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Updated: 2016-05-12T20:06:53+02:00


The IE7 Myth


A while ago, we got contacted at by the Internet Explorer 7 compatibility team about layout issues in IE7 on our site. The e-mail was intended to help web developers prepare for IE7 by pointing out problems. My guess was that Microsoft had used a web crawler to look for various CSS signposts (with human verification afterwards):

"The page does not display properly in IE 7 due to specific CSS Hacks that we have deprecated in IE 7. We believe that this issue is likely caused by the use of the Underscore, html>body and Star HTML Hacks on your CSS file which has been removed from IE 7. In IE 6, the layout appears correct since the specific hack being used is supported in that version of IE. ... Removal of these hacks will resolve this issue."

I got really annoyed by that last line because it's plain untrue. What's worse is that I've noticed similar comments made by others in the Drupal community (and elsewhere): "[Some site] is broken in IE7 because they use IE6 hacks". As the person who designed the theme, I want to clear this up because it's a big fat lie and it's easy to see why.

Any sane designer these days will design for the standards-compliant browsers like Firefox and then sprinkle on CSS hacks to make it work in IE6. The very nature of these hacks is that they are invalid CSS, which only IE6 considers valid (e.g. a { _display: none; }). Standards-compliant browsers ignore invalid CSS rules (as specified in the specs), so the hacks have no effect on them.

Because IE7 fixed the parsing bugs, it can now be considered one of those standards-compliant browsers (for parsing CSS anyway). This means that whether IE6 hacks are present or not will have no effect whatsoever on how the site looks in IE7.

So, whether intentional or not, Microsoft has been flat out lying. And by doing so they're shifting the blame for their screw-ups to the same designers they've been torturing for years.

Well, I'm tired of taking the blame: my design works fine in those programs that are worthy of the name browser.

New Design for


If you're not reading this through an aggregator, you will have already noticed: I've redesigned my website.

The last theme lasted about 2.5 years, so it was time for something new and fresh.

Now, I don't know about you, but honestly I'm a bit tired of all the pastelly rounded corners and soft shadows that are all the rage today. Sure, it looks nice and neutral, but I'd prefer something with a little more oomph. So, after a day of fun with vectors tools, a highly saturated color palette and some browser-fighting, my geometric theme (uncreatively called Acko8) is completed.


The result is, as you'd expect, tableless and semantic XHTML/CSS. The theme should work from 800x600 up without scrolling (though at higher resolutions, more eye candy sticks out on the sides). Whether it is aesthetically pleasing depends of course on your own tastes. But I sure love the way it turned out!

What's cool is that I specifically crafted the underlying CSS skeleton to allow images to 'break out' of the text flow. The previous design tried this as well, but had several nasty issues with it. The effect is quite nice.

Aside from the looks I already reorganised the site a bit. The front door page was removed in favor of a more direct approach. I put my side projects a bit more in the spotlight as well. Finally, I emphasised the personal aspect, with a clear explanation of the site's purpose in the upper-right corner on every page.

Comments welcome!

Degradable Javascript Widget Fun


At BarCamp Amsterdam, I worked with Adrian Rossouw on a UI for styling a website. The result is a pretty cool color picker like in Gimp or Photoshop, but without Flash or Java. It just uses Javascript, CSS and transparent PNGs. It degrades to regular textboxes where you type/paste an HTML color code.

A bit later, Chris Messina suggested a slider control. Not much later, it was finished. It degrades to a plain select box, which is where the slider values are taken from. Its main purpose is to be used to select between options, and not for arbitrary continuous ranges.

These will soon be coming to a Drupal site near you after some more polishing and bug testing. Whether they will be used in Drupal 4.7 remains to be seen (though I can already think of a few spots where they would be useful).

Yay for open-source developer cross pollination :).

DrupalCon - Theme Development presentation


At FOSDEM I gave a presentation about Theme Development for the Drupal Conference in the Drupal developer's room. You can take a look at the slides. The topics I covered are:

  • Overview of the Drupal theme system
  • Making the FriendsElectric theme
  • Clean, semantic XHTML/CSS
  • Some examples of sexy Drupal sites

The presentation was filmed, the video is available through BitTorrent. For info on how to play the Ogg Theora files, check these instructions.

The other presentations are linked on

Read on for some useful links related to Drupal theming. Drupal-related

Some useful CSS links



Finally got around to redesigning the site. I didn't really like the previous red one anyway. However, aside from cosmetics I've also reorganised things quite a bit. The site is now divided in 3+1 parts (Art, Blog, Coding and 'everything else'). I hope things will be easier to find for everyone. Oh and note the spiffy Clean URLs too.

I've had to pull some tricks to get the menu to work, and it doesn't yet cascade down for subsections. I hope the menu-system changes in Drupal will be finalized soon.

Comments are welcome as always. The forum is stuck under Dump if you've got something else to talk about. Old accounts will still work, and Drupal authentication is enabled too.