Aleksandar • Vacić

iOS bits and pieces

Of Standards and People

I noticed a trend recently, that is beginning to draw more and more attention. People are wondering is the web design maybe going in the wrong direction or is the emphasis maybe on the wrong subject.

Common ground is that we, the web community, are talking too much about the technical side of the craft, neglecting the center point of web design - is it good for visitors? How to improve the usability of the sites?

I emphasized neglecting, because I think that there is no room for concern. Usability and accessibility will always be primary points for any responsible developer. The fact that we mostly talk about CSS based designs is because they are still not easy to implement. I can create any layout using tables in under 5 minutes, but I can’t say the same thing for CSS based layouts. They are en-vogue, and they should be, until that moment when majority of new sites appearing on the web are based on them. They are more flexible and more efficient.

CSS based layouts and good XHTML marking are the products of books, tutorial, articles…namely, how-tos. We need more and more of those, we need ready-made solutions for any web design task. We had them for tables, Javascript menus and rollovers, browser detection and similar stuff. Now we need the same thing for CSS layouts, background-image replacement, CSS hierarchical menus and many more.

Web design is not going in the wrong direction. Actually, after many years of wandering, the good road is found, at last.

U&A; are the products of experience and user-involved testing. This is not something you go to school and learn. No matter how much books you read or panels attend, until you do few hands-on works, you know nothing. Until you actually use PDA to surf you web site you don’t know how easy or hard it is. You will never know how easy is to use the site until you ask people.

Here is one great example of that, real-world story.

My company developed a unified betting platform for fixed-odds betting: from call centre to web and betting shops. We were guided by some of the best bookies in the UK, people that know how their business operates. I was involved in web part of the job. For some of the things they asked us to do there, we thought they are plain wrong, because they forced us to create a loose structure, which was hard to control once you start to expand things.

What was event in one sport, was class in another, and was market in the third. And almost all of them was supposed to be displayed in the same manner. As developers, we would much preferred that event is an event, market is a market, and you have a set of rules how things gets displayed.

This way, we built something that have a life of its own. You could setup something in CMS, but you can’t expect that it will always be displayed that way, because the actual display depends not only on CMS setup but also on additional parameters being transparently set by user, while he surfs the site.

Here is the best part: now, when we are giving demos to potential clients, there are situations where something happens that presenter did not expect and he gets puzzled. But not the audience. The bookies grasp the logic behind it much quicker then some of us do (except, of course, several people that built the framework), because they work with it every day.

That is real usability. You can think you have done it best, but you can’t be sure until the people actually starts using it. There are no set of rules that will achieve usability on their own. Experience and user testing.

Same thing goes for accessibility, in somewhat lesser degree. I never had the opportunity to see a blind man surfing the web, or to see through the eyes of the colour-challenged (although I think there are tools that can simulate this). Once I do, then I will know accessibility a whole level better. But I doubt this is something I can read about and implement.

So keep bringing them on. Layouts, lists, menus, validations…We still need a lot of stones to pave the good road.

WCH 2.5 - IE 5.0 support

From this moment on, I will maintain two version of the WCH2 script. One will support IE 5.5+ (version 2.0x) and other will support IE 5.0+ (version 2.5x). In IE 5.0 we need to hide the windowed controls when absolute layers popup, and show them again then layers are removed.

Basic idea

My goal was to make the life of web page builder as simple as possible. Therefore, the only thing you need to do is to add the class name WHChider (case-sensitive) to the elements that needs to be hidden when layer pops up.

<select ... class="WCHhider">
<select ... class="sample WCHhider">

As you can see, even if you already have a class, just add this one too. IE 5.0 supports multiple class names.

Check-out this example, which shows what WCH2 does.

Crystal night

Serbs are being sought and killed on sight in the Kosovo, in these very moments. Over 10 serbian temples have been burned to the ground, whole village of Lipljan is burned, and Albanians are attacking the international KFOR soldiers.

What needs to happen' for CNN or SkyNews to report the truth?

For the latest coverage checkout Radio B92’s news page, although it’s a bit behind the serbian version.

Formula 1

The new season is underway, with bloody Ferrari again being very strong, and that damn Schumacher again winning. Hopefully, rest of the teams will catch up, so we season will be interesting as last year. I certainly hope so that my McLaren will get their grip.

I was fortunate enough to attend last year’s Silverstone race. Lovely weather, good race and cheerful crowd make it all worthwhile. It was very, very fun, I would certainly like to go again.


Crowded as usual

Race track map

Map of the race track

I got the tickets by luck and good connection that some friends in the UK had. Price on the day of the race is £60-150, if you are lucky enough to find them. Usually, it’s all sold out way before the race. I.e. tickets for this year`s race were already on sale, for £110 average.

The trickiest part was to get to Silverstone. From London, best option is a 9.42 train to Northampton, where there are lots of local buses waiting to drive you to the Silverstone, which is around 20 miles further. There are also special buses from London (I saw them when I get to the track). Anw, I got there just before noon, 2h before the race.

Race start, time to go deaf

Imagine 22 cars, roaring with 800hp each

Burn rubber, burn!

Ah! The smell of burnign rubber…

My ticket was for Copse E entrance, and the bus stopped at the main entrance, at the Luffield. “Oh, that’s just around the corner and straight ahead” someone told me. Yes, straight ahead for about 25 minutes. :) Copse is the stand just across the pit exit, so I could see the drivers coming out. Almost each one of them stops at the exit, vrroooom to the max and fly off. Adrenaline rush, right from the start. When the race went off, I couldn’t hear myself from the high-octane engine revving.

Later, I got off the stands (I froze from the chilling wind after 20 minutes) and went very near the track, to smell the rubber. You got to be there to understand the filling of 900hp swooshing through.

Rubens won, and it was a deserved win - he really drove the best race.

After the race, there was plenty to see. Each team had a stand and while I was mostly over at McLaren’s, I must say that Michelin stole the show. They got one F1 car branded in their colours and logo, and everyone could jump in, for free. Of course, pit babes were there too. It’s pretty jammed in there, and you can’t get in or out if the wheel is in place. Even with my overweight, I slid in. There was no engine to start though.

Mercedes and BMW were showcasing their cars, Toyota was giving away lots of free materials, Jaguar had excellent boxes with detailed videos about the racing car…a truly amazing experience. I can only hope to get myself on some other track as well.

Dream come through: beside McLaren MP4-17D

When you knock the chassis, it’s an amazing sound, metalic plastic something…

Me, in the cockpit, with the babes

Now, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity :)

Brasilian celebrate the victory

Rubens won, to the delight of its fans