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October 30, 2003

I'm lazy when I'm blogging...

Well that's probably a little unfair, but less assiduous than I would like to be when it comes to this blog.
So today I'll try to get a couple of posts in.

This morning, I'll tell you about a little dog. Yes, I know it is a bit of a theme with web standards people, see Jeffrey Zeldman's recent post but there you go.

A couple of days back, Maxine, my partner at westciv wrote a lovely little piece about her rescuing a little dog. As I read it, I had the growing feeling that it was very familiar. And indeed it was. About 6 weeks ago, I was wondering the backstreets of Bondi, with Sara, and we too came across a disoriented looking staffi. We called her owner to no avail, and eventually decided the best thing would be to take her home and look after her until her owner called us (we'd left a message).
It was the same dog! Sure, the coincidence may not seem so great, Maxine and I live in the same suburb, but so do 40,000 other people. And there are plenty of dog's out there, its a pretty doggy kind of place.

At least you know that the people at westciv are fine upstanding citizens, friends to all, and lovers of animals.

More soon, I promise.

October 30, 2003 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 20, 2003

Everything old is...

Even in the very first version of Style Master for the Mac, we had the list of statements in the current style sheet. In versions of Style Master before we released 3 this list was probably the heart of working with style sheets. You selected a statement, then edited its selector or property.
One thing you could easily do was drag a statement in the list and reorder the statement order in the style sheet.

For one reason or another, that is something that disappeared in Style Master 3, but as of today, it is back for 3.5

October 20, 2003 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Up North

I had a great time at the Workshop on Saturday, and I do hope those who came along did too. It was a pretty solid day, I was on my feet teaching from 9 'til after 4, with a couple of short breaks.
Thanks to Stuart at the Photographic Imaging College for making it happen.

What really was exciting was how much everyone values accessibility. I learnt a lot from the experience of those there, and hope that we can have many more.

If you are in Sydney, or want to get here, we should have on in the next few weeks. Drop me a line if you are interested. john@westciv.com

I'll definitely have some more on the history of Style Master this week, as I work toward a beta release of 3.5 for Mac and Windows.

Stay tuned...

October 20, 2003 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 16, 2003

plugging away

Much of software development involves what I call "plugging away".
Especially as you get toward the full feature set for a release, it's time to really start putting your application through its paces, and see where it works, where it is broken, but most importantly, where it is annoying, and can be improved.

At westciv, we don't only develop software, we do quite a bit of web development, and we "eat our own dog food" as the saying goes. I reckon it makes for much better software.
Smaller companies tend to do this, but my little untested theory as to why the software from large companies can be less than perfectly user friendly is that the developers don't use it in their day to day lives.

Do Photoshop developers spend an hour a day using their app? I'd suggest to Adobe that each of their developers come up with a box design for one of their products each week.
And I wonder whether Microsoft's Word development team use word to document their software. The actual developers. The men and women who do the coding.

As you might be aware, I've been finalising my new workshop, which gets its first outing in Melbourne on Saturday. A good turnout we'll have too.

In preparing for it I decided to do everything in HTML and CSS - the slides and the handouts, even my notes, are all XHTML + CSS.
Indeed the printed version of the slides is the identical XHTML for the presentation with a different style sheet, printed straight out of a browser.

So while preparing it all, I have been using the most recent alphas of Style Master 3.5 quite extensively. I've learnt that the previewing I've implemented is really useful. I've been annoyed by some little glitches and slow bits and fixed them. Its actually a lot of fun switching from using an application, to working on it, then using it some more.

Anyway, got more than a little work to do.

Write soon, 'til then, peace

October 16, 2003 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 10, 2003

More on previewing

A week or so ago I mentioned that I had been incorporating sophisticated previewing into Style Master for Mac OS X. Want to take a look?

The new preview toolbar looks a lot like the old one.

(note that the first of the two identical icons will change)

However, note the disclosure triangle on the right hand side. If you click it, the window expands to reveal

So what can it do?

Well, you can preview the current style sheet in a preview document of choice (you choose it from the popup menu to the right) or the current rule of the current style sheet. The two identical icons (which as i mentioned won't be identical for much longer) let you toggle between them.

You can even now add new preview documents by dropping them onto the preview document popup menu.

In fact, for this version, drag and drop is much more pervasive. All linking and embedding has been overhauled, and can be done with drag and drop ease. I'll talk about that at some later stage. I've been using it a lot while preparing the workshop, and it is very nice.

Back to the grindstone.

Let me know what you think.

October 10, 2003 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


OK, so if you have a heart attack in my general vicinity, and there is a defibrillator around, you'll be better off than you would have been a couple of days back ;-)

I've been busily finishing off the workshop I'm giving in Melbourne on the 18th.
I'm really looking forward to it.
If you are in Melbourne, there are some places left, so please come along.

Its $AU250 for a whole day, with lunch, and everything you need.

Details and bookings here.

Also, were working to polish off a whole heap of little things in Style Master, and hopefully we'll be looking at a beta in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned, you'll hear about it here first.

BTW, I will get back to some more style master history, and what I am up to in the coming days.

As my mate bennie say - "stay lucky"

October 10, 2003 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 08, 2003

No... I am not sulking

Not entirely happy either. But we won't mention the weekend now will we.

As a matter of fact I've been very busy.

Ben and I started our new surf lifesaving group last night. I reckon they'll be a great group.
Tonight I'm doing a defibrillator training course. One of the great things about not being as responsible for things as I have been the last couple of years (see an earlier post) is that I get to develop some of my own skills.

This morning dawned clear and a little crisp. Sara my partner, who is a better man than I, went board paddling in the surf with a couple of friends. I road my usual cliffside path up and over to the harbour and back. Beautiful, as always.

Currently I'm working to finalise the hands on CSS page layout workshop I'll be giving in Melbourne in a couple of weeks, on the 18th of this month. It's going to be a beauty. Also working to finalise Style Master 3.5. Hope to start beta testing in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned.

October 8, 2003 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 05, 2003


Well, my team lost.

Which could lead to a long reflection on meaning and meaninglessness.

They won last year, and thank goodness for that really, after 27 years.

It's a tribal thing. I have always gone for "easts" since I was a wee kid. They are a great, professional side now, and I'm not sure how or why they didn't win tonight.

I suppose the good times are paid for by the bad. I reckon I got a down payment on a fair bit of happy times with that side then :-)

They are a young side too, with a coach who has a long future. I'd like to see a bit more from them over the coming years. My guess is I will.

In the meantime I have a workshop to prepare for, Style Master 3.5 for Mac OS X and Window to complete, and a whole lot of other stuff. Onwards and upwards.

October 5, 2003 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What else do I do?

When I am not developing software, or otherwise working at westciv, or writing articles, or developing websites, or sleeping, I am involved in surf lifesaving. Lifesaving is a volunteer organisation, with 10s of thousands of members who patrol most of the beaches in Australia from the end of September to the end of April, on the weekends and public holidays.
For the last couple of seasons I've been the chief instructor as North Bondi Surf Club but now I have the good fortune to have shouldered that responsibility onto someone else.

Today I started training a group for their "Bronze Medallion" with my great friend Ben (whom I met through lifesaving, we trained together back in the day). Ben is responsible for my addiction to snowboarding, which I took up a couple of years back, to the chagrin of my bank manager.

For the next 8 weeks we'll be training a group of 10 or so for their bronze, the basic qualification to be a lifesaver. It's two sessions a week, and culminates in two exams, a theoretical, and a practical exam. It's no cake walk, for instructors, or for the trainees, but it's more than worthwhile for both.

So if you are not from Australia, and you ever get down here, get down to a beach, and look out for the red and yellow uniforms. They are all volunteers, though highly trained for that. And we never mind a chat, so say hi, and you'll always find someone happy to explain a little more about that beach, where it is safe and where it is dangerous.

It's a holiday tomorrow here, and my team is playing in the football grand final (they won last year, but before that it was 27 years, when I was 8, since they had won. A long time between drinks.)
So fingers crossed there'll be a reason to celebrate.

I'll try to get some work done too.

Go the roosters.

October 5, 2003 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 03, 2003

CSS and TypePad

A couple of days back Daisy asked on her blog

Now all I need is figure out which bits of TypePad /Movable Type code to avoid buggering up and I can settle down for a good study and tinker... "

So I took a quick look at the CSS for her blog, and made a couple of comments.

Which gave me an idea - how about a short tutorial about safely using CSS with typepad sites.

That will be coming soon, but in the meantime, here are my comments on the CSS.


I've taken the liberty to take a look at your style sheet, and make a few comments about what to touch and what probably to leave alone.

Probably the only things I'd really not mess with are absolutely positioned elements, and be careful with margins, as often layouts lie these use absolute positioning in conjunction with margins to work, and when something is changed, then it all goes pear shaped.

#left {
position: absolute;
left: 0px;
top: 101px;
width: 200px;
background-color: #F04766;
border: 1px dotted #FFCCCC;
overflow: hidden;

#right {
position: absolute;
right: 0px;
top: 101px;
width: 200px;
background-color: #F04766;
border: 1px dotted #FFCCCC;
overflow: hidden;

These statements apply to the <div id="left"> and <div id="right"> elements on the page.

You could change the colors and the border of course, just leave all the positioning. I've got a couple more notes a bit below about playing with that.

The banner element is a div across the top.
The following statements only affect elements inside this div.

#banner a {
color: #003366;
text-decoration: none;

applies to any links in the banner

#banner h1 {
font-size: small;
font-weight: bold;
display: none;

#banner h2 {
font-size: small;
display: none;

applies to the headings of level 1 and 2 in the banner.

#center {
margin-right: 200px;
margin-left: 200px;
overflow: hidden;

I'd probably leave that. The 200px left and right margins would be to make way for the left and right divs we saw earlier. You could play with the width of those and these by adjusting both in sync. Of course, always keep a backup so you can revert to that if things go awry.

.content {
padding: 15px 15px 5px 15px;
background-color: #FFFFFF;
color: #003366;
font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', Verdana, sans-serif;
font-size: small;

all should be fine to play with here.

The following apply to elements inside elements of class content. You should be able to play with these to your hearts content

.content p {
color: #003366;
font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', Verdana, sans-serif;
font-size: small;
font-weight: normal;
line-height: 150%;
text-align: left;
margin-bottom: 10px;

For example, this applies only to paragraphs inside elements with a class of "content", such as which in your case, is in the center.

Hope that is a good start, and fire away with more questions.

October 3, 2003 | Permalink | Comments (37) | TrackBack