Posts by Ray

Gamut Presentation CUC15 (Cascade User Conference)

This past Monday, I presented, “Gamut: The Non-Template Template: PHP, Web BPs, and Maintaining 150 Unique Websites as if They Were One,” at HannonHill’s Cascade User Conference in Atlanta, GA. I shared our system for maintaining the lifecylce of our websites. The issues we’re solving include: how to handle 100s of sites in the system; how to design sites across a team in a scalable, maintainable way; how to be nimble; and how to take advantage of a templated system without having all of our sites look the same. Here are my slides:

Slides from Gamut talk, Cascade User Conference 2015.

SVG presentation at HVTech July 29 2015, Poughkeepsie, @Gusto

I’ll be talking about SVG, which, like most anything else we do, isn’t straightforward to use. It takes practice to know when it’s appropriate, and some creativity to implement it well. SVG is a deep subject, but I’ll go through the basics and share what I’ve been doing with it with some live examples, and resources for diving in further.


Non-color visual distinction for links as a Best Practice

As a functional component of a web page, a link should look like a link—and obviously so. On some of our sites, color alone is used to indicate a link, but, according to WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), color isn’t sufficient for a link to be accessible. For general usability, when WCAG are applied, our sites become easier to use for everyone. I’d like to suggest using underlines on links as a best practice and here’s why: More

IE8 support dwindling

How long will we need to fully support IE8? It’s about 10% of our traffic now but with no media query support, and our push for responsive designs, we’d like not to (we’re not using respond.js). I had thought IE8 would die a slow death like IE6—since you can’t upgrade IE8 on Windows XP (still a large market share) and it got into installs of Windows 7—but other factors may speed it’s demise. One is . Another is in less than a month, on 11/15/2012, Google will discontinue suport for IE8 for all Google Apps services. With Google leading, others may follow. Google is recommending Google Toolbar for IE which includes Google Chrome Frame (GCF).

We’re already supporting GCF via our htaccess () and we should be seeing GCF activity increase in our Google Analytics. On a related note, back in June, jQuery announced v.2 would not support OldIE (IE6/7/8) then clarified v1.9 would, and would be supported “As long as oldIE is a significant factor on the web.” Time will tell.

Links I emailed my kids ’cause they’re that good

Lately, I’ve gotten into the habit of sharing links with my children via email. I’ve always shared with them but usually just when we’re all in front of my laptop. Links get saved to Delicious and tagged as “kids” but I wanted to see if we could get more out of the experience by having a dialog. So far, I have to prompt them to read it and comment back to me. We’ll see how this social experiment goes. In the meantime, here’s some of what I’ve shared:

Some more interesting video (not shared with the kids):

MySQL’s UTF-8 charset doesn’t fully support Unicode

Insightful and detailed article by the fantastic Mathias Bynens on how to guarantee your MySQL database will accept any unicode character you throw at it.

“For a long time, I was using MySQL’s utf8 charset for databases, tables, and columns, assuming it mapped to the UTF-8 encoding… By using utf8, I’d be able to store any symbol I want in my database — or so I thought.”

—execerpted from How to support full Unicode in MySQL databases, by Mathias Bynens.

Dynamic Weather with NOAA, PHP, jQuery, and HTML templates

One of our aims with our new alumnae/i site was to give alums who may be far away a chance to reconnect with the campus they know and love. Of course we have the usual imagery, stories, social networking, etc. but there was one feature—weather—that could evoke the moment, in real-time on campus.

In order to make that connection as immediate and palpable as possible, we couldn’t allow the weather to cache, or only update on page load. All it took was some jQuery and HTML templates added to our existing PHP script which was already pulling an XML feed from NOAA. Read on to see how we did it…


Open/Closed Principle of OO Programming Applied to CSS

Applying programming principles to HTML, CSS and JS reveals these technologies as legitimate “players” and gives us the tools we need to build, scale and maintain—and a language to describe—the complex systems they (we) are capable of creating. OOCSS and SMACCS are applications of the object oriented paradigm to CSS. Here’s another tenet of OOP—the open/closed principle—as it applies to CSS, that Jonathan Snook just referenced from Harry Roberts’ post, open/closed principle applied to CSS.

In a nutshell –

“software entities (classes, modules, functions, etc.) should be open for extension, but closed for modification.”

Harry looks like he’s doing a series as evidenced by April’s The Single Responsibility Principle Applied to CSS