside it: <h5>, <p>, <p>, <h5>, <p>, <p>, <p>.

Surely you're not serious when you say no one needs a blog. Don't you read any?

Well, we certainly did not mean to leave you with the impression that "no one needs a blog." Blogs are a great thing. Blogs have many wonderful uses. We all have our own favorite blogs. However, a blog is one of those things that people often insist they need without knowing what they need it for. Let's talk a little bit about what's wrong with blogs and then backtrack into what blogs are indeed good for. And by the way, the underlying problem is true not just of blogs but often of many new technologies. It never hurts to fall back on the old "form follows function." If you don't know what it is for, you probably don't need it in the first place.

So, what's the problem with blogs? Blogs or weblogs are actually nothing but a shorthand name for an online journal (though they tend to be associated with the technologies that produce them, particularly something called RSS). And as with most journals, they mostly contain things that are personal, particular or broadly uninteresting or some combination thereof. Most of our Web sites by contrast are none of these things. Think of an average college department; it is by definition not personal. (Although we might want to give it that feel, we don't actually want it to be personal, otherwise we'd put the staff birthdays on the Home Page.) College departments are also almost by definition general; think of the difference between a department subject such as biology and any of the research carried out by an individual faculty member. Finally, there is very little specific appeal at a college or department level.

Is there never a time to use blogs at the University? Of course there is. Go back to that particular researcher above, a blog on a unique or cutting-edge subject may be riveting to others in the same field. A blog from a reunion class might be very personal for alumni. Finally a blog tracking a particular laboratory research project might have the necessary specific appeal to get others to follow it. There are appropriate places for a blog. The key would be identifying a need that a blog addresses, not having one and then looking for a need to match it with.

Remember, most of our Web sites are fundamentally informational in nature. How do I find this? Where do I go for that? People wanting to know the department office hours are a different audience, so throwing a blog in front of them can actually make their experience more difficult.

 

Web Policy Review

Standards

Sections IV.A.1.D. and IV.A.1.E. of the University Web Policy spell out the standards, both prescriptive and proscriptive, for University Web sites. These standards (abbreviated) are as follows:

  • The University of Kentucky Master Navigation Bar at the top of all Home Pages or pages promoted to the public.
  • "An Equal Opportunity University" on a Web site's Home Page and contacts page.
  • Links to "higher level" Web materials to facilitate navigation.
  • Identification of the materials on each page as being from the University of Kentucky.
  • The name of the individual or department responsible for the materials either on each page
  • The e-mail address of the responsible individual or a departmental e-mail address either on each page
  • The date on each page when the materials were last updated.
  • Prohibition against disabling the "Back" button of the browser
  • Prohibition against opening any other site within the frameset of the Web site.

Please see the Web Policy for further details.

UK Image Database Update

The UK Images database is back on track (with lots yet to be done). You can see the latest version at http://app.mc.uky.edu/UKImages/. We have begun uploading some images which you are free to use and will do more in the near future.

There are some significant bugs in the system as it stands now. First we are unable to delete images completely. Second, the user access which would allow others to upload images or even have there own areas for images is not functioning. We will let you know as soon as those are corrected.

If there are particular images you would like to see available here let us know and we will add them as soon as we can.

Adding UK News Feeds To A Web Page

University news can be posted to your Web site with a simple PHP or ASP script. A sample of each is below.

PHP (use on www.uky.edu and any other Unix server with PHP installed):

<?
//require_once 'Smarty.class.php';
require_once 'XML/RSS.php';

$RSSFEED="http://news.uky.edu/news/newsfeedjps.php?
format=rss20&category=2&count=5";

## acquire news information, via RSS.
$rss=& new XML_RSS($RSSFEED);
$rss->parse();
if (PEAR::isError($rss)) {
print "News Service Error: \n";
} else {
$x=0;
$newsTeaser=array();
$newsTeaserTitle=array();
$newsTeaserLink=array();
$count=0;
$items=$rss->getItems();
foreach ($items as $item) {
if (PEAR::isError($rss)) {
print"ERROR: <br />\n<pre>";print_r($rss);print"</pre>\n";
}
$count++;
print "<a href=\"".$item['link']."\">".$item['title']."</a> <br />";
print "".$item['description']." <br /><br />\n";
}
}
?>

NOTE: the line above which begins "format=" is actually a continuation of the line above it and should not be separated.

ASP.Net:

Here you will have two sets of code, one for the aspx page and the other for an xsl page to handle the transformation. if you don't know what any of that means, that's okay, you can learn through cut and paste, however, giving yourself a brief introduction to these concepts online would be wise.

Here's a sample aspx page (modify your page correspondingly):

<%@ Page Language="C#" Debug="true" %>
<%@ OutputCache Duration="3600" VaryByParam="none" %>

<script runat="server">
private void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
System.Xml.XmlDocument doc = new System.Xml.XmlDocument();
doc.Load("http://news.uky.edu/news/newsfeedjps.php?
format=rss20&category=2&count=5");
xmlRss.Document = doc;
xmlRss.TransformSource = "rss.xsl";
}
</script>
<html>

<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=windows-1252">
<title>Xml - xmlRss</title>
</head>

<body>
<form runat="server">
<asp:xml id="xmlRss" runat="server" />
</form>

</body>

</html>

NOTE: the line above which begins "format=" is actually a continuation of the line above it and should not be separated.

And here is the accompanying xsl sample file:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0" xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">
<xsl:template match="/">
<xsl:apply-templates select="rss/channel" />
</xsl:template>

<xsl:template match="channel">
<h2>
<a href="{link}" target="_blank"><xsl:value-of select="title" /></a>
</h2>
<ul>
<xsl:apply-templates select="item" />
</ul>
</xsl:template>

<xsl:template match="item">
<li>
<a href="{link}" target="_blank"><xsl:value-of select="title" /></a>
- <xsl:value-of select="pubDate" />
<br />
<xsl:value-of disable-output-escaping="yes" select="description" />
<p/>
</li>
</xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>

Whichever of the above you use, you only have a few things to modify. First look for the code which says "category=2". That tells which of the feeds should be used. To determine what that should be for your purposes, go to UK's main News page and pick the appropriate category on the left; look at the URL and you will see the category number for that category (Main News is category 1). If an appropriate category does not yet exist, please contact Web Services to discuss having one created.

Next decide how many of these news items you want displayed on your page. Find the code " &count=5" and change that from 5 to whatever number you want.

If you look carefully at the PHP you will see HTML embedded inside that code. You will also see HTML in the xsl file. As you get more experienced you may choose to modify this part of the code to make the News results look exactly how you want them.

This discussion only touches the surface of what you can do with this information. As you get more comfortable, feel free to explore this further.

 

CSS Rollover

Folks are always asking how to make their links more interesting, to do more than just change color when the browser's mouse hits them. Without knowing a whole lot, you can use the two methods below to achieve this goal. The first is an extension for Dreamweaver users which creates the necessary effects. The second is a more general creator which will build the appropriate CSS for the effect you select.

Site Reviews

Remember to check any links you may have that point to these sites, as the pages may have changed.

Updates

TheCounter.com
http://www.thecounter.com/stats/
Standalone Versions of Internet Explorer
http://www.skyzyx.com/downloads/

Here you can download old copies of IE to see how your site might look on IE 5 for example. Unlike loading from the Microsoft installation, these can be run separately from your current version of IE without conflict.

Mozilla Development Center
http://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/Main_Page
HTML, CSS, PHP, and More Cheat Sheets
http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2005/10/10/html-css-php-and-more-cheat-sheets/
A Free Antivirus For Windows
http://www.clamwin.com/
10 Big Myths about copyright explained
http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html
UK Libraries new site preview
http://www.uky.edu/Libraries/NewSite/

A new UK Libraries Web site will be unveiled on Dec. 19. The old site will be available throughout the spring but will not be updated. If you link to our site, please check us out after the 19th. The old pages will include a link to the new site, so you can take your time updating any links. A preview of our new site is available now. See http://www.uky.edu/Libraries/nlws.html for information. The main URL for the UK Libraries will continue to be http://www.uky.edu/Libraries/. Please contact WEBADMIN@LSV.UKY.EDU if you have any questions or comments on the new site. Thanks! -Beth (Kraemer)

Notes from Campus

College of Agriculture

Have you ever seen a draft of a Web page during the design process and noticed that it is full of all kinds of strange text that usually begins "lorem ipsum?" Ten have you wondered what on earth is that?

Lorem Ipsum text is an excerpt from a work of Cicero's that has been used by typesetters since the 1500s as a placeholder. It has taken on a modern incarnation as placeholder text for Web pages in development before the exact text for the page is ready.

To find out more and to get a copy of the full lorem ipsum text, go to http://www.lipsum.com/.

Auxiliary Services

Here are a few links to help people using flash to deal with accessibility concerns:

Best Practices for Accessible Flash Design

and

Macromedia Accessibility Resource Center

College of Medicine

This is the .NET consumer I use for the folks in the CoM. You are welcome to use it if you'd like.

<script language="VB" runat="server">
Sub Page_Load (sender As Object, e As EventArgs)
myXml.Document = getXML("http://app.mc.uky.edu/medicine/news/rss.asp")
End Sub

Function getXML(sourceFile As String)
Dim myRequest As System.Net.WebRequest = System.Net.WebRequest.Create(sourceFile)
Dim myResponse As System.Net.WebResponse = myRequest.GetResponse()
Dim myReader As System.Xml.XmlTextReader = new System.Xml.XmlTextReader(myResponse.GetResponseStream())
Dim doc As System.Xml.XmlDocument = New System.Xml.XmlDocument()
doc.Load(myReader)
getXML = doc
End Function
</script>

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd">
<html>
<head>
<title>Display RSS Feed .NET</title>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1"> </head> <body>

<asp:Xml id="myXml" TransformSource="news.xsl" runat="server" />

</body>
</html>

I can provide a simple XSLT if needed. (Danny Boyd)

 

Important Dates

TRAINING UPDATE: Web@UK - Wednesday, Dec. 7, 1:30-4 p.m., B108a, William T. Young Library
Register: http://www.uky.edu/
HR/HRD/Training/
ClassReg.html

Web Publishers

Joint Meeting on December 19, 2 p.m., TBD