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Old 12-22-2007, 09:55 AM   #1
ktinkel
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Default Big Medium 2.0 released

Global Moxie has released a completely redone version 2 of Big Medium, an easy to use CMS.

From the web site:
Big Medium is a website editor (or "web content management system") that lets you manage entire websites from your browser. Unlike other content management systems, Big Medium is aimed at web designers and their clients—not developers or CMS ninjas. No programming fu required.

For web designers, Big Medium offers design freedom and doesn't impose cookie-cutter layouts. If you bring basic to intermediate HTML/CSS know-how, Big Medium can manage just about any design you throw at it.

For editors and businesspeople, no HTML knowledge is required. Enter your text, images, podcasts and document downloads into Big Medium's editor, and the software automagically adds the necessary links and pages to your site.
Free download to try for 30 days. After that, it costs $185 for one server installation (you can run multiple Big Medium sites on that server).

Support from the developer is good and fast.

   
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Old 12-22-2007, 11:51 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by ktinkel View Post
From the web site:
Big Medium is a website editor (or "web content management system") that lets you manage entire websites from your browser. Unlike other content management systems, Big Medium is aimed at web designers and their clients—not developers or CMS ninjas. No programming fu required.
Huh? CMS ninjas? Programming fu?

Since I don't know what that is it's obviously not for me!

(Quite apart from the fact that it isn't open source, of course.)

The basic to intermediate CSS know-how would probably be badly needed though: their homepage's CSS doesn't validate.

   
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Old 12-22-2007, 01:43 PM   #3
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Huh? CMS ninjas? Programming fu?

Since I don't know what that is it's obviously not for me!

(Quite apart from the fact that it isn't open source, of course.)

The basic to intermediate CSS know-how would probably be badly needed though: their homepage's CSS doesn't validate.
I didn’t check. I think it used to.

I tried out version 1 and found it too “helpful” — like really kosher Mac apps, sometimes. But the guy offers great support, and I thought he had W3C in mind for this version.

   
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Old 12-22-2007, 07:28 PM   #4
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If it's that simple to use, maybe they should have called it "The Big Easy."
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Old 12-23-2007, 03:43 AM   #5
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Default Thanks for the interest!

Hi all,

Josh Clark here, the developer of Big Medium. Many thanks for the notice, Kathleen. As a one-man shop, I rely on word of mouth and the kind words of customers. Thanks for helping to support indie software, it's much appreciated.

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Originally Posted by Andrew B. View Post
If it's that simple to use, maybe they should have called it "The Big Easy."
I like it! In fact, my wife even lived in New Orleans for several years. Where were you a few years ago when I was naming this thing?

Marjolein wisely checked my site for CSS bonafides...
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamback View Post
The basic to intermediate CSS know-how would probably be badly needed though: their homepage's CSS doesn't validate.
Thanks for your standards advocacy! You're quite right that Big Medium's CSS does not pass the W3C validator. However, the only non-standard property in Big Medium's CSS is the "zoom" property, which Big Medium uses to help Internet Explorer properly observe overflow rules. (Alas, the validator is also uneducated about CSS2 pseudo-classes like :first-child and :last-child).

Although "zoom" is an IE-proprietary property, it is used to target an IE-specific bug. Others may differ, but I find this type of usage to be very much in the spirit of CSS standards. This non-standard tag makes IE wise up and behave according to standards and has no adverse effects on other browsers. This usage is future-compatible, unlike other CSS hacks which may break as browsers evolve.

For several years, I was an all-or-nothing validation advocate, but I found that sometimes being too strict on this sometimes left me missing the forest for the trees. That is, it's not about standards for standards' sake but about making the code flexible, future-compatible, hack-free, and untied to any specific browser. In this case, the "zoom:1" style, while not strictly valid, is used knowingly and very much in that spirit. Browser-specific properties to fix browser-specific bugs seems appropriate.

While I'd prefer to use fully standards-compliant CSS, I found this to be the best (if imperfect) solution for achieving a desired effect while also meeting the *goals* of standards if not the exact syntax. In this case, I'm afraid that my normally dogmatic adherence to the CSS standards gave way to more concrete needs.

Again, not everyone may agree with this approach, but for what it's worth, it was carefully considered. With this exception, I think that you'll find Big Medium to generate clean CSS along with valid markup for your choice of HTML 4.01 (transitional or strict) or XHTML 1.0 (transitional or strict).

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Quite apart from the fact that it isn't open source, of course.
Sounds like you're unlikely to try proprietary software. But for what it's worth, although Big Medium is not open-source software, the source code is open and available for browsing and hacking, even in the free trial version.

Big Medium has a small but friendly user community (around 1000 sites use Big Medium). If you need help, you can always rely on a personal, detailed response from me, the guy who created the software, within a business day.

Alas, there is a $185 price tag attached to Big Medium. I've invested thousands of hours in the software's development, and I make a modest living from its sale. I've priced it at as affordably as possible while still putting food on my family's table. I'm committed to helping folks make site development both easy and affordable, but I'm afraid I haven't yet figured out how to bring my price to zero.

Happy holidays!
Josh

Last edited by joshclark; 12-23-2007 at 04:04 AM. Reason: Typo fix
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Old 12-23-2007, 06:49 AM   #6
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Thanks for stopping by, Josh.

And happy holidays to you too.

   
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Old 12-23-2007, 12:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshclark View Post
Marjolein wisely checked my site for CSS bonafides...

Thanks for your standards advocacy! You're quite right that Big Medium's CSS does not pass the W3C validator. However, the only non-standard property in Big Medium's CSS is the "zoom" property, which Big Medium uses to help Internet Explorer properly observe overflow rules. (Alas, the validator is also uneducated about CSS2 pseudo-classes like :first-child and :last-child).

Although "zoom" is an IE-proprietary property, it is used to target an IE-specific bug. Others may differ, but I find this type of usage to be very much in the spirit of CSS standards.
But if it isn't standard then it isn't - if it's for IE only, why not use IE-only but still syntactically valid conditional comments to include an IE-only extra stylesheet? If you care about standards and must support IE's quirks, then that is the way to do it and still publish valid code.

(Being Wikka Wiki's Standards Compliance Officer (and much besides), standards advocacy is my second nature - as most regulars in this forum know. And yes, a Wiki is a CMS, too.)

Quote:
Sounds like you're unlikely to try proprietary software.
As long as there are decent open-source alternatives, yes. Only if none of those meet my requirements will I look at proprietary software (I do use commercial software, though often alongside OSS). I am as much an Open Source Software advocate as I am an open (Internet) standards advocate.

And now that I have your ear... how about explaining what "CMS ninjas" and "Programming fu" are?

   
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Old 12-24-2007, 02:23 AM   #8
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Default Standards are not strictly about the validator's verdict

Thanks again for your standards advocacy here and elsewhere. Your role helps keep developers and designers honest in intention and tidy in execution. I must say, though, that with regard to the Big Medium style sheet, I believe that I have been both.

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Originally Posted by iamback View Post
why not use IE-only but still syntactically valid conditional comments to include an IE-only extra style sheet?
I chose not to use an IE-only style sheet because it's more verbose than the six characters "zoom:1" and also adds an additional HTTP connection for exactly the same effect: To add a CSS property that browsers except IE will ignore. (I reserve IE-only style sheets for cases where I need IE to have different *values* for specific properties, thus avoiding ugly selector hacks that will break in future browsers.)

Except for getting the validator's, er, validation, I miss the conceptual or practical difference between hiding an entire style sheet versus relying on the W3C CSS specification to hide a specific property. Indeed, when I use the zoom property, I'm relying specifically on the W3C's original 1996 CSS specification. From section 7.1 of the W3C's CSS specifications: "a declaration with an unknown property is ignored."

(Practically, this means that the W3C validator is incorrect when it marks a proprietary tag as an "error." It's simply a line that CSS parsers should ignore. This is really more in the category of a warning, but that would undermine the validator's use in catching typos.)

The usage is also future-compatible even if the zoom tag is adopted in, say, CSS7 (lord help us). Because of its value, zoom:1 would not change the display in future browsers that might adopt the property. I'm deploying a browser-specific property to fix a browser-specific bug with no impact on current or future browsers.

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Originally Posted by iamback View Post
If you care about standards and must support IE's quirks, then that is the way to do it and still publish valid code.
I care very deeply about standards. But I no longer conflate standards strictly with the validator's verdict. I used to live and die by the CSS validator. My views on that have changed, as you can tell. I don't use proprietary properties lightly, but to me "standard" markup simply works in all browsers, including future browsers that follow current and possibly future specifications.

All that said, I welcome your criticism, and I'm not doctrinaire about what I've written here. If the consensus feedback from customers (and potential customers) says that including a single proprietary property in my CSS is a fatal flaw, I'll certainly consider falling back to the slower alternative of an IE-only style sheet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iamback View Post
how about explaining what "CMS ninjas" and "Programming fu" are?
Of course! Just a bit of fun wordplay. A ninja connotes advanced, even mystical, expertise--and thus a CMS ninja is someone who is a master of data schemas and the ins and outs of configuring content management systems. Similarly, "fu" is used by the kids these days to refer to a high level of expertise, a reference to kung fu (I'm admittedly mixing Japanese and Chinese martial arts references here).

When I say that the software is *not* aimed at CMS ninjas and that no programming fu is required, I'm just having a little fun with the copy to suggest that people who have never worked with a CMS or don't know a scrap of code will be at ease with the software.

A bit more wordplay, while I'm at it: the Big Medium name is not only a reference to the Internet (a pretty grand medium!) but to the medium as a psychic who helps regular folks communicate with an unseen world, in this case the world of markup and web servers.

Happy holidays!
Josh

Last edited by joshclark; 12-24-2007 at 06:07 AM.
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Old 12-24-2007, 08:42 AM   #9
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Hi Josh. Thanks for dropping by. Actually, I like the name. It is more interesting than most product names. And it made me stop and think, which causes me to remember the product more.

As for the discussion of web validation, I agree with you. There is no problem with one (or even a few) special pieces of code to give the web visitor a better experience. That is, unless perfect validation has become the mantra of your customers.

That said, I became curious and ran a validation on your home page. I was told "This Page Is Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional!" IOW, it didn't fail to validate for me.
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Old 12-24-2007, 12:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshclark View Post
I chose not to use an IE-only style sheet because it's more verbose than the six characters "zoom:1" and also adds an additional HTTP connection for exactly the same effect: To add a CSS property that browsers except IE will ignore.
If you want to avoid an additional HTTP request (not necessarily connect), then you can set up your conditional comments so that IE loads it's own style sheet only while other browsers load the default one: the technique with conditional comments doesn't have to be for overrides only - I just find it easier to write and maintain that way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joshclark
Indeed, when I use the zoom property, I'm relying specifically on the W3C's original 1996 CSS specification. From section 7.1 of the W3C's CSS specifications: "a declaration with an unknown property is ignored."

(Practically, this means that the W3C validator is incorrect when it marks a proprietary tag as an "error." It's simply a line that CSS parsers should ignore. This is really more in the category of a warning, but that would undermine the validator's use in catching typos.)
Sorry, but I'm afraid you've got the wrong end of the stick there. That section (in the CSS1 spec) defines Browser behavior when a browser is confronted by something it does not (yet) implement, but not what is valid code:
Quote:
To ensure that UAs supporting just CSS1 will be able to read style sheets containing higher level features, this section defines what the UA does when it encounters certain constructs that are not valid in CSS level 1.
(my emphasis - note the "not valid" in there!)
It is simply incorrect to read this as if invalid code is "not an error" - and the validator is quite correct to flag it as an error - this is merely a requirement for how a browser should behave, not how the code should be written. (HTML has similar requirements, valid syntax as opposed to how to handle unrecognized code): that parsers should ignore it doesn't make it valid or "not an error".

Quote:
Originally Posted by joshclark
I no longer conflate standards strictly with the validator's verdict. I used to live and die by the CSS validator. My views on that have changed, as you can tell. I don't use proprietary properties lightly, but to me "standard" markup simply works in all browsers, including future browsers that follow current and possibly future specifications.
All conformant browsers should handle (i.e., ignore!) non-standard markup - but that doesn't make such markup valid code. Of course you're free to take that road, but if you read the standard closely, the the whole of Chapter 7 which you're referring to is actually quite explicitly about how browsers should behave with invalid code, not about what constitutes valid markup. Even if the CSS2 standard is a lot more refined and explicit about what constitutes "conformance", if you aim for CCS1 compliance only (which your quote suggests) there is still a clear distinction there between valid code and conformant browsers.

To put it rather bluntly: a CMS is not a browser.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joshclark
If the consensus feedback from customers (and potential customers) says that including a single proprietary property in my CSS is a fatal flaw, I'll certainly consider falling back to the slower alternative of an IE-only style sheet.
If you're really worried about a speed impact of an additional HTTP request, you can just set it up so IE requests one style sheet and every other browser that supports CSS requests the other.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joshclark
A bit more wordplay, while I'm at it: the Big Medium name is not only a reference to the Internet (a pretty grand medium!) but to the medium as a psychic who helps regular folks communicate with an unseen world, in this case the world of markup and web servers.
Thanks for that - the name was meaningless to me without that explanation!

Happy holidays to you and yours!

   
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