Web design: On the Web, yesterday's bleeding-edge technology is today's standard

Let's say you are doing a bit of DIY about the house, building that patio deck you always wanted, and your friend, who has graciously agreed to help you, measures the first board and tells you to cut another one to 350.3 centimetres. You look at your tape measure and realise that it's an old one using inches. What do you do? Easy: convert 350.3cm to inches by dividing it by 2.54. This gives you about 138 inches. Cut the board and you are in business.

What was wrong with good old inches, feet and yards? These units were the standard for centuries. The problem was that the Imperial measurement system had some rather vague and arbitrary conversions between smaller and larger units - I can never remember how many yards in a mile - while the metric system allows you to convert from smaller to larger units quickly and efficiently. But despite the fact that most of Europe - and the world, for that matter - has switched to the new and improved system, there are several hold-outs in the world, most notably the US, who are stuck in a rut using the old standard and refusing to change.

This brings me to my point: standards are great, but if we didn't try to improve our standards we would all still be swinging from tree to tree, trying to figure out which one had the best bananas.

In the world of the Web, yesterday's bleeding-edge technology is today's standard. The stuff you complain about crashing your browser now may well be the accepted norm with the next browser release. That said, these things only become standards if we, the people creating for the Web, actually use them.

Consider frames and columns. Netscape introduced both of these tags a while back, hoping to give designers better control over layout. But while designers have embraced frames - since there was really nothing else that could do what they do - no one has really used the column tag because the table tag did a good enough job and most browsers supported it. Frames are now a part of the official HTML specification, but no one really remembers the column tag.

In last week's column, we looked at several of the current standards on the Web, but what about the future? Right now there are several standards coming out from the World Wide Web Consortium that will change the way you work with the Web. Although many of the abilities of these coming standards are either not yet available on the Web, or only in the 4.0 browsers, they are the ones to watch and be ready to use.

Cascading Style Sheets - Level 2 CSS2 picks up where CSS1 left off, improving on most of its features. Some of the exciting design improvements coming with CSS2 include the ability to set up different layouts for different output media (screen, printer, overhead projector, etc), the ability to control the appearance of the mouse cursor, and the ability easily to add sound to your document.

Cascading Style Sheet - Positioning Netscape's ill-fated layer tag was a great idea, but CSS-Positioning is moving in to fill that gap. CSS-P let's you place text, graphics, tables, or anything else that appears in the screen exactly where you want it, either absolutely or in relation to the other objects on the screen. In addition, you can "layer" objects on top of each other, and, using JavaScript, move them around, hide or show them, or have them change their appearance.

Document Object Model DOM is the road map that allows us to identify the different parts of an HTML document so that they can be accessed using JavaScript. The only problem, right now, is that both Navigator and Internet Explorer use different maps. Help is on the way. The W3 is working on a standard DOM that should be ready by the time we see the 5.0 browsers.

If this brief introduction has left you wanting more, never fear. Over the next few weeks we will be looking at some of the bleeding-edge technologies available on the Web, how to use them and ways to use the new technology without keeping older browsers out in the cold.

Jason Cranford Teague can be contacted at indy_webdesign @mindspring.com

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
TV
News
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
art
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
books
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

music
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Arts and Entertainment
Look out: Broad shoulders take Idris Elba’s DCI John Luther a long way
tvIdris Elba will appear in two special episodes for the BBC next year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

    In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

    The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

    It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
    The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

    Staying connected: The King's School

    The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
    Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

    Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

    Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

    The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
    Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

    When two worlds collide

    Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?