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A place for thought, progress, and dissent.

Monday, January 31, 2005

FrontPage (still) sucks.

I'm sitting outside Chicago after and evening of website creative collaboration. KTB and I worked out a sweet upgrade to the Oyez Review site (not uploaded yet).

Over some Caribou Coffee (Note to Caribou: Nobody wants to pay for Wi-Fi), I played with FrontPage for the first time in a few years. It still sucks.

Allow me a few sentences of ranting...
<rant>I have never seen another program code as poorly as FrontPage. Between gratuitous <font> tags, invalid code nesting and a propensity to add absoulute URLs (long path referencing your hard drive rather than something like "../images/header.jpg") it is enough to make anyone crazy.

Then there's the funky options (shapes?) that are just silly...

And God forbid I try to add a DOCTYPE or XML directives... It will allow them, but won't help you any.
</rant>

I don't want much in an editor. I don't use most features anyway. I really just want something that can nicely color my code so I can read it easier. Currently I use Dreamweaver, and occasionally Apple's Xcode, though Xcode doesn't handle the mixing of php and html as well as I'd like. I also like the built in, one-stop-shopping, FTP server in Dreamweaver, but its far from perfect.

Regardless, promise me, for your own sakes, that you will avoid FrontPage like the plague. Your browser will thank you.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Regular Expressions (still) Rock!

Note: I'm writing more about code lately. Sorry for all of you who don't care or understand. ;-)

I finished v.2.0 of my Creative Commons Plugin for b2evolution a few days ago. I figured out a way to post CC's RDF metadata, which was causing problems before. This version seems pretty solid, though I haven't had any bug reports yet. Actually, I've only had 2 people even mention that they've used it! I know more have, but it would be nice to hear a "yep, works great" or "this really sucks" once in a while. I also put it up on a server that I can't track downloads... shoot.

I got to write a couple quick regular expressions in the process. If there's one thing I wish I'm better at, its regular expressions... I really haven't taken advantage of them enough. For the CC plugin, I only needed a simple one and the hardest part was a misunderstanding I had with PHP's syntax.

I picked up Regular Expressions in 10 Minutes at the Library today. It looks ok (nowhere close to O'Reilly's) but hopefully it will a good refresher!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Putting the X in HTML

I'm on a standards kick. Since I've been doing more web development lately, I decided to jump into XHTML and CSS full force. I had used CSS before, but XHTML 1.1 (and 1.0 Strict) requires that display tags be separate from the XHTML, and CSS (or XSLT, etc.) be used exclusively. (for the semi-tech-saavy: this means no <FONT> tag, bgcolor attribute, or anything like that)

So I'm now a standards junkie. I wrote the Project preVote site (and another one in progress) using XHTML 1.1, but today I went to the next level. Web guru Roger Johansson posted The Perils of Using XHTML Properly today, and points out a few difficulties of moving to proper XHTML. After some tewaks, preVote is now correctly serving (on my testing server; eventually at the real site) "application/xhtml+xml" to browsers that can handle it, and "text/html" to older browsers. This coupled with strict usage of XHTML and CSS means that I'm completely standards compliant!

Here's a real-world example of a peril. If you send a page as "application/xhtml+xml" to FireFox and it contains even one improper tag (this could be <br> instead of <br />, or class="mainArea" instead of class="mainarea"), it will display an error instead of the page!

So other than giving me a sense of accomplishment, what does this do? Well, it means consistent rendering in future browsers. It also means these sites will be able to use cool tools like XSL someday, if I wish. It also means that every part of the sites are valid XML and are therefore more flexible.

But proper (and strict) XHTML isn't easy. I was only able to do this because these sites are in their infant stages. If I were starting with a large site written in HTML 4.1, this task would be much more difficult with no imminent rationale to change. My goal is to keep these sites proper as they grow. It should make my life easier in the long run.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Name That Company

I'm looking for a great name for a new company - mine!

The idea is to have a company that encompasses my consulting business, web and software development, media ventures (hehe, that sounds cool), and whatever else I or my associates decides to do. :)

Comment or email me with suggestions. If I pick your suggestion you'll win something! I'll at least buy you a nice dinner, and maybe you get cash or something better if the company does well! Silly, stupid, and serious suggestions will be considered!

Requirements? I don't have many:
  1. Keep it simple.
  2. The .com must be available.
  3. Originality is always nice.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Veritas

I had the opportunity to hear Jim Wallis speak Thrusday about his new book God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. This book is going on the reading list - I've already ordered it.

One of Wallis' main ideas is one I have often talked about: The Republicans and Democrats can't seem to solve problems because they are too busy fighting each other. I don't even think I need to give any examples of this. Pick any issue, and its pretty obvious that a solution lies in compromise. If you don't understand, read the book then we'll talk.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

I hate JavaScript

Recently, when I'm not working, playing, or whatever else it is that I do, I have been playing around with b2Evolution, a great piece of blogging software.

I'm eventually going to move this site (and also probably the DPS and The iPunk) to this code and off of blogger to take advantage of some of their cool features.

As I've been playing I've also been writing. I put together a couple plugins for their code: a Blogger Import Plugin (the rationale should be obvious there) and a Creative Commons Plugin.

This doesn't mean anything to most people, I know.

I did get the joyful experience of working with JavaScript. JS is a really useful, and terribly annoying language. And thanks to the FireFox JS Debugger (with is actually a life-saver), I was treated to errors such as Error: Error can not be converted to a string. As if I wanted the stupid error at all, even as a string!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Veritas

Someone commented here a while ago "I want to hear some progress! I want some dissent!"

I think the last couple of posts were a decent dosage of dissent. How about some progress?

Next week, the Hope College Veritas Forum will be keynoted by Jim Wallis of Sojourners fame. For those of you who don't know Sojourners, they are a group for "faith, politics, culture" and Wallis' Keynote should be good. If you are in the Holland area Thursday, Jan. 13 make a point to go.