Thursday 26 October 2006

ie7 Adoption Rate: Faster Than You Think?

The fantastic Ajax Experience Boston conference just wrapped up. It was an excellent event, attended by well-known industry luminaries alongside young Web developers and designers aching to learn as much as they can about JavaScript, Ajax, Rich Internet Apps, and something that’s made me very happy: A drive to understand great document structure and CSS.

The following transcript and video is an excerpt from Chris Wilson’s presentation. Chris is the Platform Architect for Internet Explorer. Here, he’s discussing why he believes the adoption rate of IE7 will be faster than we might think.

You can enjoy the video I grabbed of Chris presenting this information, in .mov format (2meg), provided here with express permission of Jay Zimmerman on behalf of the Ajax Experience, and Chris Wilson.

[There have been three million downloads of IE7] ” . . . and that’s in the first four days. From that, I think you can probably extrapolate actually the adoption curve is probably going to be fairly steep.

And as to the Windows XP question, turns out nearly 90% of the Windows based web share is running on XP. It’s running on XP or server 2003 actually, which we do offer IE7 for. So we actually hit 9 out of 10 users today and that continues to ramp up. Like the XP share continues to get bigger as people upgrade machines, or buy new machines, frequently.

So I think that you’ll actually see, and granted this is a little early since we’ve only been out for five days or something, you’ll actually see the curve on this will quickly be clear how soon we’ll get to ditch IE6 and I can’t really predict that, but I think you’ll find it’s going to be quicker than what most people expect today.”

– Chris Wilson, Microsoft

I’m sure there are many opinions to share, so have at it by entering your comments here.

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Posted by:   Molly | 09:31 | Comments (500)

Saturday 21 October 2006

Thank You London!

Norm, leering at Molly
taken by Chris Heilmann.

Wow, last night’s London Geek Dinner in my honor, put together by the ever-awesome Ian Forrester was an absolutely wonderful time.

I saw dear friends, and made many new ones too. If I kept on about how much fun we had this post would go on forever, so let me just say thank you, London Geeks, for honoring me so.

Here I am with Norm, King of the Britons, and he’s not really leering at me. Or maybe I’m the one doing the leering? 😉

Next stop: Boston! Shout out a hello below.

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Posted by:   Molly | 14:16 | Comments (30)

Tuesday 17 October 2006

Creativity Jam Session: Find the Flaw

Here’s a creativity game, so let’s have some fun.

Here’s what you do:

  1. If you are sighted, close your eyes
  2. Turn away from your computer in any direction
  3. Open your eyes
  4. Look at or touch what’s in front of you
  5. Find a flaw
  6. Describe the flaw
  7. Now describe how the flaw could be made into art
  8. If you have the time, make something creative out of it

Here’s mine: The pristine, recently painted wall has been marred by some pencil strokes. I’m seeing it as if it were in macro view, it makes quite an unusual textured, abstract image. I could take photos of it, which I’ll do in a bit I think, and turn the flaw into something creative.

Now it’s your turn – find the flaw!

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Posted by:   Molly | 12:06 | Comments (42)

Monday 16 October 2006

Flashback: 2001. How Specialization Limited the Web

Every so often I like to re-publish old articles and work just for laughs, or a sobering reality check. Digging around through some archives recently, I came across this article from Web Techniques. It was written over six years ago and I believe it remains true (except for some of the technology terms and references) to this day.

How Specialization Limited the Web

When the Web was new, skill integration was the only way you could survive as a designer. The trend toward specialization has been a tough transition for those of us who successfully handled many skills in the early days. Many of us have scrambled to decide on a specialty, only to find that it isn’t necessarily a good fit.

If you’re one of those people who truly loves the Web and all of its component parts, do you have to choose one area of focus? Maybe not. Sure, there’s a lot more to building a Web page than one person can handle. But lately—perhaps because of the market downturn—there’s a trend toward skill integration again.


The Web recently turned ten years old. That’s made me think a lot about where we, as Web designers and developers, have been and where we’re going. In the midst of my musings, I looked at some old writing I’d done about Web design. I revisited my very first book, Professional Web Design: Theory and Technique on the Cutting Edge. Destined for rapid obscurity by the time it was published, the book contains at least one really cool historical point: In it, I proposed that Web design would soon shift from a one-man-band scenario to an orchestral model.

It cracks me up silly to think that the one-man-band designer model was not only possible, but actually prevalent back then. Even that early on, it was becoming clear that the Web was going to demand an awful lot of its designers and developers—asking that we learn new technologies, as well as new ways of thinking and working. Balancing a range of skills became increasingly important to a Web designer’s success.

It was evident that skill integration would become crucial as early as 1993, when the Mosaic browser provided a visual glimpse at the Web’s wiry undergrowth. But even then, it took a few years for Web development to take a more structured professional shape. Mostly, we were experimenting—attempting to combine HTML, graphics, and eventually scripts to make sites do cool things. By 1995, the need for a professional approach to creating Web sites became evident.

Web professionals in 1995 came from a wide range of backgrounds: programmers, artists, media specialists in TV, radio, and advertising, business people, writers, and many enthusiasts. We came to the field with a lot of energy and brought experience from these other realms. Web design excited us because it was a new frontier that was challenging, full of attitude, and just plain fun.

The simple act of combining HTML with a graphic is in many ways the first time a Web designer integrates techniques. Writing HTML successfully—even in its early days—required some studying if you wanted to move beyond the hobbyist level into a more professional sphere. Creating a graphic that looked good and was well optimized for the much slower mid-’90s Web also meant brushing up on a few skills. There were comparatively few books and resources. In fact, 1995 was a hallmark year for the appearance of just those things—it was the year in which was born and Web Techniques was being incubated.

Integration part one

Those of us in the field at that time worked hard to learn what we could of HTML. We tried different ways to create graphics. And, as I’ve pointed out in past columns, the simplistic nature of HTML and graphics at that time pushed certain people to create really innovative designs that relied on simplicity. It’s a well-worn point that limitations often spur innovation, and the early days of the Web proved it.

Soon thereafter, scripting and style came onto the client-side scene. Designers were suddenly writing scripts, and programmers started thinking about presentation. This integration was a difficult process. For the most part, the elements on the resulting sites weren’t truly integrated, and they often lacked something. Maybe a site worked great, but it looked bad. Or maybe it looked great, but crashed browsers. Either way, skill integration demands were upon us. We worked hard to get our chops up in as many areas as we could to give our sites a professional look and solid performance.

Meanwhile, the visual Web was becoming integrated with server-side technologies. This meant increasingly dynamic sites, and monumental changes for site builders. ASP, ColdFusion, and other emerging applications became intertwined with databases—all with the specific goal of delivering cool stuff to the page intelligently. Add to that network administration and security concerns; it’s no wonder that specialized technologies began to take over. After several years of working to integrate our skills, professional Web designers and developers began to realize that specialization might be a better career move.


Skill integration worked well until the skills necessary to build a professional Web page multiplied beyond the juggling point. Over the past few years, many maturing Web developers set aside integrated techniques and looked more closely at various specialties. You could focus on the client-side, becoming a great HTML author, content specialist, JavaScript and DHTML guru, or innovative designer. On the server-side, countless languages and development opportunities arose. You could focus on application languages like Java, database technologies for the Web, or a range of other applications. Some of us moved away from the skill integration that had defined our jobs to that point, and sought new career identities through specialization. However, many of us are still struggling with this process.

It’s especially hard for those of us who successfully integrated our skills in the early days to pinpoint what we want to specialize in. Just because you like visual design doesn’t mean that programming isn’t a passion, too. As a result, employers often push us toward the specialty that best satisfies a corporate need. Of course, employers’ needs don’t necessarily reflect our own passions. On a personal level, many designers feel that specialization has dimmed some of the joy and sense of accomplishment they once felt.


On a larger scale, has fragmentation assisted or encumbered us? Is such deep specialization good for the industry and the people who propel the Web? I argue that it’s not. Let’s use the medical field as an example: If you’re going for medical care, at least in the U.S., you’re likely to first consult a primary care physician. After that, you’re shuttled off to the specialist. He or she then hones in on the specific problem.

The fatal flaw with this method is that the specialist doesn’t know you, or doesn’t have the full experience of your strengths and weaknesses. In effect, the specialist can provide a solution to a particular problem, but that solution may not be a perfect fit for your overall situation. In medicine, a lot of unfortunate mistakes occur precisely because a specialist is looking at the problem and not the person.

Web design and development face the same risks. It’s become increasingly clear that no one person can do all of this stuff. However, if we forget to look at the project as a whole, the health of Web design and development will suffer.

Integration part two

Here enters the project manager, who oversees specialty integration. While I’m seeing more literature about Web project management, the field is still emerging. A project manager needs considerable breadth of industry knowledge, some depth of knowledge, and most certainly communication skills that will link the now fragmented Web development departments.

To put it simply, we still need integration. But now, instead of integrating our own skills, we’re integrating those of a combined team. Web design and development specialists flounder without someone to successfully orchestrate a given project.

Unfortunately, integration is becoming harder, primarily because of the explosive interest in Wireless and alternative device design. These devices add an entirely new layer of rich, but complex technology, and their design needs are often distinctly different than what we’ve learned to do for the Web. Consider this technical specifications listing for a senior Web designer:


  • HTML, JavaScript, and other programming languages;
  • Flash, Photoshop, Freehand, Illustrator, Quark, Dreamweaver, Director, After Effects, Television/Broadcast graphic packages;
  • 2D and 3D interface design;
  • Audio editing.

Integrated skills indeed! And how about this more developer-oriented listing?


  • BA in computer science or equivalent experience.
  • Two-plus years development in ASP, ADO, OLEDB, Windows DNA Architecture (DCOM/COM+).
  • Six-plus months development using MS SQL Stored Procedures.
  • Two-plus years of Visual Basic 6.
  • HTML and Web site architecture.
  • Strong knowledge of ADO/MS SQL connectivity.
  • History implementing HTML, ASP scripting, VBScript and JavaScript applications.
  • Experience with Dynamic HTML (DHTML), XML, SSL, SSH, style sheets.
  • Knowledge of Network Teaming through DCOM.
  • Strong background in Windows NT/IIS administration.
  • Strong communication skills and teamwork experience.
  • Ability to interface with business customers to aid collaboration.
  • Willingness to work within and contribute to a team-oriented environment.
  • Highly motivated, with a desire to “hit the ground running.”


  • MCSE/MCP/MCSD (+Internet);
  • Microsoft Transaction Server;
  • SQL, Transact-SQL, PL/SQL, SQL+;
  • CGI programming (in both Perl and C).

Sobering, isn’t it? Only a few years after specialization took over, we seem to be at another crossroads. In the aftershocks of our industry shakeup, how will the demands of integration and specialization influence our projects and the way we work over time? It really boils down to three choices: We can work on a self-selected series of technologies and integrate them into our skill sets, decide to specialize on one specific topic, or let our employers’ needs guide us.

Striking a balance

I think the complexity of these job listings clearly demonstrates the quandary we’re in. While we’ve come a long way, it’s most definitely time to take a careful look at what we’re doing with our careers. Okay, so you don’t have to wax as philosophical as I do. Still, you can decide exactly what kind of developer or designer to be.

Looking at our past sheds some light not only on how we can work more effectively today—but also on how we might prepare for tomorrow’s unknowns. We’re at a defining moment in our industry, one that has been ushered in with some unfortunate doom and gloom. In recent months, many of us, or our colleagues have lost or changed jobs, and the entire industry has been experiencing a profound shift.

As Web Techniques readers know, this shift—while unpleasant—is also a necessity. Look at it as a correction if you will, similar to what the stock market does every so often. And while countless people have lost jobs, there’s little doubt in my mind that those people who are serious about long-term careers with Web and related technologies will land on their feet.

Despite the fragmentation of our industry, the Web designers and developers who will be most empowered, most able to find good jobs and contracts, and most able to adapt to our industry’s rapid change are the ones with integrated, diverse skills. Even if you’re specializing, you still need the integration!

September, 2001.
By Molly E. Holzschlag. (Link to original article.)

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Posted by:   Molly | 12:06 | Comments (35)

Tuesday 10 October 2006

In Search of the Missing run-in Value

Vitamin has published my “In Search of the Missing run-in Value article.” Hop on over and let me know what you think in the comments there.

And one more pimp our own kool-aid moment while I’m at it, there are now only a few seats left for Carson Workshops “CSS for Developers” – Malarkey and I want you there, and we’ve been in excellent presentation form if I do say so myself! You’re surely in for a fun, educational, and rewarding experience.

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Posted by:   Molly | 06:14 | Comments Off on In Search of the Missing run-in Value

Monday 9 October 2006

Phtttt to the Phunk, Let’s Talk Photos

Okay, I’m out of my more or less funk, mostly due to jetlag, exhaustion and disappointment. But, onward, dear friends.

I’m Flickring (is that a verb?) all sorts of photos from my recent journeys and stops along the way: Sydney, Singapore, Madrid, Oviedo. Check ’em out!

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Posted by:   Molly | 11:12 | Comments (12)

Sunday 8 October 2006

Somewhere Outside London

Due to a series of unplanned, messy and ultimately just plain crap circumstances I’m somewhere outside of London instead of celebrating a wedding I was planning to attend. I’m feeling pretty low as a result, although I’m sure my mood will pick up later this week when I’m in London proper and can visit with friends and so forth.

My Carson Workshop, CSS for Developers, with Andy Clarke, still has some seats left on the 19th. I’d love to see you there! If you’re thinking of going, please don’t hesitate to post if you have any questions about the event. There’s also a Geek Dinner for me on the 20th, which I hope anyone in London and vincinity who is interested and able will come out for and enjoy dinner and geeky conversations and just plain old good fun.

And any pick-me up jokes, words of comfort, and general help-make-Molly-feel-better tales you might have will be very welcomed!

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Posted by:   Molly | 14:20 | Comments (26)

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