Jaiku

Loop je voortdurend rond met gedachten hoe je internetmiljonair kunt worden door mee te liften op de web2.0-hype? Probeer dan niet te focussen op slimme of handige apps waar men iets aan heeft. Mijn favoriete verpozingswebsite van de laatste tijd is Jaiku, een volstrekt nutteloos (Fins) initiatief dat jouw diverse feeds en die van je vrienden aan elkaar knoopt. Wel even om het uur je ‘presence‘ aanpassen!

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Play around with Microsoft Gadgets

Yahoo! came with Widgets, so now it’s Microsoft’s turn to introduce Gadgets. It’s the same idea: little, useless programs you install on your desktop and that eat up your resources. Interesting point: Microsoft Gadgets only run on Windows Vista!

However, Microsoft also has a web alternative: live gadgets. These gadgets are installed and run on your personal start page (as Microsoft sees it) live.com. Today I had to do a bit of a research on gadgets and walked through the Windows Live Gadget Developer’s Guide. In the guide I discovered two little errors, so if you want to play around with gadgets be aware:

  1. In section “Setting Up Your Environment” is stated: “In order to develop locally hosted Gadgets within IE, ensure that you have set the ‘Access data sources across domains’ setting to ‘prompt’. Inside IE, you can check this through Tools -> Internet Options… Click on the Security tab, select internet zone and click on ‘Custom Level’. Under ‘Miscellaneous’ select ‘prompt’ for ‘Access data sources across domains’.” Be sure that this accounts for the internet zone as well as for the trusted zone!
  2. In section “Defining Content” a code example is provided with the following line “Gadgets/htmlinliner/htmlcontent.xml”. On my station this only worked with a full address: “http://localhost/Gadgets/htmlinliner/htmlcontent.xml”.

Check my delicious-links on Microsoft Gadgets. Happy gadgetting!

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Betere HTML in 37 stappen

Een paar weken geleden publiceerde Tommy Olsson zijn artikel “Bulletproof HTML: 37 Steps to Perfect Markup“. Het is een leerzaam verhaal dat soms een belerend toontje heeft, maar desalniettemin voor velen de basiskennis van HTML kan vergroten. Een aantal dingen viel mij op.

Onder standardista’s is het nogal cool om geen XHTML, maar HTML te schrijven. Belangrijkste argument is doorgaans dat je XHTML als “text/html” en niet als XML mag serveren (omdat Internet Explorer daar geen raad mee weet). So what? zou je zeggen. Tommy Olsson: “We cannot use any of the features of XHTML when serving it this way, because we are not really using XHTML at all — we’re only pretending to.” Dan zou ik wel graag willen weten wat die ‘features’ zijn. Missen we echt iets? En over missen gesproken: mis je iets als je XHTML gebruikt in plaats van HTML? Ik vermoed van niet.

Wat ik niet wist was de betekenis van de opbouw van de DOCTYPE-declaratie (als <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">). Wat doet de ‘EN’ daar bijvoorbeeld? “Note that it doesn’t say anything about the language of the web page itself; it is the language of the DTD that is specified here.” Het eerste deel van de identifier heet de ‘public identifier’ en het tweede deel de ‘system identifier’. “If the system identifier is missing, or if there is no DOCTYPE declaration at all, browsers assume that this is an old document and render it in ‘quirks mode’.” (Hé, zou Anne bewust ‘quirks mode’ triggeren?)

Ook over character encoding is Olsson verhelderend. Ik wist bijvoorbeeld niet dat de character set die je in je HTML-pagina opneemt (bijvoorbeeld “<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">“) overruled wordt door de HTTP header die je mogelijk via de server verstuurt.

Over het address-element zegt Olsson dat “A common misconception is that address is meant to be used to mark up only postal addresses, but that is not the case.” Ook telefoonnummers en andere contactinformatie kan met het address-element opgemaakt worden. Hij vergeet evenwel te vermelden dat het bij het address-element gaat om de contactinformatie die van toepassing is op de informatie die een bepaalde pagina geeft. Een adresboek bestaat dus nietuit een lange reeks address-elementen.Alleen de contactgegevens van de maker van het adresboek zou je in een address-element mogen verwachten.

Olsson licht nog een paar HTML-elementen toe die we nooit gebruiken omdat geen CMS ze ondersteunt. Maar toch is het handig om te weten dat “A certain term should only be marked up with dfn once in a document (where it is first used and explained)” en dat “A common misconception is that var should be used for marking up variables in programming code samples”.

Over het alt attribute kan nooit genoeg gezegd worden: “This text equivalent should not describe the image; it should convey the equivalent information”. Olsson geeft ook een helder voorbeeld om deze stelling toe te lichten (zie step 33).

Tot slot beweert Olsson dat de waarde van een id, name and class attribute altijd moet beginnen met een letter. Ik dacht evenwel dat het ook een underscore mocht zijn?

Een aantal van dit soort artikel tesamen zou een prachtig boek kunnen vormen over de basis en de achtergrond van HTML; verplichte kost voor iedereen die al langer dan vijf jaar met HTML zit te knoeien.

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IE7 – daar komt ie eindelijk!

The final release of IE7 is fast approaching … and I mean really fast … and will be delivered to customers via Automatic Updates a few weeks after it’s available for download.

Her en der op het net blijven mensen mopperen dat IE7 niet perfect is etc. etc. etc. Wat mij betreft heeft het IE-team gelijk en moet dit ding eindelijk een keer gereleased worden. En de mooie opdracht voor IE8 is beter te worden dan IE7!

IE7 Is Coming This Month…Are you Ready? (IE-blog)

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Bulk HTML validation

In addition to the Dutch webrichtlijnentoets you can now do a bulk validation on a complete website with the marvelous Nikita the Spider. Nikita does HTML validation and searches for broken links and more. However, it’s still in alpha and the job has to be started by hand, so be patient! (via EGS)

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RSS date formatting with MSXML4

Damn, I’ve been looking for this for a long time, but I couldn’t find a proper solution. So, what was the problem? Well, I wanted to create a page that gives an overview of several RSS-feeds I follow. The page should replicate some information of these feeds: just the title and the date of the last 5 posts. I wanted to give the date in the feed (i.e. ‘pubDate’) a nice Dutch look and feel, so the rather unreadable “Fri, 15 Sep 2006 13:57:48 +0000” would become “15 september 2006”. These RSS-feeds I parse with an XSLT-stylesheet using (Classic) ASP.

A date in a RSS-feed must be defined as RFC-822. However, I could not use the handy date-time functions for XSLT 2.0 to format this date, because these are not supported by MSXML4, the XML-parser my provider supplies. MSXML supports the ms:format-date function, but this function can handle only standard XSD date formats, which RFC-822 is not. (Bloody hell, I wanted to get back to client-side coding!)

The solution I took is the following: using VBScript in my stylesheet I parse the RFC-822 date as a string and build my Dutch date format with my own hands:


<?xml version='1.0' encoding="UTF-8"?>
<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform"
    xmlns:msxsl="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:xslt"
    xmlns:vbs="urn:schemas-sqlxml-org:vbs">

<msxsl:script language="VBScript" implements-prefix="vbs">
  <![CDATA[

   function formateDate(datum)
     dim arr, mnd, x, y, dag, jaar
     arr = Split("Jan,Feb,Mar,Apr,May,Jun,Jul,Aug,Sep,Oct,Nov,Dec", ",")
     mnd = Split("januari,februari,maart,april,mei,juni,juli,augustus,september,oktober,november,december", ",")
     For x = 0 To UBound(arr)
       If InStr(datum, arr(x)) Then
         y = InStr(datum, arr(x))
         dag = Left(datum, y)
         jaar = Mid(datum, y, 8)
         formateDate = stripNr(dag) & " " & mnd(x) & " " & stripNr(jaar)
         exit function
       End If
    Next
    formateDate = ""
   end function

   function stripNr(nr)
     dim arr, str, x
     arr = Split(nr)
     for x = 0 to UBound(arr)
       if isNumeric(arr(x)) then str = str & arr(x)
     next
     stripNr = str
   end function

  ]]>
</msxsl:script>

[... some more code ...]

I’m not sure if this is a good approach, but luckily it works, and it’s good enough for me, because the page I wanted to create is just a start page for my mother with references to several baby blogs: greut.nl/startpagina.

Nonetheless I’m very pleased to get feedback on the code, if you have a better solution, please share it with me!

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d.Construct 2006: a second feedback

The programme at d.Construct left hardly any spare time, so filling in a feedback form far before the end of the conference did not make much sense. But we had to, otherwise we didn’t take part in the contest. So here’s a quick wrap-up, which can be considered to be my final feedback for d.Construct. Let’s start with the top issues and end with the horrors:

++

  • Jeffrey Veen’s talk on Designing the complete user experience was again a splendid performance. He alone was worth the entry fee for this conference.
  • Derek Featherstone’s examples of real life accessiblity problems with simple user interfaces compensated a lot the interesting (but accessibility neglecting) speeches on AJAX and Flash.
  • Yahoo! idea of ‘hack day’ (presented by Simon Willison and Paul Hammond) is an absolutely interesting concept for other internet companies too.
  • The backnetwork (only accessible by attendees) was excellent. Well done!
  • Brighton is a perfect location for web conferences. Not that far from airports and meanwhile sunny, beachy, interesting and alternative.
  • Serving tea with milk! This is one of the greatest shortcomings of the Netherlands.

+

  • The talks on AJAX and mash-ups definitely triggered me. Being an accessibility advocate myself, I’m normally not that interested in trendy technics that break the usebility or accessibility experience. Now, I’m sure to try out some things. As Jeremy stated “just because the joy of it”.
  • Meeting other attendees is always interesting. I talked to PPK on his new book and we came to the idea that in the Netherlands we are in need of a mash-up that compares book prices of different Amazon shops (USA, UK, Germany), including their shipping fee.

  • Jeff Barr’s talk on Amazon’s web services was totally useless, being nothing more than an ordinary sales talk on Amazon’s activities. Clear:left apparently needed the money?
  • It would have been very convenient if the organisation had handed out some paper to make notes on. As blogging was nearly impossible, ordinary hand written notes came to the rescue.

– –

  • The conference centre Brighton Corn Exchange, ouch, is not a conference centre! There was so little space between the chairs that my legs still hurt and I didn’t know where to put my arms. Working on a laptop of course was impossible, even if there had been more light. I suppose there hasn’t been a lot of blogging during the day. Tip: choose something like a university auditorium for the conference?
  • There were no power supplies available in the conference room, so unless you brought in three spare batteries, your laptop would have run out of service during the first or second session. As mentioned above, blogging was hardly possible, so this is just a tip for next year. I definitely will not come back next year if these last two points won’t be solved properly.

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