Wednesday, April 26, 2006

LogicMaze Ahead of the Curve

Microsoft released a security update this last week that changes how it handles active content such as that viewed in Flash Player. Active content that is embedded into webpages in certain ways may not be able to receive user input (for example, keyboard or mouse events) until the user clicks to either activate or continue loading the control.

You can read about the update here at Microsoft:
http://support.Microsoft.com/kb/912945/en-us

If your computer is set to run automatic updates(
define) or if you have run the updates yourself then you already have the security update in your browser . When viewing a site with flash content, you will see a box around the flash area. You may have noticed recently that sites with flash menus & any other interactive flash requires you to click the outlined box to activate the content before using.

BUT, do not blame Microsoft for this. What causes the box to appear is an issue with how the site is designed. Any site that has the box around their flash is using an outdated method for designing webpages. Basically the HTML code(define) they are using on their sites is not W3C valid code(define). In a later article I will explain the ins and outs of valid code, but what you need to know is that valid code is simply playing by the rules. For example, you may own a baseball, baseball bat, and a glove, but if you take these out in your yard and you don't follow any rules, then you are not playing baseball. If you don't follow the rules of web design you are not creating a high quality site.

Now there can be two reasons for a site without valid code. The first is it is an older site. At the time, the code was probably valid and then over time the rules changed. This responsibility falls back to the website owners to update their site. The second reason is that designers are not playing by the current rules. This will never happen with LogicMaze. When you come across a site that is effected, you have to make a judgment call as for the reason.

This is a prime example of why a quality website is so important. On any newer site you see with the box around the flash, you will find a designer that thought that 100% valid code was not important because "the page looked fine". Something changes in a browser, and then the site is outdated and no longer looks fine. Similar issues happen when you view a webpage in firefox or another less popular web browser(define). What "looked fine" in explorer suddenly seems odd in that other browser. This, too, is due to invalid code.

As an example now, I'm going to give you my three most recent releases.

If you view these three websites, you will notice immediately that you do not need to click the flash content before interacting with it. The flash loads and is automatically in play. Both the Tod Emerson and Mike O'Neal sites were designed and live prior to the Microsoft update causing the issue. Our Redeemer was in the works at the time, but not live. This is the benefit of using valid code, the sites are NOT effected by issues such as this. LogicMaze was ahead of the curve!

Now, if you have them on your computer, try opening these sites in other browsers. You will notice that the design stays consistent with how it appeared in IE. Although that is possible to do without valid code, if the designer pays attention and actually checks other browsers, I wouldn't recommend it. IE, Firefox, Opera, and Netscape are the four most popular browsers making up 98%-99% of browser use in the world. Those are the browsers that I have installed on my computer as a website designer. What about the other 1%-2%? There are literally hundreds of browsers that make up the remaining percent. Valid code is the ONLY way to ensure that no matter what browser your customer is using, he or she can see the site as intended and interact with it fully.

Do you need a high quality website? Do you need a company that can work with any budget? Are ALL of your customers viewing your website, or do some see it in another browser and run? Contact LogicMaze of Hutchinson, Kansas today and put yourself on the path to having a quality website that will attract and keep customers. kansas josh

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