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27 Not to be Missed Web Development Articles - May 2008

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This is the first edition of the monthly post that collects not to be missed articles from around the web that relates to web development. The amount of articles may vary from month to month but the quality will never.

This month we cover topics such as Ajax, RIA, CSS, JavaScript, various tutorials and much, much more. Enjoy!


Simplified Database Management in Spring-based Hibernate Unit Tests

I've been working with Hibernate recently, and needed a way to implement good unit tests. The goal of these unit tests is to make sure the Java code works in conjunction with the Hibernate mapping files. I found an excellent article on using HSQLDB to do unit testing of Hibernate classes on The Server Side.

Performance Ajax tools

Wasting server resources can impact the performance of Ajax applications, resulting in excessive HTTP requests, high memory consumption, and the need for an unusual amount of polling to make applications work. Regular developerWorks author Judith Myerson suggests some open source tools and Firefox add-ons you can use to improve or solve problems with your Ajax applications.

Develop Ajax applications like the pros, Part 1: Using the Prototype JavaScript library and script.aculo.us

If you're developing Web applications these days, then you're doing Ajax development. Ajax is no longer something unusual that you add to your applications in special cases. It has become an integral part of Web development. To some, enhancing applications with Ajax used to be a tricky proposition. Cross-browser limitations to deal with, writing a lot of complicated JavaScript, and learning about magic numeric codes within that JavaScript were just a few of the challenges facing Ajax developers. Thankfully, several open source JavaScript libraries are available now to make things much easier. In this first article in a three-part series, you will create an Ajax application for managing songs using the Prototype JavaScript library and script.aculo.us.

Air, Flex & Flash

Parallax Gallery

In this tutorial, you will learn how to make a Flash parallax scrolling gallery from scratch. Parallax scrolling is frequently used in most 2D animation and games, where the background images and foreground images scroll at different rate of speed. This will create an illusion of depth as the background images are moving slower than the foreground images.

An Absolute Beginner's Tutorial On Flex 3

With Web users expecting richer and more complex interfaces, Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) are seeing a huge increase in popularity. Adobe Flex is the tool of choice for many web developers when it comes to building RIAs.


Introduction to CSS3 - Part 6: Backgrounds

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) offer a way of keeping content and design elements separate. Because this separation allows us to include more meaningful content on each page, Web sites designed with CSS often provide their owners with significant advantages over Web sites designed with the older table based techniques.

CSS Decorative Gallery

Did you like my previous CSS tutorial on how to create gradient text effects? I'm using the same trick to show you how to decorate your images and photo galleries without editing the source images. The trick is very simple. All you need is an extra <span> tag and apply a background image to create the overlaying effect. It is very easy and flexible — see my demos with over 20 styles, from a simple image icon to a rounded corner to a masked layer (both decorative and complex).

Starting with CSS and bug fixing tips

I receive a lot of e-mail per day and some of them are from people who want my help on CSS or if I know why certain things don't work or show up in IE 6 or 7 etc. If I could help fix their problem? In a lot of cases I need to e-mail back that the code they're using is full of errors and that they're using old school techniques (tables for layout), inline styling etc. So the first tip here is, learn about Web Standards and learn about coding with CSS for layout.

Tomorrow's CSS Today: 8 Techniques They Don't Want You To Know

With all the hype over new and upcoming browser support for advanced CSS features, developers can be confused about the CSS they can include in web projects today. Many of the more advanced features aren't widely supported by the dominant browsers, but some very useful ones are – including newer features from CSS3.

Web Typography: Tell Me What You Want

A few weeks ago, while at the W3C CSS Work Group Face-To-Face meeting in San Diego, I volunteered, to be the advocate for several of the CSS 3 Modules. For the third version of Cascading Style Sheets, the Work Group had decided that, rather than trying to release one big document, they would release the CSS 3 specification in smaller modular chunks. As an advocate for parts of the overall CSS 3 specifications, I work to push my chosen modules through from a working draft to a full blown recommendation. It's kind of like taking a bill through the US Congress, only with more transparency.

CSS Reflections in WebKit

WebKit now supports reflections in CSS. Continuing the trend of using adorable baby photos to make features appear more impressive, let me introduce Kate again.

Don't Be Afraid of Serif Fonts

As the practice of Web design ages, some common rules and "best practices" inevitably embed themselves in the craft. Among these are the processes for using specific types of semantics when coding your site, like using divs as hooks in your X/HTML for your CSS, and making your page beautiful and functional that way. Another is to ensure readability of your site by choosing a proper number of fonts (generally, no more than three or four, and for the minimalist, one or two). More important than that is the type of font you choose.

View Source: Make Your Links Unforgettable

Most Web usability books (for example, Steve Krug's excellent Don't Make Me Think) emphasize that the less you make a visitor think and work, the more likely they'll visit, enjoy, and benefit from your site. The typical HTML link is one of those things that make visitors work – a single linked word, for example, is a small target that requires good aim to hit. That's one of the reasons Web designers make navigation bars with buttons that are larger than the text inside them.


Meet the JavaScript Development Toolkit

The JavaScript Development Toolkit (JSDT) is an open source plug-in that brings robust JavaScript programming tools to the Eclipse platform. JSDT streamlines development, simplifies code, and increases productivity for pure JavaScript source files and JavaScript embedded in HTML. JavaScript development isn't easy. Uneven Web browser compatibility, disappointing documentation, and weak tools compound the problem. Fortunately, the tools situation brightened with the latest release of the JavaScript Development Toolkit (JSDT), a plug-in set for Eclipse.

Learning jQuery: Working with Events, part 2

In my last article, I described the common problem of events seemingly ceasing to work for new elements added to a document, whether by some form of ajax or by DOM modification. We examined one way to overcome the problem: Event Delegation. With event delegation, we bind the event handler to a containing element that remains in the DOM and then check for the target of the event.

Easiest Tooltip and Image Preview Using jQuery

I love jQuery and the way it makes developer's life easier. Although it took me a while to accept it and I still prefer to write my own stuff, I can't deny its advantages. Recently I had a project that demanded a rollover image preview. You know, one of those tooltip-like bubble popups that appears when you roll over link or a thumbnail. Since we were already using jQuery on that project I decided to take it easy and investigate what can be done with that extraordinary library. So I came up with a script so simple it hurts! The best thing yet is that it can be applied for a variety of purposes. Today I will show you 3 examples of using the same very, very simple script.

inputEx — a YUI-based Forms Utility

Parisian coder Eric Abouaf (aka "Neyric") released version 0.1.0 of his YUI-based forms library, inputEx. As of this release, inputEx supports only client-side-generated views — form fields are configured in a JSON format and created for you on the fly. Eric identifies the following unique features in inputEx

Web Development

Introducing fleXive - A Complementary Approach to Java EE 5 Web Development

The daily bread and butter of an architect or developer dealing with web applications usually consists of a great many repetitive tasks. These start with setting up a development environment, choosing and downloading libraries (or let tools like Maven download them), creating basic build scripts, and wiring up all necessary components. After some time a naked skeleton for a web application is ready and waiting for further coding. While these steps are easy and can be efficiently handled by automation tools, other tasks like managing users, choosing a viable form of persistence (file based, JDBC, Hibernate, JPA, etc.), and implementing security for your sensitive data will still require a lot more time and effort.


9 Common Reasons A Website Is Not Drawing Visitors

Building a successful website obviously involves attracting visitors to the site. There are any number of ways to draw visitors to your site, but if you're not having success it's important to know what is causing the problems. Here we'll take a look at 9 common reasons that websites aren't getting visitors, as well as what can be done to correct the issue.

SEO Guide for Designers

According to a poll I conducted, just over 1 out of 10 people don't think SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is mandatory as a designer; and what really surprised me is about 24% don't even know what SEO is! If you're among the quarter of people who don't know what SEO is or understand how it can help you, you should really read this article. This is an SEO guide for designers who want to learn about making it easier for websites or blogs to be found by search engines. I'll explain the common mistakes made by designers and developers. Then I'll provide some basic tips that you should be practicing to optimize your site for search engines.


Implement Semantic Web standards in your Web site

With Yahoo's recent announcement that they will implement support of Semantic Web standards in their search engine, the benefits that the Semantic Web has for your site have never been clearer. In addition to the existing benefits such as your structured content giving you a free, open-ended API, you now get the opportunity for increased search rankings, and more importantly, increased relevance because the search engine can better understand what the content of your site is about. In this tutorial you will learn to implement a simple social networking site using PHP and MySQL, which will implement Semantic Web standards such as hCard and Friend of a Friend (FOAF) as part of a semantic Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) scheme.

Process and integrate Google Notebook data with PHP

Google Notebook is a free service that allows users to save and share notes and Web clippings in an online journal. A REST-based API allows developers to build customized PHP applications around this service using SimpleXML. In this article, you learn how to use the API, with examples of reading notebooks and notebook contents using PHP.

Real Web 2.0: Practical linked, open data with Exhibit

In the previous installment of this column you learned about Linking Open Data (LOD), a community initiative for moving the Web from separated documents to a broad information space of data. That article covered the main ideas of LOD, and in this article you will see how to quickly put these ideas to use. Learn about the Exhibit Web library from the MIT Simile project, which allows you to construct functional and visually attractive user interfaces without much work, once you have good LOD available.


A Design is Finished when... 23 Pro Designers' Opinions

One of the most important and hardest things to overcome when designing is to understand when the piece you are designing on is actually finished. while creativity is sometime boundless the end result should always be the result of a clear objective, the end result. I often get caught between creativity and completion and from the emails I've received, I have discovered im not alone .So we asked the experts.

Debug and tune applications on the fly with Firebug

Why are your Web pages taking so long to load? Did you ever want to inspect or edit HTML while browsing? Tweak CSS instantly? In this article, learn to use Firebug, a free, open source extension for the Firefox browser that provides many useful developer features and tools. Using Firebug, you can monitor, edit, and debug live pages, including HTML, CSS, JavaScript code, and network traffic. Read on to learn how to speed up the tasks of debugging and tuning your Web and Ajax applications with Firebug.

Professional Web Design Forums

Web design-related forums are a place where you interact with other designers, exchange ideas or discuss your first drafts. When you have a problem, you can post the issue, and then receive feedback on possible design or coding solutions from community members. This interaction is a great way to establish contacts and build relationships. Forums are used for networking and marketing purposes. They are practical places to solve problems and can serve as a form of social diversion.

100 Killer Web Accessibility Resources: Blogs, Forums and Tutorials

Have you kept up with the Target lawsuit lately? In 2006, a blind student filed suit against the online retail Target presence because he couldn't gain access to the site. The code and layout prohibited him from entry. That lawsuit didn't go away, despite the fact that little has been written about it. This month, a Scott Bradner at NetworkWorld wrote that Target's appeal was denied in a Baltimore court this year and sentiment seemed against this retail giant in its bid to qualify for exemption from Web site accessibility.

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