For the past eight(8) years Schalk Neethling has been working as a freelance developer under the pseudo of Volume4 and is now the president of Overt Strategy Consulting. During this period he has completed over 300 projects ranging from full web application development to complete branding. As president and lead developer of Overt Strategy Consulting, Schalk Neethling and his team has released a 100% Java standards based content management system called AlliedBridge and business document exchange and review system, called Doc-Central. Schalk Neethling is also actively involved on a daily basis in the open source, web standards and accessibility areas and is a current active member of the Web Standards Group. Schalk is also the co-founder and president of the non-profit The South Web Standards and Accessibility Group, which aims to actively educate and raise awareness of web standards and accessibility to both the developer society as well as business large and small. Schalk also has a long relationship with DZone and is currently zone leader for both the web builder, css.dzone.com, as well as the .NET zone, dotnet.dzone.com, and you can find a lot of his writing there as well as on his blog located at schalkneethling.alliedbridge.com. Schalk is constantly expanding on his knowledge of various aspects of technology and loves to stay in touch with the latest happenings. For Schalk web development and the internet is not just a job, it is a love, a passion and a life style. Schalk has posted 173 posts at DZone. View Full User Profile

A Year In Retrospect - Web Builder Zone's Top 10 For 2008

12.23.2008
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2008 Has been a real mixed bag. From great browser releases from Opera and Mozilla to the latest world economic turmoil. We all definitely have some things to be excited and apprehensive about going into 2009. 

The Web Builder Zone came into my life in early 2008 and I have really enjoyed my first year as a zone editor and have made a lot of connections and had the opportunity to interview some really awesome folks. As one comes to the end of a year you tend to look back at the highlights and low-lights but, for this post, we are going to stay on the positive side and look at the Top 10 posts of 2008 on both the Web Builder and PHP Zones.

These articles made it into the top 10 based on the number of reads they received. So if there was any articles you feel should have been part of the top 10, let us know by leaving your comment. Enjoy!

10. Image Cross Fade Transition with jQuery

A frequent query and request I receive, and have had as a developer myself is: "How can I fade one image into another?”. In particular, Nathan Wrigley of pictureandword.com, needed a method which would fade one image into another on a mouse roll over event, and then slowly fade back once the mouse has moved of the image. Image rollovers were the staple JavaScript nugget of the 90s, and for a lot of JavaScript developers I know, one of the starting points that led to their passion for the JavaScript language. Today, rollovers are a no-brainer, whether with CSS or the simplest of JavaScript 

Editors Note: This was also the year I fell in love with jQuery. It just makes working with JavaScript so, so much simpler. This article from Remy Sharp, does a great job of showing you just how simple jQuery makes JavaScript. 

9. BIRT 2.3 What's New And the Ganymede IDE for Java Report Developers

BIRT is a top level project through Eclipse and one of the most popular tools for designing and developing reports for business. Web Builder Zone Leader, Schalk Neethling, recently had an  interview with BIRT evangelist Virgil Dodson with regards to the latest 2.3 release as well as the new Ganymede IDE for Java and Report Developers package.

Editors Note: At a consulting gig I had earlier this year part of the spec was designing and developing reports in PDF format. Having already been deep into the Eclipse world BIRT just seemed to be the perfect fit. So when the opportunity came up to interview Virgil Dodson, I jumped at the chance. A really great guy and the interview turned out to be great.

8. Apple Product Gallery with jQuery Slider Gallery

Michiel Kenis requested a tutorial explaining how to create a similar effect used to showcase the products on the Apple web site. This ‘product slider’ is similar to a straight forward gallery, except that there is a slider to navigate the items, i.e. the bit the user controls to view the items. Simple stuff. jQuery already has the plugins to create these effects so we don’t have to go about creating them ourselves from scratch.

Editors Note: Yet again jQuery and Remy Sharp comes to the rescue with this awesome tutorial. 

7. PHP Redirect Function

After form submission or a page redirect is triggered, it's commonplace to redirect the user to a different 
page or to the same page, formatted in a different way. Usually, you'd complete this by coding 

Editors Note:  Even though web development was rocked by Ruby on Rails a while back PHP still remains a very popular development language with web developers. In this post Daid Walsh describes how to accomplish page redirects in a very clear and concise way.

6. You Should Never Use Flags For Language Choice

Flag icons are pretty (like fam-fam-fam icon set). But flag represents a country, not a language. Isn't it obvious? No, it's obviously not! While I surfed the web yesterday I found several websites that use flags for language choice. Here are a few reasons why you'll never want to do that.

Editors Note: Janko Jovanovic stirred up the web builder zone and reddit with this post. If you have not read it, read it now and see on which side of the flag you stand.

5. CSS Message Boxes for different message types

Can you believe this: Few days ago I went to my bank to check my credit score with the Credit Bureau. The bank official typed in my personal data and sent a request. Web application responded by displaying a yellow message box with an exclamation icon saying that data processing is still in progress. He checked several more times, but he didn't notice that at one moment the message changed to "Account available". But the message box hasn't changed. He continued to check a few more times and eventually he realized that the request was successful.

Editors Note: Janko here touches on a point in web design and development that I feel strongly about. There are certain aspects of interface design where certain standards has been crafted and should really be followed by all. A really wonderful article.

4. Google Style Did You Mean....? in PHP

On a new website I am developing for a client I had to add the usual "Did you mean... ?" in the search results for her. Si I started thinking for the easiest way to do this. There are actually a lot of php functions out there to look for similar text. The most obvious one? similar_text() 

Editors Note: Who does not love and marvel at Google when you search for something and slightly mispel a word or two and Google asks you, Did you mean .... Well in this article you will learn how to miror this functionality in PHP.

3. reForm: CSS Form Design Template for Any Layout

Good form UI is a real challenge for designers. Form elements need to be large enough that users can view and edit data, but fit within an otherwise great design. The size of Basic HTML form element is typically static. Designs based on the fluid layout may find form elements huddled together on the left with a lot of white-space on the right. A well-balanced design can be lost to a left-aligned, imbalanced group of form elements. Or a designer may find themselves using tables to manage the form layout. This complicates tab-flow, usability and accessibility.

Editors Note: Joe Lippeatt is working on a standard library to make designing forms easier using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Head on over and read more about reForm.

2. Gmail Client Side Architecture Part 1

Gmail is the best web application I have ever seen. Simple implementation, Ajax, Chat, Status Messages, Fast Mail retrieval, live updating and its features are endless. When you type: www.gmail.com, the following actions will happen.

Editors Note: Want to know how GMail works from the client side? Find detailed information in this series of articles.

1. 9 Signs You Shouldn't Hire THAT Web Guy

My employer specializes in creating websites for middle-sized businesses. We rarely create "Mom'n'Pops" websites and generally don't pursue contracts with major corporations. Working with mid-size business has given me the opportunity to speak with executives and "decision-makers" within each business. Our discussions eventually end up with the other person telling me about their previous web developers and how their current site is ineffective as a sales to or representation of the business. There are some definitive characteristics about my customers' previous web persons and without further adieu, I give you 9 signs you shouldn't hire THAT web guy.

Editors Note: In the top spot is this article from David Walsh. He has some strong opinions on a very touchy and important subject.  Head over to the post and see if you agree with his nine points.

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Schalk Neethling.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)