Ben Langhinrichs

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October, 2003
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Genii Weblog

Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.

Thu 23 Oct 2003, 10:18 PM
Since A List Apart is posting again, I was reading a few older posts and happened on Mark Bernstein's 10 Tips on Writing the Living Web.  Inspirational reading for those of us bloggers trying to figure out the why as well as the how of this weblogging process.

Copyright 2003 Genii Software Ltd.

Thu 23 Oct 2003, 10:07 AM
In the template for the Notes 6 Gold forum, which is available in the Sandbox, I happened to notice the following code:
<SELECT name="URLpick"'/forum/'+this.options[this.selectedIndex].value,'_top')>
<OPTION VALUE="/DateAllThreadedWeb?openView">Date (threaded)
<OPTION VALUE="/DateAllFlatweb?openView">Date (flat)
<OPTION VALUE="/DateAllwithExcerptWeb?Openview">With excerpt
<OPTION VALUE="/AuthorAllThreadedWeb?Openview">Author
<OPTION VALUE="/CategoryAllThreadedWeb?Openview">Category
<OPTION VALUE="/PlatformAllThreadedWeb?Openview">Platform
<OPTION VALUE="/ReleaseAllThreadedWeb?Openview">Release
squished into a table cell along with lots of other passthru-HTML.  It took me a moment to realize that this was the solution the developer had found for a combo-box that automatically follows the link when a selection is made, as opposed to having to press a Go button after selecting.  Now, while Web UI designers may dislike this type of combo-link, companies who pay Web UI designers love it.
So, my question is, why would you write this in passthru HTML?  It is difficult to read, must be deciphered as opposed to recognized, and can be done in a more standard way with Notes constructs, which make the design a good deal more WYSIWYG (a fairly popular goal as far back as the 1980s).  All you have to do is create a dialog list field called URLpick with the following choices:
Select view|
Date (threaded)|DateAllThreadedWeb
Date (flat)|DateAllFlatweb
With excerpt|DateAllwithExcerptWeb
and then set the field's onChange event to:'/forum/'+this.options[this.selectedIndex].value+'?openView','_top')
You get the same effect, and even the exact same HTML generated, but what you have is recognizably a combo-box, it fits in the cell and the whole design is easier to see.
So, which do you think should be used?  The HTML, as this is a web design element and web developers will be looking at it?  The combo-box, for readability and WYSIWYG?  You decide.
By the way, if you came to my session at the UK Admin-Developer conference in London next Monday on Advanced Notes/Web Coexistence, you could see more of these tips, and hear a more detailed argument for using Notes constructs in this scenario.  You might also find out some interesting ways you could use these web tricks in the native Notes client.  There is still time to sign up for the conference (especially if you live near London and don't have to worry about airline tickets).

Copyright 2003 Genii Software Ltd.