Archived entries for webdev

Head smack interfaces

WARNING: A long, rambly exploration of the state of computing with no real conclusion…:

It takes two seconds to learn pinch-to-zoom, but if you handed an iPhone to someone who had never seen one and said “zoom in on this web page”, they’d have no clue how to do it. They would likely not even know it was possible to zoom unless you had told them.

However, once you showed them, it would immediately seem natural, and it’s hard to conceive of a more efficient way to perform zooming with human hands. Like the Newton’s “new note” separator, it provides functionality with no screen space required for controls, and provides a tactility that is extremely gratifying at what must be a very low level of the brain.

The benefit of pinch-to-zoom over previous zooming methods is so immediately apparent that it justifies the learning curve. That the learning curve is extremely small also helps. I find it fascinating that a huge portion of iPhone usability training is done via the TV ads, pre-sale. They’re both marketing and instruction.

Very interesting article and a good riposte to the idea that interfaces always need to be immediately and completely obvious-sometimes also called the “naive user” interface. Interfaces need to be consistent, progressively rewarding, and easy to discover. Doesn’t need to be completely called out from first glance, but does want to be apparent rather than obscured.

We have been trying to strike a balance at work between the need to describe and desire to not make a brochureware site. We offer a great number of resources and are working on presenting them clearly while not overwhelming the user. I’m going to send the article around. Read it.

(Via ~stevenf.)

Free the teeming millions (of bits)

Free the Linked Data 4:

[I should have blogged about this general thought before I jumped ahead in my previous post with a URI pattern proposal. It is more important for people to embrace these principles than it is to mindlessly buy into various constraint models.]

In Linked Data, Tim Berners-Lee points out that “It is the unexpected re-use of information which is the value added by the web.” Four rules are given to facilitate unexpected re-use:

  1. Use URIs as names for things
  2. Use HTTP URIs so that people can look up those names
  3. When someone looks up a URI, provide useful information
  4. Include links to other URIs, so that they can discover more things

Despite the “Linked Data” analysis, the principle of unexpected re-use and these four rules can be applied to HTTP in general without an RDF basis.

I try to keep the ‘unexpected re-use of information’ in mind. You can’t even begin to anticipate every possible use of your data people can come up with. So the best thing to do is get out of their way as much as possible and give them the access to create something new and undreamed-of. Be generous in what you provide and unfettered in what you expect.

(Via Q6.)

Google doctype

New developer resource from Google:


Doctype is a Google-sponsored open encyclopedia and reference library for developers of web applications. By web developers, for web developers.

* Open source
* Open content
* Open to contributions from anyone

Looks like a very useful resource and an interesting new application of social media. Not sure if it’s wiki-based, or whether this is something new from Google. Found via Gruber.

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