About This Site

When you decide to set up a Web site, there are a lot of decisions to make. This page talks about the issues I've considered and the decisions I've made.

Tools

When choosing tools, there are very few rules. I choose tools based on those that will help me get down the task at hand, those that I have on-hand or can obtain readily, and those that I am already familiar with.

Editor

One early decision is what tools you will use to develop a site. When I wrote my earliest Web pages, there weren't any WYSIWYG editors and I learned to add the HTML tags by hand. That's still my preference. I've never found a WYSIWYG editor that writes really good, compact code that satisfies me. I use gvim.

Graphics

This site does not emphasize graphics, but I do use some. For original graphics or to edit graphics that I get from other sources, I use GIMP.

I do use some on-line tools. I use both CoolText.com and FlamingText.com because it's easier to use their services than to go into GIMP and apply special effects to text myself.

Testing Tools

Browsers

I test my pages using the browsers I have installed on my computer.

I do have one browser on my computer that I don't use to test my pages — Microsoft Internet Explorer. All browsers have security holes. IE, in my opinion, has more than most. Microsoft, in my opinion, is the least responsive in addressing their security issues. I try to avoid launching IE. When I absolutely must (or when another program uses IE to access the internet), I quit it as soon as possible and immediately run anti-spyware programs on my computer to clear out the Microsoft spyware that IE installs.

Validation

I also use the excellent validation services available from W3C for HTML and XHTML for Cascading Style Sheets.

Technologies

Discussion

Many people think of the internet as a single technology, but that's far from true. Even within the Web itself, there are technology decisions to make. My basic philosophy is that technology should make life easier, not more difficult. My philosophy about the Web (and the internet in general) is that it should be open and accessible to the widest number of people possible.

My criteria for including or excluding specific technologies on my site are

Ease-of-Use
Technologies that make it easier for visitors to find their way around or get to where they're going, once they know where that is
Respectful of Bandwidth
Some technologies result in huge files that eat up bandwidth. That needs to be weighed against the benefits of the technology. This consideration stems partly from my understanding that there are a lot of people who don't have broadband connections and partly from my understanding that we all share the global bandwidth and we should not suck up a larger portion of the resources than we need to meet our needs.
Unencumbered
The technology must be unencumbered for use around the world. For instance, there are still encombrances to the GIF graphics formats in some parts of the world, so I avoid GIF files on images I control. (There are some images that I link to that live on other servers. If I have a choice, I avoid the GIF versions, but sometimes I don't have a choice.)
Open
I prefer technologies that are open, in the sense that the requirements for the technology are published and anyone who wishes to is free to write software to use that technology. The PNG graphics file format is an excellent example of that.
Respectful of Users
Technology should respect the privacy of the users and should never seek to identify, track, or manipulate users without letting them know what it is doing and why. Cookies and pop-ups are examples of this. Technology should also give users the control that they need to use the technology effectively. Cascading Style Sheets are an example of providing users that kind of control.

My Decisions

Graphics format

All the graphics that I originate will be in PNG or MNG file format. They are open formats.

I will evaluate graphics to see whether what they add to the page offsets the additional overhead in bandwidth.

This site will be written so that it is accessible to people who use non-graphical browsers. This would include text browsers as well as browsers that make Web pages audible for people who are visually impaired.

Javascript

I will probably use some limited javascript on this site, mostly to keep the navigation areas to a reasonable size. As I establish the style of the site, I will make an effort to ensure that people who choose have javascript turned off can still access and use the site.

Browser Cookies

I will use a limited number of cookies on this site. You are not required to accept them. The site will work without them except for a couple features. I plan to host forums and they will require short-lived cookies.

In an effort to make this site accessible to the most people possible, users can choose from a variety of style sheets that control how the site looks. For the visually impaired, I offer a high-contrast, black and white style. If you want your choice of style sheet to be remembered between visits, cookies that live for a longer period will be necessary. Again, you don't have to accept them and you can delete them if you do accept them. In that case, you'll just have to choose your style sheet each time you visit or live with the default.

Contact Methods

mailto links are very common. They handily allow people with email clients to send an email to an intended recipient. The problem with mailtos is that they don't work for peopel who don't have email clients installed. That includes pretty much anyone who uses a Web interface to their email, as well as those who may not have email at all. To ensure that everyone can give me feedback, I will include a link to a form that will send me email beside each mailto link.