January 20, 2013

January 2013 Meeting Report

We started the January meeting with a follow up to our previous discussions on user interface design. We looked at website redesigns by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the United Kingdom. Both of these sites have simplified approaches to accessing information. I also suggested looking at Jakob Nielsen’s article Windows 8 — Disappointing Usability for Both Novice and Power Users, not so much for the review itself but for the methodology. Watch for the interface issues raised there. (And for a counter to Nielsen’s review, check out Why Jakob Nielsen's Windows 8 critique is old-school thinking.)

We then spent some time looking at Microsoft’s Expression Web 4, a program for editing web pages and managing sites. It is a powerful application that has been replaced by other programs, so it is now available as a free download from the Microsoft Expression site.

We finished up by starting on responsive design for tables. Some of the techniques for styling tables to make them responsive rely on CSS3 pseudo-class selectors. We began on that topic by using zebra striping as an example. We looked at some pre-CSS3 techniques and noted their drawbacks. Next month, we will start on the CSS3 way to stripe tables, and that will lead us on to techniques for styling responsive tables.

January 15, 2013

January 2013 Meeting Announcement -- Styling to the Nth

The next meeting of the PACS CSS Workshop will be Saturday, January 19, at our usual 9-10 hour. The main topic this month will be "Styling to the Nth."

We are going to be working on responsive design in the next couple of meetings, and our first example will be tables. To get into that topic, we will re-visit an issue we covered a while ago -- striping tables. Striping makes the data in a table more readable, and the new CSS3 pseudo-class selector called nth-child makes striping easier than ever to implement. We will use striping tables to get the hang of nth-child, and that will lead to some more involved design solutions. There is some math involved, not to mention the DOM, so be ready.

On a side note, I just learned that Microsoft has released its Expression Web 4 design tool as a free download. There is no support, but this product is a worthy competitor to Adobe Dreamweaver for WYSIWYG editing and for site maintenance. Download at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=36179#overview. We will take a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting to look at Expression Web.

And be sure to check the Groups page on the PACS website for more information on all the other sessions scheduled this month.