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  1. #1
    Skills to Pay the Bills Sparkie's Avatar
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    You COULD build a seperate site for a majority of the devices.. but it would be EXTREMELY complex and difficult to test..

    The majority of surfers out there still use Netscape or IE, and with the stranglehold that these two companies have on the browser market (despite others' efforts to outdo them) it will probably always be that way.

    So how are we to cope with this onslaught of new technology? Maybe the best route would be to keep sites simple: graphics and text, as most visitors won't want to wait for that oustanding flash presentation no matter how great it looks. Some can't see it at all!

    Remember that the internet was originally designed to transfer information - and that should be the core of our sites anyway! Our content!

    Just my thoughts

    Sparkie


  2. #2
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Since the subject was brought up about older browsers in another post started by me (Right or Left Hand Menus), I have decided to start posting a new question once a week for everyone to think about and reply to.

    This week the topic is:
    How is a web designer supposed to accomodate all the new and coming devices, browsers and appliances that will be used to access the Internet? Can you truly build a site that handles every device or a least the majority of them?

    Before you answer think about cell phones with a max resolution of 40 characters by 10 lines or less. WebTV with a max resolution of 544 X 392 pixels, no support for complex javascript, frames or complex tables. Handheld devices with varying levels of resolution but the inability to display complex graphics or color for that matter. I don't even know what the internet capabilities of the Sega Dreamcast or upcoming Sony Playstation 2 entail. These have browsers that are hard-coded on a chip. Can they even be upgraded?

    I look forward to hearing your answers and ideas. I will post my answer at the end of the week.

    ------------------
    Wayne Luke
    Internet Media Provider

  3. #3
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    If you try to separate content from design as much as possible I think you can manage building a site like this. I doubt that you can make it look the same on all the devices, though. But if you think about it, people who access the web via a cell phone, palm pilot, or whatever else hand-held device generally look for information, not pretty pictures and fancy page elements. If you can control the layout, positioning and content you are all set for those folks.

    CSS2 has an @media rule which is used to discriminate between the following devices: speech synthesizers, handheld devices, projected presentation, devices with limited display capabilities, and tv type devices. If you are using that rule in your style sheet it will only be applied when the page is viewd on that particular medium. Although I have not tried it, it seems that this feature should help keep content separate from design and give you more control over the site.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Member
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    This is a question I have been thinking of for some time. I offer a text only version for my clients at a marginal cost but they don't want it. They know their target market is for the most part tied to the two main browsers.

    Wouldn't it be nice if we could create our websites and have a system for writing a text only version viewable in all formats as we create the original site. Like a two for one website design. I am not a programmer and assume this would be very complex. Still, a nice thought for applying information to all those different technologies in the least amount of time.




  5. #5
    SitePoint Enthusiast b'vis's Avatar
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    All we hear about in the UK are 'set top boxes' - and how they are going to revolutionise the way people access the web.

    Yet another device that will view a web page differently to how it was meant to look.

    Is it not possible to produce a base design for each different platform, and then produce raw content files that through some server side action parse the content file with the correct design for the visitor's platform? Can XSSI help with that?

    ------------------
    Visit Ethos Online http://www.ethosonline.com/ for articles, tutorials, tips, tools, reviews and resources to help you create, promote and maintain a great web site


    [This message has been edited by b'vis (edited March 17, 2000).]

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard westmich's Avatar
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    XML XML XML XML XML XML XML XML

    Seriously, though, XML is supposed to be the next great solution. It would allow you to completly seperate content from presentation. The content of the site would be created, stored, and accessed in an XML format. Whereas, the presentation could stored in varing HTML, JavaScript, and CSS formats depending on which type of GUI called it.

    The reality is that it will probably be at least five years before this is realized. The W3C hasn't even ironed out all the standards yet. Not to mention it will probably take some time before the latest versions of GUI's will support such technology and even longer before designers will design for it.

    I think Java, JavaScript, and CSS are good examples of these 'create then support then design for' trends. While these technologies have been around for a few years, most designers use them sparingly or in such a way as to make them not critical for the site to be used. Why? Because we generally design to reach the largest audiance possible.

    IMHO,
    Westmich

    [This message has been edited by westmich (edited March 17, 2000).]

  7. #7
    SitePoint Zealot ANETEK's Avatar
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    I agree with Sparkie. We need to identify our viewership. If after Webmasters, design for "devices". Otherwise design for downloading speed on Netscape and IE.

    My design-criteria is to download by 10-seconds (15-max) at 28.8; FrontPage2000 times my each page as I work. What is the criteria used by others?

    Thanks, in advance.

    Elton

    ------------------
    anetek@email.com
    www.anetek.com



  8. #8
    SitePoint Enthusiast Daniel's Avatar
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    I see you mentioned the DreamCast up above. I happen to have one of these (truly great) machines, and here's a couple of things you might like to know. It's built on Windows CE, and uses its browser technology. Resolution is the same as WebTV. Also, the modem is detachable, so you can upgrade it easily. I should think it is more compatible with web pages than the WebTV system.

    ------------------
    Daniel Irvine
    f-free - Free Stuff and Freebies!

  9. #9
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    The role of the traditional browser is fading. More people are starting to access the Internet with appliances or user devices. These appliances range from cell phones to television set-top boxes. All have varying levels of complexity. This holds especially true for displaying data. The problem with these devices is that most web sites on the Internet today can not accommodate them.

    How do you create your site so that the content can be viewed on these devices without making a site for each different resolution and appliance? Some will say use tables and make their widths percentage
    based. Unfortunately this won't work because some devices won't know how to deal with HTML tables or have a very limited resolution. To achieve this goal of universal distribution of content you will have to rely on "new" technologies. HTML has reached the end of its days. Even the WWW Consortium has realized this and has released a new standard called XHTML. What this new standard does is make HTML conform to XML specifications and merges the two standards in a best of both worlds situation.

    Through the use of several technologies you can keep your presentation outside the content. This will allow you to dynamically format your site to the user device. These new technologies while several years old are just now coming into use. They include XML, XSL and CSS. Currently the only commercial browser on the market that supports XML and that is Internet Explorer, version 5 supports it natively while version 4 requires a service pack add-on. There are also web servers that support XML parsing the most notable being IIS from Microsoft. What XML does is that it allows us to create our own tags for presentation. These tags can be used to handle your data in a particular way. These tags don't have any formatting capabilities though. That is where XSL comes in. XSL is eXtended Style Language. This is what you use to provide your formatting to your XML and change those custom tags into raw HTML, HDML, WAP or whatever language the user device requests.

    Wait turn it into "raw HTML"? Didn't I say that HTML was nearing the end of its days? In fact I did, unfortunately the current user devices only support HTML so presentation is only possible through its
    language. Unfortunately now we are back to messing up the presentation for different devices because HTML isn't very flexible. So we have two choices. First we can store all of our information in XML format. This
    is the preferred method because there is no presentation information stored with the content, and it makes your content available
    programmatically to be altered by scripts and programs. The second choice and more likely option, in the near term, because it places less load on the server is to only use container and formatting (<B>, <I>, <CODE> )tags allowed in the XHTML specification. With Style Sheets you can apply all your formatting. Using classes and ID's you can make your page look anyway you want. You can even set up different style sheets for different types of media, some of which include Screen, Print, Aural, Hand-Held. I am sure other media devices will be added in the future.

    Now I realize that every web site will not need to be seen on every type of device. A site on Web Programming such as Webmaster-Resources will probably not be viewed on a cell phone but discussion forums probably will be eventually. Other applications that will need to be universal include e-mail and messaging, e-commerce sites. I also think review based sites could benefit in being universally available. Imagine someone shopping for a new DVD player. They are in Best Buy and forget which DVD player ElectronicsReviews.com said was the best under $500. They can either go home and look it up, take the sales persons word for it, or pull out their Palm VII and log on from inside the store. I personally would choose the last option. What about you?

    For more information on XML, XSL, XHTML and CSS you can go to the
    following resources:

    XML at the Microsoft Web Workshop http://msdn.microsoft.com/workshop/c.../xml/index.asp

    XML and MetaData Developer Central http://developer.netscape.com/tech/metadata/index.html

    A Child's Garden of XML http://www.alistapart.com/stories/xmlgarden/

    Using XML and ASP to separate Web Site Content from Design http://www.asptoday.com/articles/19990810.htm

    The Apache XML project http://xml.apache.org/

    Building Documents with XML, XSL, and CSS http://www.siteexperts.com/tips/xml/ts01/page1.asp

    Building Smart Pages with ASP, XML and XSL http://www.siteexperts.com/tips/xml/ts02/page1.asp

    Building a Content Server with XML and ASP http://www.siteexperts.com/tips/xml/ts03/page1.asp

    XHTML: Our last best hope for clean code. http://www.webreview.com/pub/1999/07...ure/index.html

    XHTML 1.0: The Extensible HyperText Markup Language http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/

    Web Style Sheets http://www.w3.org/Style/

    Associating Style Sheets with XML documents http://www.w3.org/1999/06/REC-xml-stylesheet-19990629/

    Please note that while I was unable to find any PHP resources that doesn't mean they aren't out there if anyone knows of such a
    resource please let me know and I will add it to this list. I did the research for this message late one night so if I missed anything please let me know.




    ------------------
    Wayne Luke
    Internet Media Provider


  10. #10
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    I am also quite excited about XML, but I feel this new standard will take a while to happen, especially with the continious usage of old browser sout there.

    I take a more apathetic approach to design (which I ahve been critisized for on numerous occasions). My website carries a 97% visitation of IE 4 and 5. That means that Netscape falls in the remaining 3%.

    I would love to support the browser, but if I find technology or features that would enrich my site for the 97%, yet need to spend a over-ratio amount of time accomadating NS users (if it is even possible), I don't see why I should.

    It is easy for larger development teams, or full-time administrators to accomodate this, but I run my site in my spare time, which is precious little.

    Does my responsibility lie with my bulk audience, or my webmaster ethics?

  11. #11
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Part of the beauty of XML is that the server distributors are supporting it as well. IIS already supports XML and if the module for Apache (xml.apache.org) isn't complete then it will be soon. Other server companies will follow suit or lose out. Browser support isn't that far behind though with server end support you can mask your XML and only output HTML.
    XML will also be supported in non-web applications. I use a time-logging program and the new version allows me to export reports and invoices in XML. Using VBA and other scripting languages you can build XML support into mainstream desktop applications like Windows, MacOS, Linux, Word, Excel, Access, SQL, and the list goes on. After doing some research I don't see XML as a web technology but as a data distribution technology.

    ------------------
    Wayne Luke
    Internet Media Provider



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