Show 69: All alone

Paul Boag

Abandoned by Marcus, Paul struggles on alone through this week’s show. Bravely he manages to cover; the cure to hiccups, how to hunt down those pesky CSS bugs and what’s new in Photoshop CS3.

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News and events

SWF image replacement

This week sees the launch of SWF image replacement (swfIR), not to be confused with sIFR which replaces text. swfIR combines javascript with flash to apply cool effects to imagery on the fly. swfIR can add rounded corners, drop shadows, borders and even make images scale. What is more it degrades nicely on unsupported browsers. Of course nothing is perfect and there are some known issues. However, it is certainly a good option if you have clients uploading lots of images which need styling.

Yahoo! Pipes

Yahoo! has launched something called Pipes which apparently allows you to “rewire the web” (and here was I thinking the web was made up of tubes). Basically Pipes allow you to combine and repurpose multiple RSS feeds and APIs. At its most basic level it is similar to a service like Feed Digest however it is capable of doing a whole lot more. Not the most user friendly interface in the world but definitely worth having a play with.

Ajax inspiration

I came across which is a nice little site that showcases the latest gadgets and gizmos in the world of AJAX and Javascript. For those of you who already code Javascript this is a great place for inspiration, for the rest of you it is “copy and paste heaven”.

Accessibility and the UK law

Struan Robertson has produced two great articles that clearly lay out your legal obligations on accessibility if you run a website in the UK. Ignore at your peril:

Client Corner: Choosing a design

With Marcus away it fell to me to tackle the client’s corner segment this week. Sticking to what I know best, I decided to discuss how to choose the right design for your site when confronted with multiple options. We look at:

  • How deeply a client should be involved in the design process
  • The dangers of design by committee
  • The subjective nature of design
  • The need to include your target audience in the decision process
  • The importance of brand identity
  • The problems with choosing a colour palette
  • The influence of imagery
  • Layout, resolution and the fold.

Ask an expert: Gary Marshall on instructional copy

Out of all of the guests to appear on the .net podcast Gary Marshall is one of my favourites. He is not a web designer but a technology journalist which means he brings a completely new perspective to the table. On this week’s show I get him in to discuss his impressions on instructional text; you know, the copy the client doesn’t write. From error messages to tooltip help, it is often down to the web designer to write instructional text and what do we know about writing!

Agony Uncle: Bug Hunting

Diagnosing and fixing problems in CSS can be a bitch. Often we resort to randomly trying different things until something works. However, there is a better way. This week we look at bug testing techniques including:

  • Know your bugs; sites like Position is Everything will help with that
  • Validate your code
  • Apply borders
  • Create a stripped down test case
  • Systematically remove chunks of code

Review: Photoshop CS3

This week I finally got around to installing Photoshop CS3 Beta and I have to say I really like it. I put it off for ages because normally these upgrades aren’t worth the effort but this one has made some substantial improvements. Probably the most exciting for me personal are the improvements to the interface, which now has docked palettes rather than those annoying floating ones. However, there are a lot of cool features beyond that, including:

  • Quick Select
  • Refine Edges
  • An improved bridge
  • Smart filters
  • Improved cloning

For a more comprehensive review check out the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (no I am not making that organisation up!)