By now you know a number of things about your site:why you are building it, who the audience is, what will be on the site (i.e., the content), and how the whole thing is structured. You are now ready to work on the visual design, which is often the most satisfying aspect of site design.
One of its main purposes is to provide users with a sense of place. They need to know where they are on the site, where they have been, and how to get to where they want to be. A good site structure combined with an effective visual design enables users to construct a mental map of the site.
The goal of this lesson is to take the site’s structure and map it onto the visual design. A number of tools are useful in creating the design. The first step is to make layout grids that define the structure and organization of the site as it will show up on the page level. Then design sketches will establish a general look and feel. Layout grids and design sketches together lead to page mock-ups, which in turn lead to the construction of Web-based prototypes.
At this point, you’ll need the help of graphic designers, art directors, and creative directors, as well as your production crew.
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Get started: Lesson 1
In my last article, Building With Ajax and Rails I made a faintly disparaging joke about some new web frameworks that have been created in fond imitation of Rails. I got a lot of feedback about that joke. I’m not allowed to comment here about the pending lawsuits, but I would ask that the drive-by eggings of my house and threats to my family please cease. (They’ve been relocated to a secret Webmonkey farm anyway.)
Today we’re going to take a look at a couple of those frameworks for PHP:Trax and Cake. Both attempt to bring the quick, easy, helpful tools and easily understood, easily maintained structure of Rails to PHP — a boon to web developers who know PHP and perhaps have some keeper code in that language, but can’t resist the Rails buzz. Both Trax and Cake use the same model-view-controller pattern and Active Record ways of addressing data that Rails does. Makes one curious, no? I don’t have time to get deeply into them today, but both stress “rapid development,” so let’s see if I, your average not-too-bright web developer, can get a little app off the ground before the end of this article.
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Casual users of email are only mildly irritated, and even occasionally amused, by spam. “Just click delete!” they say. “One keypress and it’s gone! What could be easier?” The more of it you see, though, and the more wear your Delete key gets, the less tolerant you become. It’s like crazy people coming up to you on the street, perhaps. If you only ever see one, you laugh about his antics forever. If you see one a day, you start to think, “What a shame! Can’t something be done for these poor, poor people?” And if, everywhere you go, you are surrounded by crazy people raving in your ears and blocking your progress, it becomes impossible to get anything done. At that point, you’re basically working in Hollywood.
Spam, for the most part, is not profitable for the advertisers who pay to have it sent. It has an incredibly low success rate, and only seems like a good idea because it’s so cheap to reach millions of inboxes. The only guy who makes a profit is the middlemen:the spamhouses that take money from hapless breast-enlargement-pill manufacturers in exchange for almost-worthless bulk mailings. They use shifty techniques like forged email headers, automated freemail accounts, and bulk-mailing software.
When you start getting a lot of spam, or when you manage email for a number of people, it becomes crucial to sort the noise out of the signal. Because sorting by hand is tedious and unfeasible on even a moderate scale, the key is, of course, finding a way that a computer can distinguish spam from non-spam. A number of interesting solutions to this problem have been attempted.
In this article, it is assumed that you are running a mail server like the one described here:Set Up IMAP on Your Mail Server. Many of the techniques described herein will still be applicable on any Unix system, even if it’s just a mail client machine; and the principles apply to any email handling process.
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One the first and most comprehensive application interfaces of the Web 2.0 era, the Flickr API was in no small part responsible for the site’s success.
There were dozens of photo sharing sites clamoring for attention when Flickr first launched, but thanks its flexible API, developers began building and extending the site far beyond the capabilities of others.
The Flickr API exposes almost every piece of data stored on the site, and it offers near limitless possibilities for mashups, data scraping, tracking friends — just about anything you can think of.
For examples of some of the more popular applications using Flickr’s API, check out the various desktop uploaders available on all platforms. Also have a look at some of the tag-based Flickr mashups people have created, like Earthalbum and Flickrmania. Perhaps the most prolific of Flickr API users is John Watson (Flickr user fd) who has an extensive collection of tools and mashups available.
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