design, technology, tips

A Fix for when InDesign Split Columns Doesn't Work

Thanks to David at InDesign Secrets I’ve verified a little bug with InDesign’s Split Columns feature. Apparently if you try to split columns at the end of a story it just won’t work.

The solution is easy enough though:

  1. Add an extra empty paragraph to the end of the story.
  2. Split the column as you would normally.
  3. Delete the extra empty paragraph.

I can’t explain why it is that you need the extra paragraph there to make the column split, or why you can delete it immediately afterwards with no ill effect, but I am certain this method (while slightly cumbersome) works.

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design, technology

Running IE 6 and IE 7

Anyone who does web design learns quickly that Microsoft Internet Explorer is a pain in the butt. Why Microsoft has decided to create its own bizarre standards is a question that only Microsoft can answer, but it’s the web designers who have to deal with it. With the emergence of IE 7 a Microsoft created yet another fun problem to deal with. IE 7 is far far better at following the standards set for web browsers, but that doesn’t help for IE 6. But that isn’t the problem, the problem is that IE 7 copies over IE 6. It is very difficult to get the two running side by side without help, which is annoying since web designers need to test sites is both browsers. Microsoft’s solution to this problem was to release versions of Virtual PC that only run IE 6 and expire after a few months. Meaning that designers need to download a +500mb file every few months and dedicate a huge chunk of hard drive and system resources just to test IE 6.

But there is a better way and Tredsoft has found it. They have released an installer that lets you have multiple versions of Internet Explorer on your PC, they call it Multiple IE installer. While the name doesn’t leave much to the imagination the app does exactly what you’d want. It can install IE 5, IE 5.5, IE 6, or any combination thereof.

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design, tips

Using <object> in Internet Explorer

As a web designer I hate Internet Explorer. Microsoft often makes their own rules despite there being rules in place already. I will say however that IE is getting better at following standards with each new version of its browser. The Big Problem™ is that sometimes IE interferes with a page remaining valid XHTML. There is a workaround for almost all of IE quirks, but it is often a long treacherous road to get there, and sometimes the fix is worse than the problem.

One way IE makes life hard is when a person needs to embed a webpage inside a webpage. Admittedly this should almost never happen because it is usually a bad idea. However, sometimes it is a good idea. The only time I’ve found it useful is in my web chess program. It is a good use because I require two separate elements to refresh at different intervals. Also, by limiting what refreshes it cuts down on page load and makes it so the main page never has the refresh blink (that second of white before things load in the browser).

Until now I’ve been using the <iframe> element to embed those pages because it seemed to be the only cross-browser solution. Today I discovered that someone took the long treacherous road and found a way to use the <object> element. The key is the classid:

classid="clsid:25336920-03F9-11CF-8FD0-00AA00686F13"

To learn more about using the element and making it work in IE read Brad Wrights discussion of the technique.

update: using the classid above breaks objects in FireFox 3 beta 5

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design, wordpress

A Temporary Fix to Keep WordPress XHTML Friendly

Today I discovered two bugs in wordpress that keep it from being valid xhtml. They don’t happen in all occasion, but I was lucky enough to hit both with a project I was working on.

The first bug happens when you are using the links widget and have more than one category of links. What you get is multiple items marked with the same id. That is a no-no. Fortunately a kind person offered a fix right in the comments of the bug report.

Here’s a stupid simple fix. Add this right before the call to wp_list_bookmarks() in [widgets.php]:
$before_widget = preg_replace('/id="[^"]*"/','id="%id"', $before_widget);

The second bug is when the Archives widget is used and the “Display as a drop down” option is checked. The problem is that it uses “onChange” when it should use “onchange.” To fix this just do a search & replace in the widgets.php file.

I love WordPress, and I am glad that these fixes were easy, I hope that they (along with some of the other xhtml issues) get sorted out in the next release. If they don’t you’ll have to reapply these changes every update until they do.

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