Archive for the “web development” Category

More CSS Drop Shadows For All Browsers

Thanks to the unstoppable advancements of web standards aiding mankind to overcome the real burdens of the 21st century, adding drop shadows to boxes became much easier in recent years! No more PNG background images! Leaving the question aside whether drop shadows are really progressive and appropriate for a flat medium (anybody remember the fad of “3D” bulging buttons in the 1990ies?), I was confronted with the challenge of adding box shadows in Internet Explorer for a client project. […]

Guest Lecture on Accessibility

Last week I was invited to hold a guest lecture at the Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz about accessible websites. After the successful barcamp at the University of Mainz in November the executive director of the institute for informatics at that time, Prof. Dr. Herbert Göttler, had the idea to continue that contact. So now there is a small series of talks about current Internet practices. […]

Web Performance Optimization (WPO)

Yesterday I held a talk at the Webmontag in Frankfurt about web performance optimization. According to the prophecy WPO will become an industry like SEO in the near future. Tenni Theurer and Steve Souders began to examine the performance of websites at Yahoo! in 2003, I learned about it in 2006 from Nate Koechley and subsequently blogged about it. […]

Heroes – Transmedia Storytelling

Another inspiring panel at SXSW featured Tim Kring as interviewee. He is a screenwriter and began his carrer with episodes for Knight Rider, achieved his breakthrough with the cult series Crossing Jordan and since 2006 with Heroes: in an alternative reality the protagonists discover they have super-powers. […]

Ada Lovelace Day 2010

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science. This post is to commemorate my grandfather’s grandmother, Antonia Odenweller (1848-1911).

Embedding YouTube Video with iPhone Fallback

Just a quick note as a reminder to myself how to embed YouTube videos in a standards compliant, valid XHTML syntax. It works across all current browsers, doesn’t use <embed>, and has the elegant fallback displaying a still image that is linked to YouTube, thus enabling iPhone users without Flash to view the video.

HTML 5 Accessibility at SXSW Interactive

SXSW is an enormous web conference in Austin / Texas with hundreds of panels squeezed into four days. The panelpicker application opened today and yours truly is hosting a panel on HTML 5 Accessibility. Please vote for me and twitter about it! If the panel is chosen I’d like to invite a few people (will […]

Enhanced Keyboard-accessible Google Maps

Patrick H. Lauke wrote an excellent article about keyboard-accessible Google Maps on the Opera Developer website. Still I was able to improve it slightly when I implemented an accessible map myself. I would like to share these modifications with you.

Please Provide Padding

There are other websites were you can buy train tickets, but if you live in Germany it's most likely that you will book a ticket on the website of Deutsche Bahn (German railways). Much has been said about accessibility on that site, and sure there's room for improvements in future updates. But some things just work well […]

European Accessibility Forum Frankfurt

So it’s been a little quiet here, the reason is that I’ve been busy organizing the European Accessibility Forum Frankfurt on March 27th. The main idea is to present leading innovators and their perspectives on eAccessibility from the technical, political, and economic side. Experts on seven panels will briefly describe their own work and their view of accessibility and then discuss the issues. […]

Little Brother

I just finished reading Cory Doctorow’s book Little Brother the second time, this time on my iPhone using the plugin Stanza, an incredibly useful tool that turns your iPhone into an e-book. That’s so convenient because I have my mobile phone with me anyways and get the chance to read a few pages during the four stop ride to work, where the hardcover book would be too bulky. […]

Accessible Drop-Down Menus

A few days ago a co-worker asked if DHTML drop-down menus pose a problem with accessibility. Since the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG) declared all JavaScript evil in 1999, assistive technologies (AT) have made significant progress. So we cannot condemn pull-down menus altogether, but there are various reasons to keep an eye on them buggers. […]

Upcoming Talks: ARIA and Canvas

Allow me a little self-promotion while pointing you to interesting conferences where I will hold presentations. […]

Better Foreground Sprites

A while ago I wrote about using CSS Sprites in img tags — Foreground Sprites. Thus you avoid HTTP requests, but the page turns really ugly when CSS is switched off because the sprite image will be displayed in its full size. Now Google’s accessibility specialist T.V. Raman explained their idea of using sprites for foreground images — a much better solution!

@media 2008

I had the chance to visit the @media conference in London again, for the third time. Again it was different than the last times. Perhaps less spectacular, a little less people, no real revelation. There were excellent talks inside the halls, but the best talks happened outside. Like speaking with Nate Koechley about […]

Farewell, XML declaration

The XML declaration is not required as long as you encode in UTF-8 or UTF-16, you are only strongly encouraged to use it. So as long we are stuck with IE6 I will refrain from using it. […]

W3C Mobile Web Best Practices Course

In what is to my knowledge the first W3C online course, the Mobile Web Initiative offers a free introduction to mobile web best practices starting May 18th 26th. […]

Extend the Searchbar with OpenSearch

OpenSearch is known as an open source format to syndicate and aggregate search results. It was developed by Amazon / A9 and quickly gained support from the big search engines. Their involvement is somewhat intimidating — your site’s not Google, so who wants to syndicate your search results anyway? But if your blog or a client has a loyal readership, it would be convenient if they could just use their browser’s searchbar as a shortcut. […]

Crowdsourcing YouTube Video Captioning

When Chris Heilmann had the splendid idea to add captioning to YouTube videos with Google’s JavaScript API, I asked myself if there wasn’t a better way. There is, but to my surprise neither YouTube nor Yahoo! Video take advantage of that capability. […]

Oh, won’t somebody please think of the children!

A little known W3C standard is the Platform of Internet Content Selection (PICS). PICS is a system for self-labeling. Think of an early predecessor of the Semantic Web. Or in microformats it would be hPorn. […]

Accessible Rich Internet Applications Update

Gez Lemon and I had our core conversation at South by Southwest (SXSW) on Sunday, and it went really well. No wonder, we had Shawn Henry from W3C WAI in the audience as well as Lisa Pappas who is one of the authors or WAI ARIA, plus Becky Gibson from IBM who initiated the whole thing with Rich Schwerdtfeger a couple of years ago. […]

Accessibility Tools for Quality Assurance: Color Contrast

Accessibility testing tools are great for quality assurance (QA), even when the website doesn’t have to be accessible. For example, color contrast is a very subjective thing. It depends on technical factors like the quality and settings of the screen, environmental factors like glaring sunlight, and the physical abilities of the person viewing it. It’s literally subjective in the eye of the designer. Color contrast analyzers give us an impression how fore- and background colors are perceivable by other people. […]

The XHTML Access Module

I would like to introduce the XHTML Access Module, a new working draft released by the XHTML 2 Working Group of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The module is intended to improve accessibility and extend XHTML Roles. […]

WordPress Goodies with InlineRSS

Christmas is over, but I thought I might share a few of the scripts used on this site with you anyway. The key is an incredibly useful plugin called inlineRSS that pulls everything you throw at it into your site. You only need some XSLT magic. Since XSLT isn’t everyone’s strength, just copy my files. […]

Web Accessibility Toolbar 2.0 for Internet Explorer

A couple of days ago the German version of the Web Accessibility Toolbar 2.0 for Internet Explorer was released. It was developed by Steve Faulkner and translated by Benjamin Grießmann from Web for All with contributions from your humble host. Which reminds me that I also translated Gez Lemon’s new and improved Colour Contrast Analyser for Firefox earlier this year.

Amazon Machine Tags Plugin for WordPress

I always wanted to implement one thing since I started the blog: a simple inclusion of Amazon items. I didn’t want to search through results that existing plugins provided. When I wrote about something like a book, I already used machine tags to identify the subject! So I found the inspiration to write my first real WordPress plugin: Amazon Machine Tags. […]

The Dalai Lama and Microformats

His Holiness the Dalai Lama visits the Hessenpark near Frankfurt on September 22, and as our agency is involved in the organization of that event, we sponsored the website Friends for a Friend. […]

SXSW 2008: Get Rich, Remain Accessible

South by Southwest (SXSW) is a huge conference for interactive media as well as a film and music festival in Austin, Texas. Every year it attracts the best designers and developers, and there is an immense number of panels to choose from. Exactly 128, out of which 80 are chosen from an open submission process. Gez Lemon and I plan to run a panel about WAI ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications). Please vote for us. […]

Foreground Sprites

Most rollovers have become obsolete because they can be performed on background images with CSS sprites. However, there are those rare cases when there is just an icon without text, like a “play” or “pause” button. This article discusses how to apply CSS sprites for foreground images. […]

Cost-Effectiveness of Accessibility

Last week I talked at a geek meeting about the cost-effectiveness of accessibility. Inspired by Dave Wilton’s talk at the European Accessibility Forum about their most impressive redesign of the Legal & General website, I decided to do some research and adopt it to the German market. The presentation is now available in German or English. […]

Anti-Fascism 2.0

Several groups of out-of-town neo-Nazis have called for a demonstration in Frankfurt tomorrow. To my surprise the website of the Anti-Fascist Coordination Frankfurt features a clean design with a tag cloud-like navigation, sliding animations with jQuery, YouTube videos, and a very basic microsite for mobile access. What rocks most is the creative use of twitter to keep protesters informed through their mobile phones. Brilliant! […]

Website Performance Tweaks, Part Two

Nate Koechley presented the research results of the Yahoo! Exceptional Performance Team two weeks ago in London. The traditional focus of performance optimization has been on the backend, i.e. system efficiency. But comparing a number of high profile websites, the Yahoo! team found that frontend performance is responsible for 80-98% of the perceived response time. Therefore doubling the frontend performance gains more than doubling the backend performance. […]

@media 2007 Wrap-Up

Sum-up of the @media conference in London that I attended June 7th-8th, 2007. Read about Jesse James Garret’s keynote, passionate evangelists, and how to get great design ideas on the loo […]

@media 2007 Slides

Like last year I will try to link all presentation slides and podcasts from the @media conference in London, June 7th-8th, 2007. I hope you find it as convenient as I do. […]

When Accessibility is Not Your Problem

Joe Clark’s talk at London’s @media was the most controversial today. To add insult to injury, there was no time for comments or questions from the audience. […]

Graded Browser Support Q2 Update

Based on Nate Koechley’s concept of graded browser support we terminated support for Firefox 1.5 because it’s no longer supported and upgraded by Mozilla. Also we changed Opera support from 9.0 to 9.x, where “x” stands for the latest stable version. […]


Web 2.0 applications can enhance usability, alas a lot of issues remain to make them accessible. Gez Lemon has come up with scripting solutions to inform screen readers about the change of content, but when I talked with Jan Eric Hellbusch he deemed it rather confusing because the user’s work flow is interrupted. The W3C’s standards draft for Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) addresses those limitations. I held talks about the upcoming standards in Cologne and Frankfurt, which resulted in writing a blog entry about the topic that eventually became an article for A List Apart. […]

Quantitative Methods of Usability Analysis

In his recent article Three Hypotheses of Human Interface Design Tantek Çelik came up with some interesting hypotheses about the usability of computer interfaces. It was a brilliant idea, but I’m afraid the well-established method for Human Computer Interaction KLM-GOMS describes his hypotheses pretty well. Unfortunately somebody came up independently with that, 27 years ago. […]

XHTML 1.1 Second Edition with Target Attribute

When I switched from HTML 4 to XHTML 1.1 a couple of years ago, I soon found the target attribute was missing. I have never been in love with the target attribute anyway, but some clients insisted that their links should open in a new window. So I did some research. […]

Website Performance Tweaks

In the last six months I became more aware of techniques for optimizing website performance. I learned about memory leaks and JavaScript performance, but what impressed me most was Nate Koechley’s presentation about large scale website performance issues in “Yahoo! vs. Yahoo!” at the @media conference 2006. In the meantime there have been more blog posts about particular aspects of performance optimization, so I wrote a summary. […]

Graded Browser Support Q4 Update

Nate Koechley introduced Yahoo!’s smart concept of graded browser support nine months ago. Until then we did test on a lot of browsers, but all browsers were supported equal. Now came this man who suggested distinctions... Almost unnoticed were two updates of the browser matrix in August and a couple of days ago. […]

Best Practices in Web Development

Roger Johansson and Sean Fraser recently reviewed websites which were submitted for the CSS Reboot Spring 2006, and they seemed to be quite shocked when 71.8% failed to validate. While this is sobering and to a degree surprising — one might expect better results from CSS aware developers on a relaunch — it confirmed my own results from reviewing a couple of high profile websites for clients. […]

My @media 2006 Day Two

Day two of the @media conference included talks about microformats, Yahoo!’s new technical strategies, browser memory leaks and performance tweaks, some information about accessibility, the mobile web, and meeting Molly Holzschlag. […]

My @media 2006 Day One

@media is a web conference in London with a focus on web standards and accessibility, and impossible to google. I missed last year’s conference, thus I was looking forward to finally meet all the people whose articles, web publications and more recently blogs provided my literature and inspiration for the past seven years or so. […]