Simon's articles

  1. The Mozilla Developer Center

    The Mozilla Developer Center (affectionately known as Devmo) is one of web development’s best kept secrets. The site describes itself as a Mozilla project dedicated to providing documentation, education, and community for developers of all types. What that means is extensive articles and tutorials on a wide range of important techniques – Ajax, CSS, SVG […]

  2. Cross-browser event handling

    One of the most important aspects of modern unobtrusive DHTML is dealing with events. An event occurs whenever the user interacts with the page in some way – by clicking a link, moving their mouse or typing on the keyboard for example. JavaScript programmers write code to respond to those events, and attach them to […]

  3. Usability and accessibility with Ajax

    The Ajax express train rumbles on, threatening to crush anything in its path. Recent discussion has turned to those critical elements of good web development, usability and accessibility. Accessibility is a major issue with Ajax, mainly because anything that relies on JavaScript to function is inaccessible pretty much by default. There are two solutions: either […]

  4. JavaScript and domain specific languages

    I recently stumbled across a group of interesting JavaScript projects by Steve Yen: JavaScript Templates, TrimQuery and TrimSpreadsheet. The first is a JavaScript templating engine, similar to PHP’s Smarty. I was initially unconvinced by the wisdom of client-side templates, but Steve has a well considered blog entry in which he defends the idea in light […]

  5. Fun with Google Maps

    Google Maps launched a couple of weeks ago, and is another dramatic victory for dynamic web applications. If you haven’t seen it yet, go check it out (IE/Windows or Firefox/Mozilla only at the moment, but Safari support is “coming soon”). It’s a really impressive piece of work, with the main “wow” factor coming from the […]

  6. Internet Explorer 7

    It seems that the endless stream of security problems combined with Firefox’s growing market share have finally had an effect: Bill Gates has announced plans for IE 7. There aren’t that many details yet but it seems the focus will be improved security and better protection from phishing; there’s no news at all on better […]

  7. 2005: The year of the DOM

    Jeffrey Zeldman popularised the concept of the “three legged stool” approach to web design in his book, Designing with Web Standards. The three legged stool consists of XHTML for content and structure, CSS for presentation and JavaScript and the DOM for “behaviour”. CSS and XHTML have had an excellent couple of years in 2003 and […]

  8. Auto complete comes of age

    Google Suggest, the latest bag of tricks from Google Labs, is a perfect example of how modern web applications are breaking out of the mold and becoming more interactive. It uses XMLHttpRequest to run queries against Google as yout type, proving an auto-complete box with the most likely results. As you might expect from Google, […]

  9. The Web-Smart palette

    Anyone who has been designing for the web for more than a year or so ago is likely to have heard of the browser-safe palette, a set of 216 colours recommended for use on the web as they represented the intersection between the 256 colours supported by both Windows and Mac computers in the late […]

  10. Blank alt attributes

    Roger Johansson has a published a short discussion of the alt and title attributes for images. One point he mentions that I think deserves emphasis is the importance of the blank alt attribute. When checking a page’s accessibility, many people attempt to add a descriptive alt attribute to every image on a page. This really […]

  11. Lists that don’t look like lists

    Russ Weakley, author of the impressive Listamatic CSS demonstration, recently received an interesting challenge to create a TV remote control navigation bar using CSS. The anonymous challenger argued that this exampled disproved Russ’s assertion that using a list for navigation doesn’t limit the page designer. Never one to shirk a challenge, Russ provided a detailed […]

  12. HTCs and Service Pack 2

    I haven’t played with XP Service Pack 2 yet due to not having ready access to a Windows smachine that I can upgrade, but it seems that one of the security changes made to IE has greatly increased the importance of serving up the correct Content-Type header. Aldo Hoebon writes about this in HTC components […]

  13. QuirksMode bug reports

    Anyone who has done serious work with CSS will tell you that the most frustrating part of the process is dealing with strange browser bugs. Many (if not most) of these have been documented somewhere, but knowing where to look is an art in itself. PPK’s latest venture, Bug Report, is very welcome indeed! The […]

  14. Opacity and DHTML

    Richard Rutter’s Onload image fades without Flash demonstrates a way of creating a “fade-in” effect for a photograph using dynamic alteration of the CSS opacity property. Opacity isn’t part of the CSS 2.1 specification (although it is covered by CSS 3) so different browsers have different ways of controlling it. Richard’s setOpacity() function provides a […]

  15. Presentations with s5

    One of the Opera browser’s best kept secrets is Opera Show, a brilliant feature which allows the easy creation and display of PowerPoint style presentations using HTML and the CSS projection media type. With s5, Eric Meyer has taken this core idea and expanded it in to a cross-browser XHTML slide show package. s5 stands […]

  16. CSS tricks in both dimensions

    Cameron Adams and Dave Shea both came through recently with some smart new CSS techniques. Cameron’s trick, entitled Resolution dependent layout, provides a welcome new angle to the long running debate over liquid vs. fixed width designs. The standard dilemma is that fixed width designs waste browser real estate, but liquid designs can lead to […]

  17. A9 and Google Local

    If you want proof that remote scripting has hit the mainstream, look no further than the recent launches of both Amazon’s A9.com search engine and Google’s new Google Local service. Both make extensive use of remote scripting, a technique whereby JavaScript is used to refresh content from a server without requiring a refresh of the […]

  18. Weekend Reading

    The three-day weekend here in the US has coincided with a barrage of new articles from the web development community: Pocket-Sized Design: Taking Your Website to the Small Screen – Elika Etemad and Jorunn D. Newth describe the limitations of small screen devices and discuss ways of adapting a site to fit them. Ten CSS […]

  19. sIFR and HTMLoverlays

    Here are a couple of fun new toys that have surfaced in the past 24 hours. First up, Mike Davidson, Shaun Inman and Tomas Jogin have released sIFR, a new take on Shaun Inman’s infamous IFR Flash replacement technique. Flash replacement is a smart technique built on top of semantic HTML, where portions of text […]

  20. A web standards checklist

    The Max Design web standards checklist offers a nice, concise way of checking the overall quality of a website, at least from an architectural point of view. The key concepts embodied in the list are adherence to standards and use of best practices. I wrote up some thoughts about embracing best practice a couple of […]

  21. Quick tip: XMLHttpRequest and innerHTML

    XMLHttpRequest is one of modern DHTML’s best kept secrets. If you haven’t encountered it before, it’s a method of making an HTTP call back to the hosting web server without refreshing the whole page – a kind of remote scripting on steroids. Originally a Microsoft extension, it’s been adapted by both the Mozilla browser family […]