HTML 5: New features, tags, attributes and what else to expect (in about a decade)

HTML 5 is coming our way. So goes the theory, anyway. (Recent chatter puts widespread adoption by user agents at close to a decade out from now… or more.) It is still a moment that many of us are eagerly anticipating. I remember drooling over my keyboard while reading through the HTML 5 Specifications the first time. We have been stuck with HTML 4.01/XHTML 1.0 for a long time and it is time to see some changes.

(In fact, HTML 4.01 has presented us with the longest gap in HTML revisions—it’s been 10 years since it was released; HTML 3.2 only lasted about a year, from 1997 to 1998.) There are some great things we have to look forward to that will make life a lot easier for us developers and designers. We’ll take a look at a few of them after the jump.

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Posted in: Design, Development, Tech News

Create Favicons for your Website with Free Utilities for Fun and Profit

Favicons Favicons started as a helpful icon identifier for websites back when you’d peruse your bookmarks and track down your favorites. Nowadays, they serve a much more useful purpose: they help brand your site both in browser tabs and in the address bar. Further, if you make use of Firefox’s Bookmarks Toolbar folder like I do, (called the “Links” folder on IE; it usually appears beneath the address bar) you can reduce each of the bookmarks to display just the favicon, allowing you to cram a bunch up there.

Favicon is short for “favorites icon”. A favicon is essentially a resource file in the Windows icon (.ico) format that is associated with a website. Even though the ICO filetype is Windows-based, Linux and Mac systems can still edit and serve them. Favicons are displayed by your browser as a 16×16 pixel image, but should be rendered as a 32×32 image that is then scaled down, as ICOs are scalable to 32×32 in some cases.

[It should be noted that 16x16 is an incredibly small canvas to work with. Chances are, you're going to need to abandon whatever supercool idea you have for a favicon—you're not going to be able to have a mythical dragon slaying a knight guided by a fairie. You might be able to get the dragon's eye. I'm just sayin'.—Ed]

The Windows icon format allows you to embed multiple files into one, so your favicon file should contain both sizes. Fortunately, there are great tools available to create these favicons, and they don’t cost a thing. Take a look at exactly how to make your favicon and links to the necessary tools after the jump.

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Posted in: Design, How To

Get your X outta my HTML

As the guys around the office are well aware, I tend to obsess over minor details in our code. Whether it be fixing code formatting to be tabbed properly or renaming variables to better fit naming conventions of a project, the developers hate when I meddle in the codebase. Is it my fault that sometimes I miss a few when I go through and rename variables, functions, methods, etc? Clearly, no. The joys of being the boss.

But what I really want to discuss is something I don’t consider so minor, complying with web standards. Most times when I am doing web development I prefer to go with the HTML 4.01 strict doctype. We try to observe strict standards wherever we can, and they have helped us to avoid patterns of behavior that are more prone to errors. We make sure that notices and E_STRICT are enabled on the PHP side. While developing, our templating system is set to validate our markup against its doctype in a very angry way that we both love and hate. The added benefits of sticking so closely to the standards is that you can pick up errors through malformed output that browsers obfuscate, and you can achieve a greatest amount of compatibility between browsers. As any good website designer knows, creating web pages that render the same in every browser can be a royal pain (thanks Microsoft).

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Posted in: Design, Rants Our New Home or: More Than Just HTML

We’ve decided to get a little serious about this and brand our blog under the awesome domain. I know, you’re jealous, right? We’ll be changing some design elements to reflect the shift in real estate soon but get a head start and subscribe already using the nifty dropdown on the left. You can add us to iGoogle, Google Reader or about two dozen other subscription aggregation services you’ve never heard of.

In the mean time, expect more posts on bleeding edge web development concepts, quick and easy how-tos and the nitty gritty into the languages and tools we use every day. We’re going to be attacking things across the spectrum skill-level wise so there should be something for everyone. And yes, we’ll be covering nearly everything web dev—far more than “just” HTML.

Posted in: Announcements