News : December 2006
Web Directions North discount deadline
Maxine Sherrin just informed me that the special discount pricing for Web Directions North has been extended. The deadline may seem like a little ways off (January 14th Pacific time) but due to the holidays and everyone being busy with family and such I thought I would post about it now as reminder. You really can’t beat the discount price at $895.00 CDN (that is about $770.00 USD). So what are you waiting for? Go and register before it’s too late.
DW Blogger: John Allsopp
We’re pleased to announce that John Allsopp will be regularly blogging news about microformats in this Daily News column. John, an influential web standards man known for creating the CSS editor Style Master and for organizing Web Directions conferences, among other accomplishments, will be coming out with his book Microformats: Empowering Your Markup for Web 2.0 in April.
Microformats in Firefox 3
A number of recent developments relating to Firefox 3 and microformats raise the hope that the next version of many people’s favorite browser will support microformats natively. Recently, Alex Faaborg, user experience designer on version 3 wrote a series of articles about structured data and microformats more specifically and how they might be supported in browsers.
Part 0 is an introduction
Part 1 is called “structured data chaos”
Part 2 asks “If Firefox 3 is potentially going to ship with native support for microformat detection, then a very important initial question becomes which ones?”
Shortly after, Michael Kaply from IBM released the first version of “Operator” an extension for Firefox which adds a toolbar enabling various meaningful actions to be performed with the microformatted content found on a page. Find more details, screenshots and analysis at microformatique
Two big steps toward seeing microformats becoming first class citizens on the web.
It looks like Jeff Croft has redesigned his personal site. I am not sure why he redesigned (maybe it was me pointing to his site as an example of good design), the old design was pretty damn good… never the less, well done Jeff. I love the panavision style layout and the black, white and orange color scheme. Of course, I am a fan for obvious reasons. Speaking of which, lets see if I can plan to redesign my personal site before the new year… and launch the OmniGraffle version of my IA Stencils… and design my best friends wedding site… and… and… Wish me luck, I’ll need it!
Our Favorite Books of 2006
With looming deadlines, a web full of articles to read, and, oh yeah, lives to lead, I suspect many of us read fewer books than we buy. Significantly fewer. So, making our staff’s list of favorite web-related books had to begin with some honesty. Which two books, that we’ve really and truly read this year, were our favorites, regardless of publication date?
- My (Carolyn Wood’s) first choice is the recently published PHP Solutions by David Powers. My understanding of PHP is limited. I wanted a book that could help me make sites more dynamic—painlessly, and PHP Solutions filled the bill. I’m still reading it but I’m already using his “solutions” on sites.
- Nick Finck recommends Mobile Interaction Design by Matt Jones and Hot-Wiring Your Creative Process: Strategies for Print and New Media Designers by Curt Cloninger.
- Tiff Fehr seconds the vote for Tufte and adds The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun.
- Matthew Pennell has been recommending Andy Budd’s CSS Mastery (also on my list of favorites) all year, and he thought The Elements of Graphic Design: Space, Unity, Page Architecture and Type by Alexander White was very good.
- Finally, Walker Hamilton enjoyed Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know, and Pragmatic Version Control – Using Subversion, which he says “made subversion that much more enthralling.” Was he winking when he said that?
What are your favorites from 2006?
Nate Steiner tells me that there is a free update to Headdress out. Headdress is a cool little piece of software created by Arturo Rodriguez that enhances your Mac’s ability to virtually host web sites on your local network without needing to nest your sites or dig through config files.
MacSanta Software Sale
If you’ve got more holiday shopping to do for your favorite Mac user, MacSanta can help. A fistful of independent Mac developers are running a special—20% off their software until Christmas. No gimmicks, just a coupon code, and you’re saving more than cookie dough.
Tanya Merone’s one page site
Tanya Merone has accomplished what I once set out to do; design a personal site that is only one page. Her site is a portfolio of the work she has done and she did a very good job with the attention to details in the design and architecture. I sometimes see sites that are thousands of pages deep and wonder why. Simplification of the message and the content should always be a priority in any website.
Todd Warfel’s Task Analysis Grid
Todd Warfel has a post up about The Task Analysis Grid, the usable and efficient answer to the age old requirements document. He writes, “essentially, this single document allows anyone looking at it to see the entire scope of a project, figure out what’s in this release as well as what we’re planning for future releases. It’s an extremely effective artifact for getting everyone on the same page.” Take a look at the PDF example he provided. Well done Todd! Be sure to check out Todd’s other posts on usability, prototyping, ethnography and more. All great reads. [via Keith Robinson]
Last chance to enter your site
Don’t be a loser enter your sites into the /files/includes/10.cssth Annual SXSW Interactive Web Awards. The official deadline is Friday, December 15th at midnight CST for you last minute slackers (we know who you are!). For those who are planning on attending SXSW Interactive, you got to check out the awards show that Shawn O’Keefe on ever year. This year it is going to be held on Sunday evening, March 11th and Ze Frank is going to be the Emcee, so it’s going to rock. See you there, and get your websites entered!
Andy Clarke’s Transcending CSS
Andy Clarke’s new book arrived yesterday (a Christmas gift—don’t tell my sister I opened it!). I spent a little time with it this morning. Wow. Transcending CSS is gorgeous and inspiring, a synergistic approach to web design that is technically flawless, brilliantly beautiful, and passionately future-oriented. Very few books have the power to motivate you to being a better designer, both visually and “under the hood.” Transcending CSS is just that sort of book. I can’t wait to sit down and dig deeper.
In memory of Leslie Harpold
Today the web community has lost one of its own. Leslie Harpold, whom I have come to know as the publisher of Smug when it was cranking away, has passed away. I don’t know the details or anything, but there are a few blog posts out there about this, one from Rebecca Blood, Merlin Mann, and Lance Arthur. It’s times like these where news between one publisher and the next travels fast. This news came to me from my dear friend Meryl Evans. No matter our differences, publishers value and respect each other. I valued and respected Leslie’s work. We will miss her dearly.
Snowboard Design Winners!
We are happy to announce the winners of our snowboard design contest. Judges were Dan Cederholm, Dave Shea, Veerle Pieters, (all speaking at the Web Directions North conference that inspired the contest), and the Digital Web staff: Tiff Fehr, Nick Finck, Kerri Hicks, Matthew Pennell, Walker Hamilton, and me. The top five winners, in order, are:
- Geoff Gibson
- Dene Denend
Congratulations, Mark! We’ll be awarding our lovely list of prizes this week to these winners and to our runners-up, based on winners’ availability to attend the conference, preferences, and so forth. See the list of our top /files/includes/10.css winners, and our two special Innovative Board Award winners, and the full list of prizes on our contest page. The contest has been a blast, and even those who didn’t win the top prizes have been saying, “We should do this again!” Thanks again to the following generous companies, for showing their support to the web standards community:
- 50% off of Media Temple’s great new Grid Server, FOR LIFE
- Studio 8: Flash Professional, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and Contribute from the folks at Adobe
- CSS for Designers Training Videos by Andy Clarke and Molly Holzschlag from Lynda.com
- A Training Video CD of your choice from Lynda.com
- Studiometry4, the professional’s organization tool
- Perennial favorite BBEdit, the Professional HTML and Text Editor for the Mac, from Bare Bones Software.
- Mac information organizer Yojimbo, also from Bare Bones.
- /files/includes/10.css0 photo credits and a snappy t-shirt from istockphoto
- Beginning Ajax with PHP by Lee Babin, from Apress
- Rails Solutions: Ruby on Rails Made Easy by Justin Williams, from friends of Ed
- Nifty PHP stuff for designers explained by Charles Wyke-Smith in Codin’ for the Web from New Riders/Peach Pit
- Dan Brown’s Communicating Design from New Riders/Peach Pit
- A large moleskin regular sketchbook, a large watercolor sketchbook, and a 2007 moleskin pocket planner from the great moleskinerie
- Last, but by no means least, 3 copies of the much-anticipated new book from designer Mark Boulton, Five Simple Steps.
Winter Hiatus 2006
You can still expect announcements and other posts to this news column this month, but we’re taking our usual end-of-year break from publishing. We’ll return January 8th with some great articles. Also in January, we’ll launch our annual reader survey. My thanks to our talented and dedicated staff, to Nick Finck for the opportunity he has provided us to be part of a great tradition on the web, and to the stellar group of people who have contributed articles this year.
Sean Madden tells me that they have launched DSButtons.com. DS Buttons is a site where you can order a set of buttons to tell the world you own a Nintendo DS and what games you have. Think of it as WarChalking for those with DSs. It makes for a great stocking stuffer for those DS gamers in your life. Also be sure to check out the cool drag and drop set creator on their site. Congrats to Sean Madden, John Vollmer and Tom Watson for creating such a cool site for the gaming community.
The SXSW Interactive Web Awards
Speaking of contests and awards, my man Shawn O’Keefe at SXSW Interactive has reminded me that there are less than 5 days left to enter your sites into the /files/includes/10.cssth Annual SXSW Interactive Web Awards presented by Adobe. Now, in order to make sure your site qualifies, it needs to have been launched or completely redesigned in 2006. They have sixteen categories to enter. Finalists will be announced in mid-January. The winners of the competition will be revealed at the SXSW Interactive Web Awards Ceremony on Sunday, March 11. Digital Web Magazine is proud to be an online media partner for the SXSW Interactive Web Awards.
New Issue: LukeW on Packaging Your App, Williams on RoR, Collison on Collison
We’re celebrating the holidays with a big splashy 3-article issue this week. First up, Luke Wroblewski, who writes insightful design and IA articles at his site Functioning Form, looks at what web app designers can learn from the masters of packaging design in Packaging Design for Web-based Products. Next, we asked Justin Williams to explain Ruby on Rails to those of us who aren’t code warriors, which he does very nicely in Ruby on Rails for the Rest of Us. Justin also has a book coming out in January, called Rails Solutions: Ruby on Rails Made Easy, from our friends at friends of Ed. Finally, Simon Collison, aka Colly, is one of the most talented people around and he has a lot to say in my interview with him, about his design process, his love of illustration and music, working with clients, Erskine Design, and much more. Enjoy!
Digital Web Events Calendar
If you look at our top navigation, you’ll see a new tab called Events. This calendar lists events of interest to web professionals. We started work on this way back in June or July, and a few weeks ago finally had time to get it up and running. Eventually we’ll incorporate it more into the design of our home page, and add some more features. Listings are free and you can subscribe using iCal and possibly some other calendar applications, so you can stay on top of event news. Consider this your invitation to list conferences, half day and full day workshops (list them separately), and other events on any subject related to our work. Thanks to Walker Hamilton, Matthew Pennell, and Mike West for making this happen!