Archived entries for Design

Rounding Off the Edges

In Alex Russell’s latest blog post, When Utility Isn’t Enough, he writes that he’s “starting to focus more and more on the ’sharp edges’ of the web development experience.” I think he’s suggesting that we — tool developers and envelope pushers — might best spend our time reducing the pain points instead of always chasing the latest advancement. I agree. He continues that:

“rounding off the sharp edges is an exercise in usability: things are only useable (sic) when they do what you expect them to. A system that hurts you more than you expect isn’t useable.

I share his conclusion that “sacred cows and continually sunk costs” can’t continue forever.

Come to think of it, this is probably one of the chief issues of the past year, and forward too. A common manifestation of this syndrome is the ongoing struggle between “because it’s the standard” and “because it works.”

wow: photosynth

Watch the video demo of photosynth from microsoft’s labs to see what’s possible when the world has zillions of photos of everything. (Hint: you can go inside them in 3D.)

How to Use YUI Grids for Fluid CSS Page Layout

For those of you not reading 24ways each day this month, allow me to point out that I wrote a tutorial for it that’s live right now. It’s called Intricate Fluid Layouts in Three Easy Steps, and teaches you how to build CSS layouts that work on all modern browsers effortlessly using YUI Grids. Enjoy!

Also, I suppose I should let you know that I’m flying out on a redeye flight tonight to start my winter holiday. I hope to write once more before shuttering things, but if I don’t get a chance let me be among the first to wish you a very happy new year.

Web Builder 2.0 Slides

I’m back in my suite at Ceasar’s in Vegas, having just finished presenting my third of three talks at the Web Builder 2.0 conference. Yesterday I presented two talks: my Accessible DHTML talk, and my Yahoo! vs. Yahoo! DHTML Case Studies talk. Today I presented a new talk titled Inside the Yahoo! User Interface (YUI) Library. All three seemed well received, and it was an honor to have a packed room for each. I met lots of great people, and am looking forward to following up with all the new people I met. (Please drop me a note if I didn’t get your email address!)

The Yahoo! User Interface (YUI) Library

This talk was in four parts: Why we build it; What we built; Why we gave it away; Why you might like using it.

Accessible DHTML

What are some techniques for making modern web interfaces accessible?

Yahoo! vs. Yahoo! – Case Studies of Three Mainstream, Large-Scale Ajax/DHTML Implementations

How do you manage complex object/event interfaces? Memory Management? Data Transportation? Etc.

My Two Refresh06 Presentations

Phil Palmieri, Chad Cole, and the Refresh Orlando team put on a great web conference this month in Orlando, Florida, called Refresh06. I presented two talks, “Creating Accessible DHTML” and “The Yahoo! User Interface (YUI) Library”. Descriptions and download links for both talks are below.

Creating Accessible DHTML

The Internet’s dramatic shift from static to dynamic sites presents a series of new challenges to those committed to and dependent upon accessibility.

The Yahoo! User Interface (YUI) Library

The YUI Library (http://developer.yahoo.com/yui, http://yuiblog.com) is an open-source, a la carte JavaScript library for building richly interactive web apps using techniques such as DOM scripting, DHTML and AJAX. This library – free for the world to use – contains the exact same code that we use on globally and at massive scale on scores of Yahoo sites.

Conference Review

I really enjoyed myself at this conference because it reminded me how lucky we are to have such a passionate and dedicated community in our profession. In my experience, the web design and web development communities are earnest, passionate, and collaborative. (btw, cookies to the person who identifies the origin of that triplet phrase.) Given a choice, I’d always rather surround myself with people who love what they do. It’s fun learning, it’s fun sharing what we learn, and it’s fun bonding over common struggles.

I appreciated all the conversations at this conference. Because it was a relatively small event – about 65 people I guess – we all got lots of quality time. The big group dinners of 40 and 50 people were good, as were the 10-top lunch outing and obligatory pub duty. Here are just a few of the people I wanted to give a thank-you shout-out too (with apologies to the many I’m fogetting right now: Cyndi and Brian Fling from Blue Flavor in Seattle. Bruce Cooke, Varick , Joey and all the cool guys at nGenWorks, and Varick in particular for the great sketch (above) and permission to use it. Cindy Li, the Design Rabbit herself. Mike Girouard, aka Mike G, had a nice style full of passion for the web (he teaches at Full Sail, among other things). Janet Lynn Ford came down from Minnesota (midwest represent!), and we had a great talk about the ongoing stuggle for Accessibility. She and I have definitely been through some of the same things. Dave Hime and Rhodes Gibson were great contacts to meet. Their company, go9media does good work with an Accessibility focus – I look forward to working with them in the future. Jared Smith and I have some nice talks – though not as much as I’d have liked. He posted his User-center, Standards-driven Web Accessibility presentation on the WebAIM site. Faruk Ates, Jeremy Keith, Paul Boag, Andy Budd, Cameron Moll (great chat – happy for your plans!), Jina Bolton, Garret Dimon, Dan Rubin, Jason Garber. Last but not least, I was very happy to finally meet Stephen Anderson in person. Sharp guy, and his talk on the last day was one of the very top highlights for me.

For more about the conference, try a technorati search for “refresh06″, the event page on Upcoming.org, and the flickr tag for “refresh06″ sorted by interestingness.

Easy Video Editing with Jumpcut

I’d never heard of jumpcut.com before, but Yahoo! just acquired them and after playing with it for a few minutes I agree that it’s pretty slick. (Update: In fact, after remixing the video below in less than 30 seconds, I think it’s actually really slick.)

Jumpcut is a video site, but the coolness is their web-based online video editor. With an easy to understand Flash interface you can rearrange and trim clips and add snazzy transitions. Also cool: you can email video from the video camera on your mobile phone to the site. Every video has a “remix” button, that when clicked makes the video you’re watching editable and mixable with your own content or other content on the site.

You can slice and splice the clips. You can import Flickr photos to use in your videos. You can pull in mp3s and audio clips. Title screens are cake.

As with most video players, this one is in Flash and seems to Just Work.

All and all, a pretty cool piece of web-based software.

Update: Jumpcut announced the acquisition with a “Great Combos” video. I remixed it in 30 seconds:



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