web development

Flame Wars

Fri, 2008-03-21 02:53

I always enjoy whatever Joel Spolsky writes. Many of his posts deal with running a software business, and he offers lots neat insights. Recently he wrote about what he calls the mother of all flamewars that may be popping up on a web developer's forum near you. This would be interesting reading for anyone interested in understanding the problems with the new Internet Explorer 8 and Web standards. It is not so much a technical piece as an explanation of what is going wrong. I am pretty excited about the whole thing, I have not witnessed a good flamewar since people stopped caring so much about tables.

I am also watching Colorwar08 with interest in case it fans itself into something interesting. If you happen to be on Twitter and are looking for a strong, healthy color to support, you might consider following Team Scarlet. It will be the team to watch.

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Best Viewed With A Shillelagh

Tue, 2008-03-04 04:01

I am relatively new to the Internet. I heard tales of the browser wars at the turn of the century, the eminent struggle between the geek and the corporation. By the time I arrived on the scene the war was over and the victor reigned supreme. Things were good, too. I clicked the blue E on my desktop like everybody else and everything just worked.

Soon after that I discovered Opera and tabs and after that there was Firefox and addons and now I only pull out IE to test a website. This potentially traumatic step in the website building process can only become less stressful in the future. Internet Explorer 7 has been out for some time now, and the IE8 beta has just been released.

It is a time for rejoicing, but the next step will be to encourage all the millions of users to abandon IE6. This will not be easy to do if many sites are still not built to standards and are unusable in the newer browser versions. I really enjoyed this post by Jeffrey Zeldman who explains the whole thing much better than I can. The article was written before Microsoft decided to ship IE8 in standards mode by default, but it is still a useful read.

It will probably be prudent to check any design changes in IE6 for a while yet. This may be less important for bloggers and those who manage geekier sites. I know my stats have shown Internet Explorer use at about 20% for at least a year, no doubt a "birds of a feather" concept.

It was not that long ago when we were all eager to push the tables aside and use the cool new CSS techniques for site layouts. It seemed as though the old, incompatible browsers would never give up and go away. Even the local university used Netscape 4 in the labs long after the Web had moved on and left it behind. In all honesty, that experience makes putting up with IE6 for another year or three seem kinda tame. Working around the bugs might take a little more time and effort, but it can be done.

Eventually folks will figure out one by one that it is their sites that are broken, not the browsers, and they will fix them. The tools they use will have to catch up as well, slowing the process, but it will happen. It is important for everyone to have a voice. Some of those people who go outside sometimes have interesting lives to write about!

What burns my biscuits is to see websites created by people who call themselves professional designers who obviously never tested in anything but Internet Explorer. Usually this involves text hanging out all over the place in a most unreadable fashion. Designers should feel free to browse around in whatever they like, but anyone who makes a living by selling a design should make a small effort to see that it actually works.

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Heading Out The Door...

Thu, 2007-12-27 09:29

It is ok to ignore this post. I had just enough time before leaving for work to install a new module and make a test post to try it out. It is the comment notify module, and I will now comment on this post to try it out.

In case it is too late and you are already reading this, here is a link to a cute comic.

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I Feel So Secure

Thu, 2007-12-06 02:57

There was another security release for Drupal today. I get the security announcements in my email. I open them right away. Sometimes the announcement will be about a module I do not use, and rejoicing ensues. Today, the announcement contained the dreaded word: core. Off to work, then.

Drupal security upgrades are really not that bad. They never break anything on the site, and this one had no database changes. I always back up the database anyway at update time, and for unimportant sites such as this one, update time may be the only time I do a backup. Really must automate that soon...

The thing is that Drupal seems to have security updates fairly often. I get that email every few months. This would be great for business if I was smart, but updates are so very trivial, and the potential for harm is so very great. I just do the update and move on. Don't you just wish I handled your site?

I can't understand why other systems can go so long between fixes. I ain't buying if you tell me Drupal ain't written securely to start with. It also has fewer lines of code compared to other solutions. I don't know why I need to upgrade so often. I do know I feel warm and fuzzy all over.

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Can I Build or Redesign Your Web Site?

Wed, 2007-11-28 01:16

I received a form email today from some guy wanting to build me a website. Normally I would give a few guffaws and move along, but someone I respect had just stated:

I envy the people that get to set their own hours and work schedules. I just don't have the sales skills to go it on my own.

Sorry Stephen, but is that what you meant by skills? Spamming random people? Thing is, I know this sort of thing works, and at nine hundred dollars a pop, who cares for how long?

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When Just Getting It Done Is Not Enough

Thu, 2007-11-22 04:34

I finished up a very long term project today. It feels nice. I started out just about a year ago with a huge data file and no clue whatsoever. I spent much of last winter trying to fit my problem into a prefab solution. That is what I know how to do, and often I can modify a script just enough to suit my needs. The thing that finally came to my rescue was the release of Ubercart for Drupal™. It is no big secret how much I enjoy working with Drupal™, and my background with the software helped a lot in putting together such a bear of a project. I was able to modify a few modules to suit my needs, and after long days of hacking, searching and experimenting I can feel like I have something that works.

The funny thing was that I barely had a chance to draw a breath before my lack of fundamental knowledge came right up to hit me between the eyes. I am at a point where any study I can do will help me more than the work I could do instead. The work is piling up and will continue to do so, but hours spent toward understanding will save days of work later.

So, would you like to see the big project? It is at Row By Row Bookshop. Yes, I really was kidding about the finished part, there is still a lot to be done. Sure enough though, you can order a book and pay for it right here online. Please do me the courtesy of leaving a comment here if you see anything amiss. There is something about an e-commerce site that makes me reluctant to open it up for viewing, and I can't help but think I have the proverbial spinach in my teeth where all can see.

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