Posted Monday, October 25, 2004 9:23:27 PM by Kim
Last week I was watching an acquaintance--I won't say who to protect the innocent--when I noticed him heading into the Property Inspector in Dreamweaver to apply font sizing and styling information to a block of text. I fought my urge to lunge for the mouse, screaming "Nooooooooooo!!!!", but it was a near thing.
Now I know people get into habits when it comes to getting their work done, but in this case this is someone who should really know better, and not only know better, but should be actively working to get up to speed with what most consider to be the only appropriate way to style text--through CSS. But there they go. Creating all sorts of font tags in their documents that will do nothing but add unnecessary page weight and make revisions to the styled text throughout their site a nightmare. Trust me, I know this to be true since I have a site that needs some work in that area, but having headed down the dark, twisted path of using font tags digging in and cleaning things up now that it's too late is more work than I'm willing to do. If this were a client site it would be a whole 'nother kettle of fish.
Having watched and reacted the way I did to my friend's use of font tags made me think a little harder about how web standards are being taught, and you know what? Much of the information in Dreamweaver books is just flat wrong when it comes to this topic. In the course I teach at the community college I've had to make major revisions to the steps the authors choose to cover for the simple reason that they are wrong. In last week's class, for instance, students were instructed to enter text and then told to "turn to the Property Inspector and make the text Arial, Helvetica, bold, blue, and size 4". "Nooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!" No, no, no,no, no. No. Stop it. No. Beyond the fact that font tags are deprecated (I do love that word, just for the way it sounds) you're making a horrible mess of things by going down that route. But chapter after chapter in the book uses the same methods, and not until Chapter 13 (!) does CSS get covered at all. Needless to say, that has made my job as the instructor a lot more complicated.
But I can't in good faith teach my students bad practices, and I'd like to say that you also have a moral obligation to your friends and co-workers to stop them from heading down the path to font tag hell. Yes, it's harsh, but sometimes you have to use some tough love. Your friends will thank you. Maybe not today, and maybe not even tomorrow. But soon, and for the rest of their lives.
Category tags: Dreamweaver
Posted Wednesday, October 13, 2004 4:37:12 PM by Kim
Paying for Web Services: A brief, but thoughtful discussion over at Loosely Coupled revolves around a question near and dear to my heart--"How do we make money from the Web thing?" Amazon is exploring the ways that they'll price their new web services offering, but what caught my eye was the line from John Dowdell's blog where I picked up this thread.
It's a question that we here at CommunityMX get asked a lot. Well, the question is more like, "Why should I subscribe to your service? There's all sorts of free stuff on the web." True enough, but take a look at those free sites. Do they bury you in advertising? Is the content up-to-date? (He asks, knowing that he has a web site with Dreamweaver and Fireworks 4 tutorials for free.) What else is being sold along with those free assets?
Of course, we think we give great value for the dollar, and that for someone in pursuit of the profession and craft of designing for the web, CommunityMX is a sound investment. Over 800 articles to date, and a very active newsgroup where our clients get quick answers to their questions and are never shouted down or patronized. Do you get that professional treatment in the free newsgroups? In some you do, but in others its a total crap shoot if your question will ever be addressed, and along the way you just might be called an idiot. Or worse.
I understand the temptation to get as much as you can for free. But really, is it realistic to expect to get everything for free? Even the tools and knowledge that it takes to do your job effectively? For some, especially in the on-line world, everything is expected to be free. I just don't see how you can reasonably expect for the content creators of the world to spend their time creating tutorials and software and sample files for your use, and then pay to serve it up to you.
By the way, welcome back to the aforementioned John Dowdell. As a web professional, if you only read one blog then make it JD's.
Category tags: Community MX
Posted Wednesday, October 06, 2004 5:54:51 AM by Kim
An Introduction to Using Patterns in Web Design: An interesting look at 37 Signals of a method for approaching a design task. Instead of looking at the visual design of a page, start with a simple list that details what you want the viewer to be able to do. Find the patterns in your viewer's needs, then design your way up from there. You have to love the focus on the viewer coming first in this approach.
via Soul Soup
Category tags: Designing for the Web
Posted Saturday, October 02, 2004 7:43:49 AM by Kim
Screen Captures to Flash in OS X: OK you Macintosh/Unix geeks, this one is for you. Mac OS X Hints--my fav for cool things that you can do with your Mac--has an article on how to capture from your screen and output to a SWF file. With detailed instructions and links to the downloads you'll need to make this happen, this is a pretty cool concept, if you're one of those folks who think a command line is a good place to be. I'm not really in that category myself, but this looks interesting enough to give it a go. With the limited software products Mac users have for doing screen captures something like this might be an attractive option.
Category tags: Flash
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