Archive for October, 2006

Crimes against HTML: Best practise and the CMS

I’ve been evaluating some content-management systems recently. We’ve got a few requirements that rule out a lot of them straight off: It’s got to be a .net system, be able to run over SSL and be very secure, have decent versioning, document management, audit trails and so on. There aren’t many products out there quite fit our needs.

We’re currently working with one (I’m not going to name names here) which has a document management component that looks something like this:


It’s a simple tree-view that works very similarly to Windows Explorer. Believe it or not, to build that simple box they’ve used twelve nested tables, a div, a span, endless inline styles, javascript: URIs and even a made-up HTML attribute (view the full horror). Even if you don’t know HTML, you can see that it’s overkill. Apart from one on the outer-most element, it’s lacking any useful IDs or class-names for me to hook into with my style-sheet.

I know I’m a mark-up purist, but really that’s just taking the piss. Accessibility? Search-engine friendliness? Page load-time optimisation? Nope, never heard of them. It’s alright though, it does AJAX.

It’s no wonder that so many corporate web-sites have appalling mark-up when this is the state of the default output from the “enterprise level” CMS products that drive them. If web standards and best practise are going to go truly mainstream, we’re going to have to reach out to the developers of these products and nudge them in the right direction.

I’ll leave you with this exerpt from Bruce Lawson & Patrick Lauke’s talk at the multipack’s Geek in the Park event:

Legal & General… made their site accessible because they were worried about the legal risk.

And they found as side effects: 30% increase in natural search engine traffic, a significant improvement in Google rankings for all their target keywords, a 75% reduction in time for pages to load, accessible to mobile devices, their time to manage content reduced from an average of five days to half a day per job, they saved £200,000 a year on site maintenance, they got a 95% increase in visitors getting a life insurance quote (which was the purpose of that site), a 90% increase in sales online, and 100% return on investment in 12 months. And that was the side effects of making the site accessible.

London Buses

Firefox 2 Microsoft aren’t the only ones releasing a new browser this week.

Mozilla have stepped up and released Firefox 2, the latest version of their browser. A built-in spell-checker and protection against fraudulent & malicious web-sites are amongst the new features.

If you already use Firefox, the built-in update system should let you know about the download shortly (if it hasn’t already). If you aren’t you really ought to give it a go — Grab a copy from

The dead leaves and the dirty ground

Say good bye to the summer, autumn’s here with a vengeance.

Myself and Weon had a fairly typical autumnal ride. We encountered everything from blazing sunshine to torrential rains with howling winds chucked in for good measure. The leaves carpeting the ground made navigating some of the unfamiliar trails an interesting exercise in guesswork. They were all still on the trees the last time I was there. Still, we didn’t get lost at all.

We blasted down dry hard-packed single-track and ploughed through axle-deep bogs. We sheltered from the weather in a forest and ate cake, fruit and chocolate. We wheel-span up slick wet grass hillsides and picked our way down rocky technical descents that had us shouting expletives as the bikes misbehaved beneath us. We kept riding until we were both completely and utterly exhausted.

It added up to about 30 mainly off-road miles all in all. I feel a bit broken now, but with that satisifed “I did good stuff today” feeling. Rocking.

I really should have cleaned the bike when I got back.

Heads Up: Internet Explorer 7 is here

Just a quickie to note that Microsoft have released Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP. Get it while it’s hot!

This will be pushed out via Windows Update in the next few weeks, though it’ll be a non-crititcal as a high-priority update for now. IE7 will not install without asking first. More information on the IE Blog.

[Thanks to Andrew Disley for the tip-off]

Nah, those things never happen to me

Matt’s not the only one who’s had their credit card used fraudulently recently.

I had a phone-call from Barclaycard this morning to inform me that my card had been used for some bizarre transactions over the past few days and ask if it was me. I’ve not used it for ages, so it came as something of a surprise.

They started out by buying a bus ticket over the internet. When that went through, they tried for a few big purchases. Big red lights flashed and klaxons sounded at the Barclaycard Fraud Investigation Department bunker (I guess because I rarely use the card) and thankfully, they declined most of it.

They’ve cancelled the card and are sending me some forms to fill in. It’s a good job they phoned me, or I probably wouldn’t have noticed until the next statement came through in about a month’s time.

So keep an eye on your card statements. You never know who else might be buying things on your behalf…

Pink for October

I’m a bit late to the party here, but what the hell.

Inspired by Phu, Anton and Matthew, I’ve turned this site ever so subtly Pink for October (you might need to hit refresh), in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Mmm, garish.