Classroom activity

I have long used card sorting with students as a method of organizing material for a new site. Now Boxes and Arrows: Card sorting: a definitive guide this guide appears to explain the technique. It is also a good method of sorting through the existing material on a badly organized site for a site makeover.

When all the students in a classroom sort and explain their thinking for a set of cards, you get some idea of what the results might be in a real-world situation where the salesmen, the managers, the programmers, and the support staff organize cards for a company site. It gives a dramatic example of the idea that different users have different goals when they visit a site and designers must organize material and navigation to anticipate those scenarios in their preliminary site planning.

Tip: Rebuild Dreamweaver’s Cache When Library Items Don’t Refresh

Updating a library item in a large site may not result in the pages where the library item resides being updated, even though Dreamweaver says it is updating pages. One suggestion for dealing with this problem is to use the Site Menu to Recreate the site cache.

Tip: Modify Dreamweaver’s default HTML New Document

Dreamweaver inserts an incomplete DOCTYPE in its default New Document. You can modify that. In Dreamweaver, open the default.html page located in Dreamweaver’s Application Folder > Configuration/DocumentTypes/NewDocuments. Look at Code View and find the DOCTYPE in line one. It says:
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN”>
Edit that line to add a URL before the closing greater than bracket, like this:
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN”
Save and close the page.

Congratulations! Every new default HTML page you create with Dreamweaver will now have a correct DOCTYPE.

This tip is from the Student edition of Macromedia Dreamweaver MX for Windows and Macintosh Visual Quickstart Guide that I’m in the process of writing.

Tip: Getting Text Edit to write plain text

I have complained in this forum previously that the loss of Simple Text in Mac OS X was deeply felt. I thought this was the case because I couldn’t find a way to make Text Edit write anything but rich text. I was trying to this using the “Save as” options, in the erroneous belief that I should see an option to save as text only.

Well, Text Edit will sure enough write plain text, but the way to make that happen is in the Preferences! So simple. (Like many things, it is only simple if you know how!)

Tip: Downloading with OSX

I have been stymied by my Macs behavior when downloading since installing OS X. I would click on a download link and nothing would happen. If I used a Control-Click, I could select “Save this to disk” and download it that way. However, if the download button was an image, the only thing I could save with a Control-Click was the image, which meant I couldn’t download anything. I found the answer on Apple’s site. I needed to go into my System Preferences and set my Network settings to use passive FTP. It still behaves a little strangely, but it eventually downloads. Yes!

Tip: Crucial CSS Concepts Lecture Notes

Here’s a very sketchy outline of notes on the basic concepts of CSS that need to be understood before getting into the details about applying specific styles to selectors and classes.

  1. The box model. Padding, borders, margins, colors, backgrounds, display and placement can be manipulated for every element: words, paragraphs, images, divs, body, tables. Understanding the box model is essential to understanding what can be accomplished with CSS.
  2. The Cascade. Proximity and importance affect results.
  3. Multiple style sheets. Know when to use linked vs. imported style sheets, as well as how to write style sheets for different media (such as print).

Refer to Eric A Meyer’s Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide for more about all these concepts.

Tip: Turning off cache in Mac OS X Safari browser

A former student sent along this tip for ridding Safari of persistent cache problems when testing new Web pages.
1. Delete the Safari cache folder. This should be in ~/Library/Caches/Safari/.
2. Create an empty text document and save it as ‘Safari’ (no extension) and place in ~/Library/Caches/. The name of the file must match the name of the old folder, thus preventing Safari from making a new one.