Forever Beta

April 24, 2006

According to the Sofware Development Life Cycle (SDLC) I've learned in graduate school, the beta stage is the phase where the resources for development would have been greatly reduced and public testing would occur. On the typical Bell Curve, this would fall towards the end of the curve, near the end of the development cycle.

Nowadays, companies, particularly web dot com's, have stretched the bell curve to accomodate a longer Beta phase. In fact, one might think that companies have stretched the beta phase to infinity so that the Beta phase would actually be constant and unending.

The roster goes on like a Web Dream Team: Google's GMail and Calendar, Yahoo's eMail and Microsoft's Search. All of them have adopted the Beta stage as if it was their surrogate child. What's good about it is that it gives tech companies the perfect excuse for continuous improvement and reduced liability for bugs. Testing of web apps seems to have been put on the shoulders of users.

The Beta Phase have answered a lot of questions for the developers and users. It has given tech companies the figures on what to fix and what features may be omitted. On the other side, end-users have seen the beta as an early means to utilize a tool and a way to enjoy innovation. One question that seems to be unanswered is "When will the Beta phase end?"

I've started a new blog that's based on my 100 Random Colors website. The blog is (drum roll please) 16 Colors.

My idea here is fairly new– it's called "Colorblogging." In 16 colors, the posts will be all colors. 16 squares of different hues with their hex equivalent.

I hope the users of 100 Random Colors will embrace its younger brother with its ability to be accessed on feedreaders, news aggregators and other blogs.

Look Ma, No Powerpoint!

April 19, 2006

S5, as author Eric Meyer puts it, is a "simple standards-based slide show system." The S5 site has a nice primer on how to get started and can be viewed as an alternative (empahsis on alternative) to the Powerpoint and OpenOffice.

I came across S5 with Meyer's presentation on WE04, and it's similar to browsing a linear website, but with the then-innovative AJAX controls. The presentations at last year's Web Essentials 05 have web-based presentations.

CSS Cookbook

Tables have long been the layout tool of choice for designing sites since the 90's. Although it's semantically incorrect, many web designers have been keeping this practice and doing almost nothing to correct it.

CSS Cookbook from O'Reilly presents developers with quick 180 degree turn to CSS. The good thing about this book is that it shows how CSS can do the typical table-based layouts. For example, the customary 2-column layout is given adequate attention. One very nice chapter demonstrates how CSS can create semanitcally correct code for web form layout.

But the book also explores the workarounds (or "hacks") in dealing with the quirks you have to deal with (Hint: it involves browsers).

Web developers looking for a quick fix of standards-compliant layout and techniques will really appreciate CSS Cookbook.

CSS Cookbook

Quick answer: Absolutely yes.

Then the next question: How?

Web Standards IS the face of Web 2.0. This 2005 article from Digital Web Magazine supports this idea. The app that users control content, search and do stuff with ("mix and remix") is written with standards-compliant code, is developed with semantics in mind, and implemented with content separated from presentation.

Flickr, Google Calendar, 30 Boxes, Basecamp, the list goes on and on and one thing is clear: web 2.0 means web standards.

At the start of the year, I predicted that several fonts were going to make it big in 2006.

I've prepared a little survey to check if I'm getting it right. Please do answer and/or share your thoughts.