Separation of structure, presentation and behavior

Though few are likely to have noticed, I have not been very active on the forum over the last couple of months. I started school in September, with accelerated classes in Linux installation and administration, and MySQL administration. The eighteen hours a week of lecture and lab, plus the reading, plumb wore me out. The second section started three weeks ago. The Apache administration class had insufficient enrollment and was canceled. That left only PHP. Thank gawd for that.

In the first three weeks, we have each installed our own Apache, MySQL and PHP from source. Plus, we have set up PEAR libs and installed the Smarty templating engine. Each class begins with a quiz on the previous lecture, and ends with a lab project based on the current lecture, plus we have an assignment related to the current week's studies. We will have finished the text by the end of the fifth week, and will spend the last three weeks on developing a web application. I suspect that it will be either a commerce site or something like a blog.

Browsers Released

Most of you should be aware that Microsoft have released IE7. You should also be aware that they plan start pushing it out through automatic updates from the beginning of November. So hopefully you have already added it to your list of browsers to test with. In a rather short time I expect IE7 will become more popular then IE6. Unfortunately we still wont be able to disregard IE6 for a very long time. I wonder how soon people will stop testing with IE5 or have you already.

While we are talking of browsers how can we not mention the final release of Firefox 2. After downloaded and installed Firefox 2, I am very pleased to discover that it has inbuilt spell checking. My spelling is atrocious, (I used spell checker on that one Wink), so to have an inbuilt spell checker to me is fantastic. Check out the list of other cool features in this release of Firefox.

An urban legend bites the dust--divs do not replace tables

Just to clear up a common misconception, one that seems to be at the root of every newcomer's approach to coding for standards, you do not use divs instead of tables. That's important enough to repeat, "you do not use divs instead of tables".

What do you use? You use well structured, semantic and well formed html instead of table layouts. A non-trivial table layout cannot be well structured nor semantic, though it can contain well formed (valid) html.

The div element is a non-semantic structural container that lets you form groupings of other, semantic, elements. Notice, I said elements. A div should never contain bare nekkid content, only elements.

IE7 CSS Changes

Markus Mielke has posted a long list of the changes made to IE7 on the IE7 Blog. There is a lot to get your head around so here is an overview with a couple of the highlights.

Most of the changes require IE7 to be in standards mode, so the site must have a valid standards compliant doctype.


  • Nearly all the IE bugs listed on Position is Everything have been fixed.

  • Hover works on all elements, great news for CSS menu's.

  • Min/max width and height is now supported.

Prettify your html, make me want to help you

I don't try to help everyone with their problem. It has to interest me, for one thing. Or, it has to be easy to spot the problem. The inverse is that if it's hard to make heads or tails of the markup, I'm likely to move on to the next post.

There are plenty of articles aimed at asking good questions, providing good information, having a good attitude, and et cetera. I'll be talking about some mechanical aspects.

This is the first of what should be two rants about formatting for ease of reading. This part deals with html formatting. Forget about so-called html optimization. The bandwidth savings due to squeezing out the white space, etc. are trivial compared to the savings you've already gained by dumping table based layout in favor of external stylesheets. What is not trivial is the importance of the code being easily read by the Mark I, Mod 0 human eyeballs.

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