Monday, May 23

On Flickr and Ajax and accessibility and busting a cap in black box businesses

Woohoo! Flickr has de-Flashed their primary photo pages.

Flickr is constantly working to improve their usability. All it takes is a quick look at their development log and flickr blog to see they're extremely focused on usability. EXTREMELY. Most recently they've "de-Flashed" their primary photo page making it INFINITELY more ACCESSIBLE while keeping the usability fun and effective.

With all this hype about Ajax I think that developers and business managers are finally starting to get the accessibility and useability issue. Yes, our wee little industry of "web designers" is finally starting to grow up. I'm so happy we're making great strides beyond the "garage web design" days of yore.

Certainly I love that any designer can start out of a garage, but I'm talking about good old appreciation for web designers. I'm talking about not having to start every interview and meeting with justifying my rates against someone working out of a garage. (No bitterness hear ;)

Why? Because people on the whole are starting to get the ROI of good useability and accessibility. It's not just AJAX technologies either, it's also RSS, trackbacks, permalinks and the fact that open source, yes OPEN SOURCE and open standards have allowed the the conversation to evolve and become more sophisticated on the value of our accessibility and the mechanisms, standards and technologies that make this possible. I'm thinking of creating a "stars of accessibility and useability" contest and inviting all the good designers to promote the technologies and standards that have not only made our jobs easier to do, but made the climate may favorable for what we do. I'm sure programmers will share in this love.

  1. CSS - nobody and nothin' has done more
  2. RSS - for teaching that portable data rules!
  3. XML
  4. the permalink - for teaching that accessibility RULES, if I can't bookmark it I can't share it!
  5. Javascript - I love you, no I hate you, no I love you, so much
  6. Mozilla/Firefox for helping bust the standards hump
  7. the W3C - for standardizing and modularizing the metaverse
  8. comments - for teaching the infinite benefits of a two way conversation to everyone
  9. the blog in general - it has given us so much
  10. open source which made code accessible to the masses
  11. wiki's the MS Word of the next 50 years for potentials yet unrealized
  12. metadata - I bask in glowing concept of you
  13. WYSIWYG - still working on it after all these years?
  14. Flash - for getting the fudge out of the way and letting the content LIVE!
  15. mp3 - for teaching the SHEER POWER of standards to create an industry
  16. mpeg - for doing the same in video
  17. Quicktime - for getting everyone's act in line (accept win media and Real)
  18. for the death of DRM - because it needs to die and is NOBODIES friend

Oh, I could go on and ON, and ON, but 17 stream of conscious it's is quite enough.

The point is we're de-black boxing design!

Yes, let me say it again, though many many designers of old resisted and have even fought against letting their craft out of the bag, even guarding and maintaining the built mystique we are successfully breaking down the barriers, barriers built out of protectionism and fear that in fact HURT our profession. Our customers are now more educated, they have a higher understanding and therefore a higher DEMAND for quality design. This is serving everyone better. EVERYONE... the end customer.. the programers we work with... the clients... and yes even ourselves because we're allowed to be the design geeks we've always wanted to be. We're allowed to wax poetic about standards and accessibility and usability (and blather endlessly on our blogs) and not only do our clients know what we're talking about, but they're right there with us, partners in the creation of their own projects. Partners in creating BETTER products, more accessible products, more usable products, better experiences, and more humane interfaces. All the things I love. It makes my heart weep tears of joy.

So, when i see a development and company blog like this one from Flickr, you can bet your arsenal it makes me a happy camper... as a designer, as a end client, as blogger I can love web services again. Heh! I can even love Yahoo again! This focus on good design kicks butt. Come to think of it why is Yahoo continuing to rock with Flickr when Google has ground new features and developments on blogger to a halt. What gives Google?


12th May, 2005
We'll we've gone and done it. In answer to countless requests, photo pages no longer use a Macromedia Flash wrapper to display photos; instead we are using an old technology called 'DHTML.'

In addition, the 'Send to Group,' 'Add to Set,' and 'Blog This' buttons above photos now allow you to perform relevant actions right there on the page!

And also, links now work in notes! (And we'll soon be adding some more cool auto-linking features when the links point to Flickr pages.)

Also rolled into this release are a whole lot of little tweaks and fixes that should make your photo page viewing more enjoyable all around.

11th May, 2005
IPTC support (finally)! Friends, today there's another good thing in Flickrland, and that's support for IPTC data embedded into your photos. Keywords become tags! Captions become descriptions! Marvel as one framework's terminology is swapped for another! Smile as the location fields in IPTC become Flickr tags! Discuss.

10th May, 2005
Remember the 5MB limit per photo for your uploads? That was the olden days! Now pro account users can upload photos of up to 10MB each (while, perhaps, cursing their ISP for the slow upload connection - in this age of the two web, why the asynchronousness, o ISPs?)"

19 May '05, 2.49pm EDT
In our continuing quest to make photo pages more better, we've made it so that when adding/removing a photo to a set/group via the menus, the relevant 'context widget' appears/disappears appropriately. ('Context widgets' are those listings of the groups/sets the photo belongs to that appear in the right column.)

17 May '05, 4.30pm EDT
We've made it easier to remove photos from sets on photo pages! Just like the 'send to group' menu, the 'add to set' menu now sports a little [X] that appears after the set name, which'll remove the photo form the set.

17 May '05, 1.14pm EDT
We've made it easier to remove photos from group pools, with a little [X] that appears after the group name in the 'send to group' menu on photo pages. And we fixed a bug that kept that and other menus from working properly for groups and sets with a ' in their name. Still to come: removing a photo from a set in the same manner, and more!

27 Apr '05, 8.56pm EDT
The ability to change the view on the page that shows photos from your contacts is back! And much, much faster!

22 Apr '05, 8.01pm EDT
Group pool pages have been seriously optimized. Even the biggies load in under a second! Have a look at the Flickr Central pool (one of the biggest). Now you don't have to wait forever to see new photos in the pool, or who's posted the most additions, or what the top five tags are. Phew!


12 Apr '05, 2.21pm EDT
In our neverending quest for performance optimization, we've made a little tweak to the page that shows photos from your contacts. There was a switch on that page that allowed you to change between seeing one photo or all photos from each of your contacts. This switch has been temporarily set to one photo per contact, while we do some tightening up of the database performance. (By the way, if you are subscribing to RSS feeds of this information, your feed will just contain one photo per person too.)

It will be back, in one form or another.

25 Feb '05, 2.52pm EDT
There's lots of great information in the public forums on Flickr, and until now it's been a little hard to find.

So, we've improved the way forum searches work to help you zero in on what you're looking for. Now, the more words you add to the search field, the narrower the search. Also, we've made the search results sortable, so you can do things like see results by most recent reply, or the most replies.

11 Feb '05, 7.50pm EDT
We've added pagination to group topics. If there are more than 100 replies, there will be more than one page.

In the list of current topics (e.g. FlickrCentral) you can see a new link in the Latest Post column. This link shows up if there is more than one page, and takes you to the last page, where you are able to reply if you're a member.

7 Feb '05, 8.25pm EDT
As requested, we've added some more options to the timeline selector on the Recent Changes in groups you're a member of.

Did someone say "better, faster, easier, newer"? What ever happened to stonger anyway?

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