Tuesday, November 30, 2004

ATAG; The Other White Meat...I mean W3C guideline

Most people think that reading W3C recommendations are on the same level of getting a root canal, despite the fact that some might be very helpful. The Web Accessibility Initiative Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group is working on the next release of the Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines. This guidelines help to promote that people who make authoring tools(anything that makes HTML or web content in general) develop them in a way that promotes web accessibility.


There are many different authoring tools out. Somethings that you use are authoring tools and you probably wouldn't have thought are authoring tools. This is what ATAG lists as the defintion of an authoring tool:

Code-level Authoring Functions: Authors have full control over all aspects of the resulting Web content that have bearing on the final outcome. This covers, but is not limited to plain text editing, as this category also covers the manipulation of symbolic representations that are sufficiently fine-grained to allow the author the same freedom of control as plain text editing (e.g. graphical tag placeholders).
Examples: text editors, text editors enhanced with graphical tags, etc.

WYSIWYG ("What-you-see-is-what-you-get") Authoring Functions: Authors have control over entities that closely resemble the final appearance and behavior of the resulting Web content.
Examples: rendered document editors, bitmap graphics editors, etc.

Object Oriented Authoring Functions: Authors have control over functional abstractions of the low level aspects of the resulting Web content.
Examples: timelines, waveforms, vector-based graphic editors, etc.

Indirect Authoring Functions: Authors have control over only high-level parameters related to the automated production of the resulting Web content. This may include interfaces that assist the author to create and organize Web content without the author having control over the markup, structure, or programming implementation.
Examples: content management systems, site building wizards, site management tools, courseware, weblogging tools, content aggregators, and conversion tools, etc.

Does your authoring tool support ATAG 1.0?
ATAG Checklist

Have Questions? email me

mobile photo blogging

I have a pretty cool cell phone. One thing I never really understood is why someone would want to have a camera on their cell phone. They take horrible pictures. In the last few months I have reallly gotten into using it. The only question that I had is how am I going to get the pictures from my camera to people.

At a conference one of the presenters I heard said there was the ability to take a picture on your camera and post it right to a blog. Well I have found it, Phlog.net. You take the picture and then e-mail it to a special e-mail address for yoru photo blog. Then people can check in to see what photos you have taken recently. It's pretty cool.

So if i were on vacation I could be out at a landmark taking a picture and post it immediately, for everyone to see.

My mobile photo blog:

powerpoint is making us stupid

In the past the only thing visual aids were used for in presentations was to show graphs are or charts. People needed the ability to take complex data and put it in a way that people could understand and it could be presented. Recently with the age of microsoft powerpoint we have presenters using it to push content at us with the words that they want us to remember.

I was reading a blog entry, Jerry Veen's Death by Auto Content someone wrote about a MIT paper they were reading. It's very fascinating.

It's a fascinating look at how PowerPoint has, essentially, automated lazy thought. Or, to put it another way, created bullet-point expectations for all organizational knowledge.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

accessibility - the google argument

I was reading a colleagues blog where he referenced an e-mail about how an argument for implmenting accessibility in a web site is that Google is the biggest blind user. I was intrigued and was forced to read on

From the original e-mail:

The premise: Google is, for all intents, a blind user. A billionaire
blind user with tens of millions of friends, all of whom hang on his
every word. I suspect Google will have a stronger impact than the ADA
in building accessible websites.

Other arachnocides:

- Java/Javascript dependencies.
- Obviously CGI-driven sites ('bots avoid these as they tend to be
spider traps)
- Session-ID'd URLs. There's no there there....
- Audio content (not searchable)
- Text-as-graphics. Google handles a number of formats, but it
doesn't OCR. Scanned PDF and PS docs suffer a similar fate
(ordinary PDFs are searchable).
- Changeable sites. The longer you stay in one place, the better your
Google score. Don't move content.

It's an interesting premise.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Donald Norman is going to be giving a lecture at Penn State

Donald Norman is going to be giving a lecture at Penn State on Friday from 330 - 430pm that is going to be web cast live. The lecture is about "Emotional Design."

For those that aren't familiar with Don Norman, he is one of the "godfathers" of usability and user-centered design. His book "The Design of Everday Things" changed the way I look at the world, the objects, and interfaces that i use (especially the web). His new book "Emotional Design," which I assume is what he is talking about, is about how things that are more attractive are more usable.

It is only an hour long. I would highly recommend that everyone tune in.

Update, Nov 21 - Penn State screwed up the link on the day of the lecture. They have archived the lecture and you can watch it now. I watched the lecture today at work and it was excellent. He talked about how behavorial, reflective, and visceral design are being used in the design of products today. I ask, is anyone trying to capture emotion in the design of web sites?

http://live.ist.psu.edu/ - Then you have to click on "IST Distinguished Lecture Series"

Saturday, November 20, 2004

corporate blogging at Google

A version of Blogger, Googles Blog Tool (the one this blog is developed with), has been implemented within the corporation of Google. In a Macworld story they talk about how Google employees are using blogs to help with their day to day business.

"Since then, we have seen a lot of different uses of blogs within the firewall: people keeping track of meeting notes, people sharing diagnostics information, people sharing snippets of code, as well as more personal uses, like letting co-workers know what they're thinking about and what they're up to," Jason Goldman, Blogger product manager, said.

This is awesome. Blogs have really taken off as a way to communicate. I think they will be the future. I think google is really on to something.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

down with powerpoint

"Power corrupts. Powerpoint corrupts absolutely."
- Edward Tufte at Yale

CSS master Eric Meyer and his crew have developed S5, a system for developing presentation slides using XHTML, CSS, DHTML and Java Script. It's cross browser compatible. It is also ALOT more accessible then any type of powerpoint based presentation.

If you are looking to break away from the hold of Microsoft Powerpoint. I would check this out. I am convinced. I'll never use powerpoint again if I don't have to.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Cingular - - an advocate of web standards

I am a customer of AT&T wireless. Recently AT&T Wireless was bought out by Cingular; making a massive wireless network. Well apparently to get their features (ie rollover minutes ..**smiles) I have to switch over to a new phone with the Cingular software in it.

Last nite was looking at their site and apparently they were taking it down for maitenance. I got a page that said you could be getting this because your browsers is not standards compliant. They were pointing people to the Web Standards Project website. Cingular's website is apparently all laid out in CSS.

Way to go Cingular!!!

I found this article - Web Standards Group - CSS Example Sites (Cingular is listed)

Monday, November 15, 2004

Bloglines - Great Way to Store Feeds Online

I have found this really awesome site www.bloglines.com. It's an online feed reader. You can take xml & rss feeds from a bunch of different web sites and display them on one web site. One thing I didn't like about rss reader software was that I couldn't take my feeds with me. On my version of bloglines i have 46 different news feeds coming in all from different sites.

I would check it out and sign up for it.


hiding content on web pages

Quite often there is information on a webpage that needs to be in HTML but we don't want the sighted user to be able to see it. There is a dilemma. Most often people will use the display or visibility attribute in CSS. This can actually also hide content from some screen readers even though the text is still on the page.

One technique that is being used more and more is to position text off the page using CSS positioning. This way the text is not rendered invisible, so it will be seen by all screen readers. The text is off the page so it can not be seen by sighted users.

There is more information about this techique and lots of other helpful information in WebAim's article - An Accessible Method of Hiding HTML Content.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

web accessibility bar for IE 5

I found this really cool web accessibility bar from the National Information Library Service in Austrailia. It's an add on to Microsoft Internet Explorer. The bar gives you lots of built in validation tools that you can use with pages you are on.

Some features:

  • resizing the page to different resolutions

  • send the page url to evalutation tools (bobby, cynthia)

  • disable style sheets

  • disable color

  • show heading structure

  • and much much more

This is very very cool. This is a MUST download for anyone who does web development.


eric meyer...the style sheet master

this a cool article about Eric Meyer and some of the cool things he's doing with cascading style sheets.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

My first CSS Design

We have been trying to slowly move things over at work to CSS-based design. So when I heard that we were going to redesign the office web site, I knew that this would be a good occasion. At Applications Programming, I knew we wanted to be an example of good development practices, so i figured I could probably seal the idea of using CSS.

I got the template for the design from a site called the Noodle Incident. They provide a whole bunch of css box designs that developers can use as a start for a web site. I had to do a lot of tweaking on the design to get it to work right.

Something cool that we did with this site is get it to validate to XHTML 1.0 Strict.

Microsoft is starting to feel the "fire"

Information Week - Microsoft feels Mozilla's fire(fox)

Apparently Microsoft is already planning an attack against Mozilla Firefox 1.0, which was officially released today. Apparently the browsers numbers are already starting to show a trend of people slowly moving away from Microsoft Internet explorer.

Mozilla Firefox 1.0 is official

It is official Mozilla Firefox 1.0 is no longer a beta release.

Download it and lets take back the web from Internet Explorer. I

f you are friends with a web developer and want to show them how much you appreciate them; uninstall internet explorer on your computer and download mozilla firefox.

Friday, November 05, 2004

the user's point of view

I just read an article/interview about a blind person and what their opinion of how easy new web sites are to use. I think it is interesting. All too often we talk about making web sites accessible but don't ever think about the disabled user and their perspective.


Thursday, November 04, 2004

email address encoder

A lot of people don't like putting their email address on the web because they are afraid that they are going to get spam. Penn State University made an e-maill address encoder. It takes the e-maill address part of the "mailto:whatever@yahoo.com" and makes it an ASCII string that can't be picked up by spiders. It's pretty cool.

Monday, November 01, 2004

usable accessibility guidelines

Mary Theofanos and Ginny Redish did a paper that recently got published about usable accessibility. They were looking to based on research and usability testing put together some guidlines for making accessibility more usable. I think what they came up with was very interesting.

I saw this presented at UPA 2004 in Minneapolis. It was presented to a packed room.

Accessfiy.com - Guidelines for Accessible and Usable Web Sites: Observing Users Who Work With Screen Readers