Category / Markup


Sunset: A syntax highlighting theme for phpDesigner

My weapon of choice for code editing is the excellent program phpDesigner, but every so often I like to test drive a different editor to see what I might be missing out on. Recently I spent some time playing with Notepad++, and one feature that jumped out at me was the ability to choose from a large number of pre-installed syntax highlighting themes.

When I switched back to phpDesigner, the default blue-on-white color scheme seemed a tad boring, so I decided it was time to pimp my IDE! Unfortunately user created themes for phpDesigner are thin on the ground, which left me no option but to make my own.

PHP example:

Sunset theme for phpDesigner - PHP code

Continue reading


Semantic HTML 5? Pfft.

Reading though a preview of the HTML 5 specification over at A List Apart, I was somewhat surprised by the names chosen for two new HTML elements: header and footer. Like many other standards aware web designers I have worked hard to train myself out of the habit of naming divs non-semantically, only to discover that HTML 5 will undo all of my good work.

Continue reading


The trouble with content management systems

When I started out as a web designer, content management systems belonged strictly to the realm of big budget websites. For everyone else, it was perfectly normal for a web designer to manually update a site whenever a change needed to be made. Clients didn’t expect a CMS to be included with their website, and web designers didn’t offer the option. Times have certainly changed, and in an age of blogs, Facebook, and MySpace, clients expect to be able to take control of their website’s content.

For most web designers, especially those who work solo, a custom built content management system is still a tall order. Fortunately there are numerous commercial and open source content management systems available, which offer a practical and affordable means of wrangling content. However, a “one size fits all” content management system that doesn’t address a site’s specific content requirements can introduce as many problems as it solves.

Continue reading


Validation: a pragmatic approach

Recently the web standards debate has taken an interesting turn, with many standards advocates re-evaluating the role of validation in their daily practice. Most recently Ethan Marcotte contributed an article titled Where Our Standards Went Wrong to A List Apart. Marcotte concluded that validation is still a vital part of any web development project, but the fact that the opposite side of the argument was given serious consideration is significant.

Continue reading


When spacer gifs go bad

It’s a while since I gave any thought to spacer gifs, but I was looking at the Exxon website tonight (as you do on a Tuesday evening) and saw something that made me chuckle. I was viewing the site in Firefox (of course), and noticed that on many pages the text “spacer.gif” appeared prominently within the layout.

Exxon spacer gif screenshot

Continue reading


Microsoft drop the ball with Outlook 2007

Well it looks as if Microsoft has screwed up royally with Outlook 2007, at least insofar as the way HTML emails are rendered. Instead of using the not-too-shabby Internet Explorer 7 rendering engine to display HTML emails, Microsoft opted to use a customized version of the Word 2007 rendering engine. That’s right, from now on your beautifully constructed HTML newsletters are going to be rendered by the crime against layout known as Microsoft Word. That fact alone was enough to send shivers down my spine, but when I dug a little deeper I discovered just how dire the situation really is.

Continue reading