the xhtml tag
The stars finally seem to be in a good constellation for web designers this month. Adobe shipped Creative Suite 3, CSS Edit was upgraded to 2.5 and we are seeing the first Alphas of Firefox 3. Iwas even more excited, when Steven F. commented on Panic’s 10 Year Anniversary:
“It is by a more or less random coincidence that on the day after our company’s tenth birthday, we will be conducting by far our biggest, most ambitious new software launch of all time. I hope you’ll come by to check it out, especially if you make web sites.”
What Panic released a few days later reminded me once again why a Mac is the best platform for developing websites: Coda is just the application I’ve been waiting for all my life. I’m not merely enthused, I’m seriously stunned.
Coda is a single, tiny application which handles all your webdesign needs. Editing (X)HTML and CSS, previewing, FTP (of course), Terminal access and a great reference book, all in one. The Panic team introduces Coda with the words:
“So, we code web sites by hand. And one day, it hit us: our web workflow was wonky. We’d have our text editor open, with Transmit open to save files to the server. We’d be previewing in Safari, running queries in Terminal, using a CSS editor, and reading references on the web. ‘This could be easier,’ we realized. ‘And much cooler.’”
Tingelets is a new, free and practical service for designers and developers. Basically it’s a set of bookmarklets that you can place in your browsers bookmark bar for immediate use. When you click on them, they highlight various elements in the current page. You can highlight tags, elements by id, elements by class and even tag sets (for example
<li> as a combination). Since they work in almost every web browser, they give you the possibility to compare web layouts on the fly.
The Tingelets are the newest project from Maurice Kühlborn and they are extremely well done. When you click on a tingelet, the corresponding element or elements are highlighted with transparent PNGs which display the name of the highlighted element.
It’s a perfect and quick solution for troubleshooting and diagnostics without having to resort to external tools like Xyle Scope.
CSS hacks for browsers typically either exploit a flawed implementation or the complete lack of an implementation of a certain feature in the rendering engine. Most webdesigners know about the relatively poor level of web standards support in Internet Explorer and have tried for years to find workarounds for the most grievous bugs. However, exploiting software bugs to create a hack is quite dangerous because software gets updated and old flaws are fixed.
When Microsoft introduced conditional comments with Internet Explorer 5, a lot of problems were fixed. One could use constructs such as
<style type="text/css" media="screen">
to tailor CSS styles to Internet Explorer only. No other browser would parse anything in those conditional comments.
Conditional comments have a lot of drawbacks, though. Most problematically, they require changes to the actual HTML source since there is no equivalent to conditional comments in CSS. They also don’t work well with XSL as Dave Shea has pointed out. This is why most web developers turned to the less reliable technique – the exploitation of browser bugs – to target specific browsers in their stylesheets.