Andornot Blog

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 12:08 PM

Outlook 2010: HTML skills from the 1990s still required

by Ted Jardine

Way back in 2006/2007, we were shocked/disgusted/plain-out-flabbergasted to find out that the then about-to-be-released Outlook 2007 was going to stop using Internet Explorer to render HTML emails, and instead use the Microsoft Word rendering engine. Not a big deal you say? No background images, no support for essential CSS elements such as float or position, horrible box model support, requirements for inline styles, and the list goes on. In other words, the leading email client at the time (75-80% of the corporate email market) deliberately disregarded several years of significant progress in Web standards and single-handedly completely stunted any hope of progress in email design for at least another five years. In an email I sent to other Andonotters at the time, I stated something along the lines of "at least HTML skills I mastered in the late 1990s won't go to waste for many more years to come."

A brouhaha, at least amongst developers, ensued, with Microsoft apparently caught completely off-guard by the response. Anyhow, fast forward three years with Outlook 2010 set to release on June 15, 2010. and unfortunately, yet again we're going to be stuck with Word's rendering engine. Microsoft's rationale can be found in their official Outlook Blog, revealingly entitled "The Power of Word in Outlook":

"There is no widely-recognized consensus in the industry about what subset of HTML is appropriate for use in e-mail for interoperability. The “Email Standards Project” does not represent a sanctioned standard or an industry consensus in this area. Should such a consensus arise, we will of course work with other e-mail vendors to provide rich support in our products."

I know "yes, there are email standards: they're called Web standards" is an overly simplistic retort; nevertheless, it is the only approach that makes sense. I have trouble comprehending why Microsoft continues to perpetuate a bastardized version of email standardization that is about as counter-productive to industry consensus as possible, especially when they could enable Outlook customers to "write professional-looking and visually stunning email messages" in a standards-compliant way while still using the "rich tools that our Word customers have enjoyed for over 25 years" (and no, I'm not being naive here).

At least there's a glimmer of a possible, just maybe, once-in-a-blue moon reason to be optimistic about future versions of Outlook: yesterday, David Greiner of CampaignMonitor quoted the following from Dev Balasubramanian of the Outlook team:

"At this point, our plans for email authoring and rendering in Outlook 2010 are unchanged. However, I can tell you that this is a significant topic of discussion as we plan our business going forward, and something we will definitely be thinking about for future releases of Outlook."

...but don't get your hopes up.

In the meantime, I'll retweet fixoutlook.org, keep my <table> skills sharp, and dumb down our email templates all the while muttering under my breath "what a waste".

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 12:07 PM

If it's not on Google Maps, does it really exist?

by Ted Jardine

The Golden Ears Bridge opened June 16, 2009. And while it can't be seen from space, it's a fairly significant bit of road infrastructure (you know, the six-lane bridge kind of road infrastructure). However, on both Google Maps and Bing Maps, almost a year later it's, ummm...still kind of missing:

golden-ears-on-bing-maps

golden-ears-on-google-maps

To say nothing of the significant additions all around the bridge.

I finally investigated what to do about this, and got around to submitting it to Tele Atlas and NAVTEQ, the main suppliers of the actual maps to Google. And lo and behold, I received an email this morning:

Thank you for contacting Tele Atlas. Based on a review of your report, we can now confirm that the change you suggested has been made. It will go out in the next release of our map database. This report is now closed.

Tele Atlas supplies maps to the companies that make devices or applications, not directly to the people who use them. We update the map we supply so these companies can incorporate the map update in their own systems. When this process is complete, your change will be made available to you. It may be possible to purchase an updated map; please contact your device manufacturer or application provider for further information.

Thanks again for your willingness to help keep Tele Atlas maps up-to-date and accurate!

Please do not reply as this is an automated email.

The Tele Atlas Map Insight Support Team

Now we'll just see when the updates propagate to Google and Bing (apparently it's now up on MapQuest). And even better, when the Google Street View car/bike takes a trip over it (I wonder if it will have to pay the toll?).

golden-ears-teleatlas

http://mapinsight.teleatlas.com/mapfeedback/ReportStatus/782730a8-2ccf-102d-bcb7-7841d97eed29/en

UPDATE: And no, while I'd like to think it was *my* submission that led to the update, I'm well aware that it was probably just part of the critical mass. I do wonder however, how many submissions were actually made.

 

UPDATE 2: Google now has it (May 2010)! But Bing Maps still doesn't.

 

Thursday, March 25, 2010 9:56 AM

Making Inmagic Databases Accessible on the Mobile Web

by Jonathan Jacobsen

blackberry_askme_demo It has been said by many that 2010 will truly be the year of the mobile app. BlackBerries have given remote access to email for years, and the iPhone has been one of the hottest selling phones since its launch. Many other devices now also come with built-in web browsers, fast internet access and large enough screens that accessing websites on a handheld device is almost as easy as on a desktop computer. Almost, but not quite. Full-size websites can be displayed on smaller devices, but viewing them typically requires a lot of scrolling around and zooming in and out. Websites optimized for mobile devices are still a great way to give the best user experience on handheld devices.

Fortunately, it's quite easy to make your Inmagic database accessible to mobile browsers, using WebPublisher Pro and a bit of elbow grease. We’ve just finished making a version of our Andornot Starter Kit (ASK) mobile-friendly. The ASK Mobile Edition is a set of search and results forms specifically designed for mobile devices. The layout is aimed at devices with a screen resolution of at least 240 pixels width, but doesn't require any more than that. Users may search by clicking pre-created links for popular searches, such as recent acquisitions, popular subjects or the latest journals received, as well as use a search screen to enter terms and select options using radio buttons and tickboxes. In all cases, the interface is designed not only for readability on smaller screens, but for selection of options with fingers, stylus and keyboards, depending on the device used to access it.

iphone_askme You can view the ASK Mobile Edition demo site here. If you'd like to see it as it appears on a mobile device, you can use the Opera Mini Java demo here. Just type ask.andornot.com/Mobile.html into the demo browser’s address bar to connect to the ASK Mobile Edition demo site.

This same approach can be taken with any Inmagic database and WebPublisher Pro, making search and results pages fit a smaller form factor. The effort to do so is not great – from half a day up to a couple of days for Andornot to help you.

The mobile web is all about making access even more convenient for users – allowing them to look something up the moment they think of it, wherever they are. The question is no longer "Why would someone want to search my database from their palm"; it's "Why wouldn’t they?" Don't get left behind as more users seek out mobile-friendly information. Contact us today to see how we can help put your databases in users' hands.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 12:35 PM

How to share wired internet wirelessly with a Windows 7 laptop

by Peter Tyrrell

I was recently on vacation in Maui, with my laptop and iPhone, and two other people had iPod Touches in the same condo, and we all had the same problem: no wireless. Damned if I was going to data roam in Hawai'i for $300/minute or whatever. In preparation for the trip I had in fact scoped out the nearest places that offered free wireless, and there were even some faint networks in the condo complex we could pick up by wandering around holding our mobile devices up like Spock searching for signs of life with a tricorder. This was inconvenient however, and also humiliating.

Then my father-in-law casually mentioned there *was* an internet connection in the condo, but only a wired one, didn't even think it was worth mentioning - oh, is that important? Why are you squealing and hopping around like a little girl in pigtails?

Within seconds I had the laptop connected by ethernet to the modem, and was setting up an ad hoc wireless network that would share the internet out to our various iPods.

I plan to do this again at various conferences this year where they charge vendors like ourselves horrendous internet connection rates per computer, because they can. Here's a heartfelt haiku on the matter:

at Spring conference
internet lines are costly
stick it to the Man

i. Create ad hoc wireless network

  1. Open Manage wireless networks from the Windows Start menu.
  2. Add a new network.
  3. Choose Create an ad hoc network.
  4. Enter a network name, which will be seen by wireless devices.
  5. Configure security options. Now, I had real trouble getting WPA2-Personal to work. I had to fall back to WEP if I wanted any security (a wide open connection worked fine, too). WEP needs you to enter a 5 or 13 character "seed" which creates a hexadecimal password. That created password is what you'll need to enter when connecting with wireless clients.

ii. Allow internet connection sharing

  1. Open View network connections from the Windows Start menu.
  2. Open Properties on the currently active wired Local Area Connection.
  3. Select the Sharing tab and check Allow other network users to connect etc. Then choose the Wireless Network Connection option from the dropdown.ics

iii. Configure wireless adapter settings

  1. Open View network connections from the Windows Start menu.
  2. Open Properties on the Wireless Network Connection.
  3. Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IP) and then click Properties.
  4. Manually set the IP address to 192.168.137.1.
  5. Manually set the Subnet mask to 255.255.255.0.
  6. Manually set the Preferred DNS server to 192.168.137.1.wireless_ip4

iv. Turn on the ad hoc wireless network

  1. Open View network connections from the Windows Start menu.
  2. Right click on Wireless Network Connection and select Connect/Disconnect.
  3. Connect to the ad hoc network you created. Once connected, the connection will say Waiting for users in the Connect/Disconnect dialog.adhco_waiting

v. Connect with wifi-enabled mobile device

On a mobile device, look for the name of your ad hoc wireless network and connect to it the usual way. You will not need to set anything manually as the laptop will hand out IP addresses.

If you are using security, you will need to give users the password. (A WEP password will be particularly unmemorable.):

  1. Open Manage wireless networks from the Windows Start menu.
  2. Open Properties on the ad hoc network you created.
  3. Select the Security tab.
  4. Check Show characters to see the password.adhoc_password
Monday, March 22, 2010 1:51 PM

Version 12 of Inmagic DB/Text for SQL released

by Kathy Bryce

All clients with a current Inmagic maintenance subscription for the SQL Server or SQL Express version of DB/Text or the Library Suite should shortly receive an email from Inmagic with the download information for this new version. (This was formerly known as Content Server.) V12 for the non SQL version was released last year, and the feature list is the same - see our earlier posts for DB/Text and WebPublisher PRO.

If you have a current maintenance subscription but have not received a notification email in the next week or so, please email advantage@inmagic.com with your serial number and email address so it can be resent.  Please also remember to let us know if your contact information has changed so we can update our records and pass this on to Inmagic.

Please contact us if you would like assistance upgrading or would like to renew an expired maintenance subscription. We can also help you update your current web interface to include the latest features available in the software itself, or with our add-on products.

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