New site: REA Software

It is my pleasure to announce a recent project that has gone live!

Together with Western Sky Communications, I worked on a redesign for
REA, a commercial Real Estate contact management software developer. Martha Retallick of Western Sky Communications designed the site, and simpledream took care of XHTML, CSS, and getting the code up to speed with current web standards.

Was: (site is not available as of April 1, 2014)

Meaningful Updates for Blog Posts

Have you ever posted a blog entry, read it back to yourself, and found that you made some errors? Happens every day to most people!

I was listening to Tantek Çelik’s talk at WE05 entitled Meaningful XHTML and he talked about a meaningful way to update your blog posts.

The basic ideas is this: instead of updating a post by going in, editing, and then saving, Tantek recommends using semantic markup to show what has been updated.

The roots of this idea are in the trust and accountability of blogs and bloggers: once it’s posted, it stays. It goes along with the idea of permalinks, which are truly intended to be “permanent links”. If you use them what you are really saying is: this is up here and I am going to take responsibility for it.

Mistakes and errors occur often, of course. How to show that you aren’t changing the original post except to update it’s content? When you update the blog post, simply wrap the old content in <del></del> and wrap the new content in <ins></ins>.

Then apply some CSS (for example):

p ins,p del { display:inline }
ins {
  background-color: #ffc;
  font-weight: bold;
  text-decoration: none;
del {
  color: #999;

If you did this on my site, this is what an updated post would look like:

AJ took a great picture of a Monarch Queen butterfly in Arizona this week.

The blog post doesn’t change, it just gets updated with new information. I love that Tantek brought this up in his podcast because I haven’t been good myself at putting this into practice.

It’s a great idea because it not only reinforces using semantic markup but also helps promote honest and responsible blogging practices.

If you are interested in hearing his whole talk, go to the WE05 podcast page and download the audio file there. Then link to the slides (see above), listen, learn, and enjoy!

TopStyle, the Ultimate CSS and HTML Editor

Do you work with CSS and (X)HTML all day long? If you do, then you need to use TopStyle for your coding. Written and maintained by Nick Bradbury of HomeSite and FeedDemon fame, TopStyle is the best CSS editor out there. It isn’t bad for HTML, PHP, JavaScript, and other languages, too.

Even if you don’t code CSS and (X)HTML all day, it’s worth having TopStyle around for the occasional blog post or web site update. It integrates nicely with HTML Tidy for clean code, and has lots of the built in features that users of HomeSite and later versions of Dreamweaver are already used to. In fact, Dreamweaver ships with a lightweight copy of TopStyle for CSS coding.

For those of you that already use Dreamweaver for your web coding needs, check out this great article: Working with TopStyle – Part 1 (on CommunityMX). It explains how Dreamweaver and TopStyle can be used together for top-notch web design and development. A lot of features that people ask for in TopStyle exist already in Dreamweaver; it’s a great combination in my opinion.

If you already have a copy of TopStyle, improve your skills by following Nick and company’s TopStyle Tips from Pro Users blog. I just learned recently about extending TopStyle to validate PHP with a TopStyle extension called “Lint“.

I have used TopStyle for over 2 years and can’t be happier with it’s ease of use and efficient features, especially for CSS. Check it out if you haven’t already!