Why Use XSLT in Server Side Web Frameworks For Output Generation?

Just as web developers want to use standards on the client side, standards such as XSLT on the server side may be an efficient way to create good quality markup and other web output.

It can help avoid the hard coded or hard to edit HTML strings that are often seen in server side templates and scripts.

As an open standard, XSLT is reasonably universal, and skills can be easily transferable.

Some people don’t like it or have had bad experiences with it in the past.

But it can be a very powerful tool in the developer’s toolbox. Perhaps it is worth giving it another look?

This article looks at why XSLT could be useful as part of the View in an Model-View-Controller pattern, its benefits and potential drawbacks. Continue reading

PHP 5.3 Gets A Bit More Object Oriented And More

PHP 5 in general has been a good improvement over PHP 4, but those used to full blown object oriented program languages such as Java or C# may find some OO features still lacking in PHP 5.

PHP 5 has the usual things, such as classes, interfaces, abstract classes, inheritance, etc, but some useful programming constructs have been missing, though PHP 6, under development, aims to rectify that.

However, it seems that many of those features are going to be brought forward to the up-coming PHP 5.3 (which may make it more likely that it will get installed by web hosting companies sooner than they would likely go for PHP 6).

Sitepoint has an excellent summary of the features. The list of features include: Continue reading

IE8 – meta switch = IE7!?

Microsoft's announcement of a switch for proper standards mode in IE8 makes that browser passing acid2 test less useful than initially seemed! So Microsoft announced a way to support standards without “breaking the web.”

The challenge they had was to find a way to “enable (and encourage) interoperable web development, but don’t force IE to break pages that work properly in IE today.”

They eventually settled for a <meta>-based “opt-in to the browser version I tested with” strategy.

What this means is that if you as a web developer want IE 8 to render according to their best implementation of standards then you opt in by adding a particular meta element into your HTML (or send down a similar HTTP header in the response).

In other words, for web developers trying to do the right thing they must pay a small “don’t-break-the-IE-web tax!”

Many prominent web developers and designers have been highly critical of this. But, ironically, is this actually a positive thing in the long run? Continue reading

ASP.NET Is a Leaky Abstraction

A manipulation of the classic Mona Lisa shows her holding a mask revealing a smiling, ugly face. ASP.NET is a leaky abstraction because it tries to hide away some of the details of HTML markup generation for you when sometimes you need to know about the underlying markup.

In doing so, it is too easy to create ASP.NET sites that violate web accessibility guidelines and contain unnecessary markup bloat. In some cases, ASP.NET makes it really difficult to create the exact output you need. But there are a some options to address this problem. Continue reading

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Slows Down Web Development

This has been said so many times on the web by web developers frustrated at IE’s rendering bugs, lack of progress in support for web technologies, and so on, that at first I didn’t want to bother writing this post. However, a number of other posts on this site make reference to this point and I end up repeating myself, side tracking from the point at hand. For that reason, and for the benefit of some readers not familiar with this issue, this post serves as a summary of those concerns. Continue reading

Book Review: Head First Design Patterns

  • Book: Head First Design Patterns
  • Authors: Eric Freeman, Elisabeth Freeman, Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates
  • Publisher: O’Reily (November 2004)
  • Purchase the book:

For a book with about 650 pages, I got through this really quickly (for me, that is — about 8 hours)!

That should hopefully help summarize my view that I really liked this book.

Read on to find out why. Continue reading

The Email Standards Project

The Email Standards Project HTML-based email seems to be a mess, with different email clients supporting a different set (and sub-set) of web technologies such as HTML and CSS.

Microsoft’s Outlook has a commanding share of desktop email clients. However, Microsoft announced that Outlook 2007 would use Word’s HTML rendering engine, rather than Internet Explorer’s which seems like a big step backward.

While some may prefer text-only email, others prefer to — or must — create HTML-based email.

The Email Standards Project is attempting to follow the example of the Web Standards Project, but for email clients, web- and desktop-based to try and make HTML-email creation less hit and miss. Continue reading