Web Development

Why Does CSS have to suck

I’m going out on an edge here to say this, knowing a few people will bite my head off for even suggesting this. But I must ask: Why does CSS have to suck? At what point did the CSS WG come up with that decision? Ok, now let me explain where this is coming from:

I’m a strong believer in web standards. They are a great idea, and using CSS is right, and I do support that. What I don’t support is what CSS actually is like.

CSS has been around for some time, but why wasn’t there CSS Columns for example since the beginning? A very basic part of most page designs. CSS is extremely awkward when it comes to layout. Text manipulation is easy. It’s layout that’s painful. Then of course add in browser support.

I think this may be a tiny little reason why web standards aren’t prevalent on the net as of yet. Because CSS has a steep learning curve.

I’m going to really take a chance when I say this: But perhaps CSS3 should rework it from the ground up? Focus on layout and actually make things easier?

Look how easy I can design a site with tables. I can position fairly well, align stuff, etc. etc. Now try with CSS.

I’m working on a project right now that I’m trying to adhere to web standards. But what’s my problem? I’m spending way to much time on layout, and not enough time on the backend. That’s really not good. If anything, designing should become easier.

Most corporate websites are designed by designers, not web developers. Web Developers get handed a page, and integrate it into the CMS. Now how many designers do you think are ever going to sit down and do CSS? Their mind is in design, not code.

Again, I agree CSS is a great theory, keep design and content separate. But the CSS implementation just plain sucks. And until it improves, I can’t see penetration being very high.

Especially after languages like HTML being so easy, you’d think they’d have the perfect complement with CSS.

CSS layout is just wrong. It’s awkward, tough, and not friendly.


In The News

Banned books

Some things are just sick. The list of banned books is one of them. Lets take a little look at a few shall we?

5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Ok, who are we kidding here? I’ve had to read this one dozens of times growing up.

6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Traditional High School Reading

7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling

Even the most conservative body in the civilized world approves. Saying it’s a good thing for kids to read it. Hmm…

9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

I’ve got this one on my bookshelf. I read it in 5th grade. In a Catholic Elementary School. Class Reading.

13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

I’ve had to read this one too in High School. Required reading for pretty much all American students for a long time.

14. The Giver by Lois Lowry

Here’s another we had to read in 8th grade. In a Catholic School. In Class Reading. Read, and discuss.

16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine

Another silly one, considering everyone had no problem in a conservative Catholic elementary school.

18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Pretty standard reading for High School students in America. I was able to dodge this one.

22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Read it… Catholic School… Go figure.

27. The Witches by Roald Dahl

5th Grade.. Catholic School. Required in class reading.

41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Has anyone with a High School diploma gotten away without sitting through the book or the movie?

88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford

I can’t even comment on this stupidity anymore.

The ones where I even mention the grade, it’s because I had to write down the homeroom on the inside of the front cover. Which also shows the grade. So I know exactly when I read it. This is by no means a complete analysis. I just picked a few I thought would be fun to mention.

And America is still a land of the free?

Here’s a great idea for a new law: Any school district who bans a book is prohibited by law from teaching that America is a ‘free’ nation. The word ‘free’ may not be used in association with ‘America’ (or any comparable terms).

Web Development

Moving towards standards

I’ve been a web developer for some time now. Since I entered High School, way back in late 1998. Since then times have changed, saw the bubble of free ISP’s who thought ads would pay for everything, to becoming a free ISP myself. One movement that’s really been large in my mind has been the move towards standards. Allow me to explain.

It used to be a webmaster was one of either two ways. You either used an editor like Go LIve, Dreamweaver, or Claris Homepage (remember that beauty with it’s amazing table builder). Or you were a toolsmith who made a script to help build your site. Either way, your website was a proprietary mess of HTML, perhaps a javascript, and a backend of ugliness. I couldn’t stand it. I’m a little bit compulsive. That’s why I like Apple products. Clean, great UI, integrated, functional. Everything the web wasn’t.

Fast forward to now:

Now I’m a web developer working on a few projects, including a new venture (won’t discuss much details at this time). What’s life like now:

PHP for serverside development. Using Smarty as a templating engine, and PEAR::Package::DB. All my output in new Apps is moving closer and closer to XHTML 1.0 Strict.

What’s my advantage in all this? Is it as complex as days of old, just new products? Absolutely not.

  1. I use PHP because it works on many platforms. I prefer UNIX (Linux or Mac OS X), but it also works fine on Solaris, or Windows. Making sure my bases are covered.
  2. Smarty makes it easy to update my interface without touching my app. That makes life much easier.
  3. PEAR::Package::DB allows me to have a layer of abstraction between my app and the database. This makes transitioning in the future to a new platform much easier. Also saves me trouble.
  4. My output is as close to strict as possible these days because it’s quicker to template. Templating tag soup is a giant mess. Anyone whose done it knows. Strict is much easier to do. Not to mention the more I control with CSS, the faster I can make changes in the future.
  5. Another advantage of all this is performance. PHP is fast, Smarty Caches to keep performance. PEAR DB is pretty zippy as well. By going XHTML strict and using CSS as much as possible, I’m cutting bandwidth, and making pages download faster.

I’m personally of the belief the golden age of the internet hasn’t quite dawned. That will happen when my PDA is as useful as my computer, Email is without problems (spam/viruses), and platform is irrelevant. When the web can feel like an application. Were moving in that direction, but not there yet. Less and less websites are “PC only”, or “IE 5 only”. Much more neutrality thanks to things like Mozilla’s Evangelism work. Not perfect, but better. The web can feel more like an application with XUL, though adoption levels aren’t quite there yet. Email is still a disaster though. Hopefully SpamAssassin 3.0 will be out soon.

The web has improved IMHO. But I’m convinced the next few years will continue to be just as interesting as years gone by. Lets get coding and enjoy the show…


Trolls and Bugzilla

Times like these, I wish I had the appropriate permissions on my bugzilla account to terminate an account. No Asa, you are not a “Hitler” nor a “cancer”.

In all honesty, from Bug Days on IRC, to setting up the new r.m.o system, Asa’s been great to work with. He’s really the easiest person in the Mozilla Foundation to get in touch with. A regular blogger also, to keep us all informed about what’s going on.

/me thinks it’s time for Bugzilla to have an email address on the bottom of every page to make it easy to report abusive posts, like many forums do. I suspect this will only happen more frequently as more end users attempt to use Bugzilla for support, or to complain, rather than as a bug tracking/project management (since it does do that) product.


Wolf Pr0n

Wolf Pr0n

Believe it or not, I used this in a college presentation. I’m a terrible person.

In The News

This can’t be good.. Rusian Airliner Crashes, Second Missing

The title pretty much says it all.

2 Tu-134 aircrafts simultaniously have what appears to be catastrophic problems.

And on Sunday there are scheduled elections in Chechnya.


Everyone’s lost their mind

The more I think about it, the more I’m thinking Firefox 1.0 is very ambitious. It’s a worthwhile goal, but I think it’s being rushed slightly. Leading to people being very loose with the knives and willing to cut things out. So far victims include the ever so popular offline mode, and now everyone’s favorite (and as Daniel Glazman points out required) CSS switcher. Those spared from the knife have been the JS console and the Mozilla Lizards Gonads (the gonads is rumored from good sources, but so far the bug is set as a protected bug so we can’t view it).

Mozilla needs offline mode. It’s crucial to laptop users. It’s an extremely popular thing, especially in the workplace. If we are going to expect businesses to adopt Mozilla for more security (than IE), and deploy it to all their users. We need to parity the popular features. Offline Mode being one of them. This is used all the time by office workers with laptops. This will block corporate adoption of 1.0 by most potential converts.

Then we have the CSS switcher. An extremely popular tool. Something many bloggers (who are a big contributor to promoting Firefox) have been raving about, since it lets them theme their site. Now we are pulling that out from under them, right before we really need everyone to kick up the effort to promote Firefox. Then of course it’s mandatory in CSS2.

I’m not questioning the Mozilla Foundation as much as the timeline itself. If such popular and necessary features are removed from 1.0, is it really worth calling it a production worthy release? Or should we have another development cycle, then do a beta, public beta, and release. I’m personally of the opinion the extra time would do better than the premature release. I’ve mentioned this before when I first saw this problem manifest. I’m fearing a Netscape 6 style release.

Firefox is a great product, and very worthy of trying if you haven’t yet.

But I’d question calling it 1.0, and telling people it’s a production worthy product prematurely.

It’s tough to make a good first impression the second time around.


Freeipods Pt 2: My Offer Completed

Well, I completed my offer, and according to, I’m just 5 friends away from having an iPod. So if you want a free iPod (and help me get one). I think you should read the next line:

So who wants to take a stab and help their buddy Rob out?

I first mentioned this last week.

This is part of a multi-part story: First Post | Next


I’m glad I’m not the only one

Benjamin Smedberg, Daniel Glazman, Henrik Gemal, Michael Kaply also appear to be part of ‘the resistance’ (can’t beat the nerdy name).

View Source and JS Console are needed. Especially view source. This wouldn’t be a wise move.


Freeipods Pt 1: Free iPod

It’s apparently legitimate according to

So want a free iPod (and use me as a referrer helping your humble reporter get one of his own?

Click Here

Then just signup. There are several offers that look easy to complete, such as signing up for a credit card, or trying AOL. Just signup and cancel in a few days. No bills, no mess, no fuss. If you like the product/service. Perhaps keep it. Signing up for AOL takes a few minutes and doesn’t even require a credit card. Signing up for a credit card is something people do daily for a free t-shirt, so nothing new there.

Then get 5 of your friends to signup for you…. and you’ve apparently earned a free iPod according to

Interesting eh?

This is part of a multi-part story: First Post | Next