News : February 2008
New Issue: Google's Social Graph API
The emergence of the social web in the last few years has been nothing short of spectacular. Who on the web has actually been able to resist joining a network in one site or another? No doubt the the social web will be a notable event in the overall evolution of the internet. Web professionals—probably despite ourselves—are well represented in online social networks, as creators and members. But the question has been asked: what kind of traces are we leaving in all our online social activity? And can it be mapped?
To explain the latest solutions to the mapping question, Digital Web contributor Brian Suda leads us through Your Social Graph: Exploring the Google API. Brian explains the basics behind efforts like XFN and Google’s Social Graph API…and what it reveals about your online social life. Give it a read!
New Issue: Building a Green Business
Digital Web is pleased to have Pelago’s John Reeve as a contributor this week, sharing strategies for making your business more environmentally friendly and sustainable in How to Build a Green Business. I like John’s article for its wider point-of-view than the pixels on which we typically focus. Web professionals are all about promoting standards, best practices and generally making the Web a better place. But surely some of that creative, corrective energy could be put into our environments and communities beyond our screens. First, start small by improving your own web use with efforts (some of my favorites) like searching with Blackle, buying a TerraPass for your car, house, flights and business and investing in EnergyStar-compliant computer equipment. Second, read John Reeve’s guide and get to work on giving your business a solid streak of green.
Social Innovation Camp
Can geeks change the world? Social Innovation Camp may provide an answer to that question — it aims to match up web 2.0 developers with those working to tackle social issues, and use the skills of the former to solve the problems of the latter. Call it BarCamp with a social conscience.
They’re accepting ideas at the moment, so if your web app concept has a social aspect, submit your idea and you could see it become reality. (via)
Talking Point: Mysterious web app sign-up pages
The folks over at Clearleft have just put up a holding/sign-up page for their upcoming Silverback app — and it’s a beautiful thing, with a gorgeous Jon Hicks-designed gorilla and an absolutely brilliant faux-parallax scrolling effect involving multiple background images.
But what is it for? Aside from being “for web designers”, the page doesn’t give any hints about what we are being asked to sign up to receive updates on – is it a web app or desktop app? The gorilla’s holding some graphs – does that mean anything? And, as responsible web designers who care about communication and helping site visitors to achieve their goals… why are we so wedded to the idea of obscuring meaning and hiding the purpose of our own products?
Comments are open.
Garrett Dimon Announces Next Update
Earlier today, Digital Web columnist Garrett Dimon revealed the website, logo and blog for his bug/issue tracker freelance project Next Update. If you’re a fan of Garrett’s previous work and blogging—or if you’re a fan of issue tracking apps (really?)—you’ll want to follow Next Update’s blog. Garrett and company will be blogging the development process, from business formation to the design details. Given the amazing attention to detail in Garrett’s other projects, I hope the blog will be as insightful for design as it will be for the intricacies of developing a web app. Best of luck, Next Update!
TwitterThreads, need I say more?
Every once in a while you see someone create something whose concept is so simple you ask yourself “why didn’t i think of that?” Well today was no different, and the great news is that the person happens to be from our very own Jessica Beck‘s partner in crime, Matt Beck. He decided to play around with the Twitter API and came up with TwitterThreads. It does as the name suggests; threads twitter posts. Unaware of this at the time I had unwittingly posted a question of the day just minutes prior and came to realization that I wouldn’t be able to see of the responses to my question given the hour (almost bed time). Now, thanks to Rick Turoczy’s mention on Twitter, I checked out TwitterThreads. After a quick login, there was my question and all of the replies to it in threaded format. Due to the amount of people I follow this is one hell of a nice improvement. How simple, how easy, how useful. Great work Matt! Read more about it on What Could Be.
New Issue: Greasemonkey Code Injection & a CodeIgniter Book Review
Digital Web is filled with interesting verbs this week, like “ignite” and “grease”. Okay, that’s only two, but they are at the heart of our latest contributions. First, Jeff Rudesyle gives us the grease in Greasemonkey: Code Injection is Bliss. Anyone looking for a primer on user scripting should follow Jeff’s tutorial about writing a greasemonkey script which, in this tutorial, provides monkey-enhanced access to Digital Web’s own topics. Igniting the other half of the issue this week is our faithful columnist Nathan Smith. Nathan reviews CodeIgniter for Rapid PHP Application Development. Frameworks for web app development is a hot topic, particularly the effort to put framework-driven development into the hands of mere (programming) mortals. Nathan reviews CodeIgniter, the new book and where PHP could be going by way of ease of development.
Please welcome our new editors
After an overwhelming response to our recent call for new volunteers to join us here on the Digital Web editorial team, I’m very pleased to announce that Frances Berriman, William Hicks, Nicole Ramsey, and Laurie M Rauch have come on board as Editors. They’ll be helping Assistant Managing Editor, Jessica Neuman Beck, and me deal with our growing stable of authors and columnists, and providing expert advice to make sure we only publish the very best web-related articles, tutorials, and reviews.
Welcome to the Digital Web family, guys!
New Issue: Taxonomies For All
Digital Web contributor and “information indexer” Heather Hedden returns this week with a fresh look at taxonomies in Better Living Through Taxonomies. Web projects can vary in complexity and size. But web professionals could improve the life of most websites with attention paid to hierarchy, controlled vocabularies and clear wording. A solid, simple taxonomy can greatly improve search and findability, so give people visiting your site a solid starting place for browsing.
In addition, thanks to all Digital Web readers who said “hi” during Web Directions North this past week! It was an excellent event, and I’d like to thank the amazing organizers, generous sponsors and high-quality attendees who made it (again) one of the best conferences of any calendar year.
Talking Point: EM-based grids and max-width
Dan “Bulletproof” Cederholm launched a re-align of his blog and portfolio site, SimpleBits, this week — you can read his write-up here. It’s an elastic layout, meaning that the dimensions of the columns are specified in EMs and grow wider and narrower as the text is resized.
What is interesting is that Dan has not set a max-width on the site as a whole. Without max-width, an EM-based layout will simply keep on expanding as you bump up the text size — at 1024×768, SimpleBits will display a horizontal scrollbar at just one notch above the default font-size (on my machine anyway, YMMV). Dan says, “That’s OK. Wide is the new drop shadow.” but what do you think?
Should an EM-based layout sacrifice positioning to avoid overflowing the browser viewport? Or should the grid be maintained at all costs? Comments are open.