Multiple file upload and the abuse of buzzwords

Posted by Tim Wed, 28 Sep 2005 13:59:00 GMT

Stickman has posted a cool DOM-scripted multiple form upload and, of course, through no fault of his, commentors are assumming it must be AJAX, since it’s on the web and it’s new and cool. PPK has talked about this issue before but it looks like calling everything “AJAX” really is spreading to even geek bloggers watching web development (it’s only in the talkbacks, so far) who you would hope would be Marketing-ese proof.

Now, we’ve got nothing against AJAX, it’s a great technique that we like using, as appropriate, but this is DOM-scripting pure and simple. AJAX-like technologies have to do with how you handle the round trip to the server without reloading the page and, in this context, would look more like this (thanks to one of the other posters for the link). AJAX could be added onto Stickman’s work to just refresh the part of the page handling the upload, and something similar is used by Basecamp, already, to get around the multiple file upload another way.

Personally, I think what Stickman is doing is far cooler than AJAX, as he’s getting around a more fundamental browser limitation. What you can do with the HTML form upload control is severely restricted in browsers, largely for security reasons. For too long it’s been a basic assumption in web development that you might as well not try to do anything fancy with the form upload widget, since it’s fairly locked down. In fact, it’s still possible for the browser implementors to decide that hiding the widget is a potential security risk, and then this technique goes out the window. Until then, though, it’s useful to have in the toolbox, and even if it gets locked-out by some browsers in the future, it still gets us thinking about how to work around those limitations again.

Generally, I think the Basecamp approach of actually doing it through AJAX (similar to the “this” link above) would often be a better choice, as it allows more granular feedback and control. For instance they confirm each upload and then allow you to re-label it prior to sending a message off. This also avoids having to wait for one massive upload at the end, which might kill your whole message, instead of just the individual upload. Regardless, Stickman’s approach is still cool.

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Sketchy Design Choices: A+ Moments

Posted by Erin Moore Tue, 27 Sep 2005 23:53:00 GMT

Have you ever visited A+ Moments? It’s a blog devoted to web development and life in Serbia. We link to it in our sidebar. Take a look

The guy who writes this blog seems to be a very nice and very smart young man.

But really, does he need to have a supine woman plastered all over the site? Every time I visit, I feel like I’m visiting a cheap phone dating service.

It bugs me that we link to this; if it makes me uncomfortable, then I’m sure it makes other people feel the same way. But the guy has a lot of great things to say, so the link stands.

What do you think?

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Save Now?

Posted by Erin Moore Tue, 27 Sep 2005 05:08:00 GMT

When I want to save a draft in Gmail – which I rarely do – I have to hunt all over the page for the “Save” button, even though it’s plainly nestled between “Send” and “Discard.” Why is it so hard for me to find? Because Gmail uses the words “Save Now.” Not “Save.”

Why is this a big deal? Because people don’t read buttons. They read shapes. I’m looking for the shape of the word “save,” not the word itself. So when “Save” is followed by “Now,” (and really, why would I save it later?), it changes the button’s appearance enough that I skim over it.

Try it and see. Then read “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug and cut half the words out of your site.

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Spaces in typo categories cause problems

Posted by Tim Sun, 25 Sep 2005 23:05:00 GMT

For those others of you using typo, beware:

I noticed that our side-bar category links were working fine, but that links at the bottom of the article weren’t, so I went digging and found that in Typo’s ticketing system. It sounds like a fix was applied, then reverted. So until it’s finally resolved, I guess it’s either leave the links in at the bottom of the article broken, or don’t use spaces (neither of which appeals).

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High-class web development

Posted by Tim Sun, 25 Sep 2005 22:51:00 GMT

Tim: “Are you using inline styles for that?”

Tieg: “Ya, it seemed easier at the time.”

Tim: “Come-on, you have more class than that.”

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Cross-browser onDOMContentLoaded

Posted by Tim Sat, 24 Sep 2005 23:08:00 GMT

An elegant solution to the window.onload problem in Mozilla and IE.

Client-side developers have long been frustrated by the shortcomings of window.onload, namely that it takes too long before firing if you want to attach scripts to rework the DOM, yet you have to wait before the DOM is parsed before manipulating it.

The Greasemonkey chaps solved the problem in Mozilla Firefox by uncovering the proprietary DOMContentLoaded event. Now not solving the problem in all browsers would be acceptable, since the other browsers could fall-back to the late firing window.onload, but it’s unrealistic to consider a solution for general web use that doesn’t at least take care of 90% of the market (Windows IE).

Ever since the PPK mentioned something in his blog about a way to solve it in IE and Mozilla(maybe Safari) in the @media event entries a number of us have been very excited. We’ve been contemplating the best way to use this knowledge involving complicated schemes requiring behaviors in IE (.htc files) and waiting for the mysterious “more details to come”

Well, the details have arrived, and it seems to make most of the scripts to handle an early firing domloaded event moot. Dean Edwards has delivered an elegant solution to the window.onload problem in Mozilla and IE. If Safari/kthml, Opera, or any of the other browsers not covered by this are an important enough factor at your site, you might have to still think about an alternative like brothercake’s domFunction.

We’re going to just stick with Dean Edwards solution for now and call it good, though. Especially since, according to work done on the sIFR image replacement technique, Safari won’t layout the page properly until the images are loaded (read the 3rd comment). This means having Safari wait for the window.onload is actually a feature.

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Welcome to our Blog

Posted by Tim Thu, 01 Sep 2005 07:45:00 GMT

We’ve been doing cool stuff on the web for years with no where to post about it, but now welcome to our blog. After watching all the cool developments of the last year or two and discussing them on other people’s blogs I thought “why not have a blog of our own?”

This is on our our .org domain because it’s not strictly limited to our commercial business. We’ll be putting up pages soon for scripts/code/techniques we consider worth sharing, as well as posting our thoughts on happenings in the standards and web development worlds.

We won’t neccessarily open up all our code, because we have some incredibly awesome subscription-based services, ala Basecamp, coming up (I’m just bursting to tell everyone about them, if you couldn’t tell, but soon… soon….) but we’ll have cool stuff like the unobtrusive DOM-scripted image scroller, the graphical header generator, and other general-use libraries/utilities we’ve been working on.

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