Buzz Archive: August 2005

hasLayout and Microsoft Documentation

I've been chatting lately with Markus Mielke of Microsoft.

Markus is sprucing up Microsoft's documentation for Internet Explorer. His first article will attempt to remove some of the mystery surrounding “layout”. Ingo Chao and band have supplied some great fixes for anomalies caused by “layout”. Markus' document will explain the mystery behind this property and the effects it has on page rendering. He is keen to do more and has agreed to take requests from fellow web developers!

Is there an area of IE documentation that you think is lacking or needs improving?

Markus wants to know. Comment on Molly's blog please (my kitchen can't take the strain).

Happy Birthday Opera

The big red O turns a big One Zero today - Opera is 10 years young! To celebrate, the company is having a virtual online party, including some party favors, or perhaps that will mean a bit more to you if I translate that as "free Opera registration codes". This is a time-limited offer, so if you want to grab yourself ad-free Opera browsing then head on over there now. The tab's still running - get in there while you can.

Update: Spooky? Synchronicity? Coincidence? Who knows, but while this post celebrates Opera's 10 years, it's also post number 500 as showing in the management console for this here blog. We may not post every day here, but we like to think that what does get posted here has value for the community at large - here's to our next 500, say I!

Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization

On 21 August the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative released a new resource, titled Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization, which marshals criteria under the title's heading.

These criteria are divided into four groups.

These documents facilitate the process of developing web accessibility practices that are a good fit to your organization's culture.

World Grows Small(er): Welcome Japan!

It is with great pleasure that I introduce Kazuhito Kidachi as the newest member of WaSP. Kazuhito will be our liaison to Japan, working with the growing number of standards-oriented designers there to spread the good word.

With joy and pleasure, welcome, Kazuhito.

In other WaSP news, here's what's on tap and I promise quite refreshing:

  • WaSP will have a complete redesign within one month tops
  • WaSP is reorganizing in order to support the action-oriented times in which we live: more DOM, more accessibility, more standards

Okay, now get this - we will be opening comments (yes we'll moderate) but oh yeah, we are very interested in what constructive issues you have.

How cool is that? You have no idea what a triumph it is within WaSP to be able to open up to your comments, and I can't wait until we can. I've long disliked our one-sided relationship.

Still, patience is everything, darlings. Let's say within a month?

I look forward to the conversation!

[ cross posted for your comments and pingbacks here ]

DWTF Announces New Members

The WaSP Dreamweaver Task Force is pleased to announce the addition of two new members to its ranks. Stephanie Sullivan and Jesse Rogers are both very active and knowledgable Dreamweaver users, who believe in the promotion of web standards. They share the Task Force's common goal of striving to see Macromedia Dreamweaver grow as and increasing capable tool for standards-based development. They told me that themselves, in a special ceremony involving tutus and soup.

The Project is very pleased to welcome both Jesse and Stephanie as Task Force Members.

The WaSP Dreamweaver Task Force was created in 2001 to work alongside Macromedia in increasing support for web standards in their flagship visual web editor, and also to communicate to the user community how best Dreamweaver can be utilised for standards-based design. They also like eating cookies, making paper planes, and carving miniature paddle-steamers from disused car tyres.

Comments to U.S. Copyright Office.

Yesterday, Tim Berners Lee (W3C) hand and web delivered formal comments, World Wide Web Consortium Comments on Copyright Office Proposal to Use Single-Vendor Web Service to the United States Copyright Office regarding the proposed preregistration system.

At the outset, we would like to stress that nothing in this letter should be construed as a criticism of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which is one of the leading browsers in the field. We would write the same letter if the choice was to offer support solely for Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or any other product. The failing of the proposed implementation of the preregistration system is its lack of support for standards, not its choice of software.

The supplemental notice by the U.S. Copyright Office gives information that users would need to use the Internet Explorer (version 5.1 or higher) in order to preregister works of copyright. The office requested formal comments on whether the browsing requirements would affect users. It is important to note that the preregistration process appears to be limited to web submission only. Comments were needed by August 22, 2005 and replies by September 7, 2005. The proposed pre registation system has a launch date deadline of October 24, 2005.

In his formal comments, Tim notes how the proposed limitations would exclude large classes of potential users and how single vendor service is contrary to Federal information policy.

At Newsforge a public announcement appeared online yesterday, US Copyright Office Should Support Browser Choice, Open Standards, CCIA and OSAIA Say.

The U.S. Copyright Office should assure that one of its key websites works with all popular browsers, the Open Source and Industry Alliance (OSAIA) said in comments filed with the Office today. Indeed, the Office should be prepared to accept paper submissions when necessary until compatibility problems can be fixed, association officials said.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and OSAIA would like the Copyright Office to consider the impact on the marketplace.

The long-term gains from ensuring compatibility with a variety of software alternatives prove to be substantial, OSAIA and CCIA told the Office. Interoperability promotes the transfer of information between different computing environments, improves accessibility, promotes consumer choice, and in our Internet-enabled economy constitutes the cornerstone of electronic commerce.


A List Apart Relaunches

Our good friends and colleagues at A List Apart have relaunched with a new design, new structure, and a Rails-based publishing system.

Still the same great content, with intelligent commentary and instruction from some of the best in the business, and some of us normal folk too. A List Apart has always been a significant part of the landscape of practical web standards instruction and insight, and at WaSP we're excited to be able to offer our best wishes for this new phase of its life.

So check out the new ALA, it's more interesting than tea with Aunty, and educational too. Whereas Aunty smells of wet dogs. Eww.

Firefox Market Share Shrinks! The Sky is Falling!

Computerworld is running a story claiming that Firefox lost 0.64 of a point of market share in July. The same story has been reported by The Mac Observer with the added spin that Safari gained a bit. And now the good folks over at Digg have picked up the ComputerWorld story.

What does this mean? Let me break it down for you. The source for both the ComputerWorld and Mac Observer articles is a company called, a web site statistics service provider. Their numbers come from aggregating browser stats from all sites using their service — hardly a statistically-valid sample of the web audience. Moreover, the purported 'decline' is 0.64 of a percentage point. Oh, heavens. What's the margin of error for these stats? I'd expect that user agent spoofing, a la Opera, introduces at least that much inaccuracy by itself. Finally, according to web stats service, Firefox increased its share by 2 points from June to July and in fact passed IE5.x for the first time ever.

So what can we conclude? Not much. Numbers reported by web site statisics services can be indicative of broad trends in browser usage, but they're not terribly accurate when it comes to small changes over short time intervals. Mozilla-based browsers are probably used by just under 10% of the web audience and their share is growing slowly. IE5.x is probably used by somewhat less than that and its share is declining slowly. IE6 is roughly holding steady.

None of that matters very much for the sites any of us develop, though. What does matter is what the logs for those specific sites say, as that's the only accurate indicator of which browsers our visitors are using, and even those are only as good as the browser sniffing used by the logfile analyzer or stats service (most are suspect, due to the aforementioned browser-sniffing if nothing else).

So it's a non-story. just sent out a press release to get some free publicity, and by virtue of a slow news day they've succeeded. Good for them. Here's hoping they continue to do well. But you'll pardon me if I don't put much faith in their numbers for the overall web audience — or in TheCounter's either, for that matter.

Update: It seems this story has now been picked up by ZDnet, Slashdot, Ars Technica, The Inquirer,, InfoWorld, PCWorld and TheRegister. Wow. Slow news day guys? Congrats to NetApplication's COO Dan Shapero and company on a PR coup, and to C|Net for not believing the hype and declining to write their own story. Raspberries to the gullible or lazy journos who posted the NetApplications release verbatim without fact-checking.

It's a World Wide Web After All

Put on your clogs and dance, because Happy Clog wants you to. Happy Clog, you say? Isn't that Zeldman's design company? No, no my friends. That would be Happy Cog.

Happy Clog is the pun-ny name coined for a new standards group emerging in the Netherlands. The goal of the group is not only to unite Dutch standards-based designers and developers, but to provide social outreach to anyone interested in standards - and more.

Faruk Ates of and founder of the group says that Happy Clog has several goals in mind, not the least of which is to create a conference most likely to be held in Amsterdam. While still in the early planning stages, Ates revealed some of the group's ideas as to how and why this conference will stand out:

“We have three target audiences in mind for the conference - all separate groups but closely related ones: business executives (those who decide), web developers (those who make) and college professors (those who teach).”

The conference would be held in English, with speakers from abroad as well as local to the Netherlands, much like the model first created by the Web Essentials conference in Syndey, and expanded upon by @media in London.

Ates describes ideas to ensure that there's plenty of daytime networking and birds-of-a-feather sessions, something that is often missing from events yet is frequently cited as the most valuable part of a conference experience:

“One suggestion for that is to have parallel sessions, two at a time so that the third group can mingle and ask questions informally over some coffee and cake.”

Happy Clog's current membership features accomplished standards developers and designers including Anne Van Kesteren, Egor Kloos, Mark Wubben, Rob Mientjes and WaSP DOM Scripting Task Force's own Peter-Paul Koch.

Happy Clog is not the first national group to emerge out of standards. The Web Standards Group is doing great work in Australia with outreach to the rest of the world via its interviews, workshops and related resources. In Japan, Kazuhito Kidachi has been working tirelessly to promote Web standards and reports that there are hundreds of members signed up to his Web standards community on the mixi social networking site.

And of course there's the Brit Pack who not only promote standards in Great Britain, but invaded the U.S. this year when significant representation came to SXSW and later extended its reach and inspiration to the world via @media2005.

The emergence of such groups with strong national identities yet a real desire to reach out and interact with other nations is a fascinating and, to my way of thinking, very powerful way of preserving and promoting national identity on a global scale. Transcending the standards issues, initiatives of this kind are truly serving to remind us that it is the World Wide Web after all.

[This entry cross-posted to to take your comments and trackbacks].

U.S. Copyright Office Doesn't Get It

…this notice seeks information whether any potential preregistration filers would have difficulties using Internet Explorer (version 5.1 or higher) to file preregistration claims, and if so, why.

Preregistration of Certain Unpublished Copyright Claims, 70 FR 44878 August 4, 2005

Translation: part of the U.S. Artists' Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2005 allows copyright holders to register copyright in certain sorts of works before the works are published. The idea is that the copyright for certain sorts of works (such as movies and songs) is frequently infringed before those works are published, publication being the usual point when copyright protection begins. To combat this phenomenon, the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005 includes as Title I the Artists' Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2005 which allows copyright holders in those sorts of works to 'preregister' them prior to publication, which affords them legal protection from pre-publication infringement in the U.S.

As part of their implementation of the law, the U.S. Copyright office is implementing an electronic preregistration system. This system will eventually support Internet Explorer 5.1 and higher, Netscape 7.2, Firefox 1.0.3, and Mozilla 1.7.7. However, it is initially planned that this system will only support Internet Explorer 5.1 and higher.

This is, in fact, something of an improvement on the current system, which requires Internet Explorer 4 or Netscape Navigator 4 on Windows or Solaris. At least the new system will support a Mac browser (there was no IE 5.1 for Windows; only for Mac), and will eventually support several.

Even so, it falls far short of web best-practices. There is no earthly reason why this system couldn't be developed to support virtually any browser using progressive enhancement techniques. That U.S. taxpayer money is being spent on a system that fails to follow basic web best practices is disappointing, to say the least. Worse, it flies in the face of the U.S. government's own accessibility regulations.

Send comments, along with five copies, to Copyright GC/I&R, P.O. Box 70400, Southwest Station, Washington, DC 20024-0400. Additional contact information can be found in the original notice, linked above.

Many thanks to Larry Staton, Jr. of Holihan Law in Maitland, FL for the heads-up and to our own Holly Marie Koltz for tracking down the links.

Frommelt: Pioneering Web Standards in Higher Ed

One of the common hurdles in converting university and college sites to Web standards is due to a decentralized system of Web development within the organization.

Daniel Frommelt is the World Wide Web Coordinator for the University of Wisconsin–Platteville and has been instrumental in converting their Web site to XHTML. However, he is probably better known for having led a team of students to re-tool Slashdot with Web standards.

I suppose you could say that UW–Platteville was one of the early adopters of Web Standards. At the time we did not know about Web Standards, rather we were trying to solve simple accessibility issues. We began by adopting XHTML over HTML in 2001. The goal for the Web Development Office was to make code that was light, portable, and easy to maintain.

How did Daniel and his team achieve this? The WaSP Education Task Force interviews Daniel about his experience on Web standards in higher education, where he also lets us in on his advocacy directions and strategies.