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((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) May 25, 2000


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http://www.webreference.com http://www.webreference.com/new/ http://www.webreference.com/new/submit.html New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

1. OPEN PUBLISHING: Submit Your Article! 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: A Little More than Standard 3. NET NEWS: * Netscape & ActiveState to Co-Develop Multi-Language Platforms * ICG, IBM Create Intellectual Property Marketplace * Watch What You Say * Ebay Anywhere...Just Not on Ebay

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. OPEN PUBLISHING: Submit Your Article!

Every Thursday the Update features a new article contributed by our readers through our Open Publishing Initiative. We encourage you to submit your own article ideas. Your words could be here!


This week, writer Ryan Hancock offers both a proposal and an invitation to the Web development community - that collectively created standards for Web design would be as useful as standards for the markup and programming languages that developers use.

Tell him what you think - would more explicit Web design standards help developers create sites and interfaces? Would it help users navigate the Web? Or would it be an unnecessary limitation on designers' creativity, and the ability to customize your site? Do these standards exist in a de facto form already?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: A Little More than Standard

So just what makes one site better than others? A lot of gurus proclaim to have answered that question, and I believe many have succeeded (like Vincent Flanders of 'Web Pages That Suck' - www.webpagesthatsuck.com). The catch is that, so far, answers on the topic have focused mainly on "what not to do." What designers really need is a way to prevent those mistakes, not more ways to catch them after the fact. Let's face it, diversity on the Web is good, but too much just leaves users lost. Implementing standards will allow users to flow easily from one site to the next, without confusing navigation elements. Uniformity, in correctly proportioned doses, does wonders. This is where I throw in my two cents (that's about all I carry around in my pocket these days - I only prefer the abstract form of change).

The answer to that problem (no, not carrying pennies in my pocket) comes in the form of Web Design Standards. While a valiant push has been made in the areas of XML and CSS, universal standards of overall Web design have yet to emerge in any coherent form. The World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, (www.w3c.org) has set the only measurable markers so far. Apart from Web design, standards in the technology sector have developed of their own accord - out of need. Web design is one of the last areas to enter self- regulation. It's about time this changed. I propose that this "Web Design Standards list," already started on a limited scale, be developed over time with careful and well-prepared research, in addition to open debate on the issues involved.

"The Web Standards Project" (www.webstandards.org) has long sought to show Microsoft and Netscape (among others) the benefits of supporting the same standards and features of markup and programming languages. By referencing a list of Web design standards, The Web Standards Project would be able to more easily achieve its goal of promoting the standard implementation of these languages. Allying these two movements would ease the transition to a fully structured Internet, one where Web viewers aren't plagued by atrocious design errors that escaped weeks of testing. When browsers and Web sites agree fully, the Internet will come together like it was intended.

The result: Easier Web design and a better experience for every surfer.

Web Design Standards touch on an area largely left alone by designers concerned with limits on creativity. Standards actually pose little threat to choking creativity. Their purpose is simple - to eliminate the current chaos of Web design. Rather than develop for four different browsers on three different platforms each, developers will only have to create sites once. This gives welcome relief to overworked designers and promotes a fair field of competition. Imagine not having to worry about which browser or platform your viewers are using to access your site. As long as you build the site to 640x480, you won't be denying access to potential customers. This is only the beginning - wireless and other alternative browsers will be accommodated in time.


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Beyond merely helping customers and developers, a design standards list would be a great boon to those just taking their first steps into the world of HTML. By learning the language and a standard for use at the same time, students will begin creating exceptional Web sites from the very beginning, and employers won't have to worry about bad habits in potential employees. At an early age, coders will know how to build organized and structured Web sites, increasing the potential they may have for creating inspiring, award-winning work.

Benefits will be abundant and obvious. Web surfers will be drawn to this discussion forum because design standards will help them select a design team easier by weeding out the bad from the good. They will be able to dictate what they like to see on the Internet and what they don't. Potential clients will find better service without a rate hike and will be able to work better with their preferred design team by understanding basic Web design concepts and limitations. Users will be able to voice their opinions to the entire industry with ease. All of this only scrapes the tip of the iceberg when it comes to user benefits.

Designers should participate because the transition into a standardized environment won't be a big one and it may even help spur ideas for new and bold designs. Once standards are established, designers will spend less time in the various stages of Web development, saving time. Participants will become a part of a global movement that may very well revolutionize the industry.

If the "standards list" is developed with accurate research, it will help the community, not harm it in any way. The only limitations placed on creativity will be to the benefit of the user. For example, a cornerstone element of such a list is to have a readable font color for the background color. What objections should there be to this? While many companies currently violate this point, any good designer will know how essential any element on this list is to keeping visitors around. The standards list would reinforce fundamental Web design and pave the way for future innovations.

Admittedly, not all points on such a list will be as clear-cut. There is bound to be some controversy, but that's the case with every issue. Dispute over this list can be settled with an open forum for discussion. This solution brings together active Web surfers and designers in such a way that only benefits the entire industry. Web Carpentry (www.webcarpentry.com) is currently pursuing this issue with much vigor, creating a site to host this user forum and begin discussion of this issue. While the site is still under construction, several contact methods have been opened and the Design Standards staff is dying to hear the community's concerns. Currently, any questions or comments can be directed to the staff at: standards@webcarpentry.com. More information can be obtained online through Web Carpentry.

The power of the Web has been realized. It's time to convert that raw power into something much more refined.

References: http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com http://www.w3c.org http://www.webstandards.org http://www.webcarpentry.com


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About the author:

Ryan Hancock, co-chairman of Web Carpentry (www.webcarpentry.com), is also a part-time Web developer in Chantilly, Virginia. Web Carpentry is a start-up Internet consulting firm, also specializing in graphic design. Ryan also enjoys writing poetry and short stories. He can be contacted at: ryan@webcarpentry.com.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. NET NEWS: Netscape & ActiveState to Co-Develop Multi-Language Platforms, ICG, IBM Create Intellectual Property Marketplace, Watch What You Say, Ebay Anywhere...Just Not on Ebay

>Netscape & ActiveState to Co-Develop Multi-Language Platforms

ActiveState announced that it will use Netscape's Mozilla engine as a cross-platform development framework for Komodo, its Perl- and Python-integrated development environment. This purpose of the alliance is to allow Web developers to edit, run and debug their JavaScript programs in a professional-class development tool fully oriented to the Web, while maintaining a close integration with the browser. http://www.internetnews.com/wd-news/article/0,2171,10_379131,00.html InternetNews.com, 000524

>ICG, IBM Create Intellectual Property Marketplace

Internet Capital Group and IBM Corp. have formed a new company that will create an online marketplace for buyers and sellers of intellectual property. The marketplace will enable users to search, analyze, buy, sell and license millions of patents and other intellectual property across a variety of industries. http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article/0,2171,3_379091,00.html InternetNews.com, 000524

>Watch What You Say

Sometimes the cure is as bad as the affliction. Early adopters of speech recognition are finding that talking too much to their computers can be just as painful on their voices as too much typing was on their wrists. http://pcworld.com/consumer/article/0,5120,16766,00.html PCWorld.com, 000519

>Ebay Anywhere...Just not on Ebay

Earlier this week, online auction site Ebay announced their new wireless initiative, called Ebay Anywhere. Shortly thereafter, someone (other than Ebay) registered "ebayanywhere.com", and offered it up for sale...on Ebay.com. Ebay officials were not amused. http://www.internetnews.com/rumblings/0,1145,81,00.html InternetNews.com, 000524

That's it for this week, see you next time.

Andrew King Managing Editor, WebReference.com mailto:update@webreference.com

Eric Cook Assistant Editor, WebReference.com mailto:ecook@internet.com

Catherine Levy Assistant Editor, WebReference.com mailto:clevy@internet.com

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