Aleksandar • Vacić

iOS bits and pieces

Amazingly stupid feature of ad-blocking sw

For weeks, one of our client was receiving customer complaints that some of them are not able to use the web site we built properly. Some features, that are dependent on page-onlaod script execution were simply not working.

Those were all IE/Win users. At same time, they reported that banners at the page top were not visible. We requested screen shots. Almost all of them contained this:

1 item remaning error in status bar

“1 item remaining” message means that page has not finished loading and that none of the scripts executed. This caused the behavior customers mentioned (feature did not work).

Problem was narrowed to Flash banners only and object tag used to display them. Apparently, if the .swf file does not exists, IE will forever try to fetch it, thus never reaching page complete status. Yet another object-related bug in IE. :(

I tried many things, even added the option on the home page to turn Flash off. And still some people complained.

Totally stumped.

And then, today, I saw this on web pages that suck. Ad-blocking software, by default, are not loading files with “banner.”, “ad”, “adclick” and many other in the directory or file name. Client banners are located in banners directory and the file called for them is “banner.asp”. I couldn’t believe it! Stupid, really stupid feature.

This software should be giving me the option to do this myself if I want to, not deliberately forbidding it. Hopefully, when we rename those in the next few days, my days will get brighter.

Validating forms

When Javascript entered the world, developers used it for many things, but two most popular were client-side form validation and status bar scrollers. No one does the second one anymore, thank you very much.

But the first one is, in my humble opinion, still the best use of client scripting. With DOM-compliant browsers dominating the fields, developers have enough resources to add client-side validation in the least-intrusive way, without adding any extra markup like onsubmit, onclick or onblur handlers in the HTML itself. All you need is to include one or two external script files.

Styling form fields

As long as I can remember, forms have always been problematic. They need to be short but complete, good looking but not confusing, informative but not cluttered.

These requests are often opposite, especially because designer’s view of those aspects is sometimes…hm, different then client’s.

Basic rules

I believe there is only one basic rule: do not change the overall look of the form elements.

People are used to form elements from the operating system they use. Elements like text fields, checkboxes, drop-down lists and buttons are something people deal with in their usual daily apps, and when they see them on the web, they imidiatelly know what to do with them, i.e. how to fill-in/choose data.

The usual victims are text fields and buttons, as they’re easiest to change.


How many of you recognized that this above is input-awaiting field? Hm, ok. What about your dad? It doesn’t matter if he does too. There’s always people that will be confused. And don’t expect them to call customer service - they are embarassed to not know how to fill-up the form and they will simply leave.

It’s nothing to laugh about. What is obvious to one, is stupid to another and unusable to third. Avoid that.

Another reason against the above is that you can’t style drop-down lists similar to that, so the whole form would look unfinished. Change colours or borders, but don’t remove borders or blend the fields into background.

With this in mind, lets see what we can do.