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Main Points

This is our FAQ page, Frequently Asked Questions! Need help? Have questions? They may have been answered here already! Look for something you need to know, browse the questions we have posted, or check out our Reader's Guide. Hopefully, you'll find all the help you need. If not, Contact Us! We're more than ready to assist our visitors in any way we can.


Why is there a little rectangle below the heading on each page?

You don't have Javascript.

OK, so you deserve a little more than that. The rectangle is a text field. We style the text field and use it as a visual container. Then our Javascript creates a clock and dumps the text of the clock into the text field. No Javascript? Nothing to go into the field and so it just sits there. At some point we may play with correcting this. But none of our programmers has much experience here. Our primary goal has been to ensure Javascript accessibility on the progressive enhancement model. Making a text box in Javascript in such a way that the clock is inaccessible, is something we've literally been programming against, so that may take some work. However, we do find it fitting that the first question on the FAQ of Earth Chronicle 1.0 was about our clock, and once again on Earth Chronicle 2.0 that's how we're starting. Obviously, we'll have to design a revamped clock that needs explaining for Earth Chronicle 3.0! :)

[chroniclemaster1, 2007/07/10]

We've now corrected this problem. We abolished the text field altogether. Instead of the text field, we simply wrote a div into it's place. It has a short text blurb -- one of our easter eggs. ;) Our Javascript replaces the text with our clock. If your computer is fast enough, you never see the text blurb. If you have Javascript disabled or for some other reason you don't see the clock, you never see anything else. Try experimenting to see if you can find out what it says.

[chroniclemaster1, 2007/07/10]

I'm getting a little rectangle(s) on the page in the middle of the text? Why?

Your computer probably doesn't support rendering for one of the more unusual escape characters. Browsers replace a character it doesn't understand with that rectangle; it's telling you it doesn't know what that character is. Check out our test page to see which characters do and don't render for you.

Why does my page have lots of red borders? / Why does my page have no red borders?

Differentiation. Red borders indicate a core webpage where "normal" links work fine. If a link goes to a holding page, we apply the holdingLink class and it turns this color. Testing pages where we are trying out new techniques and new technologies are frozen when completed and the navigation so far has quickly become outdated. On testing pages "normal" links may work but in practice typically do not. We therefore mark the few links which do work using the working link color. So if your page has red borders, it's a core page and all normal links will work, just be aware that links this color haven't been built yet. However, if your page does not have red borders, the "normal" links will most likely not work. The best thing to do is navigate back, or look for working links this color which will allow you to navigate away. Always remember that regardless of where you are you can always go back until you get to a core page where the links work. This is frequently the fastet way to get where you want to go.

EC Development Principles

Why do you follow web standards-based design principles? What are you a hippy? Customize your code for every different browser on the planet, like a real code jockey.

No thanks. We'll pass on the honor of writing up 50 different versions of the webpage, styles sheets, Javascript, etc. Plus, every time a new browser comes out (and Firefox is updated with extreme regularity), you have new style sheets you have to do for every page. If you're serious about taking this approach. That's what generated the web standards movement, and on those points they are absolutely correct.

Designing for specific browsers is more work than standards based design. I'm sure it doesn't seem like that when you're trying to get a design out the door, probably with an angry client breathing down your neck. But you have to get it working in each browser somehow. If you have incompatibility issues, its almost always because you're using a poorly supported technology. Abandon it. There are always... ok *Almost* always an alternative. CSS and Javascript give you too many ways to skin a cat to settle for something that doesn't work. Our approach to standards-based design can pretty much be summed up as, "Do it right the first time."

[chroniclemaster1, 2007/07/10]

Standards based! What do you mean standards based?!? I just tested a webpage on the W3C validator and it FAILED! You're not Standards Based!

*sigh* Can't we get along in peace? Further proof that the middle is the worst place to be in a religious war. Well... We believe what we are doing IS in fact standards based design. However, while we check all our webpages with the W3C's validator, for practical reasons W3C validation is not a requirement for our pages. The short answer is, the W3C has been revealed to be a bit of a sham. Most notably the keyboard accessibility fix we developed requires an illegal attribute. However, if you follow the W3C's guidelines on HTML, your website will not allow disabled users to navigate properly. So each internal page link will throw a validation error.

No browser renders webpages as dictated by the W3C, and they have been absolutely powerless in their efforts to enforce standards based rendering. Not even Firefox. Certainly not Opera or Safari. Microsoft?? Holy cow where do we start on that one? This leads to some highly embarrassing results. CSS Zen Garden, for example is a hot bed of web standards based design. It's one of my favorite sites and an inspiration for designers across the web. However, I've seen examples that force you to switch to Firefox because they fail... not look bad... Fail in Internet Explorer. The W3C's response?? Currently they're trying to generate interest in their new web standards based browser. Even hard core developers feel that *another* browser is not the answer, and the general public has never even heard of it. The W3C is unquestionably an important organization, but one wonders how they could be so out of touch.

Another one of many examples is Flash. Any webpage at Earth Chronicle with a Flash file on it (*cough* *cough* homepage), will not validate. While we are not familiar with who started the fight, the upshot is that the W3C and Mozilla refuse to cooperate on sensible guidelines for Flash. There is a cottage industry of W3C friendly methods for incorporating Flash, but they all carry problems and downsides of their own (e.g. most are completely Javascript dependent). On the other hand, the standard HTML code which Flash generates satisfies virtually every test except W3C validation. So when it comes to Flash, we say screw validation; we'll use what actually works. In our opinion the natural solution is for the W3C to get over itself and add Mozilla's <embed> tag implementation or for Mozilla to recognize the W3C approved <object> implementation. However, we are not holding our breath. We're just using Flash in the most sensible way, and if that cramps W3C validation, we'll live.

While we like to stick very closely to web standards as dictated by the W3C, we do so because it makes for good coding and best practices. We do so because it is practical and makes for good webpages that will likely render better now and especially into the unknown future of web technology changes. However, we are not posting webpages to garner W3C approval. We're posting them for our visitors. 99% of them don't even know what web standards are, much less care about them. Standards are a means to the end of user-friendly, flexible, powerful webpages that create a fun, interesting, and useful website. That is what generated the web standards movement in the first place and it is right on. However, when web standards get in the way of those goals, then it's no contest which is more important.

So you're using Flash! I think that's (Awesome/Unforgivable)! - Choose One.

Flash is a problematic technology, one of the most problematic on the internet. It has so many pluses and minuses it's hard to know where to start. 1) As noted above, there is no web standards friendly way to add flash to a web page. 2) Search engines dominate the internet and Flash fundamentally fails to index on Google and other search engines. There are some mitigating techniques. However, SEO is so important that's it's difficult to justify Flash from a marketing standpoint. 3) Flash (as a program, e.g. Flash CS3) is so different (and pretty twitchy) that it's difficult to create Flash movies. Experience in other web technologies is virtually useless, you just have to dive in and start learning it from the beginning. 4) Actionscript is the programming language behind Flash. It is problematic in general, and specifically it has no capacity for server side scripting. That means you have to use Actionscript and something else to incorporate Flash into a typical application, and getting them to talk to one another is close to uncharted territory. Oh, and the alternative is to create completely custom application design techniques on your own. This is actually the biggest knock on Flash, since it's inordinately difficult to build functional applications that have made PHP and ASP.NET so successful on the internet today.

On the other hand check out our homepage. 1) Flash is a vector based graphics program; this makes Flash files ridiculously small and quick to download compared to Any competing technology. 2) It's fully compatible with all non-vector graphics technologies allowing you to import .jpgs, .gifs, audio, and even video files. Moreover, Flash allows you to manipulate these objects much more effectively then you otherwise would. For example, You Tube has dominated video by using a Flash video format which is now the dominant video technology on the internet. 3) XHTML layout is fundamentally based on rectangles throughout the page. Flash allows easy incorporation of curves shattering the rectangular boxy looks typical of webpage (even CSS based) layouts. 4) Flash Moves. Animated .gifs and javascripts can create motion, but they're relatively large, they're jumpy, and Javascript is not as well supported as Flash. A Flash webpage tends to shock the user precisely because it looks so natural and moves so smoothly and realistically compared to the alternatives. As people become more used to technologies that move, this shock will go away and everyone will assume, even demand that webpages be Flash or replicate that visual look. For all those reasons, we think Flash isn't going away anytime soon and we look forward to Flash upgrades or Flash alternatives that begin to address it's substantial weaknesses.

Not what you're looking for? Read over our general introduction, the Reader's Guide, for a short explanation of our site.