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    Paul O'B's Avatar
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    Member of the Month - November 2013

    November 2013 Victim Member of the month.

    Another month, another winner! This month's prestigious award goes to Francky. Please join me in congratulating Francky and lets see what Francky thinks of us all.

    Now follows an interview conducted in the stylesheet language.

    Paul:
    Hi Franky, congratulations on becoming the November 2013 member of the month and thanks for taking part in this interview. You have been absolutely fabulous this month but are still a relative newcomer to Sitepoint forums so first, tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do for a living, and how you got involved in web development, hobbies etc?

    In essence what floats your boat?

    Francky:
    First I wish to thank the Sitepoint Staff, it's a great honour to be chosen!

    Well, my boat is floating sometimes left, sometimes right, sometimes floating by the stream - the normal flow, and sometimes floating by myself (it's a rowing boat ). And sometimes I've to row against the stream. In my jobs (paid or as volunteer) always a kind of advocacy is present: for more social justice or for the beauty of creativity. The sport is to enthusiasm other folks, or to convince them that what my vision is, is not totally wrong. I experienced that humour is a big drive for change, and can be way more efficient than a lot of heavy talk. Also visual examples can tell often more than a 1000 words.

    I try to integrate my hobbies (photography, visual work, puzzling, writing) in the things I do, and that seems easier as the years go on. Difficult to integrate are my holidays; mostly you can find me with backpack and bivouac on footpaths in the French Alps. But my camera is with me, and at home I can afterglow by pasting the pictures to a panorama. As showcase I made a little site with some photos of this summer (I'm living in the Netherlands: summer over here in July!). They can be found on clba.nl/sitepoint/vanoise. Happily there are a lot of splendid cascades in the Alps, so I'm not too far away from CSS.

    About web development: in the beginning of this century I got the feeling that websites could get an important role in life, and the organisation I worked for didn't have one (and no money). So in the background, my free time, I made a kind of site: with FrontPage, tables, frames, and all other forbidden things. Then the fire was burning and my curiosity was aroused: I bought some magazines (but never a book), and Google became my friend. A certain day I wrote a comment on a site about proper styling and coding, and was pointed to the css-discuss mailing list and the css-discuss Wiki. Good stuff - for some years I was completely absorbed!

    Paul:
    Weve seen you around the CSS forums quite a lot but I see that you are also accomplished with JavaScript. What other aspects of web development take your fancy?

    Francky:
    Yes, my main involvement is CSS. In JavaScript I'm more static than dynamic (much trial and even more error), but I like to explore the possibilities without the use of the big scripting libraries. Often I'm quite astonished if I open the source code of a site, and see what JavaScript there is all aboard. For a slider: a JavaScript library (used for about 15%). For a widget: another JavaScript library . For ...; and so on. But a site should work without JavaScript! Also sliders should have a fall back for disabled or not present JavaScript (and that can). That is accessibility, another point of my interest. Too often is forgotten: the web has to be for all.

    Besides (1): if you start a site with accessibility in mind, it is not so difficult. Besides (2): an accessible site has advantages for everybody (and for every search engine). For those who will get an impression about what can be done: see Stories of Web Users.

    Paul:
    What tools do you use to code and design with or do you do it all by hand?

    Francky:
    By hand, so all errors are on my conscience.

    Maybe it is not so fast, but I'm a self-made geek, not a professional designer and not in a hurry. The benefit is that I haven't to study the manual of a pricey program, - and I don't have to correct the program (weird pseudo-code in Dreamweaver or so). For that correcting you need in fact the same knowledge as when doing it by hand. Then I can do it by hand as well, without all the ballast.
    O, mistake: sometimes I make a small practical tool for myself, like the "Valid-o-Link".

    Paul:
    What is your position on html5 yet? On which side of the fence do you float?

    Francky:
    I'm absolutely sure I have to relativate(sic) myself here. I'm still floating at the surface, and should dive more into the deep waters of html5. Time, o time, where are you? A time transformation should be welcome. - As long as I'm dropping ideas in the SitePoint Forum Q&A's, time is floating away...

    Paul:
    What do you think of grids and frameworks (bootstrap etc)?

    Francky:
    Again I've to be humble, for I did not study the Pro's and Con's; nor do I have experience in this matter. Also the complex subject of responsive layouts is rather virgin territory for me. My hands are full already!

    Paul:
    CSS3 is really starting to flex its muscle with good browser support these days and transforming the way we work. What is your perspective on this? What are the features you love, what do you hate and what else would you like to see implemented?

    Francky:
    For sure, CSS3 has unprecedented opportunities. My whole Liquid Corners Playgarden (2006) can be dismantled, just with the simple {border-radius} property. So there are good chances for CSS3 to simplify things. On the other hand, I'm a bit afraid that the first years a lot of designers will go out of their way in order to trump one another in the most extraordinary applications of CSS3. More or less like the flash intro pages some years ago: a hype, nowadays happily considered as not professional. The main thing of a site is the content, the style is supporting!

    I don't understand completely the blurring of the border between CSS3 and JavaScript. It is like "visual functionality" (in CSS3) is seen as not "real functionality" which is confined to JavaScript.
    What I would like is the development of a new language for all kinds of functionality, "harmless JavaScript": which has not the security problems of the actual JavaScript, has an easy operation (to trigger CSS for instance), and can be downloaded by every type of browser.

    Paul:
    How did you find out about SitePoint and what do you think of the recent re-design? What can we improve?

    Francky:
    The SitePoint Forum I encountered regularly in my Google escapades, and in the Q&A's I found the Forum is quite international and has a low threshold to participate. That I like!

    The recent re-design? Oops, I'm afraid I missed something, for I do visit only the SP Forum and didn't remark any design changes of the Forum in the last months.

    In the margin I have some positive colored criticism.

    On the homepage I'm missing a <h1> description of what this site is all about. - To stay simple: that could be a variant of the <meta> description text "Learn Web Design & Development with SitePoint tutorials, courses and books. Or consult the SitePoint forum". That is 1.5 line, for me far more appealing than the marquee-ish promotion lines "Learn to create: inspirational designs, scalable applications, profitable web sites, brilliant mobile apps, anything you desire". These ego-centered language can be in a sub-header, that's enough I think.

    Maybe in the Topics pages there can be made a link to the corresponding item in the Forum.

    To improve: the accessibility! The outline of the homepage is not clear. For instance: if I disable CSS, on the SitePoint page I see a padding of big unordered lists of internal links, without sections, and without the "skip menu" possibility. The "back" link is in a strange place. The "Menu" and "Topics" links are going to nowhere. The main topics are two times in the list (!), once as sub-items in the list item "Topics", and once each apart. A visually impaired visitor with a reading device has to hear all these links before the content is coming... - In the content, again links without any explication. On screen, I can see that the topics must be the most recent articles in the various main sections, but in pure text or with a reader one has to guess. That kind of things, not very inline with the KISS-principles...

    But it is not all doom and gloom. To end this question in a happy way: I admire the kindness and patience which can be heard in the Forum answers.

    Paul:
    Thanks Francky and now Im forced to ask these final trivial questions:

    Favourite Film: / Favourite Book: / Favourite Song: / Favourite Web Personality:

    Francky:
    Aha, I'm not an idol adorer, so I haven't 1:1 answers. It is more classes than an ID. I can't even imagine what a web personality should be. Some films I appreciate: Les Enfants du Paradis, the Fellini films.

    There are a lot of good books around: books of the Dutch writer Multatuli, Sartre, more light painted romans, and last summer "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". Music: classic and sitar as well as Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, Zappa and others.

    Favourite Song: what is coming upwards if I hum or whistle something for myself.

    BTW: I expected the question "Which Favourite Animal?" This should be the answer: I don't have a special one, but I decided it must be a mountain marmot, living in a beautiful landscape and mostly non-alcoholic and vegetarian. If you hear a loud marmot shriek, there must be a hawk flying over!

    Paul:
    Thanks for taking part in the interview and congratulations on winning this much sought after award. Before you go is there something that you would like to shamelessly promote or anything you would like to add?

    Francky:
    Thanks again! I hope that sites as the SitePoint Forum with lots of volunteers do change the way of thinking in only terms of profit and money. People who come here with a commercial attitude can scratch their head: "are these advices for free?". Yes: knowledge belongs to the public domain. As food, water, health and a lot more. Still much to do!

    Last shout: maybe no slider is the best, but if sliders are used, they should not be greater (and preferable a lot less) than 1/4 of the screen!

    Paul:
    Thanks Francky that has been a wonderful insight into your world and I'm sure the other Sitepointers will now all wish to join me in thanking you for your contributions in the forum.
    Last edited by Paul O'B; Oct 31, 2013 at 15:35.


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