Call me list-nazi

by cdwise 11. June 2009 03:19

Okay, I’ll admit it when I own/moderate a web group I enforce the list rules. I’ve been on too many lists where there was no List Mom and ended up being filled with spam or dreck. If this makes me “arrogant” then so be it.

That means if you post a question to a list where I’m List Mom you need to:

  1. Be on topic – if you have  a question not directly related to the list topic but related to web design/development in general mark it with OT so that list members are alerted to the nature of the question. Keep it relevant or it moderators will shut down the thread.
  2. Use a descriptive subject line – this helps ensure that you get the attention of contributors who are knowledgeable or interested about that particular area. Do use subjects such as PHP form display issue, or Content Div not displaying, or Set a default editor for images. Don’t use “Question”, “Help”, “I’m a beginner”. This is especially important on a large or high volume list.
  3. Trim your quotes, other than the forum here at http://by-expression.com/forms every group I moderate is an email group whether on Yahoo Groups or Google Groups. On some of these there are a substantial percentage of folks using dial-up, being charged by the byte or receiving the digest version. So we ask that people be considerate and not quote everything when they reply. In addition to removing any adverts put in by say Yahoo, trim everything except what is needed to put your reply in context.
  4. Be courteous, and that means to everyone including the moderators if they make suggestions on how to improve your post. Flaming is not allowed nor is trolling. Doing either will get you banned.

Lists I own/moderate include by topic:

<moderator hat>

This is a convention used on many mail lists that I first saw years ago on one of the mail lists I belong to (I think it was css-d but I really don’t remember) that is used to distinguish a post made by a list owner or official moderator to remind people of list rules OR to call a halt to a thread that has drifted too far off topic or become abusive.

The use of this tag is meant to be a more or less gentle reminder that the list is moderated and keep the list on topic. The alternative is to either ban participants in off topic threads and/or violation of list rules, something that seems to harsh or go to a list that is a free for all. Neither of which would be good for any list in the long run.

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Dreamweaver | Expression Web | Misc

Adobe Browser Lab

by cdwise 3. June 2009 15:33

Browser testing – BrowserLab from Adobe vs SuperPreview from Microsoft.

Today Adobe released their beta of BrowserLab which lets you preview a wider variety of browsers than the current beta version of SuperPreview (small images are linked to full size ones):

Previews are generated via a service which means you can preview on different operating system

  • Firefox 2.0 – Windows XP
  • Firefox 3.0 – Windows XP
  • IE 6 – Windows XP
  • IE 7 – Windows XP
  • Safari – OS X
  • Firefox 2.0 – OS X
  • Firefox 3.0 – OS X

The benefit of using a service like BrowserLab over a locally run instance like SuperPreview does is that you can also see the color differences between OS X and Windows. Enlarge the image on the left and you will see significant differences in how the colors render. Both BrowserLabs and SuperPreview offer an overlay mode that lets you see how positioning maybe different between each of the browsers you are testing.

Looking at IE 6 (XP) and Safari (OS X) shows you just how quirky IE 6 can be.

What I would really like to see is the ability to test out more than a static browser view. See how rollovers work (or not). It will be interesting to see how these tools develop.

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Dreamweaver | Expression Web | v3 | Web Design

JQuery - Adobe & Microsoft Integration

by cdwise 10. December 2008 07:44

Last month at Adobe MAX I saw how Adobe has added the ability to access and use JavaScript libraries (most prominently JQuery and YUI). The new ability in Dreamweaver CS 4 to freeze a web page in any state to see what classes and events are triggered is awesome.

Today, I'm sitting of the Westin Galleria in Houston (love local events) at Microsoft Developer Conference present on using JQuery. One of the most interesting things Rod Paddock had to say is that Microsoft will provide support for JQuery used withASP.NET. with ASP.NET. (PDC Lite) watching Rod show calling JQuery in ASP'NETshows just how far Microsoft is going in supporting open source libraries and making it easier to use non Microsoft tools.

I love having third party libraries supported. I sure hope the Expression we ton is going to follow suit and improve the extensibility of Expression Web in the next version.

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Expression Web | Web Design | Dreamweaver

Workflow Evolution

by cdwise 15. October 2008 10:30

I don't know about you but I have a tendency to form workflow habits for each program I use that I carry over from one version of a program to another. True there well be same changes as I discover new features but sometimes I well miss out on a better workflow because sticking with my ingrained workflow causes me to miss how a new feature could improve my workflow.

I have been playing with the Dreamweaver CS4 beta and realized that the time has come to rethink the workflow I use when working in Dreamweaver. Part of the reason is clear to anyone who has downloaded and tried out the publics beta from http://labs.adobe.com . (Note to use for more than one day you need to generate an install key which requires the key from any CS program.)

The new Live View and massive changes to the CSS tools clearly call for a new workflow. Smaller changes like splitting the Property Inspector into two views, HTML and CSS, might  or night not have causal me to re-evaluate my workflow but the combination of new features and changes to the interface are forcing a workflow review. (Personally I really wish they had not gone to the black interface far too hard to read in my opinion, I've changed the Expression Web interface to blue instead of the default black for be same reason.)

The Challenge of Change

You would think that those of us who work in the fast changing world of the web would be constantly adapting my our workflow as the web changes but in many cases even though we expand our repertoire of skills our fundamental workflow changes little.

Instead we shoehorn into our existing workflow. Where we would once have dragged out a code snippet for reuse we now pop a jQuery, YUI or Moo tools library into our site and use it just like we would a piece of code we created for reuse stored in the snippets panel. After all few of us have the luxury of setting down and thoroughly exploring all paths and features available in the software we use daily.

I remember once hearing that most of the feature requests Microsoft gets for Word were already there just not discovered by the user making the request. I know that there are things in any program I use that would improve my workflow if I just spent the time exploring menus I have never look at but like most people my time is limited. Plus familiarity with parts I use all the time of a program tends to keep me in my comfort zone.

So just how do you go about changing well established habits?

Books: Get a good book on the subject but if you are anything like me you will adapt a ignore the book's workflow and use your own. If you do get a book make sure you do the exercises as prescribed if you are trying  to improve your workflow.

Live events: Go to events sponsored by software vendor. Many launch events are good for this if try have breakout sessions. Attend industry conferences whether sponsored by one company like Adobe MAX or Microsoft MIX or events like South  x Southwest and Webmaster Jam Session. You may be fortunate enough  to have a user group for web design, web development or a local Refresh group in your area. Attend the meetings, get involved.

Reworded events: If there are no live in-person events near you many of the launches are recorded and available as Webcasts.

Webcasts:-Such as Adobe TV, Channel 9 (Microsoft) though many of these are more marketing oriented bit there are many thus will help you learn how to use their program effectively.

Training videos: These can be free or paid. For example I have several free training videos on by-expression.com  but this blog post was inspired by watching the Dreamweaver CS4 ideas on lynda.com (note other than as a satisfied user I have no affiliation with Lynda.com but as an Adobe Community Expert for Dreamweaver I can provides you an user group discount code for Lynda.com training use the  the lynda.com user group partner logo link for more info.

Attend classes: ones with instructors available to answer your questions. These can be live in person such as through a training center ($$$) usually up to date but tend to stile to the vendor prescribed curriculum. Community college classes, just make sure they one teaching a modern standards based curriculum too many are stuck in slice and dice tables of last century. Online classes such as chose we offer at Start to Web or the HTML Writer's Guild. As someone who has both taken classes

and taught them online I am constantly amazed at the people who pay for a class yet don't post a single word during the entire class. If you take a class - DO YOUR ASSIGNMENTS - ask questions and participate. You have no idea what it is like to be an instructor and have students who paid money to take the class not participate.

Time for me to shake up and improve my workflow. I will be doing that with Jim Babbage's new Fireworks CS4 book, watching videos and attending conferences.

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Dreamweaver | Expression Web | Training

Milan or San Francisco - Adobe MAX

by cdwise 12. October 2008 12:13

Even though I have taken the year off from speaking at conferences and events after talking with my partner it looks like I will be able to go to Adobe MAX this year. I've never been to MAX but heard lots of stories about what I was missing. (Seems plenty of folks can't resist putting up video over on youtube either)  Not only will there be great activities Adobe will also be showing off all the new stuff in CS 4. (If you tried the Dreamweaver CS 4 and Fireworks CS 4 betas available on Adobe Labs you know about the exciting changes to those programs.) Heck, I've used the betas and still don't know all there is to know about the two programs that concern me most so I want to learn more.

Okay, so now I have to choose which MAX to attend.

My first thought was San Francisco, November 16-19 here I come. After all I live in the US and Adobe headquarters is just down a short drive south of San Francisco in San Jose so naturally that is the first of the three locations I considered. I check airfare and hotel, decided that in San Francisco getting a car would be a waste (BART means you don't really need one to get in from the airport and San Francisco is a walking city) and while I haven't been there all that often it is easy to get around in. So off to the travel sites to look at airfare and hotels.

Then today on a whim I though I'd check those same travel sites  just to see how much more it would cost me to go to Milan instead (after all I haven't been to Milan in years since I was at university) image my surprise when I discovered that the costs were almost the same - within $100. Oh dear, I love European travel and here's a great excuse to hop on a flight to Italy. Heck, even the dates, December 1-4, fit my schedule slightly better than the San Francisco MAX. 

So what should I do? Go to San Francisco where I will know more people, be assured that all the sessions I would want to attend would be held in a language I understand (my Italian is of the tourist variety - food, hotels, transportation - not design or technical at all) or go to Milan and expand my horizons (after checking that there will be session in English) and enjoying the lovely food and atmosphere if being in Italy while I recover from jet lag  a couple of days before MAX begins.

Decisions

What should it be San Francisco or Milan?

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