Jan
17

As of the date/time of this blog post I am no longer supporting Internet Explorer 6. That's right, I've joined the IE6 No More campaign. If you're reading this blog post because you accessed my blog and were redirected here, then you are using an ancient, ancient Web browser and you need an intervention. A nice one. =)

It's time to upgrade. It's time to see the light. It's time to get into the modern age of browsers. So please, take a moment right now to click one of the logos below and download one of the fine browsers out there. If you don't, a litter of puppies will die, a thousand fairies will have their wings pulled off, and a hundred unicorns will perish of african sickness. You don't want all that on you do you?

Update: Over the last several weeks other organizations and countries have announced their lack of support of Internet Explorer 6. All of this is further reason to get a better browser:

  • The French government joins Germany in recommending its citizens use something other than Internet Explorer. http://bit.ly/7Bap4c
  • Google to end support of IE6 on March 1, 2010. http://bit.ly/an3z93
  • From TechCrunch, a funeral is being held for IE6 on March 4. Browser to be buried without the body.
  • From Ars Technica, YouTube to kill IE6 support on March 13, 2010
  • March 4, 2011 - I learned Microsoft has created a site to EOL (end of life) Internet Explorer 6. http://ie6countdown.com
  • Microsoft announces they'll be automatically upgrading Internet Explorer on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Check out their announcement here.

Jan
29

Anyone seen del.icio.us' www?

Posted by Aaron West at 12:55 PM in Web Standards, General

Every now and then I try and open the del.icio.us Web site using "www.del.icio.us." And every time I do that I realize they don't have their site set up to work with "www." Why would they not set this up? Having both "dubs" and non-dubs set up just seems part of the normal site development/deployment process to me. And considering we're talking about a large, highly used and publicized site like del.icio.us this whole thing just seems asinine. My only guess is the del.icio.us URL looks cooler without the dubs.

Oct
24

Firefox 2.0 - RC3 at the time this was written - has been released and is available for download. There's some scuttlebutt about whether Mozilla meant to offer up the new version or whether it was leaked. Regardless, the new version is here and offers several new features and enhancements over Firefox 1.5. For a quick list of what I think the most important enhancements are, read on!

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Mar
18

Code to Manage IE Active Content

Posted by Aaron West at 10:55 PM in Web Standards, Flash

After nearly a year since Microsoft announced changes in IE to manage "active content," the IE security update was released recently. I haven't heard a lot of talk about this in the community so either I'm not looking in the right places or the adoption of this security update has been slow. Nevertheless, we began the process of "fixing" our active content at work which exists almost entirely as Flash movies. To start, one of our developers upgraded his browser to the latest version that includes the changes affecting active content. After upgrading, all Flash movies embedded in the browser using OBJECT/EMBED tags had to be clicked (activated) before you could interact with them. Before activation, the movies timelime would play fine but mouseovers and other interactivity would not show. Gray boxes would also display around every SWF that had not been activated, even ones that were simple graphics or logos without any interactive content. It was pretty annoying having to activate all the Flash movies but this update could have made the user experience much worse.

Now, on to fixing the content. Adobe does not offer any recommendations for fixing your Flash OBJECT tags and instead defers to Microsoft. Microsoft recommends developers use JavaScript to dynamically write out OBJECT and EMBED tags to the browser. The solution is simple enough but with dozens upon dozens of Flash movies we did not want to write tons of JS to fix the content. Instead, we found some free code already written for this specific problem, which you can find here. Once you have the JS in place with a script include the code to display a Flash movie is as simple as this:

<div id="topNavigation"></div>
<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
var fo = new FlashObject("movie.swf", "headerMovie", "100%", "110", "6", "#E9E9DF");
fo.addParam("menu","false");
fo.addParam("wmode", "transparent");
fo.addParam("salign", "B");
fo.addParam("quality","high");
fo.addVariable("mainFrameTarget","mainFrame");
fo.write("topNavigation");
</script>

The div is used to receive the contents of your Flash movie once the FlashObject code writes the innerHTML property. The first line of the JS script creates an instance of the FlashObject class. The classes constructor expects to receive the relative or absolute path to your SWF, the ID name of your SWF, the width value, the height value, the Flash player version number, and the stage background color (in that order). The next 4 lines are direct replacements for the old PARAM tags which were used to tell IE browsers about certain properties of your Flash movie. If you write a new fo.addParam() call for each of the PARAM tags in your original code you should be good to go. The next line illustrates how you can pass flashvars with the name of the Flash var nominated first and it's value second. Incidentally, if you have lots of Flash vars that you are currently stringing together in one property you can use the fo.addParam() function like this: fo.addParam("flashvars", "var1=value1&var2=value2");. The last line shows the write() function call which tells the FlashObject code not only to write out the Flash movie but which div should receive it.

And that's it. The bad part is the time consuming nature of fixing all your instances of Flash OBJECT tags. And it's a shame too, that if you are concerned about IE users getting the right experience on your Web site, you have to make this change. On a personal note, I have not decided if I am going to redo how I place my Flash content in the code. And since almost no one hits my site in IE it may not even matter. What does matter is how this change from Microsoft is affecting the entire Web. Since active content includes applets, QuickTime, Flash movies, and anything else that uses OBJECT/EMBED tags there's not many places that will not be affected by this change. It's certainly a staggering thought to say the least.

If your sites are in need of a "fix" here's some helpful resources:

Adobe Active Content Developer Center
Internet Explorer ActiveX Update
SWFObject JavaScript Code

UPDATE: 04.21.2006
Due to this I have updated the download link and the name of the product from FlashObject to SWFObject (just above). All other text in this post - including code - still references the old name "FlashObject." Just wanted to point this out.

Oct
18

A win for the web developers!

Posted by Aaron West at 10:29 PM in Web Standards

This is semi-old news, but Wired.com recently switched there web site from being driven by HTML tables to being built entirely in CSS-P. Supported by all browers except NN4, CSS-P is a much cleanier - not to mention easier - way to create "tabled" web pages. Wired's switch is a significant advancement for web developers who desire standards compliance. Finally, a highly-visible and viable web business has taken the plunge. Mark one down for the good guys!!

Sep
30

Google.com Zeitgeist

Posted by Aaron West at 9:03 AM in Web Standards

Google has a rather interesting link on there web site giving all sorts of information on what browsers are used to access google, what operating systems are used to access google, and what the most popular search terms have been over past weeks. There's a lot of useless information as well, but a good 5-minute look-see anyhow.

Check it out.

May
10

The Bottom Line

Posted by Aaron West at 5:03 PM in Web Standards

I've been a web professional for quite some time now. Occassionally, I'm confronted by another web professional or even the casual Internet user on subjects such as: What web browser is the best? or Which web browser has the highest market share? or even Which web browser is the most standards-compliant? It's really a tireless discussion but in many cases unavoidable. Oftentimes the conversation gets heated, opinions flare, and all parties retreat without taking one positive step forward.

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