The Web Standards Project Book Initiative

Still recovering from my month-long World Tour (more on that later) which wrapped up in Austin for the annual SXSW Interactive conference. This, I believe, is my fifth year attending SXSW, but it was the first year I didn’t speak, which was a decision I made to let me enjoy more of the conference.

One thing I enjoy is the annual Web Standards Project meeting as it’s usually as much of a Who’s Who as the first one, which I think was the largest Web design and development braintrust ever assembled. (You probably won’t see something like that anytime soon.)

3rd Annual Web Standards Project Meeting

During this year’s meeting, The Web Standards Project took ideas and questions from the audience, and announced the Street Team’s bookmark initiative:

How many outdated web design and development books are lurking in your local library, school or college, waiting to corrupt an innocent mind? Want to warn the unsuspecting of these hazardous materials while encouraging librarians to update their shelves? Join the WaSP Street Team by downloading and printing copies of these bookmarks (PDF 3.4MB). Then place these bookmarks in harmfully outdated books.

On the bookmark is a link pointing containing a list of recommend books that The Web Standards Project have approved. 

I’m happy to note that included on the list are two of my recent books: CSS Cookbook and Adapting to Web Standards. Also, all the books on the list are located on Design Library site, which also include books I also personally recommend.

So, if you’ve got an outdated Web design book or, if you happen to be going to a local library, take a few bookmarks with you and check out their Web design books. 

Train the Trainer Swag Prep

Train the Trainer Swag Prep

Molly E. Holzschlag’s free Train the Trainer program is a small, focused gathering for those who are in education, technology training, or work with a company where they can provide in-depth training for their teams.

Topics include HTML, XHTML and CSS technology principles as well as project management ideas, code reviews and one-on-one time. And let’s not forget the free swag, too! 

The swag packages include a free copy of Microsoft’s Expression Web software, IE7 water bottle and stickers, a copy of CSS for Designers, a copy of Transcending CSS, and a copy of the CSS Cookbook.

All in all, it comes out to over $500 dollars in free stuff. 

Not too bad for a free workshop, eh? 

Thanks to Microsoft,, PeachPit and O’Reilly for sending us the karma points to pass onto others.

Training the Trainer (T*t) in Tucson

Molly and Christopher

It’s not every day a well-known, highly regarded Web professional gives away their hard-earned knowledge and precious time for free. Nonetheless, that’s what my good friend, Molly E. Holzschlag, is doing in her Train the Trainer (T*t) workshop series.

For almost every weekend starting in mid-September and ending in October, Molly is hosting six educators for the free two-day workshop in Tucson, Arizona.

If you happen to get one of the 24 golden tickets to her workshop, you’re a lucky one as the workshop itinerary is impressive:

  • Day One
    • HTML & XHTML intensive. Principles, best practices, issues of concern
    • Lunch discussion: Open discussion of issues and concerns to group
    • CSS Theory Part I
  • Day Two
    • CSS Theory Part II, contemporary design considerations
    • Lunch discussion: Open discussion of issues and concerns to group
    • Standards workflow, SEO, basic Accessibility, intro to Microformats
    • Dinner and drinks at a local Sonoran Mexican restaurant including vegan & vegetarian as well as a wide range of other options

On the last T*t workshop that takes place October 27–28, I’m flattered to aid Molly in presenting my talk on IE7 and CSS, “Releasing CSS: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love IE7”.

Also, I’m looking forward to the lunch discussions where I hope I won’t make the participants poorer by giving them my two cents regarding any Web design or development questions or concerns they might have.

For more information, check out Molly’s post about Training the Trainer.

Hope to see you there!

Who’s In the Mix?

MIX07 Graphix

I’m packing up and getting ready to head to Las Vegas for Microsoft’s MIX07, dubbed a 72-hour conversation with “some of the most successful and innovative practitioners on the Web”.

This is the first time I’m attending. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this event after hearing about last year’s event. 

Anyone else planning on attending? 

SXSW07: Using RSS for Marketing

After four years of attending SXSW Interactive, one picks up certain habits or routines. For me, one routine is to shy away from panels or presentations that would tell me what I already know and seek out interesting panel(s) that I wouldn’t normally attend. 

Last year’s Second Life panel blew me away and gave me insight into a different Internet culture that I didn’t know was happening on the Internet. 

This year I ducked into the Using RSS for Marketing panel. I already know what RSS is, but are people really using it for marketing? If so, in what ways?

Of the panels I saw this year (which, granted, weren’t as many as I would have liked) this was the one was the most well-paced, information-packed. 

Below are my notes from the panel. 

Using RSS for Marketing

  • How do you go about explaining RSS to your clients? 
    • It depends on the type of client. 
      • Individuals
      • Tech startups
      • Fortune 500 companies
    • Everyone wants to deliver information to their audience faster
    • A direct information stream that goes to your audience, whether they realize the technology behind it
    • It’s about the benefit for your users and efficiency for your company
    • It doesn’t matter what you call it. Refrain from the “b” word: blog
  • What stopped talking about RSS, but talk about what we can do. 
    • What is the RSS adoption rate?
    • Growth rate is accelerating
    • Don’t have data on what applications people are using for Internet Explorer 7 for Windows
    • People don’t know they are using RSS
    • Our clients getting information in a lot of different ways
    • It’s been mainstream for a while now
    • What we saw last year was a spike from a non-tech sector, the automative sector, mostly hobbyists of cars
    • When Google Reader went live and MS’s IE7, saw a huge spike in usage of the RSS
  • Is the “RSS” term that the average person needs to know? 
    • It’s about subscribing to content
    • Content is coming to us now. RSS is about plumbing. No one has to care
    • It’s a part under the hood of the car that works. No one knows how
    • RSS can almost be an API for anyone’s Web site
  • What are using RSS for? 
    • Use it as a listening tool
    • Real-time gathering of news
    • You can still build a feed, but there’s this big cloud of content 
      • Take a piece of this content from this cloud and put some of it in your Web site
      • It lends credibility to you and your site
      • Host that conversation.
    • Become a thought leader in the topic
    • Ford is creating Web sites for their auto show 
      • They are sending someone to cover what’s happening in the auto industry
    • Use RSS for your news articles 
    • Automatic product feed updates, job listings, marketing surveys
    • Whatever you are doing with your marketing, you need to measure it
    • Having themed content along with JavaScript-powered RSS feeds
    • There are new products coming out that will search within feeds
    • Multiplying your own RSS feeds on your own Web site 
      • There are million tools out there that will take any RSS feed and put it on your site
      • Google is rapidly indexing all feeds
  • What are publishers doing wrong? 
    • They are doing everything right! (Laughter.)
    • Figure out what is the magic number of items in their feed 
      • Data we found is that there isn’t much of a difference between full feeds vs summary feeds
      • Both types of feeds show that people are coming back to your site
      • Don’t be stingy with your content
    • Don’t be too fancy 
      • Secure your feed, if you want. Use HTTP authentication
      • Don’t try a secret URL, since it doesn’t work. Google will find it and index it
    • It’s a widget called “Add This” to subscribe
    • Use auto-discovery and get people using RSS 
      • Having someone subscribing use RSS is more valuable than an email subscriber
    • Start off each headline with your company name, like AP does 
      • If your feed gets syndicated, people will be able to see your company name
    • Don’t get fancy with your formating 
      • Since you don’t know which device your feed will appear: mobile devices, browsers, email applications, etc.
  • Question(s) from the Audience 
    • What kind of publishing schedule should someone have? 
      • If you’re publishing, your schedule should be consistent. Whether it’s once-a-day or once-a-week
      • If you are doing product updates, as least once a month

Any New Surprises?

If you attended SXSW Interactive this year, I would love to hear what panel you fond to be the biggest surprise.

SXSW07: Unleashing CSS

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love IE7
Originally uploaded by chasingfun.

It’s only the first day of SXSW Interactive 2007 and you can tell how popular this event has become over the last few years. Thankfully, I had the pleasure of talking earlier today regarding CSS and IE 7 to a sizable portion of the largest SXSW Interactive conference I’ve every seen. 

The slides from the talk, “Unleashing CSS: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love IE7″, are available as a PDF (~2MB).

In my talk, which was shortened for time, I glossed over the finer details of IE7 and some CSS tricks. If you would like to know more about the talk, please take a look at my ebook, Releasing CSS, available from O’Reilly. In the ebook I go through some of the main points I made in my talk as well as cover the basics of the new things one can do in IE7.

WebVisions 2006

Last week I had the privilege of speaking at WebVisions in Portland. It was my first time at WebVisions and Oregon as well. What impressed me with the conference was the breadth of expertise that was present for such an intimate two-day conference nestled in the beautiful landscape.

As requested, you can download the slides from presentation. These aren’t the exact same slides I showed. I revised them slightly during one of my worst flights on Delta. 

For those who don’t know, I’m 6′7″. I didn’t get an exit row on a midnight flight back home and the dude in front of me reclined his seats into my knees for the next four hours. Instead of seething hatred at a fellow man, I attempted to put that energy into somewhat practical use. Thank goodness for laptops.

While I wasn’t happy about the trip back, I am happy to report that one of my predications from my talk came true. Less than a week after my presentation the announcement came out: Microsoft to Push IE 7 via Automatic Updates.

Does this mean you need to drop everything you are doing and test your web site right now? Honestly, I wouldn’t. For a couple of reasons. One is that even with the next version coming soon, we are still talking about unreleased software. The other reason? Well, if you were in my presentation, you’d know.

After my presentations, I always like it when people come up and talk to me. Not because I usually remember to brush my teeth, but because I like to help people solve web problems if I can. This recent time, however, I felt bad that I couldn’t solve one particular person’s problem on the spot. 

On the very long flight back, I gave some more thought to the problem and quickly whipped up a solution to How to Keep Content within a Second Column Vertically Center in Relation to the First Column. As proof that I’m not quick on my feet, the solution is an easy one: shackling.

What’s Shackling? It’s a term I use for absolute positioning a block level element within the context of relative positioned parent element. And let’s face it, that’s a mouthful. 

To check out the fix, see the solution. Of the two readers I have on my blog, I hope the person that asked about the problem is one of them.

For those that stayed towards the end of the talk, I put on display a little demo that wasn’t IE7 compatible, but I think is cool nonetheless. Combining pseudo-classes :hover on block level elements and :target, it’s a page that was put together so I could test some of IE7’s capabilities. When the test was created, I was excited by the over hype of IE7 that I actually thought it would handle CSS3 selector. Sadly, IE7 fails :target, but the presentation degrades gracefully so the CSS can be applied without having to worry about IE wonkiness. Try it in Firefox or Safari and then in IE for fun and profit.

Lastly, I want to give my thanks to Brad, the whole crew at Hot Pepper Studios and Nick for putting on a good conference. It’s one of the best.

Meet Me in Oregon

In July, I’ll be at WebVisions 2006 in Oregon. WebVisions explores the future of design, content creation, user experience and business strategy to uncover the trends and agents of change. My talk will cover CSS and what Internet Explorer 7 for Windows means for web developers:

Unleashing CSS: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love WinIE7
With the advent of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7, web designers can use more advanced CSS design techniques to a larger audience than ever before. In this panel, attendees will learn about CSS techniques that impossible to do under previous browsers to ride the next wave of web page designs for modern browsers.