I think this is going to be the last “new tool of the day” – Drawter for planning page layouts and then generating the HTML/CSS to support them. It’s not an end point – for example, the max width would seem to be c. 640 px – and not possible to use % for layout. However, it can generate the starting point for CSS etc, which can then be edited.
There are quite a few hidden options – some hand coding will probably still be required, but it’s a good learning opportunity.

The Gif Format is Finally Patent-Free

Slashdot has a discussion about the fact that all of the patents that covered gif have now expired. I suspect that it won’t have much impact on the graphics world – especially as .png is finally becoming more used. It’s going to take a long time for people to stop using .gif in favour of .png (and, I suspect a long time for some people to start using .gif rather than .jpg when the former is more appropriate for the particular setting!)

Screen Sharing

Robin Good reviews Citrix’s GoToMeeting. It seems to be a pretty impressive tool, though not Free, so perhaps not ideal for students to experiment with. He also links to a post he made a few days ago, which has an overview of what he feels are the differences between “Screen sharing” and “application sharing” – and all the associated features. Some are totally free, some definitely low cost (e.g. $0.10/participant/meeting), others are $30+ a month.

Screen Resolution and Page Layout

Jakob Nielsen’s in his alertbox looks at the current statistics for screen resolution and recommends that designers should optimise for a 1024 screen, while still ensuring that it works at lower and higher settings. He points out that while 60% of users have a screen set at 1024, not all users (especially as the resolution gets higher), will actually use the whole screen. (He’s omitted to mention the fact that even if the browser is maximised, many will have a side bar of some sort open; nor has he really mentioned the needs of very small screens – such as those on PDAs etc.)
Jakob recommends that a fluid design should be used, to ensure that all screens work.  Jakob himself is using a 2048×1536 display!
Via Stephen D.

WordPress and iframes (and Firefox?)

I’ve had a few posts recently that have seemingly mangled my blog. From what I can tell, it seems to be things that have iframes.

This morning a student emailed me to say that he’d wanted to comment on a post, but wasn’t able to. I checked a random post and was able to comment, so I thought that it could have been something to do with the server problems we’d had over the weekend, and whatever they’d done to solve it. If that were to mean no-one could comment from outside, I wouldn’t have been very happy. However, I then thought I’d look for the post that he was talking about.

I located it, but, it was most odd. On the home page, it was the post I’d posted. However, when I attempted to post a comment, there wasn’t much content. When I went to edit it, it had somehow got the contents of a different post embedded in it – one that had an iframe. Looking at the list of posts in the admin panel, both were showing, and both showed in the relevant month archives. They just merged themselves when I was trying to look at them on the same page. I’ve now managed to edit them, and remove extraneous iframe references from them.

In the past, I’d found that the Google Notes iframe can cause problems – by inserting some extra code into a post – it’s only if I check the html that I can remove it; it’s invisible in the WYSIWYG editor. Equally, as I tend to use Firefox, rather than IE, it could be that it’s only a problem with Firefox. As far as I can tell, if I’ve got some text in here, and edit it (by highlighting then cutting etc.), sometimes the iframe to add it to Google note book opens up (and sometimes it doesn’t). It seems to require properly closing, rather than just ignoring to ensure that it’s not embedded in the page. So, I’ve missed it a few times, but at least I know now that if the home page suddenly looks wrong, I just have to check the HTML of the last post that’s showing.