Brainstorms and Raves

Notes on Web Design, Development, Standards, Typography, Music, and More

Fri

16

MAY

2003

Friday Feast #44: Standards, Site Optimization, RSS, and Weblogs

Today’s Friday Feast covers more on the world of RSS feeds including innovative uses in education, new interviews and books on web standards and site optimization, and a handy tool for cross-browser, cross-platform testing.

Designing with Web Standards[Designing with Web Standards, by Jeffrey Zeldman]

Many of us have been looking forward to Jeffrey Zeldman’s new book, Designing with Web Standards. Latest details can be found at the book’s mini-site where you can read some of the first kudos, find links to two sample chapters, the table of contents, and banners for your site. There’s plenty there to give you an idea of what an insightful and helpful book this can be to learn more about web standards and how to approach design and development with standards in mind. Included are the pros and cons of standards during the past 10 years or so, markup, practical case studies, and implementations that can work in the real world.

Andy King Interview at Digital WebSpeed Up Your Site, by Andy King

Not to be missed is An interview with Andrew B. King by Craig Saila for Digital Web. They discuss why website optimization matters and tips about what you can do for your own site. As Andy states in the interview, even if you’ve already done a lot of optimization, there’s often more you can do.

Andy’s exceptional new book, Speed Up Your Site, provides plentiful details and case studies about how to optimize your site, covering HTML, XHTML, CSS, JavaScript, graphics and multimedia, search engine optimization, and server-side optimization. The companion site has helpful information about the book along with a monthly bandwidth report with broadband connectivity figures and trend predictions.

Digital Web also celebrated its seventh birthday Tuesday. Wow! Heartfelt congratulations to Nick and the staff on an amazing seven years and best wishes for many more.

XHTML, XML, RSS Feeds and Profiles

Earlier this week Don Box discussed the pros and cons of XHTML vs. XML for RSS feeds. Mike Sax follows up with several points and thoughts with XHTML in RSS: It’s now or never.

Interesting discussions at Sam Ruby’s site also continued this week about an RSS Profile as Don Box compiles the results at his RSS 2.0 Profile page. An RSS Profile Wiki has also sprouted up where you’ll find more information, ongoing discussions, and links.

RSS Feeds via Email

Want to read your RSS feeds by email? Dean Jackson explains how he implemented Aaron Swartz’s RSS to Email Aggregator.

Dynamic RSS Feeds in Education

Stephen Downes has provided a helpful introductory tutorial about RSS for educational designers. Whether or not you’re in education, though, it’s well worth reviewing since his ideas and explanations can be utilized in a variety of ways, of course.

Clever uses for RSS feeds are popping up in education, such as Dynamic, Custom RSS Feeds as explained and discussed at D'Arcy Norman’s Learning Commons Weblog.

The Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction (mcli) is making terrific use of this concept using RSS, Movable Type’s TrackBack, a little PHP, and ingenuity. Their “Syndicating” the MLX Collection explains how they’re using this technology.

The MCQ Resource Discovery Using XML utilizes Userland Manila, and they explain:

“This page showcases searching across multiple databases of multiple choice questions (MCQs) running in different institutions. The database servers use a simple XML RSS file to return search results to the user in a consistent, platform and database independent format. The XML RSS results are then transformed to HTML for display on an conventional web browser... You can link your own MCQ databases into this demonstrator by reading these instructions.”

For more examples, Scott Leslie of EdTechPost has collected and provided a page with RSS feeds from Learning Object Repositories - Known Examples.

Weblogs in Education

Weblogs in the Classroom is a helpful PowerPoint presentation by Will Richardson. The presentation explains the basics of weblogs and continues to explain how they might be utilized in education. Naturally he includes plenty of examples and resources along the way.

McGee’s Musings covers Weblogs in Learning Settings with plenty of insightful quotes and links to keep you busy all weekend.

Convenient Cross-Browser Checking for Your Website

In case you missed this tool that’s been blogged around the Web: BrowserCam. See how your site looks on a multitude of browsers and operating systems via BrowserCam’s screenshots. For only $1 per URL, that’s quite a bargain. BrowserCam has a free trial to try it out first to see what you think.

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I Wrote a Book

Deliver First Class Web Sites: 101 Essential Checklists  Via amazon.com: Deliver First Class Web Sites: 101 Essential Checklists, by Shirley Kaiser. SitePoint Books (July 2006). 

Available now via: SitePoint Books, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca (Canada), Amazon.co.uk (UK), Amazon.fr (France), Amazon.de (Germany), Amazon.co.jp (Japan), Tower Books U.S. and elsewhere! You'll also help support this site and its owner if you purchase via any of these links.

Learn more at SKDesigns - Deliver First Class Web Sites and via SitePoint Books.

Recommended Books

Web Style Guide - Basic Design Principles for Creating Web Sites, 2nd Ed., by Patrick J. Lynch, Sarah Horton. Yale University Press, March 2002.

Cover: HTML for the World Wide Web with XHTML and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide, Sixth Edition. By Elizabeth Castro. Pub. Peachpit Press August 2006.

Hand-picked best book recommendations for Web site design, CSS, graphics, Photoshop, color, accessibility, more

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