« May 2004 Entries »

Redesign Technical Notes

May 30

Next in the series of follow-ups to this past week’s redesign is a look at some of the technical changes for the new mezzoblue.

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Reply Highlighting

May 25

Replies to mezzoblue’s redesign have been, well, let’s say ‘polarizing’. The various issues that have been raised will be analyzed in more depth over the coming week or two. First on the list is the new ‘Reply Legend’ on the comments pages since it’s bound to be the most controversial.

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mezzoblue v4

May 24

If you’ve been on this site any time over the last couple of days, you might have noticed a small sign at the top saying that mezzoblue was getting a minor structural upgrade, and things would be back to normal today. That was a lie and a half.

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What is RSS/XML/Atom/Syndication?

May 19

The little orange buttons that are starting to litter the web have no doubt caused mass confusion. What are they good for? Why are they there? And why don’t they work? While I and others are starting to look into suggestions for developers to alleviate this design flaw, I thought I’d take a minute to talk about what this technology potentially means to you, the user. (If you already know what RSS stands for, this article won’t tell you anything new, but feel free to reference when you need to explain syndication.)

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Tables? Oh, the horror!

May 15

Apparently there remains some confusion after my Thursday-afternoon rumination on the potential use of tables, as opposed to pure CSS-based layouts. I’m going to share some of my experience to help clear this up.

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Colour Schemes

May 14

A designer’s ‘style’ is made up of a number of different factors, though colour plays a large role. Everyone has their own method of coming up with a good colour scheme, which will inevitably affect the results.


A ‘technical’ method of colour-selection involves choosing one or two dominant colours from the colour wheel, to be used with a small set of complementary colours. Basic colour theory concepts like split complementary and triadic colour schemes offer a wide range of variation, particularly when you start throwing in shades, tints, and saturation adjustments.

Technical colour scheme samples

Pro: An easy way to start with good, workable colour. Con: being too technical can lead to dull and uninspired colour choice.


Matching involves starting with an image or an object (usually a photograph) and picking colours from within to generate a colour scheme. Boxes and Arrows ran a great article a while ago about selecting colours from nature.

Matching colour scheme samples

Pro: Naturalistic, familiar-feeling colour schemes that appeal. Con: it’s easy to select the wrong colours from a photo.


Probably my most frequently-used method. I begin with a blank canvas and fill it with whatever colours seem appropriate. Naturally my mind computes the corresponding compliementary and similar colours on the fly, but now and then I’ll ignore solid colour theory just to see where it gets me. Hence this site’s colour scheme, among others.

Pro: Fresh and surprising colour schemes. Con: dangerous without a solid knowledge of colour theory. Dangerous even with.

These are a few of my own methods, and what influences my design sensibility. Others will differ, of course. Tell me about your own methods, comments are open.

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Gasp! Tables!

May 13

Andy Budd, a name some of you will recognize as a proponent of CSS-based design, has decided to take a long, hard objective look at the arguments made in favor of CSS.

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Self Promotion Day

May 10

A whole lot has been busting through the pipeline lately, to the point where I can start talking about what I’ve been working on recently. Here’s a bit of a roundup to get some of this out there. (If you can’t get away with horn-blowing like this on a Monday, then honestly, when can you?)

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One Year

May 07

One year ago today:

With a few caveats and a bit of apprehension, I present to you my latest pet project: The CSS Zen Garden.

Since I just about missed it (I could have sworn it was May 8th, 2003, but my archives don’t lie) I don’t have anything much planned to mark the occasion. So lacking that, I’ll take you through some of my design process when I was building ‘Tranquille’, the default template.

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Javascript Bonsai, Conclusion

May 05

What have we learned in the last 24 hours? When you’ve got a good thing going, don’t tinker with it.

My initial reaction to hearing Rares’ proposal was an immediate ‘no way’: it’s too late in the game to start thinking about changing the rules. I was, however, curious enough to wish to see a proof-of-concept, so a big thank you to Rares for taking the time to build the beautiful demo. (which, if you feel like tinkering a bit more Rares, should be added to the Garden-proper sans script)

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Javascript Bonsai Tree

May 04

I had an interesting question put to me the other week: what about making use of the null <script> element in the Zen Garden’s markup (so placed to avoid the flash of unstyled content IE bug) and open that up for submission as well?

The idea goes like this: separating presentation from structure is a good thing, and makes for better accessiblity (and all the other benefits of standards-based code, of course). Taking this separation a step further, and filtering out the behaviour as well should surely be a step in the right direction.

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Thunderbird 0.6

May 03

While I’ve been using Thunderbird as a mail client since version 0.2, today’s 0.6 release feels less of a toy and more like the first really solid revision.

Installation required the same rename-the-old-one then drag-n-drop-the-new-one that’s proving to be a trademark of early software releases from the Mozilla Foundation. It’s easy, but not for the masses. We’ll see an installer soon, no doubt.

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