Friday Feast #54: Design, HTML Editors, MT, Photography, Regex
Today’s Friday Feast covers a fun web design competition, a beautiful photography competition site, rants and raves about HTML editing tools, adventures in prototyping, top-notch design sites, regular expressions, and a few of my own brainstorms, rants, and raves.
And the Winner is...
Zlog’s Ronan won Ben Hammersley’s design competition for a new weblog design. Ben gets a pleasing-to-the-eye new design and Ronan gets an iPod for creating the new XHTML Strict and CSS design. Not a bad deal for both of them. Congratulations to Ronan!
Ben has also provided the CSS and Movable Type templates for the rest of us to check out, too. Some of the other entrants' designs are also available for purchase. Nice work, and it’s clear that Ben had a tough decision indeed.
Prototyping with Style
Prototyping with Style is a new article at Digital Web on design and prototypes written by Jeff Lash. Tools and approaches for prototyping are discussed, including using CSS and XHTML. Jeff explains how CSS can be used easily and effectively for user-centered design work to rapidly develop prototypes for usability testing, review, and analysis.
Jeff’s article hits home with me, too, as I explain below in my adventures with prototyping and Movable Type.
Speaking of Prototyping with Style...
If you looked around my site during July as I was transitioning from Blogger to Movable Type and creating my new design you would have seen that I initially created a simple prototype. I did that to work with Movable Type to set up the archiving, add plugins, and test and implement features. I imported a few of my posts from Blogger to have some content for the initial work, and I later imported all my posts still using the prototype design while I continued to tweak features and work with Movable Type.
Once I had set everything up within Movable Type I then created the new design based on those needs. XHTML and CSS was the logical and easy choice to use for this process, and it worked beautifully. While the new design may visually look quite different from the prototype’s simple layout, the structure for the new design is what I created and tweaked during the prototype process.
Movable Type has many built-in templates already available for use that can be all that many people need. I examined them initially to learn about the tags and see how the program worked with their templates. Being a website designer by profession, though, I naturally wanted to create and develop my own design and approach based on the needs of my particular site.
I’m not yet finished with the site and the new Movable Type implementation even though much of it is already live online. I’m building it out in phases so that I can go ahead and take advantage of Movable Type’s features for my daily posts while I continue to work behind the scenes in my off-time hours to build the entire site with Movable Type, not just the weblog posts. For more on using Movable Type for an entire site, see my mid-July post Creating an Entire Site with Movable Type.
Joe Gillespie posted the August edition of Web Page Design for Designers and I think you’ll find it just as fascinating and insightful as always. The August Editorial leads into an article called Factor-X that highlights the major differences between print and web design. There’s also a review of the latest versions of HomeSite and BBEdit. And there’s plenty more, plus all the previous issues and resources.
Speaking of HomeSite...
As a long-time user of HomeSite I’ve been increasingly disappointed to see this program initially created by Nick Bradbury pretty much stall in its development under Macromedia’s ownership the past few years. Dreamweaver and Contribute most likely have much more of Macromedia’s attention, and these are two products that have made tremendous improvements overall and have loyal followings. I recommend them both to people. At the same time, though, it’s so unfortunate to see HomeSite, such a longtime favorite and popular HTML editing tool, going almost nowhere in quite a long time.
Nick Bradbury also created TopStyle, though, which I’ve used forever for CSS. So when TopStyle became a full blown XHTML/HTML/CSS editor I gradually migrated all my web work to it. TopStyle has an intuitive user-friendly interface, it’s easy to use, and it uses very little system resources (unlike HomeSite). I can’t even remember when I opened HomeSite last. Folks who know me know that I don’t say that lightly, as I’ve written tutorials on HomeSite, I even considered writing a book on it quite awhile ago now, and I used HomeSite right from the start in its early beta days when Nick first created it.
I still think HomeSite is a terrific program and I still recommend it to people, of course. I recommend TopStyle more often now, though, especially for its more user-friendly interface. I hope Macromedia will take notice of the need for solid editing programs for hand-coders and develop HomeSite further, but based on their site information and their product releases it certainly appears that they’re more interested in their other products than putting much into serious development for HomeSite. I’d like to think I’m wrong about that perception, but we’ll see how things go.
Gorgeous photos at DPChallenge where you can browse the collections, join in the community, and compete with others for the latest photography challenges. Beautifully done site.
Users of HomeSite, Movable Type, TopStyle, Abacre’s Find and Replace, and other programs have seen references to using regular expressions, aka regex. I’ve listed below some helpful resources for regular expressions and a couple of books.
Online Resources, Tips, Tutorials
- A Brief Guide to Regular Expressions, by Dorothea Salo, is a terrific introduction that explains how regular expressions work and provides some helpful examples.
- Regular Expression Basics, by Chris Spruck (sprocket) for Evolt.org, covers many examples of how to use regular expressions.
- Regular Expression Library currently has over 300 regular expression patterns available for use, a helpful reference cheat sheet, Web Services, a regular expression tester, and several discussion lists. You can search for regular expressions and browse through them by section, such as email, URI, numbers, strings, dates and times, and a miscellaneous section for everything else, such as a credit card validator just for American Express, MasterCard and Visa.
- Using Regular Expressions is a helpful introduction with examples by Stephen Ramsay, Assistant Director of the Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia.
- Mastering Regular Expressions, Second Edition by Jeffrey Friedl, published by O'Reilly July 2002. See also the companion site where you can check out the Table of Contents, the index, and more.
- Regular Expressions Pocket Reference, by Tony Stubblebine, published by O'Reilly, May 2003. You might be interested in Tony’s blog.
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