Carl Camera

Standards, Measurements, and the SCOFF Browsers

I've been following IE and how it relates to web standards for quite some time now. I haven't been all that vocal over the past two years because, mainly, IE has been moving rapidly and in the right direction. For all the progress made, however, Internet Explorer's detractors - many who are fans of the SCOFF Browsers™ (Safari, Chrome, Opera & Firefox) - are not so much interested in web standards as they are in deriding Microsoft and its products. IE's lack of web standards became a rallying point for them. But times have changed.



The problem with championing the semantic web is that people are inherently presentational. They don't want that word emphasized; they want it italicized.

The IE Bridge to One Web

Early in January 2008, a 3.1 magnitude earthquake struck Cleveland, Ohio. The USGS instruments indicated an epicenter just offshore in Lake Erie, but I think it was directly beneath the home of Eric Meyer as he finished typing his op-ed in support of IE Version Targeting for A List Apart.


Opera's Antitrust Complaint

Earlier this week Opera Software filed an antitrust suit with the European Union against Microsoft. Opera states that Microsoft is abusing its dominant position and hindering interoperability. In the press release [web archive] Opera states that it is filing the complaint "On behalf of all consumers who are tired of having a monopolist make choices for them." Opera then requests that the EU force Microsoft to


Fixing IE6 Google Map PNG Problem

As a regular part of creating websites, I include a Javascript script to add Portable Network Graphics (PNG) transparency to Internet Explorer 6. The script I use is called iepngfix and was created by Angus Turnbull of Twin Helix Designs.

There are other similar scripts, but most if not all of these pngfix scripts incorporate an IE-only CSS behavior attribute that targets image elements. The behavior script scans the page for PNG images and applies an IE transparency filter. This results in proper transparency on the website. There are some limitations. See the PNGFIX page for details.


One Small Step For Web Standards

Today, my local library called to tell me that the book I recommended had arrived and could be checked out. One small way that I'm promoting Web Standards is by recommending web standards-based books to my local librarian.

If you were to peruse the shelves of the Westbank Library in Austin Texas you would see books written by Budd, Haine (shown below), Meyer, Zeldman, and others who have advocated modern web standards via their writings.


CSS Specificity for Poker Players

Some folks getting on board with CSS tend to get stuck on CSS specificity. The descriptions of which rules override other rules tend to make more sense to programmers than designers, since programmers are used to the concepts of inheritance and overriding properties.

If you're not from the programming world and CSS seems a bit confusing, perhaps this analogy may help clear some concepts up. Think of CSS rules as poker hands. The best hand determines an element's style.


Vine Type 2.0

I released Vine Type 2.0 recently and it's running most of my client sites now. Version 2 requires .NET Framework 2.0 so v1.5 will be the last version to support .NET 1.1.

Version 2 brings new features, reworking of some existing features, and new design possibilities. The biggest change is reworking the display of search results.

Search Results

Search results are now more like Google and less like WordPress. Version 1 would just display entire articles or article summaries when keywords matched, but you didn't know which terms matched which search result nor did you know how often a term matched an article or what context the term was mentioned.


Vine Type 1.5

I am totally digging having Flickr photos and Ma.gnolia bookmark integration into this site.

If you missed the announcement on the Vine Type or AspAdvice sites, I released Vine Type 1.5 with support for Flickr and Ma.gnolia.


Standards Turnabout in Redmond?

All the reports back from Mix06 seemed to tout how the Internet Explorer team -- and Microsoft in general -- has seen the light and is truly embracing Web Standards. Web Expression, the new eighteen ton CMS application touts XHTML compliancy in every marketing message it sends out.


Vine Type 1.4

I released Vine Type 1.4 this evening. It adds Gravatar (Globally Recognized Avatar) support and fixes an annoyance when editing entries.

Visit the Vine Type website to download or update your Vine Type site. Here are the Release Notes:

Version 1.4

  1. Fixed

    • When adding or updating an article, Vine Type now stays on correct section
  2. Added

    • Gravatar Support
  3. Upgrade Instructions

    • replace vinetype.dll
    • refresh your browser

Enemies of Valid Strict XHTML: Part 3

In the first two installments of this three-part series, I set the goal of producing valid Strict XHTML, then discussed the problems and pitfalls that lead to non-validating websites. I explained that a content repository containing non-valid XHTML is the cause of most non-validating sites. I called out two pathways that allowed non-validating XHTML to enter the repository as the first two enemies of non-validating Strict XHTML.


Enemies of Valid Strict XHTML: Part 2

In the first part of this three-part series, I outlined the scope of the series. It begins with the goal of valid Strict XHTML and states that the reason so many sites don't produce valid Strict XHTML is because their content repositories are contaminated with non-validating content, generated primarily by end users and content producers.


Enemies of Valid Strict XHTML: Part 1

Microsoft of late seems to be catching the XHTML validity bug. The marketing buzz surrounding its latest online publishing title, Expression Web, spouts XHTML validity nearly every other sentence. Visual Studio 2005 as well touts XHTML validity as a goal and feature. That's a great start, but neither product is a silver bullet to creating valid Strict XHTML sites. What pitfalls are there that we need to watch out for? What are the enemies of XHTML valid sites?


Vine Type 1.2

Vine Type 1.2 is now available for download.

This point release features support for the Atom syndication standard in a big way.

Four Atom feeds are available:

  1. All-Articles


  2. All-Comments


  3. Single-Article Comments

    default.aspx?feed=atom10wb&id= n

  4. Section Articles

    default.aspx?feed=atom10&section= sectionname


Atom: I Need You

MMmmmmm. Crow for breakfast today.

Despite my proclamation last year that the Atom syndication standard was redundant and irrelevant, Vine Type v1.2 will support three distinct Atom feeds.


CMS Install Challenge

In the spirit of friendly competition to the other .NET content management systems, I created a screencast showing how fast and easy it is to install Vine Type and launch a Vine Type website.

So today I officially challenge DotNetNuke, DasBlog, and SubText to the .NET CMS installation challenge: Try to beat this -- download to launch in 2:52.


Vine Type 1.0

Design a Site. Help a Child.

Hi everyone. This is Carl Camera, maker of Vine Type. I'm very happy to release Vine Type 1.0. What is most exciting for me is that I get to announce that half of proceeds from Vine Type Pro will be given to charities that help the children of Guatemala.

Vine Type is a passion of mine. I'm very happy to provide a content management system built with web standards in mind. As much as I like being a champion of web standards, I'd like even more to be a champion for the children of Guatemala. This tiny country in Central America is still recovering from war and natural disasters. The needs are great and I am looking forward to assisting as I can the children and that nation.


Vine Type 0.99c

I released Vine Type 0.99c last night and is available for download.

Prompted by user suggestions, I've enhanced Vine Type to allow placing all the files within the web space. Vine Type continues to support its original suggested file configuration that places the vinetype.config file outside of the web space.


CSS "Naked" Day

If you didn't visit on CSS Naked Day, I've saved a screenshot of what this site looked like without styling.

Today, several hundred sites are removing "styling" from their web sites as a way of promoting quality internet design and in support of web standards.

So we're taking our styles off -- going naked for a day, so to speak. Why would we do this? It's to demonstrate some principles of professional website design that most internet visitors never see or realize exist:


Vine Type 0.99

I released Vine Type 0.99 today. It is available for download from the Vine Type website

Included in this version -- the first to include ViPR -- is a font from Larabie Fonts called Libel Suit.

More details available at the Vine Type website. Feedback is always appreciated.

And if you would indulge me just a bit and allow a little bragging here: I also upgraded this site to version 0.99 just now. That is...


ViPR for The Masses

I wonder if there are folks out there that perhaps think the custom font headings on this blog and on Vine Type and Vine Branches are nice, but that's not enough of an incentive to move off of their current content management system. And, as I demonstrated in an earlier post it's possible to stream custom fonts for another site from my server.


Protecting ViPR from Bandwidth Bandits

While creating ViPR, I became aware that there is a potential for abuse of this technology believe it or not! [Feigned look of horror.] Milan Negovan raised this issue in a blog post titled "Don't Let Your Site Get Framed" recently.

Really. There are folks out there that might want to generate text-on-the-fly and not use their own installation of Vine Type. Milan has a name for these folks that I won't repeat here. They might use, for instance, your installation or mine in this case since I haven't released a ViPR-enabled Vine Type yet. (0.99 coming soon folks, honest.)


ViPR Text With Alpha Transparency

This week's work was on finalizing the code for Vine Type Inline Png Replacement (ViPR.) ViPR now supports two additional features: alpha transparent text and text rotation. These features will be included in the next release of Vine Type


ViPR: Vine Type Inline Png Replacement

There's a new feature working its way toward the next release of Vine Type, and it's called ViPR.

ViPR, pronounced "viper," will allow Vine Type designers to specify a font, and several characteristics to use for article titles. ViPR can generate Portable Network Graphics (PNG) images of text on-the-fly, using no hard drive space whatsoever. You'll no longer be limited to standard fonts that are chosen more for their ubiquity than their aesthetics.


application/xhtml+xml Part Deux

My site is serving application/xhtml+xml once again thanks to the fine detective work by Microsoft IIS Tech Support Specialist WenJun.

After over twenty, yes twenty, emails, message board posts, and responses, the problem was determined to be ... my code. I was not handling correctly Request objects that did not contain an AcceptTypes object.


Site Map Details

I've added a site map to my blog via the Vine Type $_site_map variable. This is different from the $_nav_map variable in that it lists and links individual articles.

This could still be used for CSS Flyout navigation for a blog site, because blogs tend to have more than one article per section.

For brochure-type sites, however, where there is only one article per section, then the $_nav_map is more applicable.


CSS Flyouts

I've made a minor redesign change to my company site, switching it over from hand-coded ASP to Vine Type. Part of why I didn't do this earlier is that I had flyout navigation in place.

Now with the release of Vine Type 0.98, I can use the $_nav_map template variable where my navigation goes, then employed nickrigby-style css flyout technique (with some Eric Meyer thrown in ) to create the flyout menu. As I add pages, the flyout expands automatically.


Feliz Año Nuevo! Vine Type 0.98

2006 is off to a good start with the release of Vine Type 0.98.

Extended characters are being handled much better now, so I can provide proper diacritical marks to my Spanish greeting above as well as important names such as Tantek Çelik.

I've also added additional comment administrative features and a comment RSS.

For folks who like site maps, I have created two. Both site maps consist of nested unordered lists so that they can be used to create dropdowns or flyouts á là Suckerfish or Nick Rigby.


Attacking URL Cruft

I think one of the things I want to do before releasing a v1 of Vine Type is to attack the cruft in URLs. Cruft, for Vine Type, are all of the %20s that appear in the address bar when spaces exist in section names.

Advantages of cruft reduction are

  • more readable
  • easier to type in
  • more useable
  • friendlier to search engine bots.

This Site Crashed Cynthia Too

Well, three strikes and you're out. The accessibility checker commonly referred to as Cynthia, I discovered, also caused my site to return the beguiling Server Error 500 message.

The Switch to application/xhtml+xml was an interesting experiment but enough is enough. IIS is just not liking some of the browser interactions so until I figure out what is going on with these Server 500 errors, I'm falling back to html/text.


WaSP's Uphill Battle

I can understand Molly's frustration seeing a high profile standards-compliant website regress after a redesign. Disney Store UK, as we all know, is not unique in this sense. What probably happened was this:

  1. Some VP calls for a redesign
  2. Requirements concerning look-and-feel + features were created
  3. Competitive bidding process
  4. Selection of a design that meets requirements

Vine Type Beta 0.97

I just released version 0.97 of Vine Type. It fixes the installation problem where the comment form doesn't appear along with a couple usability bugs.

In addition, it adds a couple new features dealing with recent articles. The first is recent articles. This site's homepage now dynamically shows the most recent n (user-customizable in my case 10) articles. I've set a switch in my vinetype.config file to show summaries.


Vine Type Beta 0.96

Vine Type, with the tag line Content Management with Standards in Mind was released in Beta to the general public this morning. I've spent a lot of time creating a flexible, customizable, and language-neutral solution -- and it's my hope that it will be well received.

I'm happy to provide an alternative blog/CMS engine to the Microsoft internet server community. Vine Type has been running this site for several months and I've incorporated many popular and useful features. I hope you're able to test it out and provide feedback on it.


This Site Crashes Newsgator Too

In my ongoing saga of switching to application/xhtml+xml MIME type, I've found another victim: Newsgator (site defunct).

The multitudes of folks checking my site via Newsgator (...whomever that person is; there are a total of two Newsgator subscribers to Iamacamera, and I'm the other...) haven't recieved a site update since I published my Now Serving application/xhtml+xml article.


This Site Crashes W3C Validator

The W3C validator started showing this error message after I started serving my XHTML 1.1 pages via application/xhtml+xml.

I'm not actually crashing the validator, but for some reason it does not like validating my website now. Apparently, the switch to application/xhtml+xml is causing a much-unwanted side-effect. The CSS "jigsaw" validator doesn't seem to have this same problem.


Now Serving application/xhtml+xml

Note: Code Updated and docmented in the article application/xhtml+xml Part Deux is now serving its valid XHTML 1.1 via the W3C recommended MIME type to those browsers that support it. And it looks like we will all be doing something like this for the next few years at least.

The Story So Far

When a web page is served from a website and received by a browser, the web server indicates a "MIME type" of the file that is being sent over the internet to the browser. If a JPEG file is being sent, then the MIME type would be image/jpeg. Web pages themselves -- the HTML parts -- are sent with MIME text/html.


In Search of a de Facto Standard

Updated 2 Nov 2005: XML namespace attribute added [see note 1]

Amid seas churning with DOCTYPE indecision and littered with the flotsom of MIME-type argument wreckage, I've decided to harbor in the relative safety of XHTML 1.1 and text/html. That is, until I see a clear de facto standard trend -- or someone (perhaps you) convinces me otherwise, I'm staying put.


Anchor Border Anomaly

So I'm uploading my IE6 mouseover report to my blog and I notice this:

The bottom borders of every one of my blog entry titles is shorter than it should be. And I only see this in IE.

So my reward for finding one bug is to find another. Well today I had a chance to pare down the XHTML to a bare bones example page that I submited to Quirksmode.


IE Mouseover Problem

I ran across an anomaly with Internet Explorer the other day. I had hooked a mouseover event for a DIV and found that it wasn't being fired in IE as it should.

I narrowed down the HTML and isolated the problem. It occurs in the bottom margin and padding area only -- and only when no width is specified, or if width is defined as auto.

Example Web Pages


PDF As Last Resort

Last week when I commented on Joe Clark's PDF accessibility article, I didn't realize he might be listening. (Small world, huh? I commented on a blog in Sweden and Joe in Toronto asked for a comment from me in Austin.) It appears, however, that he was listening.



Joe Clark's article at A List Apart defends the accessibility of Portable Document Format (PDF) documents. You may know them as Acrobat documents because they are most likey read by your Acrobat Reader application from Adobe. (Mr. Clark takes great pains to disassociate PDF from Acrobat.)


One big argument against PDF has been that screen readers, those specialized readers for sight impaired individuals, could not understand PDF documents well. Mr. Clark argues that screen reader improvements combined with markup changes within the PDF document itself can provide an acceptable level of accessibility.


No One Needs Atom

One of the most widely followed web design blogizines out there, Jeffrey Zeldmans's A List Apart sports a new design today and everyone is talking about it .