UPDATES

CONFERENCES:
Social Media Smarts: An Introduction to the Social Web, Tools and Strategies - April 11, Chicago, IL - www.the-dma.org/seminars/socialmedia_Lee/
18th International World Wide Web Conference
- April 20-24, Madrid, Spain - www2009.org/
WebVisions - May 20-22, 2009 in Portland, Oregon - www.webvisionsevent.com/
An Event Apart 2009 - May, June & December in Seattle, Boston and San Francisco - http://www.aneventapart.com/news/2008/10/an_event_apart_2009.php
Spring <br /> Conference - June 9, Athens, Ohio (campus of Ohio University) - http://sbconference.com/


WHAT'S SO BAD ABOUT CSS FRAMEWORKS?

Many an eye has glazed over at the thought of moving totally from laying your web page using the tried-and-true table method to using the CSS positioning method. Raena Jackson-Armitage (SitePoint) writes that maybe CSS frameworks is a much better place to start:

A quick stroll through any CSS forum reveals plenty of people having the same frustrating, discouraging issues with floated layouts and positioning; I’m quite sure these could’ve been avoided if the developer had simply used tried and tested layout methods grabbed from a CSS framework.

One of the criticisms that’s often leveled at CSS frameworks is that it discourages the try-it-and-see approach that helps a beginner learn. Of course, it’s better for beginner markup monkeys to learn CSS for themselves, but I think there are some benefits to using a framework that far outweigh this particular pitfall.

How many of you learned to ride a bicycle with training wheels? They’re a great, fun way for a kid to gain confidence and master the fundamentals of braking and steering, before learning to balance the bike and stay upright. What’s more, it’s extremely discouraging to fall off the bike and scrape your knees.

The goal of training wheels is to build confidence by easing new riders into cycling: similarly, a CSS framework used with the right attitude can help guide new developers in the mysterious and often perplexing world of CSS layout. Newbies have the chance to see a layout working correctly without frustration, and the open nature of these frameworks makes it easy to learn what’s going on under the hood. Later, with some more confidence, techniques picked up from the framework can be put to good use when developing one’s own layouts from scratch.

So, if you’re a CSS newbie and you’re avoiding frameworks because you were told it was bad for your education, maybe you should reconsider. Try some out, see which one you like best, and give it a try! Just remember: you’ll need to take off those training wheels eventually, so be sure to use the experience to help understand how CSS works.

-> Read entire article


MORE CRIMES AGAINST HYPERTEXT

If you've attended a Web@UK Class over the past few years you know we talk briefly about "descriptive names for links." In this article by Andrew Tetlaw (SitePoint), the point is given clearer meaning through a tongue-in-cheek, but poignant way.

Tetlaw writes:

The first newcomer to our rogue’s gallery comes courtesy of our language editor, Kelly. She was mystified by the separate linking of multiple adjacent words to the same link target, instead of just joining them together into a single link. She called it The Doppelganger.

The next one came from bel, a commenter who said:

Camouflaged for ambush, this link looks like its going to open another web page but instead is actually going to open up a PDF, DOC, email address, etc. Always when you are in a hurry, quickly scanning around for what you are looking for, you click one of these and then BAMM — you are stuck waiting with your hands tied while it launches your client software. Oh, the howls of chagrin heard from my corner when I’ve stepped on one of these hyperlink land-mines while in a hurry. "Nooooooo! OWWooooooo!!"

I call that one, The Saboteur. I’ll leave it to you to ponder that one.

Finally, from another commenter, Wynnefield, is the link called The Mime Artist. This is the link that leaves you wanting "More >>":

<p>It's often taken for granted but the lack of good hypertext makes reading a web page a generally unpleasant experience. There are several essential   4hyperlinking techniques you should know.</p><p><a href="/">More >></a></p> 

The Mime Artist is so named because it vaguely points in a meaningless direction, gives you no clues as to where it’s going, and leaves you wishing you could have your money refunded.

The consensus about good linking practice was that a link should indicate what the user will find when clicking on it. Link text should help the user decide whether or not to follow a link.

Some posters suggested I rewrite the good example to link the intention of the link instead of the name of the target site. So, instead of this:

For excellent examples of finely crafted hypertext look no further than <a href="http://kottke.org/">  kottke.org, the online home of Jason Kottke</a>. 

… I’d rewrite the link like this:

For <a href="http://kottke.org/">excellent examples of finely crafted hypertext</a> look no further than kottke.org, the online home of Jason Kottke. 

Which makes sense to me.

This is supported by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 , that state the purpose of a link should be able to be determined from its link text alone, or the context in which it is placed.

-> Read entire article


Notes from Campus

March 13 - The Web's Birthday

SitePoint's Raena Jackson-Armitage writes:

The late Eighties! Mike and the Mechanics were at the top of the charts, George Bush, Senior had just become President of the US, and a CERN contractor by the name of Tim Berners-Lee was busy writing a little paper entitled Information Management: A Proposal. In it he described a way to simplify the sharing of information among people in different locations. He gave it to his manager, Mike Sendall, who thought it was "vague, but exciting."

Over the following year, Tim and his colleague, Robert Cailliau, refined the idea and updated the proposal. It described a concept called a “WorldWideWeb” -- a simple interface for browsing large quantities of information, using hypertext to link documents. Within just a few years it had grown well beyond CERN and the academic realm, and public use of the Internet exploded thanks to this new, more intuitive interface.

Why the history lesson? Because the date on Tim Berners-Lee's first paper, arguably the birth of the Web, was March 13th, 1989. That's twenty years ago -- and to me, that's a reason to celebrate!
It's amazing to think about how much the Web's developed since then.

We've seen:

->Read the entire article