Screencasting and other activities

Leigh Blackall’s “What to Do” provides a group of instructional videos that engage you in activities that will add to your PLE tool chest. I believe that as we experience new digital technologies we gain new potential as designer/developers and here you can pick and choose what is attractive and appropriate for your needs.

If you enjoy the videos and find some useful information, don’t hesitate to comment and thank Leigh for making these tutorials available. It never hurts to add a friend to our blogging network!

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News from W3C

The World Wide Web Consortium (w3c) has announced a new W3C Markup Validator. The announcement states:

2007-08-08: “W3C’s most popular service just got better, prettier, faster, and smarter. The W3C Markup Validator has a new user interface and a validation engine with improved accuracy and performance. Among new features are an automatic cleanup option using HTML Tidy, and checking of HTML fragments. Driven by W3C as an open-source software project, the markup validator is made by Web professionals for Web professionals, and aims to be a major step in any Web development quality process. Read the change log for a list of all changes and new features”.

Also announced was the CSS3 Working Drafts for Box Model and Advanced Layout.

Have Camera, work your own schedule, as a Google contractor!

Google Business Referral Representatives will be paid up to $10 per business by visiting “local businesses to collect information (such as hours of operation, types of payment accepted, etc.) for Google Maps, and tell them about Google Maps and Google AdWords. You’ll also take a few digital photos of the business that will appear on the Google Maps listing along with the business information”.

And you participate in one of the most interesting and resourceful services on the planet! And if you haven’t heard, Google Maps now has a sky, you can look up as well as down.

Thanks to Bruce MacVarish’s blog where I first read an article about “Google’s social network powered Local ‘Sales Force.'”

CSS Frameworks

A framework is a “set of tools, libraries, conventions, and best practices that attempt to abstract routine tasks into generic modules that can be reused” (Frameworks for Designers, by Jeff Croft, A List Apart, June 12, 2007). Basically a CSS framework, such as Olav Bjorkoy’s Blueprint, is a CSS framework that is designed to cut down on your CSS development time. It provides a CSS foundation to build your project on, with an easy to use grid, with typography and a print stylesheet. I have been reading about frameworks of various funtions including ajax, JavaScript, HTML, and Web 2.0. The concept smacks of templates for hire, which is having someone else do the hard work of designing a stylesheet(s) and you just plug it in and write the HTML structure and save a lot of time in the process.

I think using a “hired hand” to create your CSS is not a good idea for anyone learning the deeper aspects of coding with CSS and XHTML. You simply have to experience the process to become proficient at it. But I like the idea of developing your own framework that includes a lot of CSS features you use over an over. This would be an obvious advantage to anyone working on a large group of projects where there is a lot of similar code. Programmers have used libraries forever to keep various coding components available so they don’t have to repeat themselves over and over. I assume this is the key to object oriented programming also.

So I encourage students wishing to become competent with web design, to study the frameworks out there and learn what it means to design and create your own. In the long run I think it could provide a good learning tool, and give you ideas about how you would want to create your own and eventually, become much more efficient at building creative sites. Below are some resources to get you started learning about these tools and processes of designers.

I would enjoy hearing your responses to these articles and the potential of “frameworks”.

“Design with Web 2.0 frameworks”, .net/July 2007, p. 47-51.

Launching the Web 2.0 framework

A CSS Framework, by Mike Stenhouse

Blueprint Tutorial, Olave Bjorkoy

YUI Grids CSS, Yahoo UI library: Grids CSS

New e-book service

Actually I am not sure DailyLit is new, but it is new to me! I just learned of a web-based service that sends you selections of books (you choose from e-books available on all topics) on a pre-determined schedule. DailyLit provides books that are beyond copyright (most titles I scanned) including many classics which have been scanned into digital formats. I also found Lawrence Lessig’s “Free Culture” which was made available as an e-book. I have always wanted to read Lessigs work as I think his Creative Commons alternative to traditional copyright is a brilliant concept that I totally value and support.

So, if you don’t have lots of extra time but would like to venture into reading some classic books, give it a try!