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

MS Forum Text Size

by cdwise 6. May 2009 00:28

Why 67% font size? Usually when I see something like that it is because the person responsible did so because they believed that 67% was the magic number where all browsers showed text as the same physical size. The idea behind this approach is that you set a base font size then scale items in ems from that. While I think this is an over controlling approach that still allows font sizes to scale in IE using Text > Size > Larger it is a reasonable approach.

 However, the only way this works well is if you then scale every element on the page to a reasonable size. Let’s do some math so you can see what I’m talking about.

Default font size without any scaling is 12pt or 16px on both Windows and OS X systems. So when you do the math you get 8pt or 10.72 (which may be rounded down to 10px). Now if you are on a high resolution screen that is the equivalent of 4.5-5pt print. Not something comfortable for most to read. Even on a “normal” screen 10pt text is the smallest you should use for text that is comfortable to read for more than say a menu item. So if you use 67% as the page level default to get the equivalent of 10pt type you would need to use 1.25em for body text.

So what does MS do? They use 67% with no multiplier or other scaling for body text.

How do I know this?

Because this morning I noticed that the font seems smaller than normal when I went to http://social.expression.microsoft.com/forums/en-us/web/threads/ and discovered that the text seems smaller than before. So I opened it in the page in Expression Web and used its excellent CSS tools to see what is being applied.

So why didn’t MS scale the text so something more readable?

Your guess is as good as mine.

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 Windows Live Tags: Forum,Text,Size,font,person,items,Larger,sizes

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Accessibility | Expression Web | Web Design

CSS Based Menus

by cdwise 23. April 2009 23:34

Today’s live meeting on CSS menus:

Join the meeting.
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First Time Users:
To save time before the meeting, check your system to make sure it is ready to use Microsoft Office Live Meeting.
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Unable to join the meeting? Follow these steps:

1. Copy this address and paste it into your web browser:
https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/mvp/join

2. Copy and paste the required information:
Meeting ID: BS7CG2
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Location: https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/mvp

If you still cannot enter the meeting, contact support

This is the zip file for the menus discussed and created during the April 22, 2009 Live Meeting on CSS menus. All of the code as well as a text based tutorial on using the images and code to create three types of menus are included in the zip file. Download it and extract to your hard drive.

Types of menus:

  1. Simple horizontal CSS menu with image based rollovers
  2. Simple vertical (suitable for sidebar or floated) CSS menu with image based rollovers
  3. Tutorial on using the Project Seven CSS Express Menus with Expression Web

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CSS | LiveMeeting | Web Design

Who are Web Pros?

by cdwise 9. April 2009 02:48

Alistapart.com has published their Web Design Survey results. Their conclusions are interest, especially considering the state of the world’s economy right now. The data, conclusions and results are at http://www.alistapart.com/articles/findingsfromthewebdesignsurvey2008 and I found several of them interesting especially regarding employment. First, I wish they had broken out “large company, university, library, museum, nonprofit, or other organization” which accounts for 56.4% of the survey respondents. Since they make the raw data available if I get time I might try breaking it out myself but realistically I don’t have the time so if someone else has done so, please let me know where.

I’ve argued with folks at MS that they underestimate the freelancers and small firms that do web design and development. If you consider small firms to be those with less than 10 members (owners, partners, employees) 33.6% fall into that category. (Note only 26.2% used that category but my number comes from the business size section which might or might not be more accurate.)

I was surprised at the number of volunteer/hobbyists that took the survey. I suspect the number is low because alistapart.com is a site for those who take web design seriously and actively work to improve their skills. Most of the volunteers I’ve worked with aren’t that dedicated to improving their skills but maybe that has changed, hope so but I suspect the volunteers/hobbyists that took the survey are a small percentage of those who create/maintain personal, hobby or small nonprofit websites. I work with my sons’ PTO and scout websites, both maintained by volunteers, I create the design and get applications working and matching the rest of the site but they handle content, calendars, moderate forums, etc. but I also “fix” the things that get broken. Over the 10 years I’ve worked with these groups and their volunteer site maintainers less than 20% have had any desire to learn more than the minimum necessary to update content.

Anyway, what else I found interesting:

  • I expected the gender ratio to be smaller only female 16.2%
  • Freelancers with over 10 years of experience – 11.2%
  • Percentage with the goal of “a better class of clients” 7.7%
  • Weighted average salary $52,095
  • Median range $40,000 - $59.999
  • Job titles where age seems related to job title – Accessibility Expert and Information Architect, maybe those are what Interface/UI Designers, Usability Experts and Project managers grow into. <g>
  • Roles with the highest percentage of women – writers/editors, usability experts, web producer, or  information architect.
  • Women web developers are scare at 6.8% – wonder how that compares to development in general? Web developers make up 27.8% of the respondent’s job titles overall.
  • Of the entire sample, 9.1% make more than $100,000. A significantly greater percentage of Creative Directors, Information Architects, Interface Designers, Marketers, Usability Experts, and Web Directors make more than $100,000.
  • I suppose it doesn’t surprise anyone that the group that considers education to be the least relevant is the under 18 group (only 25% think it is important and relevant). In all the other age groups the majority think educations is relevant to their job.
  • Job satisfaction rates are high averaging 70.7% with org 15.4% dissatisfied with their job. Though more females tan males are dissatisfied at with almost half dissatisfied which I suspect may reflect other job related issues and that more women are in the lower paying positions or in the uncompensated roles. I suppose nobody is surprised to job satisfaction is highest in those who make more than $150,000.
  • Art Directors, Web Designers, and Designers, less than half participate in formal training. Accessibility Experts, Usability Experts, Interface Designers, and Information Architects (who, coincidently, represent the leading edge of the field), have the greatest percent participation in formal training. The higher the income, the more likely people are to participate in formal training.

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Web Design

Not an April Fools Prank

by cdwise 3. April 2009 23:47

Someone asked me yesterday if the quiet announcement by Microsoft that starting April 1, 2009 SharePoint Designer was free and that Expression Web would become a SharePoint instead of web tool the FAQ it is not. The handwriting for the separation of internet from proprietary oriented editors at Microsoft is on the wall:

HideBut Expression Web does not currently support SharePoint sites. When will that change?

Expression Web does not currently support SharePoint sites directly. However, we are working to ensure that Expression Web becomes an excellent choice for SharePoint customization. This capability will be available in a future version of Expression Web. In the mean time, customers who receive this Software Assurance benefit should continue to use SharePoint Designer for their SharePoint needs, and can utilize Expression Web for other non SharePoint needs.

I am extremely disappointed to read this because one of the major problems with FrontPage that caused it to be perceived as a second class citizen in the web design community was the proprietary nature of the FPSE and that so much of the "advanced" functions required Microsoft proprietary installs on the hosting server. As a result the output was heavily biased towards Internet Explorer and not always the latest version of it either.

I have been an outspoken advocate of keeping MS proprietary intra/extranet tools out of their "internet" oriented web Expression Web.

Many of you will  remember that I argued that all the FPSE required bots should be removed from Expression Web back when we first saw the original CTP release in 2006.  The decision to keep that key difference between Expression Web and SharePoint Designer was something I thought a good decision. I believe that the headway Expression Web has made in the professional web designer/developer community is directly due to that decision and was helped by Adobe’s decision not to support ASP.NET Master Pages in Dreamweaver.

[aside: Several shops that I know of who have used Dreamweaver exclusively are now using Expression Web for their front-end design of ASP.NET sites and master pages. So I think Adobe made a mistake not to support ASP.NET 2.0 Master pages in CS4 even if they did decide to drop ASP.NET application support.]

Unfortunately, this decision of Microsoft's to incorporate SharePoint design and editing into Expression Web will only validate the position taken originally by many that Expression Web is nothing more than a new name for FrontPage and its proprietary output. In addition, Expression Web has been on a release cycle comparable to other web editors, approximately every 18 months or so. This allows it to keep up with the pace of what people are doing on the web. Expression Web and SharePoint Designer were released more or less at the the same time in 2006. Expression Web is now in version 2 and we’ve seen at MIX 09 something of what they are working on for the next version with SuperPreview. Yet SharePoint has not had a new release being tied to both Office and Windows Servers it is on a much longer release cycle. Will putting SharePoint support in Expression Web put it on the same release cycle as Office and/or Windows Servers? Seems to me this change puts the strengths of Expression Web – the ability to host on any server and use PHP as well as ASP.NET into what may become a second class status in favor of a proprietary SharePoint orientation.

This is the second Expression Studio product that will be a casualty of Microsoft turning away from standards and towards proprietary solutions that server only a small segment of web designers/developer's needs.

I have watched Microsoft take a good graphics program and strip it of almost everything that made it a good web graphics program and turn it into something useful only to create WPF graphics. Now I see Microsoft taking their best web editor to date and moving it in the direction of a Windows only tool and am disheartened. Turning the focus of the entire Expression Studio inward to focus on SharePoint and Windows desktop (WPF) applications will only destroy what remains of the Expression Web community that has still not recovered from the move to the forum structure.

Microsoft – make SharePoint Designer free if you want to encourage people to use SharePoint but please don’t turn Expression Web into the “new” SharePoint design application.

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Web Design



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