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CSS Any Order Columns - aka Holy Grail

Relates to CSS Design

PIE has published what they are arguing is the Holy Grail of CSS designs - fixed width sides and liquid centre. It actually comes as an appendix to a vast collection of resources on the one true layout, including any order columns.

I have been practicing and voraciously arguing for the acceptance of just these techniques for page layout and sub-content placement in CSS design since my article on CSS negative margins back in July 2004 [NB. At the time of that article a balancing unit was required in certain browsers (e.g. Mozilla 1.5 and below) but this is no longer the case - bar more recent browser bugs]. Despite the obvious semantic benefits and the power they provide for combining fixed, liquid and elastic columns in a single layout little acceptance had been given for these techniques until now.

So it is nice to know that finally with their publication on PIE the use of CSS negative margins instead of manipulation of document semantics might now become a valid and accepted CSS technique by the higher powers.

Thanks to Alex (Robinson) the author of In Search of the One True Layout who has been very gracious to acknowledge my previous work on any order columns (still filtering through to the PIE site at this time of writing). I guess I wasn't as voracious as I had thought in pushing these techniques to the CSS community and my failure to publish my findings on CSS-discuss was in hindsight careless. I should emphasise I had intended to publish an extended article demonstrating further the different combinations and browser/platform compatibilities but simply never found the time to complete it. As I said to Alex I think this was for the best since his article is an excellent resource, well written and expressed in english I could never hope to achieve! Plus of course it has the PIE endorsement.

As a final point of note for the historical records, this site was actually my first implementation of the negative margins technique (of course principally in a two column form) where I wanted content prior to the left hand navigation. While I do not know the exact date I released this design, the Wayback archive confirms the CSS was implemented prior to 27th January 2004 (although slightly scrambled by the archive). Shortly after I saw Ryan Brill's proposal on Mezzoblue and inspired by PIE's own work.

Posted on Oct 26, 2005 at 16:13:49.

Into The Danger Zone

Relates to Surf and Travel

Ha! I find it amusing that our spring excursion to surf the Mearim Pororoca south of the Amazon basin has found its way into the latest issue of Carve surfing magazine in the cover article - Into The Danger Zone. It sits hemmed between Puerto Escondido and Teahoopu, two of the meatiest and certainly gnarliest waves on the planet. I suppose despite the polarity of wave size and power, the location is worthy of its place. The dangers do not come from the wave energy, the reef or the hold down, but instead from the wide array of predators that haunt the waters, and of course that nasty little critter - the candiru.

For me the Pororoca adventure is now a distant memory. I have been very much back at home in recent months what with the 50 year celebrations of Churchill's first Severn bore surf held in September and an excellent, and very quiet, set of tides last week on which I clocked a 6km bore surf in the dark for the second time. Of course anticipation is also rife for the forthcoming release of Longwave before Christmas, and beyond that some excellent looking prospects for next spring with the largest tides since 1998 forecast. Also have some plans in the pipeline to make Alaska the fourth tidal bore location we have visited next year…

Posted on Oct 23, 2005 at 19:33:57.

Map MySQL Data to new Schema

Relates to PHP and MySQL

Recently I rewrote the schema for several modules in the hand-rolled CMS I use. As a result I needed to find a simple way to transfer across records from the old schema (imagemanager_old) to the new schema (imagemanager) mapping each old field to the equivalent new field. Since my Mac is running a post version 4.1 MySQL client this was relatively simple using a subselect statement and processing it with PEAR::DB.

$db =& DB::connect($dsn);
$query = "SELECT imid FROM imagemanager_old";
$records = $db->getCol($query);
$prh = $db->prepare('INSERT INTO imagemanager (b1, b2, b3, b4, b5) 
                     SELECT a1, a2, a3, a4, a5 FROM imagemanager_old WHERE imid = !');
$db->executeMultiple($prh, $records);

Where b1…b5 and a1…a5 represent the field names from the new and old schemas respectively. This simple script will invariably come in useful many times as I update and enhance the normalisation of my schemas.

Posted on Oct 23, 2005 at 19:18:37.

Open Office 2.0 Arrives

Relates to Open Source and XForms, The Office

Finally after two months absence from the blogging circuit, I finally see something earlier today worth shouting from the rooftops. The release of OpenOffice.org 2.0. Features include support for the OASIS Document Format (also used by KOffice), a new database frontend (BASE) for DML and DDL, and integration of XForms for web form creation. Could this finally make OpenOffice a worthy adversary for other proprietary and monopolising office suites?

Posted on Oct 20, 2005 at 23:24:37.

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