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Date: Monday, 14 Aug 2006 09:39
Many thanks to the terrific Amber Rhea for her work on CSS Insider. You can continue to find Amber on our Download Squad blog. And this site will remain available for reference and searching. Thanks to the readers who commented on the retirement of CSS Insider, and thanks to everyone who visited this blog over the last couple of years!
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Author: "Brad Hill"
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Date: Friday, 11 Aug 2006 08:41
Well, folks, today officially marks the final day of CSS Insider. I've had a lot of fun blogging here for the past 7 months, and hopefully my posts have been helpful and informative to you as well. Would I say CSS Insider has changed my life? Well... I tend to shy away from hyperbole; but one fact worth noting is that if it weren't for my blogging here, I wouldn't have met and interviewed Eric Meyer, Jeffrey Zeldman, and Jason Santa Maria.

If you are so heartbroken at the thought of this blog going dark because you just can't get enough of Amber Rhea, worry not! You can find me at the Georgia Podcast Network, where I pontificate about a variety of topics; and my personal blog, Being Amber Rhea. And you might just catch me somewhere else 'round the Weblogs, Inc. network, as well.

I'll leave you with links to some of my favorite CSS news and info sites: Thanks, y'all.
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Author: "Amber Rhea"
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Date: Thursday, 10 Aug 2006 09:54
Safari - or at least, something not unlike it - may be coming to the Windows platform. Swift is a new browser for Windows, based on Apple's WebKit rendering engine.

Swift is in the very earlier stages of development. Practically embryonic, you might even say. The repository was created a mere three weeks ago. And, as the Web Standards Project warns, "it's marked as 1.0pre alpha, and it is very much an alpha: very rough-looking UI, no scrollwheel support, pathetic form controls and I've had reports from colleagues that some folks can't even get it to install."

Nevertheless, Swift looks promising! I recommend keeping a close watch on this project. It could be very helpful to developers who need to ensure that their sites (particularly those with heavy scripting) function across browsers.
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Author: "Amber Rhea" Tags: "browsers, Safari, WebKit"
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Date: Wednesday, 09 Aug 2006 11:35
It's 2006, and we're still talking about site navigation? Yes, we are; and apparently we need all the reminders we can get, since so few sites seem to get it right. (Including, I'm well aware, CSS Insider. Don't hate; I didn't design it.)

In his new A List Apart article ("Where Am I?"), Derek Powazek slaps us upside the head, again, with the cardinal rules of web site navigation. From any page on a site, a user should be able to easily answer these three questions:
  1. Where am I?
  2. Where can I go?
  3. Where have I been?
So simple, and yet somehow, so elusive to many designers.

Derek provides visual examples of great site navigation. Put your site to the test! Do you know where you are, where you've been, and where you're going?
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Author: "Amber Rhea" Tags: "Information Architecture, InformationArc..."
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Date: Friday, 04 Aug 2006 19:45
What 'til you see this thing. Craziness, I tell you! James at Brothercake has created a 3D dungeon model through clever manipulation of CSS and the DOM. It even has correct shading - done on the fly! - to effectively convey perspective.

How did he do it? The solution builds off of Tantek Çelik's Study of Regular Polygons (which is fascinating in its own right), adding some Javascript to accomplish the shading. Check out the examples at Brothercake and appreciate CSS borders in a way you never thought possible. (You can even navigate through the CSS-based underworld!)
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Author: "Amber Rhea"
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Date: Wednesday, 02 Aug 2006 11:52
In an article entitled "Visual vs. Structural," Tommy Olsson compares the two most typical - and often competing - web design approaches: visual design and structural design. The balanced and well-written article makes the point that while there are often no major differences in the code produced from one design approach or another, using a structural approach can result in more accessible sites.

While I hesitate to use such loaded words as "better," I definitely agree that structural design can contribute to a product that is more scalable, easier to maintain, and more accessible. (I say this from the perspective of someone who has employed both approaches at one time or another.) And remember, "accessibility" doesn't just mean "blind people." As the web moves away from being confined to the desktop computer, accessibility is as much about accommodating mobile technologies as it is about making sure content is available to disabled users.
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Author: "Amber Rhea" Tags: "accessibility, design"
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Date: Friday, 28 Jul 2006 12:37
Looks like Microsoft is the latest to be guilty of a failed redesign. Their current homepage iteration sports a table-based layout circa 1998.

They've also released a beta preview of their new new homepage - which you can view only with Internet Explorer. (When I attempted to view the preview site in Firefox, I was simply redirected to the existing homepage.) The preview site appears to use semantic markup, although the source has been compacted down to only a few lines, so it's nearly impossible to read. And with no Web Developer extension in IE, outlining all block-level elements (or all table cells) isn't an option.

Funny that with the IE 7 team touting how standards-compliant the new browser will be, the Microsoft homepage flies in the face of standards. (Is that for-real ironic or only Alanis ironic?) Having worked for a few large corporations, I understand that one department's products can appear to be the antithesis of another department's, with the worker bees in both departments being none the wiser. Still, this is pretty egregious, given the emphasis Microsoft claims to be placing on web standards.

Although... we've been there before with Microsoft, haven't we? Perhaps these things are cyclical.
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Author: "Amber Rhea" Tags: "Microsoft, Web standards, WebStandards"
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Date: Friday, 28 Jul 2006 07:15
Pure CSS MenuHowToCreate.co.uk has an interesting guide to creating a purely CSS-based nested-list menu. This technique uses absolutely no Javascript except for IE 5 for windows. Here is the list of supported browsers:
  • Mozilla 1+
  • Netscape 7+
  • Opera 7+
  • Safari build 60+
  • OmniWeb 4.5+
  • Konqueror 3.2+
  • IE 5.5+ on Windows (using DHTML behaviors)

Some browsers that don't support this technique display styled nested-lists instead. Go check it out.
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Author: "Russell Heimlich" Tags: "CSS Menu, CssMenu, interface, list, navi..."
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Date: Wednesday, 26 Jul 2006 13:19
According to a post on IEBlog, IE 7 will be distributed via WIndows Automatic Updates.

I'm confused now, because in the interview with Chris Wilson that I linked to yesterday, Chris seemed to definitely say that Microsoft won't go that route in distributing updates. Or maybe when he said "pushing it out" he was referring to something other than Automatic Updates...?

Hmmm...
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Author: "Amber Rhea" Tags: "IE"
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Date: Tuesday, 25 Jul 2006 13:46
Vitamin has an interview with Chris Wilson, Group Program Manager of the Internet Explorer Platform team at Microsoft. They're not calling it a podcast, but I'm going to. (Being a podcaster myself, I'm capable only of speaking in hip web terminology.) At just over 5 minutes, it's a quick and easy listen.

Topics discussed include: the new features of IE 7, Microsoft's involvement with the Web Standards Project, and the process of updating to IE 7. Chris WIlson's turn-ons include: RSS, Flickr, and working closely with the web development community.
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Author: "Amber Rhea" Tags: "browsers, IE, interview"
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Date: Tuesday, 25 Jul 2006 07:35
1996 InternetThe Internet was a bland wasteland in 1996. Just take a look at some of the big corporations sites from 10 years ago. It may be downright painful, but it is a testament to see how far web design has come with the help of CSS. Check out Pepsi's futuristic web-look. Ah, those were the days...
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Author: "Russell Heimlich" Tags: "1996, ancient, archive, bad design, BadD..."
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Date: Monday, 24 Jul 2006 08:26
It's true that IE is the most notorious browser for inconsistencies, incompatibilities, and bugs. But the fact remains that no two browsers are created equal, and while IE is the most likely to cause headaches in the course of development, other browsers can be culprits, as well.

If you run into a major roadblock, Rafael Lima's CSS Browser Selector could be your saving grace. A tiny bit of Javascript (less than 1kb!) determines the user's browser and creates an accordingly-named class. From there, it's simply a matter of applying the styles that were written for that particular browser. For example:

.ie .example {
background-color: yellow
}
.gecko .example {
background-color: gray
}
.opera .example {
background-color: green
}
.konqueror .example {
background-color: blue
}
.webkit .example {
background-color: black
}
.example {
width: 100px;
height: 100px;
background-color: brown;
}


The colored box on the CSS Browser Selector page gets the point across better than anything else, though. Open the page in a few different browsers to see for yourself.
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Author: "Amber Rhea" Tags: "browsers"
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Date: Monday, 24 Jul 2006 07:00
Raw CSSLooking for examples of CSS in action? Well you have come to the right place. The examples are very crude but function perfectly. Take a peek at the source code to figure out how it was done. There is a lot to look through.
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Author: "Russell Heimlich" Tags: "code, CSS examples, CssExamples, demo, e..."
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Date: Monday, 17 Jul 2006 17:30
DvorakLove him or hate him, John C. Dvorak has written an article concerning the topic of this blog. John is bugged by CSS. The idea is great, it just falls apart in practice noting how Firefox displays CSS differently from Internet Explorer, which displays it differently from Opera he says.
"Everyone loses here, from users who can't under­stand why things look screwy, to developers who can't get CSS to do the job right, to baffled content providers.And what's being done about it? Nothing! Another fine mess from the standards bodies."
If we could get atleast two of the popular browsers on the same page, than we would be set. Imagine if IE and Firefox rendered code the same way. Every other browser would be forced to follow or die a slow and miserable death.
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Author: "Russell Heimlich" Tags: "bad, complaint, Dvorak, rant, standard, ..."
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Date: Friday, 14 Jul 2006 12:08
While we're on the subject of new browsers...
  • Firefox 2 beta 1 is now available as a developer preview, for testing purposes only. (I guess that's a little redundant, isn't it?) Its features include: support for Javacsript 1.7; inline spell checking in text boxes; and the ability to reopen accidentally-closed tabs (I definitely need that one, with my command-W-happy fingers).
  • Opera 9 has been released, with a lot of cool new features. To name just a few, it boasts built-in BitTorrent, thumbnail site preview, and one-click ad blocking. And there's more, so much more!
  • All the cool kids are talking about Flock, with its built-in blog integration and photobar. If that doesn't have "Web 2.0" written all over it, I don't know what does.
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Author: "Amber Rhea" Tags: "browsers, Firefox, Flock, Opera"
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Date: Friday, 14 Jul 2006 11:49
Check out this Slashdot interview with Håkon Wium Lie, the originator of the CSS idea. (Can you believe it's been over 10 years since CSS was proposed? Time flies when you're coding with tables!) Lie currently serves as CTO of Opera Software.

In the interview, Lie suggests that before releasing IE 7, Microsoft should ensure that the browser passes the Acid2 test and supports TrueType downloadable fonts. He also discusses XML, microformats, Ajax, and (of course) the future of CSS. Read the interview and watch him effortlessly knock down all suggestions that CSS is somehow lacking in capabilities.
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Author: "Amber Rhea" Tags: "Håkon Wium Lie, HåkonWiumLie, intervie..."
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Date: Thursday, 13 Jul 2006 10:34
Internet Explorer 7 Beta 3 has been announced and is now available for download. Features include tabbed browsing, RSS integration, multiple search engines via the built-in search box, and more. Sure, these are all features that Firefox, Safari, etc. have had for a quite some time, but as the old saying goes, better late than pregnant. There are no new CSS features, however; Microsoft has stayed true to their promise that, for better or for worse, as of this March IE 7 was "layout complete."
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Author: "Amber Rhea" Tags: "IE, Internet Explorer, InternetExplorer"
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Date: Thursday, 13 Jul 2006 10:20
In his article "HTML's a Tag Too," Bryan Veloso discusses the benefits of applying styles to the <html> element. He argues that by making more effective use of <html>, developers could eliminate the need for a wrapper div. Everything would effectively be "moved up" a level - apply global styles to <html> instead of <body>, and then <body> can serve the same purpose as the wrapper div would have. Bryan points out that this can be particularly handy in XHTML 1.1, in which the <body> no longer stretches the entire length of the page.

It's a neat idea, but for many developers - particularly those of us who work on large, enterprise-level sites - it is simply impractical. On large sites, rarely would you want to declare a global background image, for example. Or, you may not be able to access certain elements of a page at all, due to CMS limitations or other restrictions. However, for a small-scale site, styling <html> could be a good way to reduce divitis, as long as you're mindful of scalability issues.
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Author: "Amber Rhea" Tags: "HTML"
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Date: Thursday, 13 Jul 2006 07:45
Sunhome.biz re-designWebdesignFromScratch.com recently gave sunhome.biz a slick re-design and they documented there thoughts and motivations so everyone can learn. The original design was drab with a large white space in the middle of the page. Also, the original design doesn't consider the needs of its target audience, senior citizens. The new design is much easier to follow and more pleasing to the eye. Give the article a read to learn the specifics of what they changed and why they did what they did, which is the best way to learn good design.
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Author: "Russell Heimlich"
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Date: Wednesday, 12 Jul 2006 17:14
ClickTaleAnalytic services provide valuable stats to web site owners and can be the only way of determining if a design is really working or not with real users. ClickTale hopes to up the ante by recording user actions so you can see every mouse movement, every click, and every scroll. Then the service lets you, the owner, see exactly what the user did. Perfect for testing usability. Currently ClickTale is a closed beta but you can sign up for updates by email. A web 2.0 site that is plum purple? I like it.
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Author: "Russell Heimlich" Tags: "analytics, analyze, statistics, stats, t..."
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