Saturday, August 16, 2008

Multi-Browser Testing

I needed to test a number of web pages across as many browsers as possible this week and wasn't relishing the setup of that testing.

Step up browsershots.org. Simply submit the page to be tested and the site will arrange to have the target URL loaded in 55 (at the last count) different browser / browser version / operating system combinations.

Once the page has loaded the site displays a screenshot from each browser which you can view online or download for analysis.

So in the space of around 5 minutes I was able to run a web page template through all the combinations I wanted to test and have the results in front of me.

What a brilliant idea.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Web Week

A Web Week lasts as long as a Development Week - it just seems longer.

I've spent the week finalising the layout for my new company website and it's almost done!  It looks like we (the graphic designer an I) have now agreed the overall page layout and we're now working on the small details.  It's the small details which will make the site better than it would have been.  Things like following the viewers eye line from logo to navigation bar to first line of text and ensuring the layout follows where that viewing line goes.

Of course, none of these small tweaks are simple in HTML/CSS and just as you think it's done, Safari or IE moves a DIV ever so slightly out of place and you're coding again.

But, thankfully, the end is finally in sight.

I haven't done any application development this week but I did meet up with an old friend today and walked through my product idea with him.  It was almost like a mini-product pitch since he was asking questions about market research and the gap I was attempting to fill.

It was a very helpful discussion for me because for the first time I had to justify what I was doing to someone other than myself and allow them to cast an eye over my plans and application feature list.

Thankfully, at the end of the discussion he liked the idea, agreed that the gap did exist and thought the application would fit neatly into it.  He also thought it was a product he could use at home and wants to be the first paying customer when the application is available.  So it looks like I have my first advance order! 

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Espresso in my CoffeeCup

Taking a break was the answer to my browser differences problem.  Well, that and a couple of cups of espresso.

I started up CoffeeCup this morning and reviewed my CSS code.

Right away I saw that a line-height setting on the BODY was pushing out the entries on my navigation bar.  It wasn't required so I removed it and hey-presto the navigation bar looks the same across all three browsers.

That just left the alignment of the three column DIVS in the main body of the page.  I looked back through the page markers I'd added to my copy of CSS : The Missing Manual and saw that I had been looking at the IE 3-Pixel Gaps issue (page 304 if you're interested).  A couple of additional entries (* HTML's) to the CSS and everything now works.

It's good to see that the implementation of standards across browsers has improved since the IE/Netscape days!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Browser Differences

I've been sitting looking at an issue with a web page layout for about an hour now and I've reached the point where the monitor and keyboard may be ready to merge.

I have a three column layout (left, middle & right) sitting below a horizontal menu.

HTML order looks fine (<DIV> tags are in the Left, Right & Middle order) and the CSS looks good.

In IE7 the page displays as expected.  But in Safari and Firefox the five menu items are dropping by 10 pixels and the left & right columns have dropped below (but not completely under) the middle column and both left and right columns look padded above and below.  Middle column looks fine though!

Maybe I've been staring at it for too long and need to go off and do something else.

No activity - what a busy week.

It has been a week of no activity on the ISV front.  But that doesn't mean I've had an inactive week.

The web site for a friends business had some issues which needed resolved ASAP since they were expanding into a new city in the UK.  As well as helping out a friend it represented an opportunity to pick up a new client and get the company name known in a different business market.

One of the things that is essential, for me at least, in the early stages of getting the ISV off the ground is to ensure that I keep generating fees, in order to both pay the normal bills and to fund the ISV work.  So any opportunity to expand the client base, especially into new market areas, can't be ignored.  It will also provide me with more people to ask the "what annoys you most about the software you use?" question.

The issues were resolved and I also picked up a new positive customer quote for the new company web site.

Ah, the new company web site.  I was going to have that live by the end of July.  Since I'd never worked on my friends web site I needed an HTML editor which would allow me to examine the files without trying to impose all kinds of re-formatting.

So I downloaded the most recent version of an old favourite, CoffeeCup HTML Editor, and really liked it.  So much so I've now spent the past couple of days re-writing the new site using CoffeeCup and I now plan to ditch Joomla as the site back-end in favour of the version I'm writing now.

The graphics and layout from my designer still have to be finalised so I do have time to work this one in, although at the expense of some ISV related progress.

I'll need to spend another few days finalising the new site layout and doing a bit more testing on the multi-browser compatibility but I think the end result will be worthwhile.