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Tech Stuff - Web

As we started to develop our new web site (in 1997) we just kept running into problems trying to find the right information. It's all out there .. but sometimes just too much of it. When we found something we tried to document it so we would not have the same problem in the future. Updated whenever we make feature changes to this site.

Regular Expressions Regular expressions as used in Apache, SSIs, grep, egrep, sed, GNU tools, Visual Studio and a host of other places. Includes a nifty little in-browser tester to let you fool around with these horrible things which are, unfortunately, essential.
Browser IDs List of Browser ID (user-agent) strings (used in Apache environmental variable HTTTP_USER_AGENT). You can also check the string your browser outputs with a 'mouse click' and add to the worlds knowledge in this area. This page started with 4 strings and now contains a few more. Many thanks to all the folks that have helped built it into a serious resource.
Mobile Browser IDs List of Browser ID (user-agent) strings used by Mobile devices - well, by our definition of mobile devices. Many thanks to all the folks that have helped built it into a serious resource.
Apache Variables List of Standard and Extended (SSI) Variables set by Apache e.g.HTTP_USER_AGENT.
Server Side Includes Server Side Includes including (harumphhh!!) SSI directives, browser variables, configuring Apache, Apache and SSI Environmental Variables and nesting SSI/XSSI. We use SSI and XSSI extensively throughout this site.
HTML Encodings Tables of HTML/XML encodings and entities - all that &, © stuff that we can never find when we want it.
Web Fonts A demo page that displays a bunch of popular fonts in various styles and sizes to show your browser's font support and rendering characteristics - don't even ask why we did this.
Accessibility Web sites were supposed to be built with accessibility in mind - primarily for the visually challenged. As the baby boomers age they are increasing falling into this category. That's a big, and rapidly growing, bunch of people not being well served by the current kluges on offer from the browser families due to an industry-wide failure. This page reviews the situation and possible solutions. Truth be told it's a bit of a rant, but a gentle, mild-mannered, one.
HTML5 Conversion We recently (late 2013) started progressively publishing new and updated pages under HML5 - and even used the W3C validation tool. For us it was mostly a CSS exercise and some HTML elimination. Frankly, not much fun. But, do we feel a sense of warm, righteous fuzziness? Meh.
Web Pages Beware: This is an opinion piece: Our view of building web pages that kinda work in a world of multiple browsers which vary wildly in terms of their implementation of W3C standards or lack thereof. We wrote it because we get occasional mail - not always very pleasant - about the effects of some of our technical policy decisions. We got guilty about the level of accessibility support we provided - so we moved to ems (2007) for font sizes and opened up the line height, then we ran into the mobile experience. And became very, very unhappy.
Pop-Out menus We started with javascript pop-up menus in 1997. In 2003 we moved to pure CSS for pop-up/pop-down multi-level menus for W3C CSS compliant browsers (Gecko only in those days) and in 2006 (using a nasty kluge) for MSIE6 browsers. Around 2009 we dropped all the nasty Javscript and use only CSS menu for drop-out, drop-down and even drop-dead menus for all browsers including mobile devices.
Rails We've used Ruby for scripting, application development and web work since 2004. We avoided Rails because we are naturally suspicious about super-hyped technologies. The ideas seemed sound but opinionated software - not so much. Then we wanted some blogging software and in keeping with our preferred Ruby strategy decided to implement Typo, a Rails based system. We were kinda hopeful that it would go like a breeze and we could avoid learning about Rails. The Typo install did not go well, in fact it was a disaster so we got to know Rails much better than we wanted to. Maybe that was a good thing. Didn't feel like it at the time.
UA & IP This is a cheap trick (we just love cheap tricks) and will display your IP address and your browser's User Agent string (aka browser string). Sometimes it's even useful. Meh.
Server Sniffing No - not an exotic substance abuse tutorial. We use a very simple approach to generate browser specific pages using Apache SSI and server side browser detection.
W3C DOM Collection of W3C DOM material. Explore the W3C DOM for V5+ browsers only just now. Point and right click an object to get a full blow-by-blow of its properties. Beginning of our reference on the W3C DOM.
CSS2 We've used style sheets for years. But we missed the point. These pages document our pathetic attempts to understand what CSS is really about.
Oh Really! You spend hours - in some case weeks (well maybe not full-time) - trying to find a solution to a problem and then either you stumble on it or some blinding flash occurs and - Lo! its not a problem anymore. This is our list of some things we never want to have to think about ever again.
PHP4/5 PHP - some information on mixing SSI and PHP, our 'Mail this Page' feature and our PHP based 'Cool Tools' a real rag-bag of stuff that we use for web publishing and fixing screw-ups on hundreds of files.


Problems, comments, suggestions, corrections (including broken links) or something to add? Please take the time from a busy life to 'mail us' (at top of screen), the webmaster (below) or info-support at zytrax. You will have a warm inner glow for the rest of the day.

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