Every month we take a look around and select some of the most interesting web-development-related web-sites. We read articles, check out tools, analyze the advantages of new resources. Below you’ll find useful references, tutorials, services, tools, techniques and articles we’ve found over the last 30 days – an overview of web-sites you shouldn’t have missed in August 2007.
All images can be clicked and lead to the sites from which the screenshots have been taken. We’ve missed something? Let us know in the comments!
RegexPal helps you to test regular expressions; you can insert any text you like and check which parts of the text will be matched by the expression you’ve built. Matched parts of the texts are highlighted. You might want to check the Regular Expressions Library2 and Wikipedia: Regular Expression3 as well: everything you’d like to know about regular expressions. With numerous examples and tutorials.
- BuiltWith.com – Web Technology Profiler5
BuiltWith is a web site profiler tool. Upon looking up a page, BuiltWith returns all the technologies it can find on the page. BuiltWith’s goal is to help developers, researchers and designers find out what technologies pages are using which may help them to decide what technologies to implement themselves. Profiles includes widgets (snap preview), analytics (Google, Nielsen), frameworks (.NET, Java), publishing (WordPress, Blogger), advertising (DoubleClick, AdSense), CDNs (Amazon S3, Limelight), standards (XHTML,RSS), hosting software (Apache, IIS, CentOS, Debian).
- Google Gears (beta)7
- Google Web Toolkit 1.49
Google released the first Release-Version of its open source Java software development framework GWT. It is supposed to make writing AJAX applications like Google Maps and Gmail easy for developers without keeping an eye on subtle browser incompatibilities between web browsers and platforms.
- YAML Builder11
An elegant tool by Dirk Jesse for visual layout development of YAML1312-based CSS-layouts. You can choose a Doctype, choose the basic layout elements (#header, #footer, …), choose the number of content columns as well as preferred column order, set the layout and column widths, drag & drop and nest both sub-templates and dummy content, display and output the complete code (XTHML markup and CSS) and switch between draft mode and preview of the finished layout. YAML1312 (“Yet Another Multicolumn Layout”) is an (X)HTML/CSS framework for creating modern and flexible floated layouts.
- Deliverables That Work: Design Description Documents (DDD)15
You know those things you’re supposed to deliver to a client during a big project — use cases, wireframes, etc.? Robert Hoekman Jr. does and he shares the tool he uses to package them all — the DDD. Wireframes, the schematic presentation of interaction, can be used to display the model behind the sketch in a more effective way. As a sidebar or infobox, they can give your clients a precise idea of the site functionality and its structure. This article presents some of such Wireframes for free download (for Apple iWork). A PowerPoint-template is also included.
- Stripemania – Striped background generator17
A simple and free tool to create seamless diagonal stripes for your designs. You are able to choose the size of the stripes and the spacing between those. You can also add color gradient effect for all of your stripes.
CSS-Techniques, (X)HTML, PHP
- CSS: The right sprite19
There are many ways of using a image sprite20. Most ways use a
background-image-property that can be moved using CSS. The problem is that this method results in many CSS definitions that are hard to manage. Other approach: bypassing the
background-imagein CSS and using
margin-leftor positioning to achieve the same results. The benefit is huge for manageability. Foreground Sprites21: the same idea, more detailed explanation.
- How to create VISTA style toolbar with CSS23
Reproducing Vista toolbar, with buttons and hover effect in cross-browser compatible CSS and (X)HTML.
- Creating a table with dynamically highlighted columns25
- A Stripe of List Style Inspiration28
A different type of list and navbar styling. As stripes.
- A CSS styled table version 230
Veerle Pieters explains how to create an accessible and user-friendly table with CSS-styling. Follow-up of the first part31. The result32.
- Fade Out Bottom34
This is a demonstration of the effect where the bottom of the page seems to fade out. The technique makes use of an fixed position div (bottom: 0%) with a transparent PNG image and a high z-index value.
- Professional horizontal menus38
A new set of CSS-based navigation menus by Stu Nicholls.
CSS Tools and Services
XRAY is a bookmarklet for Internet Explorer 6+, and Webkit and Mozilla based browsers (including Safari, Firefox, Camino or Mozilla). Use it to see the box model, selector hierarchy in DOM and properties for any element on any web page. The new version support also Internet Explorer 7.
Combining multiple images in a single image and navigate in the image matrix with the
background-position-property isn’t a new CSS-technique. This Desktop-Tool, however, automates the generation of the images; just select a folder and all images included in this folder will be combined “on the fly” in a new image. An alternative tool41 generates the master-image online — additionally it also delivers the background-position of images-“parts”.
- Designing Your CSS with A Grid Overlay
This tutorial explains how you can create grid overlay with Adobe Fireworks and/or Adobe Photoshop.
- CSS Sculptor42
Eric Meyer releases his Dreamweaver-extension which can be used to generate CSS-based layouts with clean markup. Price: 149$.
- Tripoli – a CSS standard for HTML rendering43
“Tripoli is a generic CSS standard for HTML rendering. By resetting and rebuilding browser standards, Tripoli forms a stable, cross-browser rendering foundation for your web projects.” A set of Default-CSS-files is supposed to give you a profound foundation for cross-browser compatible CSS-based designs. All default-values – including dozens of elements – tables, lists, typography, but also headers (h1 – h6), abbreviations, citations, quotes and forms are selected to enable an optimal legibility and well-structured text presentation.
- Blueprint Grid CSS Generator45
This tool will help you generate more flexible versions of Blueprint46‘s
grid.pngfiles. Whether you prefer 8, 10,16 or 24 columns in your design, this generator now enables you that flexibility with Blueprint CSS Framework – a new “to-become-standard” in grid-based design approach.
References, Tutorials, Tips
- Firefox 2 Spelling Dictionary Hacks49
Good to know: one of the most useful additions to Firefox 2 is the inline spell check feature that hints you of possible spelling mistakes as you type inside web forms. To use the integrated spellchecker you need to download and install language packages you’d like your browser to support. This article explains what exactly you need and where you get the language libraries from — Language Libraries50. You can use free online spellchecker51 (English) and Wbuch Spellchecker52 (German) as well. Useful to check your blog posts and comments before you post them.
- Photoshop Secret Shortcuts53
30 undocumented key shortcuts for Adobe Photoshop which you won’t find in the manuals; you might find how these shortcuts can speed up your productivity.
- 10 Free, Innovative Web Analytics Tools55
There are many free, innovative statistic tools available on the web. These tools measure everything from user behavior, to search engine traffic, to real-time visitor tracking, and more. The following ten products may provide valuable data when analyzing your website traffic. Among them Enquisite.com56, 103bees57 and Clicky58.
- Keryx (X)HTML Elements Best Practice Sheet59
This table documents the semantic meaning, notable browser issues, best practice, SEO notes, usability, unstyled appearance as well as accessibility aspects of all (X)HTML elements which are sorted within their groups in prioritized order. Recommended (X)HTML versions are mint-colored. You may like the PDF-version or the Open Office version better, especially for printing.
- 30+ Firefox Add-ons for Web Developers & Designers 61
Over 30 useful Firefox-extensions which web-developers and designers can use on a regular basis. Among them Aardvark62, X-Ray63, Web Developer’s Extension64 and, of course, Firebug65.
- Gadgets for ExpressionEngine66
A small collection of powerful extensions, modules and plugins for ExpressionEngine.
- Accessible News Slider68
- DatePicker using Prototype and Scriptaculous
An unobtrusive and flexible date picker widget which uses Prototype and Scriptaculous libraries. 52 More Calendars and Date Picker Designs72.
- LiveValidation – Validation as you type76
- Web typography: bottom margins of paragraphs and lists78
A perfect vertical alignment of site elements is the key to the quality of web-typography. Creating the perfect vertical space on the screen is easy. With a few lines of CSS, you’ll have a great typography foundation for your web site. Marko Drugonic shows how it can be done.
Articles and Publications
- 6 Keys to Understanding Modern CSS-based Layouts79
Jonathan Snook about 6 important aspects of CSS-designs, among them – Box Model80, Floats81, Sizing Using EMs82, Image Replacement83 and CSS Sprites84.
- How to use Photoshop to create Product Box85
A simple Step-by-step-Tutorial shows how to create 3D-product boxes in Adobe Photoshop.
- New Minimalism in web interface design87
“We chose 24 moments of minimalism web interface design in the last decade, selected several quotes to easily define the minimalism and represent some of the best new minimalism websites.” An extensive article about simplicity and minimalism in modern Web- and Interface Design with numerous examples, typical design schemes and further references.
- Better Writing Through Design89
It’s one thing to write copy that fits on a website. It’s quite another to write copy that fits in with a website. You wouldn’t try to force an incongruous visual element into a carefully considered design. Same goes for written content. Tips, suggestions and ideas for better writing through design.
- Designing the “Future Of” Sites 90
An insigth in the workflow of experts is always usefuls and offers professional Know-How. In this article Ryan Nichols documents his decisions in design process of the “Future Of”-sites (conferences “The Future of Web Apps91“, “The Future of Web Design92” and “The Future of Online Advertising93“).
- Design by Metaphor97
If a client says he wants his new auction site to be “like eBay,” what does that mean? An artist hears “It has a tacky color scheme.” A developer hears “It’s scalable to 20 million users.” A user hears “It has feedback ratings on all sellers.” An article about the way to come behind the ideas your clients have, the power of metaphors and its effective using in practice.
- Put Your Content in My Pocket98
Mobile Web is here, particularly since iPhone is here. Many of the ideas in this article can be useful and effective with other mobile devices. The processing power of these devices will continue to increase, bringing an end to a “dumbed down” mobile web. The iPhone may be just the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the storied life of HTML. The second part99.
- Ten: The Next Big Thing100
CSS is ten years old this year. Such an anniversary is an opportunity to revisit the past and chart the future. Håkon Wium Lie, the CSS-Evangelist who has proposed the idea of Cascading Stylesheets to W3C, motivates online-community for further changes. His proposal: instead of making pictures of fonts, the actual font files can be linked to and retrieved from the web. This way, designers can use TrueType fonts without having to freeze the text as background images. This can be done via media queries101.
- The Ultimate Design Brief102
Your design can only be as good as the brief you worked from. The best projects are borne from briefs that are open enough to inspire ideas, while being specific enough to feel workable. Shaun Crowley shows how you can elicit these kinds of briefs by providing clients with briefing templates.
- This Way to the Web, Print Designers!103
The transition from print design to web design isn’t a simple task and has many challenges. Khoi Vahn provides print designers with some useful starting points and references. In Web absolute precision of positioning is replaced with the absolute flexibility of content presentation. “The fact that I’m repeating that the Web is not like the printed page, that online information consumption is fundamentally different from print, is certainly adding nothing new to the conversation. The point I want to emphasize is not just that print designers need to be aware of this, but rather that they should approach it with genuine alacrity.”
- Fixing the Web104
“The Web is about 17 years old. For its first 10 years, Web technology evolved at breakneck speed. But for the last 7 years, Web technology hasn’t changed much at all. Is this a problem? There are clear benefits to having a stable development environment, but is Web technology stable or stale? Without innovation, will the Web suffer the same fate as any technology that becomes outdated because it fails to keep pace with users’ needs?”
- CSS Layouts: The Fixed. The Fluid. The Elastic.105
Mike Cherim explains the difference between the three layout types as well as their advantages and disadvantages. A fixed width site is one where the main wrapper is set to a specific immovable width independent of the user agent’s display resolution. A fluid or liquid layout is created by not specifying a wrapper width at all or doing so using the percentage unit of measure. An elastic site’s main wrapper and other elements are measured using ems as the unit of measure. Ems are relative proportionally to the text or font size.
- Home Sweet Home107
There’s no place like home…page. Paul Boag gives us 4 ways he works with clients to understand the value — and kill off the misconceptions — of this century’s homepages. From the mythical fold to the killer app, this article proves you can go home again.
- Primary & Secondary Actions in Web Forms108
Luke Wroblewski discusses an optimal approach to designing usable online-forms. Result: different visual weight of primary (Submit) and secondary (Cancel) actions (e.g. font size) helps the visitor to avoid mistakes and get things done faster. Besides: the alignment of actions with a form’s input elements provides a clear path to completion that helps people complete forms faster.
- iconeye manifestos
Iconeye asked 50 of the most influential architects, designers and thinkers to share what they believe in — in a Manifesto issue. The result: 50 manifestations of the prominent designers all around the globe.
- Banner Blindness: Old and New Findings (Jakob Nielsen)110
A new research by Jakob Nielsen proves: users rarely look at display advertisements on websites. Of the four design elements that do attract a few ad fixations, one is unethical and reduces the value of advertising networks.
- 15 Design Decisions That Annoy Readers112
An overview of 15 annoying practices in modern Web Design which should be avoided if possible.
- Give Me Some Zzzzz’s113
An extensive article about the z-index-property in CSS for stacking div-layers upon each other. Important: only absolutely or relatively positioned elements can have z-index.
- Semantics in HTML114
Many Web-Evangelists see the future of the Web in the concept of Semantic Web115. But what exactly is it? And what is the current state of developments? John Allsopp about the Semantics in HTML.
- The Elements of Design Applied to the Web116
In a similar vein as the The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web, the various principles of general design have their place in web based design. An overview of principles which are typical in modern site architecture: Balance, Proportion, Rhythm, Emphasis, Unity.
- The 10 Biggest Mistakes Freelancers Make, and How to Avoid Them118
Let’s take a look at some of the most essential mistakes that freelancers, new and old, often make, and how to avoid them. Typical mistakes: missing deadlines, charging too little, lack of preliminary research, getting to personal, not proposing a follow-up idea.
- Getting A Form’s Structure Right
A comprehensive article about the effective design of web-forms – with many examples and explanations.
- muse | a collection of inspiration119
A “fresh” Design-showcase by Drew Wilson. Muse will not only showcase great art, but it will also attempt to showcase the inspiration behind the art. And ultimately the inspiration of great artists/creators.
- Showcase: WordPress CSS Gallery Theme121
A WordPress-Theme of design-showcase-sites, such as CSS-Design-Showcases. There are probably too many of them; however, it’s nice to have the template ready to hand once you need it.
- Contact Forms Showcase
A gallery of contact forms includes 30 entries. Christian Watson presents 62 more forms122 and a showcase of registration forms123.
- Yuxt – artist: typography_in_music_videos124
A showcase of music-videos in which typography plays an important role.
Over 100 pages of beautiful design, illustration, photos and interviews with designers and graphic artists. The September-issues of “encore”.
- CMS Showcase127
CMS Showcase presents categorizes designs not by their content, structure or outer appearance, but by the weblog-engine they are built upon.
- Logo Trends 2007129
The Trends in Logo Design 2007 in a brief overview.
- typography – a photoset on Flickr133
A showcase of beautiful typefaces in a regularly updated Flickr pool. Letra Latinas 2006134 – more beauties of modern typography.
- Portfolio – a photoset on Flickr136
Polaroid-Photos – partly from advertisements and print materials. Excellent for looking up some “working” color palettes.
- Idea Mapping Set – a photoset on Flickr138
How to document your ideas on a blank sheet of paper? Elegant examples for Mindmaps — in a Flickr pool.
The Last Click
- Content Aware Image Resizing139 (YouTube, Quicktime, hi-res video140))
Over the last decade visitors had to put up with the static presentation of images, while web-writers had to get used to the limited possibilities for optimizing and preparing images for Web. Now might be the right time to rethink the concept — finally. With this new technology, developed by Ariel Shamir and Shai Avidan, images can be scaled and formed dynamically: apart from dimensions also the content of the images itself changes. Since Shai Avidan was hired by Adobe141, the technique might be used already in the next versions of Adobe Photoshop. Absolutely fascinating technique.
- A Brief Message143
The project gives designers a podium to deliver their messages, criticism and standpoints to the design community. The only requirement: designers have to be brief and have max. 200 words for their messages. It applies to comments too.
- HistoryShots Information Graphics – Prints144
12 impressive data visualization approaches. Further approaches145.
- Stop Motion Commercial147
1 million Post-it’s, 96 314 digital photographs using 2.5 terabytes of storage, 4.9 kilometers of 35mm film, 3 weeks of editing, and 83 hours in Flame to produce this 60 second commercial for MTN.