TortoiseSVN Lightning Talk slides

Here are my slides from my Lightning Talk on TortoiseSVN from today’s PSU Web Developers’ Lunch:

Quick and Dirty Change Tracking with TortoiseSVN

The last slide has several links to additional resources.

If you want the longer version, here’s my full 60-minute slide set from the Penn State Web 2006 Conference:

Web File Version Control with Subversion

The slides are in S5 format — an open slide show system based entirely in Web Standards: XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Microsoft VirtualPC is Now Free

I came across an amazing fact today. In a blog entry about how to do cross-browser testing on Windows with multiple versions of Internet Explorer, I found a note that Virtual PC for Windows is now free. Sounds like a good deal to me.

I’ve been using VPC for IE 5/5.5 testing for a while now — Win2k Pro and Server run great in a VM. Hopefully, more people will be willing to test their sites in more than just the browser they themselves use.

I haven’t seen any indication of a generally free Macintosh version, but since I’ll soon have all Intel-based Macs, I’ll just be running Parallels Desktop.

Adobe Flex Derby

Adobe just announced the winners of their Flex Developer Derby. There are some great entries, so check em out!

Flex has the potential to out-do Ajax as a platform for building expressive Web apps. I’ve been working pretty heavily on a Flex project for the last few weeks, and I like what I’ve seen. The entries in the Derby used the latest version of Flex (2.0), which has even better features than the previous version I’ve been working with.

Lorem Ipsum at your (middle) fingertips!

In testing out various CMS packages (including our own), I keep needing to get my hands on a block of text for some dummy page or other…. usually this text winds up being the body of the last email I happened to read in Thunderbird. :)

In setting up a new Firefox install with my usual kit of extensions, I found another neat one — a one-click Lorem Ipsum inserter: Dummy Lipsum. This extension adds an option to “Insert Dummy Lipsum” under your right-click context menu. It apparently pulls measured amounts of the classic text from the now-even-more-handy

Eolas JavaScript Fix for Flash Navigation

I think I finally have a workable solution to the Eolas IE issue with the Flash navigation on our college Web site. My hope is that we’ll be able to hit the largest audience possible with at least some measure of functionality, while simultaneously maintaining a semblance of Web Standard-itude. How’s that for ambitious?!?!

My solution is basically a three-tiered approach:

  1. Object tag-based embedding (a la the Flash Satay method) of the primary navigation bar .swf file
  2. Alternative content — an ordered list of images/links mimicking the links in the Flash swf with javascript mouseover effects. These two tiers are embedded in the page using a static JavaScript file that document.write()s the content into the page.
  3. A second set of images/links as an all-else-fails backup for users with no scripting support, served by <noscript> tags.

Some downsides:

  • Users who have no scripting, or have it turned off, will never see the Flash version, whether they have the plugin or not
  • Non-IE users will always have their navigation built with JavaScript. Seems inefficient, but without walking down the path of browser detection, I don’t see a way around this.
  • Our current set of non-Flash alternative images are PNGs, which look really awful in IE6. Hopefully we can remedy this soon.
  • With potentially two copies of the alternative content in the page (one in the JavaScript-generated object tag, the other in the <noscript> block), there may be difficulties that I’m not seeing.

I’m working on a more thorough writeup of this process to post somewhere, but that’s a summary. Feel free to poke around the code — if anyone has suggestions for improvements to the method, I’m all ears. I’m in the process of working up a solution for our QuickTime movies following a similar path, with some ideas pulled from unobtrusive JavaScript.

IE and Eolas Patent Woes

Well, I was really hoping Microsoft would find a way out of this, but the Eolas patent “fix” to Internet Explorer 6 for Windows XP/2003 has come home to roost. It apparently rolled out in this week’s updates, despite reports of a delay in its release.

We’re now starting to get reports of problems with the Flash navigation and QuickTime movies on our college Web site from internal users.

I was overjoyed a few weeks ago when we finally got our Flash and QuickTime content to load in pages using Web Standard markup, and now the “solution” to Microsoft’s fix is to either script all tags or fork the markup for different browsers. Talk about a step backwards.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, there’s some reading material in my bookmarks.