Archive for the 'web development' Category

Book Review: Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks

Web Form Design

I heartily recommend Luke Wroblewski’s Web Form Design (May, 2008) for people who create web forms and for those who hire others to create them. The book is structured in three parts: form structure, form elements, and form interaction, and includes a plethora of real-world examples. Whether you’re a novice or expert, walking through Wroblewski’s overview of forms-related issues will provoke your thinking about design choices and their impact. Luke is Chief Design Architect at Yahoo! and blogs at Functioning Form.

Below are some of my thoughts and recommendations in response to the book.

Deepen your understanding of other people’s experiences

Who are we to not bother to ensure the resources we create are universally usable? As you are thinking about making better web forms, deepen your understanding of how design choices affect people with disabilities. Read the entire post: Book Review: Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks

Recovering from a WordPress Spam Injection

I should have been relaxing and working on an inspirational side project, but instead spent much of Thanksgiving weekend trying to eliminate a senseless spam injection on a WordPress (wp) site.

I was frustrated, to say the least, by how difficult it was to find a solution. There were many months-old unanswered pleas on the wp forums.

I cannot figure out the hackers’ revenue model. Repeatedly over the course of two weeks, my husband’s site became unreliable to access. The symptoms were varied, including:

  1. The site never loads
  2. Loading stalls and then redirects to a virus scanner software
  3. The site is redirected to a Harry Potter related website
  4. The site takes a long time to load and the source code shows approximately 30 links to enhancement-related drugs or movies. Each time the links are to a new single site, where the drug or movie is a variable at the end of the URL. The inserted code has a style of display:none; so it’s not visible to the naked eye. Nevertheless, it is available to search bots.

For the first few days, the injection would take place in the form of #4 (invisible links) at the same time of day. Replacing the theme’s header.php erased the problematic code, returning the site to normal for the day. (I read of other situations where the injection is in the footer.) The ftp logs showed that /wp-content/themes/mytheme/header.php file was changed. Read the entire post: Recovering from a WordPress Spam Injection

Video of Scripting Enabled Talks Available

Scripting Enabled conferenceScripting Enabled (hacking the web to be more accessible) began in 2008 as a two-day conference started by “developer evangelist” extraordinaire, Christian Heilmann. The first video and transcript of one of the September talks is now live: Denise Stephens on Multiple Sclerosis. Denise describes how her symptoms, and thus needs and abilities, change from day to day—from vision distortion to feeling like she’s “wearing Mickey Mouse gloves.” Denise encourages a universal design approach to account for the unpredictable nature of how the unknown visitor may be using and experiencing technology. While the goal is to create for the broadest possible need, Denise’s story is powerful and useful because it offers glimpses of actual problems she encounters. No matter what our abilities, planners and developers of technology must make it out business to hear as many such real stories as we can.

Efficiency Scores in Dreamweaver CS4 Beta

Adobe released the Dreamweaver (DW) CS4 beta on labs.adobe.com last week (along with betas for Fireworks and Soundbooth). The beta is available until final release for anyone with a CS3 serial number. If you use DW regularly, go get the beta! You can run the beta while still running CS3. This is a huge release, especially in terms of workflow efficiencies, with strong attention to standards.
My workflow to date generally involves efficiency-garbling tool-switching. Here’s a breakdown:

  1. Dreamweaver (Find/Replace, FTP, Split View—seeing Design View while working in Code View, working on sites with DW templates/Contribute)
  2. Eclipse (JSEclipse, CFEclipse, PHP, synching with CVS)
  3. Firefox/ Firebug/ WebDev Toolbar (debugging & tweaking styles, testing standards & accessibility, debugging javascript)

Find-and-replace and ftp are hardly the main things for which DW is designed. That these are primary tasks for me in DW perhaps reflects the software’s (previous) focus on designers. CS4 represents strong attention to developer needs and workflow. It will be some time before I know if I can be as fast/effective with the new built-in tools for my tasks. I think it is likely that new features will reduce but not eliminate the need for round-tripping to more robust debugging tools. Nevertheless, it feels like someone was watching us work when they decided on a lot of the new functionality: hooray! Read the entire post: Efficiency Scores in Dreamweaver CS4 Beta