YUI lovin

I’m working on some redesign work for one of my under maintained sites at the moment, with something of a redesign in the works. It seemed a good opportunity to play more with YUI, the Yahoo User Interface Library, which I’d had a peak at before and heard nice things about (sorry, I like the long namespaces).

I’ve nothing finished yet past a proof of concept, but I thought a couple of lines of javascript wouldn’t go a miss. Nothing fancy mind, just some nice bits I like so far.

The case in point was wanting to add event handlers to an unknown number of links within an unordered list.

First off a quick, clever, one liner. onAvailable checks for the availability of the object (if you remove the quotes) or an object with a specified id in this case. It executes the callback function, init in this case, when the condition is true.

YAHOO.util.Event.onAvailable("iList", init);

Moments later we have events added to all the links.

function init() { var links = document.getElementById("iList").getElementsByTagName("A"); YAHOO.util.Event.addListener(links, "click", clickCallback); }

Again you just throw in whatever you happen to be working with (in this case an array returned by getElementsByTagName) and everything just gets dealt with. I originally had a for loop, iterating over the links and adding events, then I worked out YUI just did it all for me if I let it. I like that. I could have done it myself. YUI would have let me and not complained. But if I want to delve a bit I can find cool, quick, clean ways of doing the same thing. I refactored my code, with the help of YUI in ten minutes. I like that, but I think I said that.

More dConstruct craziness

Last year I missed out on dconstruct, this year I sat and watched the timer tick down. Which didn’t help hugely as a fair few other people were doing the same thing and the site went into what appeared to be a javascript induced page request meltdown. Oh well. Everything worked out in the end, I paid my money for myself and a colleague to attend and so did 348 or so other people and it’s now sold out. Why do I get a feeling I could name half the people attending? and be about right?

Their will again I’m sure be more web conference as trendy holiday for web geeks and nothing else conversations, but again I dont care. I haven’t had the chance to do any holidays at all for ages unless you count Carson and @media, and I learn lots again as well.

Well, I’ve fired up the dConstruct feed thing again, although I need to update the codebase with the latest version as it lacks the bits I added (like new post indicators and the stats) more recently. Give me a week or so.

Much more interestingly, and entertainingly, I have to recommend the dConstruct Podcast. I listen to podcasts on occasion, always grab talks from conferences and the like and subscribed because it was their. I didn’t expect it to be a rock and roll fourteen minutes of comedy genius. Everyone who’s been to one of Jeremy’s talks or sessions will know he’s an enthusiastic and engaging presenter, but little did we know about the comic inside. Ok, so you need to know everyone, so maybe it’s a bit incestuous, but it’s still funny. Through in some more info about the upcoming event and everyone will be laughing. More of the same please.

On the web design podcast front; anyone know of any good magazine style programmes on web design and development? or even better a weekly comic look at the industry?

@media in pictures

I always take ages to get photos off my camera. It’s like the sort of delay you would get if you sent them off to be developed. Anyhow, I’ve finally sorted out my @media photos and uploaded a few to flickr. Have a look if you feel so inclined. I’ve included a few below, mainly because these ones made me chuckle:

A look of sheer horror if ever their was one from Patrick.

Patrick H Lauke on the big screen

Is “Chris Wilson”: not the spitting image of He Man?

Chris Wilson

If this isn’t caption competition material I dont know what is. Norm was most definately the man that night.

Norm. nuff said.

Ah. The famous straw incident. Featuring Nic and an awful lot of straws.

A drink very very full of straws

And I’m still trying to decide what was funnier; the fact Patrick set up a bird bath in the middle of the pub, or the fact it took him and Meri quite a while with the instructions to put it together.

A bird bath with instructions

Some people have been saying that the socialising is getting in the way of the learning and sundry at these conferences. I’ve got to disagree. You just cant ignore the socialising, not when it’s this much fun. But that doesn’t mean the message doesn’t get drilled home too.

Who is pushing the envelope anyhow?

Update UCAS to the rescue. Here are lists of graphic design courses and their ilk. Go get em.

Jeremy posted a thought provoking read that tapped into somethings I’ve been thinking about of late, and others that have been somewhere in my head for a while. In a nut shell:

Most designers have simply swapped the old technology (tables and font tags) for the new technology, without fully exploring what’s so completely new.

I’ve got to say I tend to agree with pretty much everything Jeremy said. I could pick up on liquid layouts being harder (I dont think that’s completely true once you’ve done a good number, it’s like anything new, it just takes getting your head around) but that’s just nit picking.

One thing I will comment on is some of what I see as the reasoning and, if I can think of anything, some things we can do to counter them.

One issue is that most of the designs are not done by designers in my opinion. I’m not really sure I count as a designer here, I flit between too many disciplines to be completely comfortable with the title (or most titles to be honest). The perceived technicalities of CSS (it’s plain text) can put those without that bend (ie. Photoshop users) off, and at the same time attract people who thing vim is cool. Combine this with a truly fantastic online community full of helpful tutorials and you have a recipe for technically good, but creatively stunted, websites. Throw into the mix easily replicated techniques (rounded corners and gradients anyone?) and gallery sites with a low barrier to entry and you get to where we are now.

And I dont really think all of this is bad? Anyone can put together web pages, even half decent web sites. For me that just makes it more fun/challenging to do it professionally and demonstrate real value. Everyone can paint, but how many people can say they can paint well? And I dont mean your skirting boards. Some are already sounding the death knell for gallery sites. The real gallery is and should be the web itself. If design is about communicating, unless your aim is to communicate to other web standards designers, the galleries should be the last thing on your mind.

But where are the new breed of designers? The people doing the sorts of things that Jeremy wishes were happening right now (or more likely happened last year)? Malarkey’s book will be stunning if the bits and pieces he mentioned at @media are anything to go by, but who is going to force it into the hands of the graphic design student, or the art college graduate. And beat them over the head with it until they are ready to come work with me? Or you? Or me and you if you work with me already.

I’m now vaguely miffed. I thought right, I’m going to go and get myself a list of all the uk design degrees and put it up here. People could then leave comments, ring them up and try and get in to speak to these people about web design and report back. If the mountain won’t come to mohamed and all that. Except guessing and googling didn’t turn up anything useful. The design council had lots about education (in theory) but then the search facility broke (and the fact it appears to be a table based love child of the old adobe site and BD4D). UCAS are doing maintenance and are offline until midnight. I’ll post a list when I can get by hands on one. Or if you have better luck let me know. Funky logos and pithy slogans can come later, as can a big pile of presentations and materials if anyone, inlcuding me, ever does anything about it.

So. Who’s with me? I dont care if your scared of public speaking (or just scared of speaking in general, or even scared of the public). You’ll know more than the students in any case and that makes you dangerous. And they might have the ideas, and enthusiasm, we need to pass beyond the limits of our current design problems.

I know I went off in something of a straight line here. I made a bee line for design education. I could have detoured to visual design tools or photoshop designers with a loving for print and a propensity to want a 350 page website look like their comps. Both of them. Feel free to go off on a tangent yourselves, and let me know what you think.

Making things better

I love this idea. It has a nice warm fuzzy feeling about it. Molly was musing about a code of ethics for professional web developers. Talk went on at @media about certification and education and the like, and the general concensus was pretty negative, for good reason in my opinion.

However, a code of ethics, more a stamement of intent from professional to professional, strikes me as a really good idea. It’s easy to forget that it can be difficult when learning (and aren’t we always learning in this job?) to really get down to best practice. It can be difficult to just do it at times, never mind do it properly what ever that means.

After reading on the comments I was feeling pretty good, and a few from the bottom I was thinking, I’ll set up a wiki, as suggested. Well, Meri got their first so good job Meri, it keeps it in Newcastle any how. Head over there now, it’s fairly light on content at the moment but I guess that is the point of this point.

What do other people think of this anyhow? Now I need to find some time. Or rather more time. I love being all enthusiastic, if only I found the time! I’m going to have to cut down on sleep, and I so like sleep.

IE 7 Readiness toolkit

Chris Wilson, during his @media presentation mentioned in passing the IE 7 Readiness Toolkit. This vaguely uninspiring title hides a very nice collection of essential tools for discerning web developers on Windows.

IE is painful we already know that. We have a large number of tools available in Firefox to help us out, but sometimes you need to go to the source. Along with a nice rip off implementation of a web developer toolbar, it also put me onto the Fiddler (what is it about these names) which is an HTTP Debugging proxy. What? Well it sits next to IE and monitors all HTTP traffic, allowing you to find out exactly what’s going on. Very handy indeed, and worth running just to see what’s really going on, especially in Ajax land.

A couple of other interesting tools are included that I’ve not had a look at yet, the Expression Finder looks particularly interesting. It basically tracks down any hacks in your files and tells you off.

All in all a good move from Microsoft. What with Open Search being integrated into IE 7 as well, and RSS maybe reacing a tipping point eventually (Non geeks will believe my predictions one day) things might be looking up.

And then it was all over

Yes folks. @media 2006 is all over. Except for the year thing, everything else really was doubled. Double the people. Double the speakers. Double the number of chairs (no sitting on the floor this time!)

I made a list of a couple of things to make sure I did. Well how did I do?

  • Take photos – Check. I’ll upload as I get a chance, but in the meantime their are already quite a few over on the atmedia flickr tag
  • More SubEthaEdit note taking – With the problems with the wi-fi this was held to a single session on WCAG 2.0 with Steve and Ben
  • Eat food (You know who I’m talking about) – Again score one. Some photos from a nice mexican place on the Thursday with Olly and Adam
  • Keep updating the syndicator thing – Again wi-fi problems but I did it each night anyhow. 38 new posts over the few days, and I need to add a few more sites. I do keep wondering about just using Technorati anyhow?
  • Watch the football (sorry, it is the World Cup) – I wont talk about that. Until I switched from drinking Corona to Asashi it was a little dull.

Apart from that I got up to the usual geekery. Met lots of people. Drank a few beers. Went to a few talks and panels.

I wandered around with a whole host of people. I’d try and name drop but I’d miss someone and make them feel bad. Well, ok, probably not but their you go.

The evening of the first night of the conference was particularly amusing. Wetherspoons for food, a short rant with PPK and James about (what else) Javascript and then spending the evening under the stars with Patrick, Andy and a few others was, er, entertaining? slightly disturbing? bordering on stalking? All of those and more.

Their is simply too much to say and too little time. Which sort of explains the lack of details about the sessions and my take on them. I’ll probably post more about how I think the social side of things really is an integral part of these do’s, and how Molly really does deserve some sort of medal, and, well, you get the slighty hyper idea. And with my wi-fi hopefully working at home by now keep your readers peeled for both irreverant (sorry – irrelevant) banter and hopefully a couple of interesting insights and highlights.

More name dropping next time. Promise. Oh, and leave a comment if I said hi, it’s always a pleasure guys.

Internet? Check. @media. Check!

Right. It might have taken an overlong trip to London but I’ve finally got a spare moment and internet access. All back to normal hopefully soon. (mmmm)

Anyway… @media! It was ages ago, then some magical time warp type thing happened and it’s June all of a sudden. And I cant wait. Which is fairly handy as I’ll shortly be heading out to the pre show party to meet at least some people I know (or at least vaguely recognise from somewhere, once, maybe) and hopefully some new faces, always a solid part of the conferences I think.

Some of the things I want to do over the next couple of days, besides listen to alot of good stuff. (Rereading this I realised I just refered to Molly, Tantek, Jeffrey, Eric and everyone as good stuff. This is likely to be something of an understatement. No offence intended!)

  • Take photos
  • More SubEthaEdit note taking
  • Eat food (You know who I’m talking about)
  • Keep updating the syndicator thing
  • Watch the football (sorry, it is the World Cup)

And I’ve no idea which sessions I’m going along to before you ask. I’m still pretending I can go to all of them to avoid the disapointment.

I’ve been doing all sorts of stuff I want to blog about; I’m doing a Masters type usability and testing certificate, playing with more PEAR, I’ve been having a play with Codeigniter quite a bit as well, which is lovely (thanks Matt) and have a couple more small apps in the oven. I also want to clean up a couple of olders ones (the mailing list, the feed syndicator, etc.) and still need to get round to writing a proper article. And that’s before @media, I dont want to thing how busy I’ll make myself after than once I get even more ideas.

Oh, and apologies for the delay in getting the calendar updated. And I’ve no idea why some people couldn’t find it with the search tool. Anyway, updated now, so at least people shouldn’t get lost tomorrow.

Moving and Friends

I’m afraid you’ll have to bare with me at the moment. I’m busy, moving house, have no internet outside work (except open wi-fi points) and oh, did I mention I’m busy?

I have the usual raft of ideas, inability to really finish things unless I try and a dangerous penchant for playing with ever more scripting languages (XOTcl anyone?).

Oh, the friends bit? Inspired by Molly and her incredible ability to be open about her life, I thought I’d say a huge Thank you to everyone who helped me move house this week. Much appreciated. It could have gone oh so wrong, but everyone chipping in meant everything worked out just fine.


I dont often just post links to things I find interesting. I try and warble on more about something or other that’s on my mind. However, being rather busy and coming across something that really stood out makes this here post different.

I stumbled upon DabbleDB the other day. Watched the video. Thought to my self “That’s pretty darn slick”.

DabbleDB is, pretty simply, an online database. For everyone. Ever. The blurb from the site says:

Dabble DB combines the best of group spreadsheets, custom databases, and intranet web applications into a new way to manage and share your information on the web

What does that mean? It’s basically MS Access, but better and available through a web browser. Too complicated you say? Too hard to grasp? Watch the video. Be impressed.

One claim I’m interested in getting first hand experience of is the one regarding Spreadsheets. Most people use spreadsheets as light weight (ie. flimsy) databases, rather than the number crunching powerhouses they really are. DabbleDB seems an ideal replacement to the former, but what about the latter? I remeber seeing Dean Edwards’ playing with a Javascript Spreadsheet a while back.

I have to say I haven’t used DabbleDB yet. I haven’t signed up for a one month trial because I know I wouldn’t have time to explore properly just now. Everything that I’m excited about comes from the video, the site and the attached blog. When (not if) I get round to having a proper look I’ll try and remeber to post something.

Pretty much all your common desktop apps are now available through a browser, except crazy things like image editing. Oh and the browser itself. Now their’s an idea. A meta browser. Within your browser window open up several smaller windows, maybe using different rendering engines or setups running remotely?