Posted in 'Web Design'

EE Spotlight - A new resource for ExpressionEngine developers

Posted in Web Design on Wednesday, 13th July 2011 at 1:11PM

It's always good to find a resource offering good quality learning material about ExpressionEngine so I thought I'd mention a newly launched site that does just that, EE Spotlight.  EE Spotlight was set up by Ryan Battles of Jovia Web Studio to provide a platform for ExpressioneEngine developers to share their knowledge and experiences of ExpressionEngine with each other.  It also hosts regular updates from Ryan himself on the latest EE news and add-ons.

Here's how Ryan describes EE Spotlight:

"My vision for EE Spotlight is that it will be a repository for knowledge and community interaction. I also wanted to make it an easily available tool for others to post their content onto, passing along some search engine optimization back towards their own agency or freelance site."

I came first encountered EE Spotlight thanks to a request from Ryan for me to post an article on HTML email platform integration with ExpressionEngine.  You can read the post at http://ee-spotlight.com/tutorials/integrating_html_emails_with_expressionengine.

Getting HTML5 pages to validate with embedded Flash

Posted in Web Design on Thursday, 19th May 2011 at 8:03AM

Getting HTML5 pages to validate with embedded Flash

Having decided to use HTML5 for my new portfolio site it made sense to embed the video on the homepage using the HTML5 video tag and on the whole I was fairly impressed with the results despite some flaky support even on the latest browsers.  But as always I needed to bear the IE stragglers in mind and cater for them with a Flash fallback version of the video so having taken a quick look at a post entitled 'Video for every one' over at Camen Design I set to work wielding my object tag. 

All went smoothly until I tried validating at which point I realised my pure unblemished code had been polluted.  Now on the whole I'm not really a validation fascist and if there's a good reason why something won't validate, so be it, but this was different, this was the homepage of my web development portfolio site and my first foray into the HTML5 standard, something in me just kept saying 'make it validate'.

Font Squirrel, @font-face and a problem with Safari

Posted in Web Design on Thursday, 24th February 2011 at 11:27AM

Font Squirrel, @font-face and a problem with Safari

I usually use Cufon for my font embedding needs but if a font doesn’t want to be converted into Javascript or the resulting code is just too bloated for me to stomach then I find myself turning to @font-face, the css alternative.

I recently stumbled upon a brilliant tool for converting fonts to work across multiple platforms and to generate the @font-face code necessary to embed them.  The site is called Font Squirrel and it converts the font to TTF, EOT, WOFF, SVG and AVGZ formats to ensure it works on as many platforms as possible.  Whilst most decent browsers can deal directly with TTF fonts, poor old Internet Explorer needs the EOT (Embedded OpenType) format and IOS devices can only recognise SVG fonts. It also comes with various options for adjusting the way fonts are rendered.  This makes using @font-face a breeze, at least it would if it wasn’t for the odd bug…

My top 10 Expressionengine add-ons and hacks

Posted in Web Design on Tuesday, 21st December 2010 at 5:08AM

My top 10 Expressionengine add-ons and hacks

Having built sites with most of the mainstream content management systems available today, both open source and commercial, I can say with confidence that  Expressionengine has got to be my favourite thanks to its amazing flexibility and polished end user experience.  Here are 10 add-ons and hacks that have helped me come to this conclusion.

Note (02/04/12):  I have now released a new blog post with 10 more really useful add-ons at https://www.siblify.com/blog/ten_more_expressionengine_add_ons_and_some_usage_tips/

An automatic navigation for ExpressionEngine

Posted in Web Design on Wednesday, 2nd June 2010 at 3:04PM

An automatic navigation for ExpressionEngine

Update October 2010: Since writing this post I have had a chance to try out three modules which make my solution pretty much redundant.  Navee by Booyant does a great job of making Expressionengine menus really easy to create and manage from the control panel. Structure goes several steps further by organising the entire structure of the site including all the menus and making it really easy to manage for the end user.  Finally, the relative newcomer is Taxonomy which is something of a halfway house.  All three are brilliant and suit different types of site depending on what is needed.  Give them a go!

Having experimented with several different content management systems, one feature I really value is the ability to dynamically create a navigation menu based on the content of the site.  When I started using ExpressionEngine, I liked it’s user interface, flexibility and ease of implementation but I missed the automatic navigation builder’s that are included with some open source packages such as CMS Made Simple.

One blog. Two websites

Posted in Web Design on Tuesday, 13th April 2010 at 1:53PM

One blog. Two websites

Whilst developing siblify.com and msibley.com I was unsure how best to implement my blog which I wanted to be accessible from both sites. I considered having two blogs, one for art and one for web design, but I felt that the two should overlap and I wanted to find a middle ground where both topics could be discussed along with some more random thoughts when I felt like it.  I was aware of the fact that duplicating content can cause problems with search engines and I felt that having two blogs with identical content may cause confusion amongst users so it was a bit of a conundrum.

I finally decided that the best solution was to host the blog on siblify.com as this was where I expected the majority of traffic to stem from and to link to it from msibley.com.  Due to the fact the blog link was going to be in the main navigation, it was of prime importance that users were immediately aware of the fact they were now in a different domain and given a quick and easy method to return.

Testing HTML emails on a Mac

Posted in Web Design on Friday, 19th February 2010 at 12:46PM

Testing HTML emails on a Mac

HTML emails are notoriously difficult beasts to tame thanks to patchy/non-existant  support for web standards in most of the main email clients.  One of the worst offenders and the most widely used of these is Microsoft Outlook and for those of us who try to spend as little time as possible in a Windows environment, it can be tricky to test.  In this article I will give an outline of how I test HTML emails using my mac with both local applications and online test suites.

10 useful Joomla extensions / hacks

Posted in Web Design on Tuesday, 29th December 2009 at 12:22PM

10 useful Joomla extensions / hacks

Here are 10 Joomla extensions and hacks that I’ve found useful.  Some of them are a bit obscure but I have found them all invaluable at different times for making Joomla the flexible content management system I need it to be.  I generally wouldn’t use all of these hacks in one website but just knowing what is possible by changing a few lines of code or by installing a free plugin can broaden your scope when designing for Joomla or help you when deciding if Joomla is suitable for a specific project.

A better contact form thanks to jQuery slideUp

Posted in Web Design on Sunday, 22nd November 2009 at 11:40AM

A better contact form thanks to jQuery slideUp

It was an article in smashing magazine entitled  45 Incredibly Useful Web Design Checklists and Questionnaires that started me thinking about this.  Whilst I think it is a great idea to keep website contact forms as simple as possible for users, I also wanted to offer the ability for potential clients to provide more in-depth information about themselves and the projects they represent.

I had noticed an effect on other websites where contact forms or additional information slide out from discreet tabs to reveal hidden content and whilst I am generally not a big fan of hiding content that the majority of users will want to see, I decided that this might be an occasion where it’s use was warranted.

Michael's Paintings

Schladming

Schladming
50cm x 50cm
Acrylics and Indian ink on canvas

Michael's photos

Cornet Fish

Cornet Fish
Red Sea, Egypt

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