April 2008 Archives - Broken Links Archive

The end of the font element

It was announced on the HTML Working Group mailing list this morning that the font element will be absent from the next draft of the HTML5 specification. The inclusion of font in the spec was controversial, as many (including myself) thought it was a purely decorative element that had no place in semantic code.

Of course, browsers will still have to support the element because of the many legacy sites on the web; but as of now any software that generates mark-up should use the style attribute instead. It’s a small increment better.

Unveiling my new theme

Anyone not reading this in an RSS feed will notice that I’ve installed a new theme. I was never really happy with the previous one, as it was based on a design that had been rejected from another project and was called into action before it was ready.

I’ve given this one a version number of 0.5, as I still have a lot I want to do with it, notably: embedding more microformats in the code; adding more progressive enhancement to the CSS; making more use of WordPress’ tagging system; and testing more thoroughly in IE.

However, I’m pretty pleased with the more typographic direction in this design, and am excited to be using a theme I genuinely care about.

If any readers have any constructive criticism to give, please go ahead and do so in the comments. However, do please be gentle with me!

What I saw at FoWD 2008

As promised, slightly more detailed notes on the sessions at FoWD (further links to presentations to follow). In chronological order:

Finding Inspiration for Design (Patrick McNeil)

I missed the beginning of this, but it seemed to be pretty sage, if not rather commonsense, advice (don’t just use websites for web design inspiration), as well as some notes on current trends and tips on future ones; soft colours, more use of horizontal space, more video.

User Experience vs Brand Experience (Steve Pearce and Andy Clarke)

Set up as a confrontation, but in fact both speakers were at pains to point out that both should be thought of together. Andy Clarke adds: don’t be afraid to fail, we learn from our mistakes.

Read the full article

Impressions of FOWD 2008

Yesterday I attended the Future Of Web Design London event in Kensington (along with my lovely wife). Unfortunately I’ve been suffering from some stinking virus for the past couple of days, which left me uncomfortable, occasionally in pain, and irritated. Please bear in mind that this may have coloured my perception of the event somewhat; also, please accept my apologies if you were at the event and start to suffer the same symptoms in a few days.

I’ll write short reviews of the individual sessions at a later date, but my general opinion is that it was just OK; it dealt more in current design trends than future, almost all of which you probably already know if you keep up to date with sites like A List Apart or some of the better blogs. Although that’s not to say it was a complete waste of time; few of the speakers were less than interesting, and there are always new techniques to learn or existing techniques to reinforce.

Some of the speakers suffered from not having worked (or, at least, not for a long time) in a regular agency position (if I may coin a phrase, coal-face web development), and their advice was therefore useful on a theoretical basis only. Sure, it would be great if we could make mistakes in public and make constant revisions to our websites, but who pays for that? The client almost certainly won’t. We think ourselves lucky to have some clients who are savvy enough to make annual revisions to their sites! And while I’d love to just “get better clients”, that’s just not how the real world works for those of us who don’t work at start-ups or own our own agencies.

In summary, then, compared to last year’s @media, which I found genuinely inspiring, this was ‘only’ interesting. I’ll give careful consideration as to whether or not I attend again next year.

CushyCMS Review

CushyCMS is a very simple, nice idea for allowing users to edit content on their website without giving them access to the templates. It doesn’t allow changes to mark-up or style sheets, only titles, images and blocks of copy.

It requires that the site admin marks up the blocks that will be editable by adding class=“cushycms” to their containing elements; the web-based application will then automatically find each marked element in the pages you assign to it and open a text area (with or without WYSIWYG editor) allowing the user to edit.

In its current state it wouldn’t be suitable for sites with a lot of pages, but if you run a small, brochure-type site for a customer who wanted to make occasional updates, this could be a better solution in some cases than installing a full database-powered CMS.

I’d prefer it to have a better WYSIWYG editor, and it would be more useful if the interface could be branded and hosted on your own server. However, the creators are open to feedback and these ideas and many others have been suggested already.

While it may not (yet?) be the answer to all your content management requirements, CushyCMS is a neat, clever little app that would be useful for small businesses or for small clients. It’s currently in Private Beta only, but if you watch the introductory video closely, that won’t be a barrier to entry.

CSS Variables proposal is released

I mentioned CSS Variables previously, and now the proposal has been published and I agree with authors Daniel Glazman and David Hyatt when they say:

We expect CSS Variables to receive a very positive feedback from both the Web authors’ community and browser vendors.

The syntax will be to declare the variables using the @variables at-rule, then calling them with the var() function:

@variables { keyColor: #f00; }
h1 { color: var(keyColor); }

That’s it. Beautifully simple, and I really, really look forward to seeing it implemented.



I’ve updated my Speaking page to include more conferences, more videos, and a little on my speaking requirements and preferences. I’m planning to cut down on the number of talks I give in 2014 (twelve is too many), but am always open to interesting offers and opportunities, so please get in touch if you’re organising an event.

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