Providing the same UI across browsers

If you change the default controls to match the look and feel of something your visitor has never seen before, you run the risk of creating confusion, distrust, or alienation. Even worse, if the controls are poorly made or conceived — and many are — you might make your site less usable. A cardinal sin.

The more I think about it, the real beneficiaries of a uniform UI across browsers aren’t the site visitors, but rather the designers who demand artistic control and the clients who insist the product looks the same everywhere, without understanding that it’s okay (even expected) to have some differences.

What feature is missing from your e-learning development tool?

I have some simple questions I’d love to get feedback on. I’m curious about what people are looking for in their e-learning authoring tools, specifically: What feature is your current tool missing that you would love to see implemented? Support for team collaboration? Support for themes or custom CSS styling? Support for language localization? A beer dispenser? Etc. What feature does someone else’s tool have that you’re jealous of? For me? I wish the most popular tools (Captivate, Articulate, Lectora, etc.) would output cleaner HTML and JavaScript. I also wish there was less reliance on Flash and PowerPoint. But if …

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Changes to pipwerks.com, part 2

In case you hadn’t heard, pipwerks.com was hacked last week. The entire database was erased. Bastages. Luckily, I had a recent backup. While going through the pains of a new WordPress install (with new plugins, extra security, and imported posts/comments), I decided “why not throw a new layout in the mix, too?” I mean, if I’m going to make changes, I may as well do them all in one shot, eh?

Fixed-width layouts

While working on a recent web project at work, I wondered if I should go for a fixed-width layout or stick with my preference for fluid layouts. Fixed-width layouts are certainly easier to manage, but they just feel so… rigid. With the boom in larger monitors, I also wondered if fluid sites start presenting a problem due to being too wide. I decided to check around the web to see what others are doing.

How to add basic SCORM code to a Flash movie

Here’s a quick tutorial for adding basic SCORM functionality to an existing Flash file. This tutorial aims to demonstrate just how easy it can be to add SCORM functionality to an existing Flash movie.

Please note that this tutorial uses ActionScript 3 and SCORM 1.2, but the same principles apply for ActionScript 2 and SCORM 2004.

HTML 5: The strong element

I just saw something interesting I thought I’d pass along. In the new HTML 5 proposal, the strong element is being modified to represent “importance rather than strong emphasis.” The WHATWG gives the following example: <strong>Warning.</strong> This dungeon is dangerous. <strong>Avoid the ducks.</strong> Take any gold you find. <strong><strong>Do not take any of the diamonds</strong>, they are explosive and <strong>will destroy anything within ten meters.</strong></strong> You have been warned. The b element is supposed to represent “a span of text to be stylistically offset from the normal prose without conveying any extra importance, such as key words in a document …

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Vertical centering — without using tables!

Every now and then, a developer will come up against something that was SOOOO easy with table-based layouts and winds up being a royal pain with CSS-based layouts. One of these “d’oh!” moments is when you try to vertically center an element on your web page. Umm… hang on, let me rephrase that: One of these “d’oh!” moments is when you try to vertically center an element on your web page when using Internet Explorer 6.

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