Aaron's Web Blog

Found out what Aaron thinks about today's tech in web design

Adobe Edge – Adobe’s answer to HTML5 and the death of Flash?

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Wow, now this was an interesting find that a fellow student introduced to me yesterday. With the emergence of HTML5 usage on the rise and Flash’s usage starting to decline with mobile devices such as Apple’s iPhone are refusing to support it, Adobe’s answer is in the form of a new program called “Adobe Edge”. It’s essentially a replacement for Flash’s animation and interaction tools that makes use of HTML5 features instead. I think this is a very smart move on their part, both themselves and for HTML5. There is apparently a free preview to make use of the software on adobelabs.com’s site so be sure to give it a whirl!

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FnNtX73v8k

Links: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2389500,00.asp

Download: http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/edge/

Written by awaltrip

August 2, 2011 at 10:12 am

What is AJAX?

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I’m sure you’ve probably heard about this before and I wouldn’t be too surprised if you had used it once before in past projects. For those who don’t know, AJAX stands for “Asynchronous JavaScript and XML” and is essentially the bridge between client-side and server-side interaction. This allows communication between such as JavaScript and PHP to interact with one another, allowing JavaScript to asynchronously connect to a PHP script, retrieve some data, and pass it to the JavaScript to allow it to dynamically display the data onto the page without requiring a full page reload that’s typically with PHP.

There are a lot of GREAT uses for this type of interaction and there are a LOT of web pages on the internet that make great use of it. Prime examples would be Google’s search box “suggestions” when you type something into the search box and results are already being retrieved while you type something in without having to submit the form to get the data.

This tech can also work with XML as well, as noted in the name. The XSLT example I posted in a previous post makes use of AJAX to load the XML document into the page and use XSLT to convert it.

Making use of AJAX can be a little tricky to do the normal JavaScript way but thankfully, the popular jQuery library has some API created to help us out with simplifying the process. Be sure to stop by their site to experiment with AJAX today!

Sources:

http://www.w3schools.com/ajax/

http://api.jquery.com/category/ajax/

Written by awaltrip

August 2, 2011 at 9:58 am

Posted in Research

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What is XSLT 2.0?

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What is it?

What exactly is this, you may ask? It’s a web technology created by the W3C that was very popular back in 2007 that had the ability to transform data in an XML document into other file formats such as Webpages and PDFs. Think of it like CSS for XML where you can use some programming logic to convert tags from XML to something else such as an HTML tag. I used the technology before on a community website I worked on while I was an intern for the City of Riverside, which you can visit from the link below. The example below isn’t the typical usage of XSLT 2.0 as I made use of AJAX to load the XML into the HTML document and applied the XSLT document to format the XML.

What future does it hold?

Well, considering that I haven’t heard much about it since majority of the articles I found on Google about it are dated as far back as 2007, I have a feeling that it’s usage on the internet is quite slim and I don’t see us web developers making heavy use of it, not with HTML5 and CSS3 on the rise. I’m sure it’s great for those of you that want to take an XML document and create a web page out of it. I’m sure that would be handy for formatting an RSS feed. But beyond that, it’s an interesting tech and I’m sure it has it’s little niche in the market and probably won’t vanished anytime soon, which can’t be said about Flash 😛

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XSLT

http://www.w3schools.com/xsl/default.asp

Examples:

http://riversideyouthcouncil.com/index.html

Written by awaltrip

August 2, 2011 at 9:42 am

Posted in Research

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Modernizr

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Link: http://www.modernizr.com/

As mention in my HTML5 Boilerplate post, Modernizr is a JavaScript library that aids the web designer is detecting features that a web browser supports so the designer and make use of “Progressive Enhancement” principal.

Written by awaltrip

July 26, 2011 at 7:31 am

Graceful Degradation vs. Progressive Enhancement

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Link: http://dev.opera.com/articles/view/graceful-degradation-progressive-enhance/

A very informative article explaining the two concepts of how to approach designing a web page and how they would change in both functionality and visually based on what level of technology a web browser can support.

For a quick synopsis, “Graceful Degradation” is an approach to making a web page function and be seen normally when viewed in a modern browser but when viewed in an older browser, the quality “degrades” to something lesser but still gives basic functions. Progressive is the opposite approach where you build a baseline web page that functions properly but add “bells and whistles” by adding in additional functionality or visually appearance that a modern browser would support. Graceful Degradation is how most pages are created today but Progressive Enhancement is the new approach that web designers and developers should utilize to ensure they their website looks professional without having to make sacrifices when viewed in older browsers.

Written by awaltrip

July 26, 2011 at 7:26 am

Posted in Research

HTML5 Boilerplate

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Link: http://html5boilerplate.com/

To help pave the way for HTML5, this site is a template for people who want to make their pages optimized for HTML5 implementation. Also includes utilities such as Modernizr, a JavaScript plugin to help assist in adding “progressive enhancement” to a web site by detecting what a HTML5 and CSS 3 features are enabled on a web browser and use them accordingly. Also helps organize code to make use of HTML5’s new semantic tags and short forms.

Written by awaltrip

July 26, 2011 at 7:11 am

Response to “Brenda Laurel Interview”

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Link: http://www.designingforinteraction.com/laurel.html

In this interview, Brenda is asked a series of questions regarding research and how designers approach it. She makes some very good interesting points that I am in complete agreement with, mostly with aspects involving human behavior. She points out things like how important it is to expose ourselves to a variety of sources of influence in order to help inspire us to come up with new ideas or twists on past ideas. She also points out how we, as humans, tend to limit our knowledge about a target audience based on our own bias, usually stemming from our own personal experience with said target audience. For a long time I too have came to the same conclusions as she did but on a broader scale.

I’m sorry if I’m about to get into a long philosophical rant but we humans do unfortunately have this bad habit of letting our world view be shaped by our own personal experiences. We all have to face the fact that we see the world for what we want to see it rather than see it for what it is. More often than not, when we are trying to conceive in our minds what a group of people are about (such as our target audience), we base it on our personal experience. Not only that, we also left others (unconsciously or not) tell us what to believe about a group of people, often coming from sources such as peers, our surroundings, and the media. This is what causes us to form or bias and sadly that kind of thinking limits us greatly in trying to understand a group of people.

This is why research is so important! You CANNOT let what you THINK is what people are about but rather you need to research about them firsthand (a.k.a. one on one) to fully understand them. Looking up research from media sources doesn’t quite help as much as we want them too. Yes, it does expand what you know about that more than what you knew previously but unfortunately you’re still being influenced by someone else’s bias. After all… can you really trust what others say about a group to be completely accurate? Sadly no that’s a rant that’s beyond the scope of this subject so I refrain myself. Anyway… to really get a better understanding of a group of people, you really need to talk to them in person. Of course… we don’t always have that luxury of that kind of research so the media will have to do most of time, especially if under time or resource constraints.

Despite my little rant, any research that expands what you knew is always better than not researching at all. You can’t always be “spot on” when researching something but you can get pretty darn close if you just take the time to do the research. You’ll ultimately end up being more successful at whatever you’re doing than you would otherwise.

Written by awaltrip

July 26, 2011 at 6:26 am

Posted in Thoughts