Simon Willison’s Weblog

Wednesday, 17th July 2002

Positioning tips

If you’re still struggling to get to grips with CSS layout techniques (heaven knows I am) Dorothea’s latest will teach you more in a single post than many lengthy tutorials do in their entirety. Floats for layout (as seen on this site) are out—they work for small areas but anything larger can cause performance problems and other unpleasantness. Relative positioning is unreliable, which leaves us with absolute positioning and clever use of margins, along with intelligent use of background images for decoration. Dorothea explains these techniques in concise detail, and relates them to AKMA’s redesign.

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Pimping opportunity

Tip off for Stuart: The new Python Wiki includes an index of available web frameworks, but there’s no mention of Castalian yet.

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Flash: Leave my text alone!

Moment of realisation: I just figured out what it is about Flash that bugs me so much. Flash is rubbish at text. Sure it can render text in pretty ways, but it never feels like real words. Flash takes good old fashioned text and locks it away in a pretty but shallow world, one that is out of reach of search engines, screen readers and my all important right mouse button. What good is text is text if I can’t search it, select it, copy it, paste it and generally processs it in whatever way I see fit? Flash is fine for graphics, animation and even some user interfaces (provided they don’t involve too much text) but please, please keep it away from anything I want to read.

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Addition to the blogroll

Small Values of Coollinks to things that I find interesting by Simon Brunning. I turns out I find them interesting as well. Lots of Python stuff on there at the moment, including a link to the new Python Wiki.

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Amazon search updated

I’ve updated PHP Amazon Search to implement a few more search methods, and altered the example script to allow searches for related items.

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Fun with Amazon

There’s plenty of activity surrounding Amazon web services today. My limited demo barely scratches the surface of the possibilities—people are already experimenting with Amazon’s similarity search and Mark Pilgrim has released PyAmazon, a Python wrapper for the Amazon API. I’ve started listing alternative implementations on the PHP Amazon Search page, and I’ll be sure to blog the more innovative examples as and when I find them.

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Amazon web services

Amazon have launched a brand new web service interface to their huge database of products. I’ve been playing around with it, and I’ve knocked together a simple search engine example in PHP, with the code available for anyone who wants it. I did a similar thing a few months ago when Google released their Web API so we’ve set up a new site at Incutio to host these and other open source projects—scripts.incutio.com. The site is only a few hours old and we’d love some feedback—contact us directly or add a comment to this entry.

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