News : October 2007
Moving On: Thanks to Everyone
I recently informed Nick Finck, Digital Web’s publisher, that I plan to move on in a couple of weeks. Working as editor in chief of Digital Web has been a great adventure, and I’m grateful for this incredible opportunity. Through my work here, I’ve met many of the brilliant people who are creating and envisioning the best of the web, and that includes not only the authors of our articles and people in the industry, but our very talented and hardworking staff. I’ll be around a bit more—answering emails, connecting authors (and potential authors) with other staff members, and cleaning out the (virtual) closets. Next? I’m going to devote more time to my own business, work a lot with Derek Featherstone’s company, Further Ahead, edit Mark Boulton’s upcoming book Five Simple Steps: Designing for the Web, and be involved with other juicy projects with some great people. My thanks to all of you—your passion for the work and the web has taught and inspired me.
New Issue: HD Flash Video and Site Performance
Digital Web’s own Managing Editor, Matthew Pennell, took a moment to thoroughly review the new book “High Performance Web Sites”. The book covers 14 essential points for optimum website performance that Matthew finds to be both concise and helpful. Take a look at Matthew’s book review, then consider your own website(s) performance.
Also, Tom Green, our resident Flash guru, returns with a ahead-of-the-curve exploration of Flash Player 9: Bringing HD Flash Video to the Web. Get a jump on the HD learning curve and technology curve with Tom’s step-by-step guidance.
Voices That Matter: Web Design (Live!), The Wrap-Up
It’s my last day in the city and finally we’ve got a little fog. That’s more like it, San Francisco!
The Voices That Matter: Web Design conference wraps today with a session by Eric Meyer, talking about – what else? – CSS. Cool things to do with CSS: turning a table into a bar graph, and columns with negative margin floats. Now I want to go design something.
The last sessions of the day are Make It So: Interface Design Lessons From Science Fiction and Microformats: What Are They and Wy Do I Care? – each appealing to a different kind of geek. Unfortunately (for me), I am both kinds. Which to choose? (Perhaps the SciFi section will give me some tips on self cloning…)
Events Calendar RSS Feeds
Not to toot my own company’s horn here but Jeff Croft has a really good post about BlueprintCSS. For those who do not know Blueprint is a CSS framework, which aims to cut down on your CSS development time. It gives you a solid CSS foundation to build your project on top of, with an easy-to-use grid, sensible typography, and even a stylesheet for printing. Jeff’s post, BlueprintCSS 101, goes into more detail from the ground up about what it does, how to incorporate it and much more. If you do frontend development and want to streamline your process you are going to want to read this post.
Farewell beloved Judy's Book
For those in the U.S. and especially those in the Seattle area you may have heard of a site called Judy’s Book. Judy’s Book started out from a small book of personal notes on local restaurants, plumbers, landscapers and more was shared with a large circle of friends over the years. The book grew beyond it’s original single source format and eventually Andy and Chris brought the book to the web.
If you ask either of them they will tell you that local is not easy. After all they were in a market filled with companies like CitySearch, Yahoo, Google, and eventually sites like Yelp. Having see the site succeed in some areas and struggle in others Judy’s Book changed its focus from local community contributed content to online and offline deals. This was by no means an easy transition for the company or for it’s loyal users, including myself.
The company announced yesterday that it will be closing it’s doors, most of it’s staff was let go sometime yesterday. It’s really sad to see such a great site with such passionate users close it’s doors.
This should serve as a reminder for everyone out there who is creating local sites, it’s not easy. Special detail needs to be paid to the design and IA of these sites and most importantly to the user’s needs. Having consulted on IA for Judy’s Book and having architected sites like Tipped I can only say that major changes to the site’s focus that impacts the users needs to be done ever so subtle and over a long period of time to allow for those users to adjust. Remember, it’s users we serve, not the investors, not the profits, not the technology and not the competition.
Voices That Matter: Web Design (Live!)
Having a fabulous time here in unseasonably warm San Francisco (seriously, tee-shirt weather in late October?) at the Voices That Matter: Web Design conference. Just got through sitting in on a Conversation with Steve Krug, which hit on some of the points from his groundbreaking book, Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability. I’m feeling all charged up about usability testing – not something I thought I’d ever say!
Updates will continue as the conference goes on. The only real question is which session to choose next…
New Issue: An Excerpt from Snook's Book!
This week, Digital Web columnist Jonathan Snook reveals his latest accomplishment (followed quickly by Snitter)—an excerpt from his new book Accelerated DOM Scripting with Ajax, APIs and Libraries. In this excerpt, Jonathan tackles the wide variety of scripting libraries to bring some clarity to the available choices. Take a moment to read an excerpt of this well-received book excerpt, and congratulations to Jonathan!
Also, Jonathan’s been kind enough to share a discount for the eBook edition. Enter DOMDIGWEB for 25% off the cover price! (Use the coupon field after ‘Purchase as eBook’ button on Apress.com.)
Ian Landsman has an awesome blog about running his little ISV. It’s fallen into a bit of disuse of late, but now we know why. He just released version 2 of his most excellent help desk software, HelpSpot.
New Issue: PHP for Contact Forms
This week, Digital Web’s own Matthew Pennell steps forward to offer concrete, safe PHP for website contact forms. In “Building a Bulletproof Contact Form with PHP“, Matthew covers the basics of simple code and smart security.
What are you doing to improve your website's performance?
Yahooligans Ed Eliot and Stuart Colville recently launched the supporting site for their forthcoming Apress book, High Performance Web Site Techniques, together with the first of several tools that they plan to release over the coming months: a CSS Sprite Generator.
Yahoo! as a whole have been rather interested in the question of site performance of late, a process which has given us the YSlow Firebug plugin, which “…analyzes web pages and tells you why they’re slow based on the rules for high performance web sites”. These rules, which veer from straightforward advice (“Make fewer HTTP requests”) to unfamiliar terms (“Use a CDN and configure ETags” – whuh?), will speed up your site or application and (presumably) reduce your bandwidth bills.
So, informal survey time – how concerned are you about your site’s performance? And what are you doing to improve it? Comments are open!
InfoCamp Seattle 2007
For those of you who are going to be in the Seattle area this weekend, I will be doing the keynote presentation for InfoCamp. InfoCamp is a BarCamp conference for information architecture, libraries, user experience design, interaction design, usability, user-centered design, and information science research. My talk is going to be an expanded version of my Contextual Web presentation, but instead of getting into technical details and code I am going to expand the talk to encompass how we interact with technology as a whole and how we acquire information using that technology. The conference is this Saturday and Sunday and Digital Web Magazine is a proud sponsor of the event. Meals will be provided and it looks like it’s going to have a pretty good turnout. Hope to see you there!
Hello Wii fans! Opera have just put out an update for their Wii Internet Channel, which introduces downloadable Opera widgets. Yes, now you can run standards-based mini web apps, right on your telly, or build your own! They also boast improvements in usability and functionality. Read more about the Internet Channel over at the official Opera site.
The only mystery is why nobody is referring to them as ‘Wiidgets’ yet…
New Issue: Nathan Smith and jQuery!
This week in Digital Web, one of our favorite columnists, Nathan Smith, provides an amazingly thorough crash course in jQuery. Nathan has tried his share of scripting libraries, and finds jQuery does the job nicely (with examples this particular Seattleite/Boeing brat loves).
Also, congratulations, again, to our Voices That Matter: Web Design contest-winner, Krista Kostuch!
Digital Web + Voices That Matter Contest - Winner!
We’re pleased to announce that we have a winner in the Voices That Matter: Web Design contest.
Congratulations to Krista Kostuch! She’s scored a free pass to the conference, which takes place in San Francisco later this month. Check out her winning entry here. Thanks so much to everyone who sent in an essay – it was tough deciding which one to choose!
MSNBC.com Acquires Newsvine
So just last night I was sitting at a bar with Mike Davidson of Newsvine and a bunch of crew from MSNBC.com including Digital Web Magazine’s own talented Production Manager, Tiff Fehr. Unbeknownst to me but a deal was being made (the news was under embargo so go figure). Today the news went public, MSNBC.com Acquires Newsvine. You can read all about it on NewsVine and I am sure everyone and their mother’s dog is going to be blogging this one. So, lets take a moment and step outside of the deal itself. What does this mean to the news media industry as a whole and how will inpact the way we think of news? In short, dramatic change of pace.
For those who never have used Newsvine the short skinny is that it provides both community contributed news as well as wire news, rates it, and the good ripe stuff comes to the surface. This all good and the way news should have always been, brought to you according to what people believe is important.. people in your community. I know that others such as Dan Gillmore have explored and put great effort into the idea of citizen media. Today’s acquisition is the first is what I believe will be a long line of events surrounding the news media world in it’s transition to where we are today, to being truly news by the people for the people.
New Issue: Load Balancing & Scalability Magic
This week Digital Web is proud to feature an excellent lesson on client-side load balancing by our newest contributor, Lei Zhu. Lei offers inventive tips to make sure your next awesome web application scales effectively. So take a moment to learn more about load balancing, app scalability and intelligent DNS management.
In addition, the clock is ticking down to the final moments of our contest for a free pass to Voices That Matter: Web Design. If you have a free moment between now and midnight tonight (PDT), give our contest a shot by answering
In your opinion, what voice will matter to the world of web design in the near future?
Hurry! Time is running out! Judging begins tomorrow, and the winner will be announced shortly!
Ext JS reaches 2.0