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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot raymo's Avatar
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    CSS layout dilemma - Can client still edit with HTML editor?

    G'day.

    I have a design I am in the process of marking up with CSS.

    It has just occurred to me that it will likely cause my design to not satisfy one of the client's criteria - that he is able to edit the content in his editor (which I think is frontpage .. *ugh*, I know, I might be able to get him to use Dreamweaver or GoLive though). In my experience even good, modern HTML editors don't correctly recognise CSS, and sometimes (maybe oft times) stuff up the CSS layout code.

    What are others' experience with this? Am I right or are things better now?

    Below is a thumbnail of my design. As you can see, whilst it can be done with tables, CSS is a much better option, especially with the page picture under the top right corner of the content area (I'd prefer to keep it as one image and not have to cut it up to go into several table cells).


    Another downside to using tables is that, for the table to stretch to 100% height when there's not much content (to push footer down to browser baseline), it seems to require a HTML 4.01 (or older) DOCTYPE (please tell me if I am mistaken). I am pretty keen to markup this site with the latest spec, XHTML 1.1.

    It isn't at all critical that the site renders correctly in the client's editor, just that it lets him make changes to content without stuffing up the layout. I suppose the only thing that needs to render correctly in his editor is the content and the column of thumbnails on the right (which will change relevant to the content).

    Opinions? Solutions?


    Cheers

  2. #2
    SitePoint Zealot bobber205's Avatar
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    Have him use NVU

    I used to use it alot for simpler webpages, but I do know that is does a very good job handling CSS.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Zealot raymo's Avatar
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    Thanks bobber205, I have downloaded and will check it out shortly. It looks quite promising.

    In the mean time, if anybody has any other suggestions, I'm all ears.
    ride it like it's stolen

  4. #4
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Does he want to just edit the content (the text and images), or does he also want to be able to alter the structure (HTML), presentation (CSS) and/or the behavior (JavaScript)?

  5. #5
    SitePoint Zealot raymo's Avatar
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    He only wants to edit the content, meaning the main content area and the right side column with the thumbnails.

    Doesn't need to alter structure. In fact I want him to leave that well alone.

    Thanks
    ride it like it's stolen

  6. #6
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    I'd give him a content management system then. Skin the CMS, and let the client run wild with it.

    While not a "pure" CMS, WordPress should be sufficient for your needs.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Zealot raymo's Avatar
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    I had considered it, but discounted it expecting that it would take longer to setup compared with training him to do basic content changes with an editor.

    I am in the process of persuading him to host on my server, which is a 'doze server, because I use ASP for the dynamic side of things. He is currently on unix but I want him to move to my server so I can utilise my ASP knowledge for dynamic features down the track. Even if he doesn't come to the party now, I don't really want to set up anything non-ASP because it would make it harder to move later, what with it being reliant on PHP.. and ofcourse I'd like the ability to change the inner workings of any system I setup.

    Good suggestion though, you've made me reconsider setting up a CMS .. I could always look at very basic & free/cheap ASP CMSs or just build my own (which I already was planning to do.. just not yet!).

    I've had a squiz at that Nvu, and am quite impressed. So far the few pages I've opened in it have rendered and re-saved flawlessly. So I'm thinking I might continue marking it up as a XHTML 1.1 compliant, CSS based template, with the view to integrating a CMS down the track.

    Thanks bobber205 & Dan Schulz for your advice.
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  8. #8
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    You cannot use XHTML 1.1 for a general-audience web site. XHTML 1.1 should not be served as text/html, because it's not fully compatible with HTML. And since Internet Explorer has zero support for real XHTML, you'll lose a very large percentage of visitors if you serve the documents as application/xhtml+xml.

    See the XHTML vs HTML FAQ for more information.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  9. #9
    SitePoint Zealot raymo's Avatar
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    Oh that's strange! My IE 6 is rendering it just fine, exactly the same as Opera and Firefox.. I have only skipped through your linked post but will look into it further.

    My first impression is that whilst you seem to have some good points, some appears to be either slightly exaggerated or inaccurate.. although I should reserve judgment for later.

    What I read on the web roughly when XHTML came to the fore was that it was the way to go. I see your statement that we now can see it's shortfalls/issues.

    Now you've made me question the 'validity', heheh, of the w3c validator (my code checks out..I wonder what that means).

    Thanks
    ride it like it's stolen

  10. #10
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    The problem with the adoption and application of true XHTML is Microsoft. They have not included ANY support for true XHTML in their browser, Internet Explorer. If you're going to use XHTML, you have to use XHTML 1.0 and "fake" it by serving it as text/html instead if application/xhtml+xml.

    However, Internet Explorer doesn't even render HTML 4.01 properly anyway, so it's really a moot point. That browser's rendering engine (Trident) just needs to be taken out back and shot, and then replaced by a rendering engine that actually SUPPORTS the standards.

    If a non-profit (Mozilla), a couple small companies (Apple and Opera) and the open-source community can all create browsers that support the standards, then there is no reason why Darth Gates and his Evil Empire (Microsoft) can't, especially with all the resources at their disposal.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Zealot raymo's Avatar
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    Thanks for the elightenment Dan! That explains a thing or two.

    I second that last line. I have often pondered exactly that. The situation is so ridiculous it's depressing.

    All I suppose I'm concerned with is that my code is current. I take it HTML 4.01 (strict) is still current today, for writing new pages?
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  12. #12
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    HTML 4.01 Transitional, HTML 4.01 Strict, XHTML 1.0 Transitional and XHTML 1.0 Strict are "current" and valid for writing Web pages, yes. HTML 4.01 Frameset and XHTML 1.0 Frameset are only to be used if you're (obviously) using frames.

    Transitional DOCTYPES are the preferred means for making the transition from the old ways to the use of modern design practices, however, I find them useful since I can validate my otherwise "Strict" code while still using target="_blank" which I find highly useful. Strict DOCTYPES are the preferred DOCTYPE to use if you're writing a new Web page from scratch though.

    Some will tell you to use HTML 4.01 Strict above all else; however, you can really use whatever you feel you need to use to get your particular job done. If you want to use XHTML Transitional, go ahead and do it. It's not like you can't change it later, should Bill Gates & Co. finally decide to support real XHTML and actual Web standards (ok, we can stop laughing at Microsoft now).

  13. #13
    SitePoint Zealot raymo's Avatar
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    Oh so you're telling me the target="_blank" was deprecated in strict doc types? I find this hard to believe, unless there's some other - just as simple - way to open pages in new browser instances/tabs (that's strictly valid)? You seem to indicate there is not? Or is that only for XHTML strict, not HTML 4.01 strict?

    Ha! No keep laughing, or else you might cry!
    The best way, I've found, to make a difference with this major major issue which is Internet Exploiter, is to educate users. Every chance I get I try to persuade friends/family/clients to use Opera, as I'm pulling my flash drive out of my pocket. Baby steps, baby steps...

    I am still amazed at the number of people that aren't even aware there are alternatives to IE, let alone the fact that they are much better (even if you disregard all the rendering flaws!).
    ride it like it's stolen

  14. #14
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Yes, it was depreciated in HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.0 Strict. The preferred way to achieve the same functionality is to use a combination of JavaScript and the rel="" attribute.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Zealot raymo's Avatar
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    No way! That's ridiculous.

    I wonder if they (W3C) expect us to do it in the way you describe. Interesting that javascript is needed for something so common and trivial.

    I'll look up this rel tag soon. Thanks for the info.
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  16. #16
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by raymo
    Oh that's strange! My IE 6 is rendering it just fine, exactly the same as Opera and Firefox..
    In that case, I'm willing to bet that you're serving those pages as text/html, which is not kosher for XHTML 1.1.

    Quote Originally Posted by raymo
    My first impression is that whilst you seem to have some good points, some appears to be either slightly exaggerated or inaccurate.. although I should reserve judgment for later.
    I tried to write that FAQ in as balanced a way as I could. If you find any exaggerations or inaccuracies (and can back them up with solid evidence), please let me know.

    Quote Originally Posted by raymo
    Oh so you're telling me the target="_blank" was deprecated in strict doc types? I find this hard to believe, unless there's some other - just as simple - way to open pages in new browser instances/tabs (that's strictly valid)? You seem to indicate there is not? Or is that only for XHTML strict, not HTML 4.01 strict?
    The target attribute is still valid with Transitional doctypes, to cater for frameset solutions. It is not valid in Strict doctypes (HTML 4.01 Strict, XHTML 1.0 Strict and XHTML 1.1). The reason is simple:
    • (X)HTML: document structure and semantics
    • CSS: presentation
    • JavaScript: behaviour

    Opening a new window is behaviour, so it should be done with JavaScript. Unobtrusively, i.e., no onclick attributes in the markup either.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  17. #17
    SitePoint Zealot raymo's Avatar
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    Nice one AutisticCuckoo.

    Yeah, it was text/html - I misinterpreted your message on that point (I thought you were talking XHTML regardless of how it's served).
    Interesting, that's what GoLive generates (text/html) when you start a blank XHTML 1.1 page (no, I don't normally use editors.. UltraEdit is my tool of choice).

    In regard to your FAQ (which I should take the chance to congratulate and thank you for writing such a detailed and thorough piece), it was just that it read like it was all doom and gloom with XHTML, thus the interpretation that it was a bit exaggerated. .. But maybe it is, I'm probably not yet qualified to express an opinion .. don't mind me

    re. javascript for links;
    Ah so I would then presume the W3C expects us to also learn (a bit of) javascript?
    Maybe there's a method in that madness, but it seems a bit crazy to me.

    Cheers
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  18. #18
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    There are quite a few ways to use JavaScript to open pages/sites in new windows without having the actual script inside the <body> element's contents. The best one (in my opinion) is to use the rel="" attribute as an anchor (or "hook"), and then use the script to look for each link that has the hook on it, and then apply target="_blank" to it, which would open up the new window. While target="" has been removed from the HTML 4.01 Strict and XHTML 1.0 Strict DOCTYPES (and XHTML 1.1 on top of that), target is still a part of the DOM, which allows you to use it without feeling bad about using "depreciated" code.

    http://www.sitepoint.com/article/sta...ompliant-world

  19. #19
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by raymo
    Interesting, that's what GoLive generates (text/html) when you start a blank XHTML 1.1 page
    GoLive has nothing to do with it. It's what your web server sends in the HTTP headers that matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by raymo
    it read like it was all doom and gloom with XHTML
    I wouldn't say doom and gloom, but it's certainly not all it's hyped up to be, either. Due to the lack of browser support (IE, mainly), real XHTML can only be used for niche sites where you can expect everyone to use Opera, Firefox, Safari, etc. XHTML markup served as text/html is utterly pointless (although not necessarily harmful) since you cannot use any XML advantages at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by raymo
    Ah so I would then presume the W3C expects us to also learn (a bit of) javascript?
    If you want to add behaviour to your web pages, yes.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  20. #20
    SitePoint Zealot raymo's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info and link Dan, you're a champ.

    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo
    GoLive has nothing to do with it. It's what your web server sends in the HTTP headers that matter.
    Oh.. weren't we talking about the
    HTML Code:
    content="text/html...."
    in the meta tag? I know there's a header the webserver sends in regard to mime types..

    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo
    If you want to add behaviour to your web pages, yes.
    Uh-huh. I'm thinking this thinking is a bit pedantic though. Opening external sites in new windows is kind of critical for *all* websites, and only a small percentage of sites need to otherwise utilise any kind of javascript. So, a pain in the backside for most authors. I think you'd agree.

    Well I've just completed inserting every single element of my design successfully - everything lines up pixel perfect in all browsers (all the significant ones anyway - IE, Firefox & Opera). I'm absolutely thrilled!

    I better wind this up and stop going off topic.

    Cheers matey.
    ride it like it's stolen

  21. #21
    SitePoint Guru DCS's Avatar
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    Back to your problem...if you don't want to go the CMS route have you considered making your clien'ts editable area as server side includes?

    Just show 'em how to change the content between the tags and FTP and thy are set.
    I know it's not the best solution but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

  22. #22
    SitePoint Zealot raymo's Avatar
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    G'day DCS.

    Yeah I had considered SSI. I have used it before for another client's content areas, but found that his editor would add html, head, body etc tags around the included file - causing the parsed page to have two sets of those tags.
    I think he was using Frontpage, and I know it's notorious for automatically reformatting & changing your code how it sees fit, so perhaps this method would be viable for other decent editors. I might try this in Nvu.

    Thanks for the suggestion.
    ride it like it's stolen

  23. #23
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by raymo
    Oh.. weren't we talking about the
    HTML Code:
    content="text/html...."
    in the meta tag? I know there's a header the webserver sends in regard to mime types..
    The meta element is only used if the server doesn't send any encoding information (and only if the content type is text/html). Any real Content-Type HTTP header will take precedence over the meta equivalent.

    Quote Originally Posted by raymo
    Opening external sites in new windows is kind of critical for *all* websites
    I disagree, vehemently. It's a major accessibility and usability issue to leave such decisions to the user. When we designed our office site, I had to fight this attitude. My co-workers thought like you do, that external links 'must' open in new windows. I won that fight, and now those co-workers are firmly on my side. Furthermore, we have not had one single complaint from our visitors, but we have received thanks and praise for not spawning new windows left and right.

    The 'external links must open in new windows' thing is like an urban myth. Everyone 'knows' it is true, but no one can point to any solid evidence that backs it up. On the contrary, there have been studies (one by IBM, IIRC) that shows that popping up new windows can be 'harmful' to beginners – those very users for whom new windows are supposedly beneficial.

    Besides, every graphical browser allows users to open links in new windows (or tabs, when applicable). It's much more difficult to prevent a link from opening a new window. I know that many users are ignorant about this, but instead of annoying Opera/Firefox users with new windows, why not try to educate your visitors and tell them how to open links in new windows? They might even thank you for it. Ours did.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  24. #24
    SitePoint Zealot raymo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo
    The meta element is only used if the server doesn't send any encoding information (and only if the content type is text/html). Any real Content-Type HTTP header will take precedence over the meta equivalent.
    Copy that. I can imagine a lot of designers are misled that they have control over it in their meta tag because of this. Seems a bit strange, I don't know how the webserver is supposed to tell what the content type is..unless it isn't, and you're supposed to change it at the server manually. Hmm.

    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo
    I disagree, vehemently. It's a major accessibility and usability issue to leave such decisions to the user.
    Oh look out, looks like we've got a hot topic on our hands.
    When do you, as a surfer, ever not want to open externals in a new window? I haven't ever had the need to go to an external site in the same window, but I imagine you must have.
    It really doesn't bother me, because I *always* use my middle mouse button (in Opera) when clicking on external links. I don't take the chance, what with some (albeit a small percentage of) sites not opening in a new, but I am certainly not your average surfer.

    Average surfers, by and large, don't know how to open links in new windows. With this in mind, I justify coding all external links to open in a new window. Nobody wants to send surfers away from their site.

    I'm not motivated to educate surfers because I don't consider it a worthwhile initiative - in my opinion a new window is the way to go in all cases.

    What if a surfer decides they're finished with the current site and wants to hit up an external link in the same window? They close the extra window, no big deal.

    You have piked my interest in regard to turning around your co-workers though - how exactly did you shift their attitude?

    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo
    there have been studies (one by IBM, IIRC) that shows that popping up new windows can be 'harmful' to beginners – those very users for whom new windows are supposedly beneficial.
    How was it harmful? Edit: And do you have a link?


    Cheers
    ride it like it's stolen

  25. #25
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by raymo
    I don't know how the webserver is supposed to tell what the content type is..unless it isn't, and you're supposed to change it at the server manually.
    Web servers are usually pre-configured for common file types like HTML and CSS. If you use some more unusual file types, you have to tell the web server how to serve them. Most web serves default to text/plain for unknown file types, I think. (Which is why IE does its very harmful content sniffing.)

    Quote Originally Posted by raymo
    Oh look out, looks like we've got a hot topic on our hands.
    Yes, I think we'd better stop it here and now, or we'll have a flame war on our hands.

    Quote Originally Posted by raymo
    When do you, as a surfer, ever not want to open externals in a new window?
    I added some emphasis to your quote, to let you make my point for me.
    It's me, as the user, who should be in control.

    Quote Originally Posted by raymo
    What if a surfer decides they're finished with the current site and wants to hit up an external link in the same window? They close the extra window, no big deal.
    It is if you have to do it 100 times every day.

    Quote Originally Posted by raymo
    You have piked my interest in regard to turning around your co-workers though - how exactly did you shift their attitude?
    I explained why it is rude to take control away from the users. Then, when they surfed on other sites which did spawn new windows, they realised how annoying it was. Actually, the one who was the primary proponent for new windows at the beginning, is now almost more opposed to them than I am.


    Quote Originally Posted by raymo
    How was it harmful? Edit: And do you have a link?
    I was stupid enough not to bookmark it at the time. I've looked for it since, but haven't found it. (Finding anything on IBM's site is a chore.) I'm in a hurry right now, but I'll see if I can dig it up tomorrow, maybe.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane


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