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Kimberly Blessing

In Control Orlando

1 min read

In Control OrlandoIf you're planning which conferences you'll attend next year, be sure to look in to In Control Orlando, a Web Design Workshop Conference, being held February 22-23 in Orlando, Florida!

I presented at In Control Cincinnati this year and thought it was great. As a presenter, having only 60 minutes to relay your information and message can cause you to rush -- but the workshop format lengthens each talk to an hour and 45 minutes so there's plenty of time for taking it easy, giving demos, and answering questions. I think that makes for a much better experience for attendees, too -- no more furious note-taking without ideas sinking in!

As for the presenters, you'll be learning from some industry leaders: Jared Spool, Ethan Marcotte, Kelly Goto, Stephanie Sullivan, and Christopher Schmitt. (Nope, sorry, I won't be there... and I'm kinda jealous, because I'd really like to see these folks speak!)

Interested? Want to get $50 off the registration price? Use this discount code: INCKIMB

Kimberly Blessing

CSS & Troubleshooting IE6

3 min read

This past Saturday I gave my CSS Summit presentation on CSS & Troubleshooting IE6. Feel free to download the presentation slides to check out what I covered!

In the chat room, a number of questions and comments came up regarding the use of CSS hacks to address IE. I don't know how many people were in the camp of "all hacks are bad, all CSS must validate!" versus "who cares, use all the hacks you want", but I was put on the spot and asked for my two cents. I said something to the effect of, "Aiming to write CSS which validates is a great goal and perfectly achievable on your personal site, but when putting together a site for work or for a client, especially a large site, you may find that using hacks is easier to write and read, and will scale better over time -- so long as you plan a way out." I think that resonated with some of the folks in attendance, who have always felt that to honor the Web Standards cause, a developer always had to follow the best practices and have valid code at all times.

So, just to reiterate, no, you don't have to have valid markup and style sheets all of the time. In fact, there are times where you'll intentionally code something not valid -- whether it's the use of the target attribute for an anchor to make sure a link opens in a new tab/window, or whether it's the application of a hack in your CSS, so a future developer doesn't have to look through multiple CSS files to figure out what you did. I think this is perfectly acceptable, provided you execute the hack consciously. At almost all of the large companies where I've worked*, we've had to use hacks or deliver non-valid code. It's just a fact of life. It's what you know about your non-validating code, what you plan for**, that matters.

*At PayPal, we attempted to maintain separate IE6 and IE7 style sheets, called with conditional comments; this caused developers to have to write additional CSS in many cases, as the CSS architecture included a global CSS file, one or more product/flow/page-specific CSS files, and then these IE-specific CSS files. Due to the cascade, overwriting one style in the IE-specific CSS file sometimes meant writing additional lines of CSS to restore a style -- unless you could ensure that tweaking selectors in the other CSS files to make them more specific would be a better fix, without breaking any other pages... perhaps you see where I'm going with this? With over 100 developers potentially working on a bit of code, decoupling IE-specific styles created a nightmare situation, which inline hacks would have solved in a way that would have been easier to read and easier to maintain.

**On the other hand, at CIM, we have no coding standards (yet), so each developer appears to be addressing browser-specific issues in whatever way they want. I've seen multiple hacks used in our code and backing them out later is going to be a major challenge. When you do use hacks, make sure everyone on the project/working on the site uses the same ones!

So, with that, you have my permission to use hacks and write non-validating code -- just make sure you have a good reason for doing so, in case someone comes asking why you did it. 'Cause I won't back you up if you don't have solid justification!

Kimberly Blessing

Having trouble troubleshooting IE6?

2 min read

In case you hadn't already heard, The CSS Summit is coming to a desktop near you on Saturday, July 18! This online conference is offering a slate of presenters who will talk about typography, CSS3, flexible layouts, HTML5, jQuery, troubleshooting IE6, and more.

Since it's an online conference, there are no travel expenses, and registration is only $139 for individuals! (If you want to round up a group of folks in your living room or office, you can register as a meeting room for just $439!) However, if you register via this link, you'll get $25 off the price!

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, I'm presenting on the topic of troubleshooting IE6. Unlike most Web developers, I don't hate IE6. In fact, it has a special place in my heart, as it enabled my team at AOL to build some of the most awesomely advanced CSS-based grids and templates ever. (No joke, I see folks still trying to do what we did back in the day!) Yes, I still get frustrated by having to deal with some of the odd bugs it presents with, from time to time, but generally I've learned how to plan for and work around those bugs. So that's what I'll be speaking to.

Of course, if you have particular pain points or concerns that you think I should address, please let me know by adding your two cents here. Thanks!

Kimberly Blessing

Are you In Control?

1 min read

The good folks at AIGA Cincinnati have announced a new Web design conference -- the In Control Web Design Workshop Conference -- which will be held June 11-12 in Cincinnati.

Organized largely by Christopher Schmitt, it's a single-track conference of longer workshops. Unlike other conferences where sessions last an hour, speakers at this conference will be in control (ha!) of the mic for nearly two hours. This will give attendees the opportunity to really dive into the topics being presented!

I'm leading a workshop on my favorite topic -- style guides and standards. After many years of creating and maintaining style guides, and many requests from readers like you, I'm finally working on some templates which will be part of the materials given away at this session.

If you want to be among the first to get these resources, register now! Through May 10, use discount code INCBLES to get $50 off the early bird rate. Managers, discounts available for groups of three or more.

Kimberly Blessing

Web Conference Discounts

2 min read

I have a few speaking gigs coming up in May and June, and currently those conferences are offering some discounts. Register soon for early bird savings, and let me know if you'll be at any of my talks!

WebVisions - May 22-23 in Portland, Oregon: I'll be giving a talk called Web Site Optimization in Seven Easy Steps on Friday the 23rd at 2:45 PM. Register by March 31st (meep! very soon!) and the cost is only $180 for a conference pass, or sign up for a workshop for $375 and get the conference pass for only $130!

Voices That Matter: Web Design Conference - June 10-13 in Nashville, Tennesee: On Friday, June 13 at 10:15 AM I'll teach attendees about creating design and development standards in the workplace. Use discount code WDDSPKR to get $200 off any conference package. Early bird pricing is in effect until May 2nd.

An Event Apart - June 23-24 in Boston, Massachusetts: Standing between you and lunch is where I'll be on Tuesday the 24th at 12:15 PM; hear me talk about standards in the enterprise and then they'll let you eat. And you can get $50 off with code AEABLESS; with early bird pricing (through May 26) get an additional $100 off.

Kimberly Blessing

Inventing the Future at GHC07

1 min read

Another year, another Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing!

This year I'm attending both TechLeaders and GHC. Last night I even got to party with the Tapia folks!

If I have time to write more here, I will... but otherwise watch the GHC flickr group, twitter, and wiki to learn about what's going on!

Kimberly Blessing

Making Me a Speaker

2 min read

I owe some thanks to colleagues and friends in the Web world for recent highlights and opportunities, so here goes...

Kudos to Meri Williams for setting up the Make Me a Speaker site and thanks for interviewing me for it! Meri set up this site after the topic of women speakers at conferences came up back in February. A lot of the hype has died down, but I hope that the information and resources on the site will continue to be useful for anyone seeking to start or improve their career as a speaker/presenter.

Kit Seeborg and I met at SXSW last year, and this year she invited me to speak at WebVisions in Portland. I was grateful for the opportunity to start speaking about how I've made process the driver behind integrating Web standards, but I was even more grateful for the chance to finally visit Portland (having heard so much about it from Ben Henick) and to meet some great people, like Erica O'Grady (yet another woman who does so much for the Web industry, and just so much in general!). Sadly, I didn't get to spend any time with Kit, but Erica and I did have a good heart-to-heart while perusing the shelves at Powell's Books. It was a great conference and a great weekend, and next time, Kit, we're doing dinner -- work be damned!

Then I was absolutely bowled over when Rob Dickerson invited me to give the closing keynote at the Penn State Web Conference. I'll admit that, at first, I wasn't sure how I'd translate my industry experience for an audience that was supporting academia... but then I realized that that's how I started out, and academia actually helped prepare me for much of what I encountered in industry! I just hope that all of my 'how to be an evangelist and advocate for processes and roles that support standards' mumbo-jumbo translated well, and that attendees will find it useful. I was thoroughly impressed by the other presenters, most of whom were from the university system, and I had a great time at Quaker Steak and Lube (a restaurant... really!) with Jared Spool, Dan Frommelt, and company. And I got to have ice cream at the PSU Creamery! Mmmm!

Kimberly Blessing

Obligatory Pre-SXSW Post

1 min read

Alrighty folks, it's SXSW time.

Come to the WaSP Annual Meeting where we'll tell you what we've been up to, and where we'll be Takin' it to the Street on Monday, March 12 at 5 PM.

My AOL pals are doing another "How to Convince Your Company" panel, this time on embracing mashup culture. And Arun is also doing a browser wars panel, and I honestly can't think of anyone else who'd be better at leading such a discussion.

I was surprised to learn that PayPal is also getting involved in SXSW, by sponsoring an evening event: the PayPal SXSW Showdown. I'm going to meet the organizer later today and find out what it's all about. If you want to attend, be sure to RSVP!

Other stuff I'm looking forward to...

If you see me, stop me and say hello!

Kimberly Blessing

SxSW notes, for you and for me

2 min read

(This post originally started on March 13, 2006 at 10:36 AM CST)

The crazy thing about SxSW is that you get busy and don't have time to do the things you mean to do. It's not a bad thing, it's just the way it is. So you go with the flow.

Anyway, I wanted to post notes, cool quotes, and links to folks I've met (or reunited with). I'll update this whenever I have time... maybe not until after I get home!

So far, here are some new folks that I've met:

There are many people here that I already knew (virtually) but am meeting for the first time:

  • Chris Kaminski, a fellow WaSP member, and the guy who saved me from having to take time to write some scripts for the new site when I was still busy working on templates and design issues
  • Drew McLellan, another fellow WaSP and creator of 24ways
  • Kazuhito Kidachi, yet another fellow WaSP, whose done a fine job of translating and testing for the group

And I've gotta call out some of my AOL and ex-AOL friends:

  • Tom Crenshaw, fellow hockey fan, Corrado enthusiast, and author of the foreward to the Flash 8 Bible
  • JoRoan Lazaro, creator of the AOL Running Man

There are some really good pictures up on flickr from various activities, too:

And all of my photos are up on Flickr as well.

And here are the slides from the panel I did with my AOL pals!

Kimberly Blessing

Heading SxSW

1 min read

Well, since everyone else has mentioned it, I guess I should too!

If you're headed to , come to How to Convince Your Company to Embrace Standards on Tuesday at 10 AM. Kevin, Steve, Arun, Alla, and I will tell you how we got AOL to get with the times (and standards).

You can also see me speak with my friends from the Web Standards Project on Monday during WTF: WaSP Task Force Panel and later at the WaSP Annual Meeting (with a very special unveiling!).

Even if you don't come to any of my panels, don't be a stranger if you see me. I'm all about networking, talking geekery, or just being silly, so come say hello!