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Episode 12

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21st June 2007

Anne van Kesteren has written up a document on the differences between HTML 4.01 and the forthcoming HTML5. This is required reading for everyone who’s interested in what we might be using to build websites next year. Exciting too!

17th January 2007

It’s been common throughout HTMLSource’s history to have our annual “missing month”, a pseudo-random month of the year where things just go dark here due to me being busy or distracted by some other project. What is unprecedented however, is to have a missing year.

Due to a conflux of things, such as the PhD I’ve gotten myself embroiled in, posts to this page were impeded for the year. That’s not to say things haven’t been changing behind the scenes of course. My elves and I have been tweaking, buffing and otherwise manhandling each tutorial, keeping them up to date. The techniques used to write HTML and even CSS layout haven’t changed very much in the last year, but that period of stagnation is likely to end soon with the introduction of HTML 5, which is currently being drafted up by the smart guys and girls in the WHAT WG. The specification (which is still in flux and will probably have to pass through the increasingly fragmented W3C to become a “standard”) contains many interesting new elements and attributes. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the rest of its development.

29th November 2005

It’s that time of year again: Holidays are comin’, and HTMLSource dons its usual festive look for the winter. There are two new tutorials since our last update, the useful form trick Clearing Default Text and the impressively modern AJAX tutorial.

18th September 2005

What a summer. I don’t think I’ve ever been as busy before in my whole life. My internship in IBM comes to a close tomorrow. But it seems my indoctrination worked: I’m now thinking in terms of quarters instead of months and would never dream of re-inventing the wheel even once more.

Secondly — and all at the same time, which was fun — I successfully completed a project as part of Google’s » Summer of Code program. I was working on a new theme for the » Gallery project, a really nice slideshow effect that employs a lot of advanced JavaScript. It works as a proof of concept, and I’m currently buffing it up so that it’s release quality.

I’ve barely had time to catch my breath and I’ve already started on a Ph.D. in » UCD, the college I’ll be graduating from with a degree in Computer Science before the end of the year. The fun never stops!

22nd July 2005

Working away diligently on my summer job. IBM’s a nice place to work at. Intimidating in scale, certainly, but there’s a great atmosphere among the gang in our lab here. However, it is no match for IBM’s productivity-boosting work environment: even the delicate tinkle of my co-workers’ laughter is drowned out under a blanket of white noise pumped in through the ceiling.

23rd May 2005

So, my halcyon collegian days are over. Four years of fun, which got better and better as each year went by. It’s sad, really. I’m now a fully-qualified Computer Scientist, whatever that is. Right now the thought foremost in my mind is that I’ve only got about fifteen precious days of summer before starting on my all-grown-up job over at » Big Blue, which at the moment I wish was a week or two more away, but I’m sure will be an interesting challenge. Gotta get serious some time.

HTMLSource might finally get its long-awaited forums sometime this summer. A number of readers have been asking if I ever intend on setting them up, and God knows it might help people get help with their questions faster than they would through other avenues. I’m weighing up my options at the moment, cos I want to get this right first time, and there’s a lot to consider. I’m testing out a few things behind the scenes, so hold your horses.

1st February 2005

Complain about something enough and something will be done about it. Most users of Internet Explorer will have noticed the odd ‘flicker’ quirk our layout betrayed in the navigation area when you tried scrolling. Despite being no stranger to working through IE’s bugs, this one had me stumped for ages, so much so that I eventually just gave up and left it. It never affected me after all, since I’ve the good sense to avoid IE for anything other than testing.

Long story short, various readers have gotten on to me about it. I had the evening free tonight so I decided to give it one last crack, and I think I’ve solved it. It was a real tricky one, involving a number of well-known IE bugs. Anyway, rejoice!

Note: if you still see the bug, sort it out with your friend and mine, the old Shift + Refresh trick.

11th January 2005

Christmas almost didn’t happen in my family this year, due to a range of things, so there ain’t much to talk about there. I’m in the middle of transferring all my music, files and assorted ephemera from the desktop here to my new laptop; which is an arduous task. On the bright side, it’s given me the time I needed to catch up on two months of unreturned email. Hmm... wonder what a good New Years’ resolution would be...

I’m back in the lab, hoping to find enough free time (or to get good enough at time-management) to complete some work on the site soon. There’s been a half-started PHP section in the works for months now. Google seemed to like it and people have been stumbling upon it and asking why it isn’t finished. I’m back to college today and have to get a fair bit of work done on my project, so things may be slow. The project involves WSDL, SOAP and Web Services — you can check it out if you’re interested, but don’t ask me to explain it to you!


4th December 2004

Oh the weather outside is frightful... It’s that time of year again, time for HTMLSource to don its festive fatigue. I’m about to be knee-deep in Christmas exams in college, here. Thoroughly unprepared, as is the custom. Wish me luck!

3rd October 2004

Having come to the realisation that I’m no longer 16, I figured it was time to update the old portrait. The original visage, a source of countless giggles, has been archived for all to mock forever. In the intervening years I like to think that I’ve adopted a more manly, gritty image. “Flocculent,” as the girlfriend likes to term it.

Incidentally, it is she who should be commended on the incredible composition of that photo. On our way home from Europe this summer we spent a day out in Slovenia at a beautiful spot called Lake Bled, which is what you can see behind me there. I had been on her case for the whole holiday about the composition of her photos, but it looks like she finally got lucky it right.

20th September 2004

The long delayed update of our suddenly popular browser review has come about. I’ve changed the format, so it’s not exactly a classically-styled review per se, and more a flagrant attempt to get more of you to quit your messing and go and download » Firefox. In related news, keep your computer safe from spyware.

4th September 2004

Been arsing about with a bit of DHTML, and the fruits of my fiddling are now ready. All the tutorials have a new feature, which we’ll call “search term highlighting,” since that’s exactly what it is. Using a slightly-modified version of ace DOM-hacker Stuart Langridge’s » SearchHi DHTML script, once you click through from a search engine to a tutorial the script will highlight the words you used in the search.

While originally geared towards people coming in from Google and the like, I’ve changed it so that it works with the site’s own search feature too (HTMLSource uses » Atomz). I’ve also added a bit of UI to the tutorial pages so that you can turn on and off the highlighting. It’s on by default, since IE with its relatively poor Find abilities is still the most-used browser round these here parts. Feedback is welcome — though bear » this in mind.

30th August 2004

Through some combination of the right drivers, the mumbling of arcane incantations and blind luck, my computer is back in working order. And I’ve been busy!

  • After a request from a concerned reader, the tutorials now all have “last updated on” dates. Of course, they all start on today, so we’ll have to sit around twiddling our thumbs for a few months until their utility becomes apparent.
  • The site’s search engine has been improved greatly. Since I rarely use it, I was shocked at how primitive I had let it become. I’ve also made changes to how the site is indexed each week, so the most relevant pages should be popping up at the top of the results from now on.
  • Finally, after my rush-job to get the new CSS layout working before I left on holidays last month, I neglected to update the print stylesheet to take into account the site’s new code. This messed it up pretty bad, and made me look a bit silly. I’ve rewritten it with a back-to-basics approach, and everything is sweetness and light once more.

I was going to send out a plea for a » GMail invite to you all, but thanks to the good work of my mate Conor, I have secured one. Of course, having learnt many harsh lessons about publicising email addresses, I’m keeping this one under wraps as much as possible. Anyway, GMail is good stuff — very impressive JavaScript. Thanks Con, I owe you some candy sticks.

27th August 2004

Je suis retourné. And true to form, my computer was broken when I got back. Though I’ve been dying to get back to work here, I have to put it on hold until I figure out what’s gone wrong here.

Once we’ve collated our photo collections of the trip, I hope to put together some sort of gallery so that those sufficiently interested can get a glimpse of the frivolous mischief we got up to.

17th July 2004

I was over in France for the weekend there, watching the last of my free uncles get married. It was a great trip, though my scorched arms now burn with the fire of a thousand suns. I’m back only for a brief spell before jetting off again on my ‘real’ summer holiday: the girlfriend and I are joining some friends to partake in a 5-week adventure across Europe.

As it turns out, our redesign to a CSS layout was not as seamless as I had thought at the time. Of course, before I uploaded it I had checked it in all major browsers, even making sure that it worked well in » IE5.5, which is used by less than 1% of my audience, thank God. Everything lined up, so I went ahead. What I hadn’t counted on was a bug in IE6 that stops you from selecting text in absolutely positioned elements. While in these type of cases I’m usually not slow to run to the top of a hill and scream “» Firefox” one more time, this was unacceptable for a site with a lot of code examples that are there to copy and paste.

I’ve taken this opportunity to completely rework the site’s CSS for the hundredth time. I stripped it all out and started again, and it’s much more cleanly written now. Having tested the bejaysus out of it, it seems to work fine in every browser I’ve tried. Fingers crossed. Also, since this is the first update in some time, many of the tutorials have been updated, and bandwidth theft is new.

As an aside, in April this year Mozilla browsers (the » full suite or » Firefox) were used by a little less than 5% of the visitors to HTMLSource. Today, we’re up to 11%. This relatively huge percentage is nothing like the usage it’ll see in the “real world” that exists outside of HTMLSource, but it’s clear that La Revolution has started. This makes me happy.

style="border-top: 1px dashed #99c; padding-top: 0.5em">But wait, there's more: Episode 13.

Previous Updates
Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5 | Episode 6 | Episode 7 | Episode 8 | Episode 9 | Episode 10 | Episode 11 | Episode 12 | Current Updates