Buzz Archive: October 2002

DHTML Done Right

Dynamic HTML, web standards and accessibility need not be mutually exclusive, as Dave Lindquist demonstrates with these cool DHTML menus. Both the dropdown and expandable tree variations are simple lists built with 100% valid XHTML Strict. CSS and DOM scripting provide the functionality, while ACCESSKEY attributes make parts of the menu accessible via keyboard shortcuts. The result is a more widely accessible menu that doesn't sacrifice the usefulness of DHTML.

Dreamweaver and standards

At Macromedia dot com: “Five Steps to More Professional Pages with Dreamweaver MX,” by Drew McLellan of the WaSP’s Dreamweaver Task Force will help designers who use DMX work with web standards and save their visitors bandwidth and time. Short, sweet, and recommended for the DMX users in the house.

All-CSS Site Repository

CSS boring? CSS too restrictive? No way. Look, here's a collection of nearly 800 table-free CSS designs, courtesy of Meryl who is thankfully mirroring the original archive from, which has gone sadly AWOL. Admire, view source, learn.

Juggernauts Inept, Little People Adept

Author and accessibility maven Joe Clark wonders aloud why large corporations that have the money and resources to produce valid HTML pages so often do not, while the humble, unpaid hobbyist weblogger has no such difficulty.

More On Banks and So-Called Alternative Browsers

The Register published a list this week of banks who do, and do not, support so-called "alternative browsers", namely, "anything but IE and Netscape Navigator 4.*". It appears to be an abbreviated list, compared to other lists of banks that reject browsers on baseless grounds; perhaps, given the notorious conservatism of financial industry IT staff, we should be lucky they're not requiring us to use IBM WebExplorer for OS/2 and/or the original line mode browser for the NeXT cube, but still. As the article points out, any bank that argues that you must use Internet Explorer for Windows for "security reasons" isn't really paying attention to the situation. Or, worse, they are, but believe in security by ubiquity, as opposed to obscurity. Wake up, banks (and the companies who write software for them) - other browsers may well be safer and provide an even more stable platform for deployment of your Web-based account access software, and may do so without annoying or exposing your customers to the very security holes you're supposedly trying to plug. Thanks to Olly Hodgson for bringing this to our attention.

Accessibility Guidelines for Web Devices

User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 is a W3C proposed recommendation that provides guidelines for designing Web browsing devices that lower barriers to Web accessibility for people with disabilities (visual, hearing, physical, cognitive, and neurological). In addition, the Techniques for User Agent Accessibility Working Draft has been updated.

New W3C HTML Validator

The W3C has announced a beta version of their HTML Validator, with support for a long and varied list of XML and XHTML related markup, including SVG, MathML and the MIME type application/xhtml+xml. Go bang on it and let them know what you find wrong (or right!) with the new version. Thanks to T. Daniel Sheppeard for the gentle reminder.

Article: The Secret Life of Markup

Webmonkey has published a new article by the WaSP's own Steven Champeon: The Secret Life of Markup. It's a must-read for any HTML author, and for anyone else who wants to better understand the craft of web development. And be sure to read to the end, or you'll miss what Steve did to our very own home page to show the power of the separation of structure and presentation.

Wired Redesigns With CSS

Wired has redesigned with an all-CSS design that looks fantastic. No tables for layout. Due to a few glitches in the markup, the page falls short of full validity as XHTML 1.0 Transitional. Seeing as how most of those glitches seem to come from tag soup-spewing ad servers, we'll go easy on them. Gutsy move for such a high-traffic site. Wired discusses the details and rationale of the redesign on the site as well, explaining how the designers saved bandwidth and increased accessibility.

W3C Rejects RAND

The W3C Patent Policy Working Group has rejected the misguided RAND proposal that caused such a furor last year. More on what this means can be found on Slashdot, explained by Bruce Perens. Not a final victory, but a long step closer to a truly royalty-free Web.

Danger! HipTop May Shred Your Design

Reports are trickling in from the field that the long-awaited Danger T-Mobile Sidekick handheld Internet device happily mangles many web pages, including many built with valid XHTML and CSS to specifically cater to such devices. Sidekick owner Leonard Lin discovered that many sites are unreadable in the device. His workaround? Sniff for the Sidekick user-agent string and present an alternate unstyled version of the site.

There should be no need for such a workaround. The CSS specification provides a "handheld" media type so that web developers can provide a style for such devices. The Sidekick, however, is happy with the "screen" media type (even though it apparently doesn't support the bulk of CSS) and results in some, er, interesting interpretations. Here's hoping that the engineers in charge of the Sidekick's browser component take notice.

Microsoft: The Redesign

Microsoft has redesigned. A review in two words. Invalid. Inaccessible. Want more? Undecipherable in a text-only browser. One can only imagine how this site looks to a screen reader. You might think that Microsoft, an influential W3C member that drives the development of web standards, would practice what it preaches on its own site. Yet once again, the developer community has to take MS to school and show 'em how it's done. Twice, even. (Thanks to: Mark Pilgrim, Dylan Foley, and the enigmatic Mister Z.)