ALA and Sliding Doors

We’ve read words about a relaunch, seen hints of a new logo, and gazed at a teaser screen that promised it was coming soon. After weeks of patient waiting, the new version of A List Apart is here. For several years, the digital magazine has been serving up a wealth of informative articles, tutorials, and expositions for people who make websites. I welcome having this tremendous faucet cranked all the way open again. Congrats to the whole ALA team on the new launch.

Matching its 3.0 version number, ALA roars back with a triple-sized issue of three articles. The first article is a well-researched, thoughtfully-written piece by accessibility maven, Joe Clark. Facts and opinion about Fahrner Image Replacement reveals the data many of us wish we had known before we began using it. FIR was intended to enhance design control and accessibility at the same time. Unfortunately, Joe proves the technique fails at being accessible in screen readers when used for hiding important text. As stated at the bottom of my updated tutorial, we now have several alternative methods available, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

In another article, Random Image Rotation, Dan Benjamin demonstrates how to keep a site with static content looking fresh for returning visitors. It’s as simple as configuring a couple options in a small PHP script Dan provides.

As Zeldman hinted recently, the inaugural issue of ALA 3.0 also features an article I wrote about a new technique I’ve been perfecting. I’m hoping Sliding Doors of CSS will redefine new possibilities of what we can achieve in designing for the Web. Just because CSS makes heavy use of something called a Box Model, we certainly don’t need to limit ourselves to 90-degree angles and boxy designs. We can raise the bar right here, right now, with today’s current crop of browsers. No smoke or mirrors required. With very simple markup, a few CSS rules, and an inventive use of images, implementations of this new technique should only be limited by our creativity and imagination. Have at it.

Thanks to Jeffrey, Tantek, Eric, and Erin for pushing me to simplify the technique and its explanation. Direct any comments or feedback you might have to the ALA discussion forums linked at the bottom of each article.