The ideas book goes for a jaunt…

I have an ideas book, in which I write ideas that I have. Mainly ideas for web applications, as that’s what my brain seems to be in tune with currently, but eventually there may be ideas for other things in there as well. My ideas book is always never far away from me (it’s at my side as I write) and it will be coming with me next week as I journey on one of those mythical beasts, A Summer Holiday.

The fact that any semblence of summer weather has all-but disappeared round here is doing little to dampen my spirits, for our Holiday will be taken far from here, in (hopefully) warmer climes. And, whether it rains or shines, the fact that it will be several days of uninterrupted nothing-much-at-all with la inamorata will mean that it will be fantastic.

So don’t expect much writing from me for a week or so, although if I remember I’ll try to do a bit of mo-blogging (mobile blogging, blogging from a mobile device).

However I leave you with this thought from my ideas book: if you could have a website that did anything you wanted, what would you want it to do? Obviously we’re talking in the realms of possibility here – no flying you to Mars or giving you chocolate through your screen. Answers in the comments, please.

More on \"that\" redesign…

The A List Apart redesign has been causing comments. Most notably from John Oxton who wonders why they have stopped 800×600 resolution screens from using their site. Well, not stopped, but you know what I mean.

A few days ago I said “That, to my mind, is another large nail in the coffin of 800×600.”, and while it still is, should it be? As John says, there are less people using Safari and Opera than there are using 800×600 resolution, yet webheads jump through hoops to cater for them. Why not people with smaller screens?

And it’s a very good point, especially in view of the current discussions on accessibility and availability. To my mind it would surely be better to cater to as many browsers as possible, but provide added benefits to those with stong CSS support, larger resolutions etc. Graceful degredation, I think they call it.

So, maybe 800×600 isn’t dead yet.


It’s long, I won’t tell a lie, but it’s worth it. This essay by Paul Graham sets out some of the advantages of web applications over traditional desktop software, likening it to the last time there was a major revolution in software back in 1975 when a bloke called Bill Gates decided to start a little company.

In that essay he talks about the need for a simple, powerful, open source and free browser before web applications can truly go universal. That browser, I believe, is Firefox. The article was written in 2001, and it’s great to see how so many of the pieces Paul believed would need to be in place before the moving of software to the web could take place are there. Broadband, open browsers, sensible JavaScript support, more advanced display techniques and much more.

It’s a great read, and I’ll be working my way through his other articles shortly, especially the ones about startups.

(Honourable nods of the head to Kottke, who linked to this essay from his own treatise on the future of the web. That’s also well worth a read, and I may well be putting my thoughts down here about Google very soon.)

Jumping on the bandwagon…

Well, everyone else is doing it, so why can’t I? (I know an album nearly called that).

One of the biggest and most influential web design magazines has had a facelift, courtesy of golden boy Jason Santa Maria. It’s nice, very nice. Understated and classy, easy to navigate and only a snip away from validating perfectly.

However there are a few points that make it really special to me. Firstly is the hover underlines on titles – how do they get it to look so neat, multi-line titles underlines don’t cross over each other! Great stuff. Secondly there’s the fantastic use of serif fonts (as someone said recently, “serif is the new sans”). And thirdly, you need at least 1024×768 resolution to view it. That, to my mind, is another large nail in the coffin of 800×600.

Easy multi-word searching…

This SQL thing just keeps on getting better. After looking at the link I provided in my last post, I though that I could do something like that but which uses multiple tables and/or search words. Not particularly hard, I know, but very useful when it comes to databases that may or may not have full-text searching enabled.

Here’s the code:

select title, keywords
, (
ISNULL((len(title) - len(replace(title,'search1',''))) / len('search1'),0) +
ISNULL((len(keywords) - len(replace(keywords,'search1',''))) / len('search1'),0) +
ISNULL((len(title) - len(replace(title,'search2',''))) / len('search2'),0) +
ISNULL((len(keywords) - len(replace(keywords,'search2',''))) / len('search2'),0) +
) as occ
from table_name
title like '%search1%' or keywords like '%search1%'
title like '%search2%' or keywords like '%search2%'
order by occ desc

As you can see, it is pretty easy to use some simple string concatenation to loop a number of search words, and even loop several search fields as well. I will probably end up using this method to provide much better quality search results in almost every database search script I write. However there may well be a better way to do this, let me know if you use something different.