The Way It’s Supposed to Work

by Erin Kissane

60 Reader Comments

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  1. I don’t like it. It seems too much like those “Beta” warnings that are getting popular on websites and software. Please, only use the sign on articles that are use code so obviously experimental/controversal it’s redundant. (Kind of like a sign of the road ending into a body of water.) People realize that things aren’t always perfect and updates will happen, new features will be added, and existing bugs be worked out.

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  2. It is to bad Erin that you have to explain:
    C-o-n-t-e-x-t
    and
    S-c-o-p-e
    The second word or concept seems very hard for people to grasp. Please don’t pull any punches for me. I like getting hit between the eyes.

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  3. It’s a great idea and the only reason ALA need to do it is because these boards get filled with argument for argument sake.  Any developer who has any talent and lives by the standards mantra obviously knows that a small sacrifice of correct markup may be neccessary (and ultimately worth it) to achieve a slick effect on their site that may not be possible through other, standards-compliant methods.

    It’s the folks who read these articles who have made it neccessary for ALA to do this.  I support their move so we can return to balanced discussion about the approach rather than the technique.

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  4. I suspect the warning graphic is not intended so much as to give a warning that the content of the article is controversial and experimental, more as a plea to people not to post “this article is controversial and experimental” comments in the discussion pages!

    ALA is sensible enough to realise that the readers are sensible enough to know when to apply the techniques.  The whole purpose is to stop the flames, not to give a content warning.

    Clever!

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  5. Hi.
    I just want to notify that on my machine (winXP SP1, tft monitor) the font now used for the article is no more clearly legible. I had to disable css in order to properly read the text (in Times New Roman)…

    BTW, I often found that the comments to the articles are useful and interesting as the original article. I think they are the very “plus” offered by “A List Apart”.

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  6. Good idea that will save a few fires and also help out those starting out in css design etc and come here for information and inspiration. I was one of those and probably still am, but the icon will help check enthusiasm v reality. Great site.

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  7. we get the first two wacky installments next week? :-D – can’t wait

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  8. I understand what you are trying to do with the graphic. I like the fact that as always you are reading users feedback and trying to provide a good solution to the problem.

    However, as a personal aside, i feel as if it seems people dont understand how to use a bit of common sense when needed. Just because an example of a new technique is published on here, doesnt mean we should all rush out tmrw and build every website using it. If the reader decides this is a viable option for them to use on an existing project, or one in the future, then they can apply it. If they dont think it viable then dont.

    The web is about variation and personal application of problems/solutions. Sharing them is how we move forward, but that doesnt mean i believe everything i read, that would make me pretty gullible…….

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  9. You made an icon to warn of experimental techniques, and you made it a GIF

    Surely it should be a PNG with alpha transparency to make it more semantically correct! ;)

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  10. I think this idea is wonderful. I love to experiment, but I’m not the most creative person, so coming up with ideas with which to experiment is sometimes hard. This will definitely help me out in my bored times, and perhaps give me some new techniques as well.

    Great job ALA.

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  11. Good points in this article and I like others above me look forward to more unity in our community and less ego grandstanding.  The amount of talent/love and resources we have collectively is and has been enough to change the course of the web, and will continue if we roll together.

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  12. >the font now used for the article is no more clearly legible.

    I agree with De Rosa, and in my opinion the new icon is funny and useful, I like it. :)

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  13. Hopefully this will reduce needless coronary problems. I doubt it will reduce pontificating however, since pontificators tend to enjoy the sound of their own typing. I know I do.

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  14. Yes, as of Issue 191. Just look at the style sheet:

    http://www.alistapart.com/c/ala.css

    The primary face is now Avenir (for those who have it).

    If you don’t have Avenir but do have Lucida Grande (which comes with all Mac OS X systems), that’s what you’ll see.

    Or you’ll see Lucida, which comes with some *Nix and Windows setups.

    Or you’ll see Verdana. Jeepers, just about everybody has Verdana. Verdana is also the closest match to Avenir. It comes later in the list, not because Lucida is more like Avenir than Verdana, but because Lucida is a fresher choice. Verdana is so widespread (and I’m one of 50,000 people who helped make it that way) that it almost disappears, as if no face was chosen. That’s why I put Lucida before it in the list.

    If you don’t have Avenir, Lucida, or Verdana, the next choices in order are Bitstream Vera Sans, Arial, Helvetica, and finally, generic sans.

    No one should have a bad reading experience given that list of fonts in that order. No one.

    I can imagine only one scenario to account for the problem two readers have reported.

    Namely, if those readers had a bad, cheap pressing of Avenir installed on a crappy system (a system with no antialiasing), or if they had bitmaps for Avenir but no Postscript or Truetype files for Avenir, then I guess they might have a bad viewing experience. (But what web professional would have bitmaps of Avenir but no Postscript or Truetype version?)

    The solution would be to use your font management software to turn off your bad copy of Avenir.

    Then you’ll see the site in Lucida or Verdana or some other very common font.

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  15. In the ideal world I guess you wouldn’t need a warning because most people reading ALA would realize that the technique is experimental or a hack.  But unfortunately we don’t live in the ideal world I guess.  So, I guess the warning is a good idea.

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  16. “We’re going to keep publishing articles on accessibility, usability, information architecture, client relations, project management, and – oh yeah, plug-and-play, standards-compliant XHTML, CSS, and scripting innovations.”

    THANK GOD

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  17. Welcome to our trivial society and “good on you, ALA” to protect your hard work!

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  18. Hear! Hear!

    Good collaboration involves debate, and therefore we should celebrate our differences in opinion. However, the Discuss forums on ALA often spiral out of control, losing sight of the article and instead focusing on whether or not we all agree.

    The fact of the matter is that we do not all agree, and we should not all agree. No technique is going to please every reader.

    Nice work, ALA.

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  19. Refer to
    http://www.alistapart.com/discuss/wayitssupposedtowork/5/#c9900 .

    A reader reported that his new Dell system showed LUCIDA HANDWRITING instead of the specified font (LUCIDA SANS).

    Obviously most Windows users saw Lucida or Verdana, or we would have heard an outcry last week when we changed the text font. But clearly at least a few readers were stuck looking at a script font for the body face. That wasn’t acceptable, so we’ve deleted Lucida Sans from the list of fonts in ALA’s screen style sheet.  Windows users who don’t have Avenir will see Verdana.

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  20. It never hurts to make abundantly clear the aims of the ALA website – even though most of us users already know what ALA is all about. Great site, keep up the stimulation.

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  21. ALA is brilliant, it has really helped me, and I have honestly found it the be the most useful resource on the net.. 
    ALA is taking steps forward with design – even if the technique is new or not fully understood yet, not stepping back because it isnt ‘safe’ yet
    Anyone who flames ALA doesnt understand that this is what its about..

    Long live ALA!

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  22. If you’re showing that nifty warning icon using version 2.1c of Doug Farmerville’s sPTrF CSS background image replacement technique so I can still see it when I read ALA using the JAWS emulator on my Palm Pilot, then I’m all for it.

    But if you’re just going to use a regular IMG tag, I swear to God I’m out of here.

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  23. A nice pretty iconic disclaimer i would say. And works fine for me too, as it will for every other ala frequent flyer! It’s been a pleasure returning to your site always. From the soothing background, breathable space, controllable text to the way comlicated stuff is made to sound easy, yep, you’ve got it all covered.

    Forgive me for saying this, but while i see the new icon a help for most Ala users, I am not sure whether it would really serve it’s purpose to intermediate or relatively new users (who obviously will keep coming back because it was love at frst sight!).

    I suppose the text on the right of the icon will be included and should help but in some cases (especially to new users), they might just not know what to make of it. Could be bit of a confusion. Probably a line of text below the icon should clear things out, but then again, it might defeat the purpose of having an icon. Or maybe the ‘alt’ tag could be more desriptive so as to convey the message clearly.

    Personally, i love the icon, but i’ve been reading so much about accessibility and usability recently ( thanx to you guys for the   former!), i thought i should share my thought with you guys.

    Once again, thanx for being my favourite resource ever and even though it’s kinda late, a happy new year to all of ya!

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  24. Yeah, what better way to show ALA’s always exquisite balance between a grounding on terra firma and being off the deep end! A quick and easy way to know we’re in for a brain stretch that may not validate now, but perhaps later from the sum total of ALA’s readers’ “collective conscience” feedback. And,  since all life as we know it depends on water, I say “let’s take the plunge!” Great idea!

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  25. Really looking forward to this.

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  26. this + the “invitation to relax” most definately = the “way it’s supposed to work”, in my book. fuck puritanism. word all that. thank you guys!

    -fish

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  27. I’m in favor of providing as much as possible contextual information to readers. Your idea can work pretty well using a small icon with the attribute title set to “Warning – Experimental …”

    Extending your idea you could use a div with a slightly different background or border and the small icon. Labeling only parts of an article.

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  28. Somebody has probably answered this question before, but why is the ALA ‘code’ font so small in IE? 

    View screenshot.

    Thanks,
    Mark

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  29. Whoops, I guess my little html tags didn’t format my message. :P

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  30. >>Somebody has probably answered this question before, but why is the ALA ‘code’ font so small in IE?

    It’s not.

    It’s small in your browser because you’ve set your browser’s preferences to display monospaced fonts in a small size.

    See also:
    http://www.alistapart.com/qa/#question19

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