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Web interface design.


Antonios
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I have two questions which are more in the category of asking your opinion:1) What are the necessary technologies that someone should be familiar with for web interface design?2) We are thinking of starting a new course in my university that deal with RIA. We are going to use Flex but apart from this I also want to brief them in the underlying tech of RIA's. I was thinking of individual lessons on XML, CSS and actionscript which are the underlying tech of Flex.3) Final question: Will the tech of Flex suffice for marketability and future job prospects since our students are going to ask this.Any opinion and usefull suggestions are most welcomed.

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First, welcome to the forums - glad you found your way here.:)1.) This is a pretty broad response given that the term "design" is very often misused in this industry. I elaborate on that in this post:Designer/ builder/ developer, What's the difference?In any respect, I see your question more relating to the things one would use to create the best web based user interface. My response to that would include things specific to graphic design and user testing. For graphic design, you would need products like (or similar to) Adobe Photoshop, Adobe (formerly Macromedia) Flash, and another graphic design resources (photo CDs, sound loops, etc.). From a testing perspective, an interface designer would need to consider connection speeds, browser plugin/downloads/extension availability, security, and user testing software/hardware configuration.2.) For those who might not know, RIA stands for Rich Internet Applications. Flex is at the forefront of this development. I would recommend, in addition to what you mention, that you introduce folks to Cold Fusion. It offers a seemless and very powerful extention to Flex. So much information is out there, but this guy is the official CF Flex guru:Ben Forta3.) I think there is no question that RIA will be a huge hit. Already you have cell phones that have better luck rendering flash applications than standard XHTML simply due to the vector based graphics. If you combine the right RIA developers with the right RIA designers you will nolonger have retail stores - you'll be buying everything from the palm of your hand.(imo)

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Personally I height marketing terms. I think it would have had been much better if people could get a single tutorial in schools or universities on what marketing terms exist and what they include and then stop using them in their publications (like knowing "history", you know).Such terms include the above mentioned RIA, DHTML, AJAX and possibly some more :) .To me there are only pure languages and scripting/programming/graphic skills :) .The general languages that all involved in the web development should know are XHTML, CSS and XML. From then on, there are many different paths:Client side ways (in my point of view, that's the "light side of the force")- JavaScript, RSS, XSLT, and the other languages from the XML family.Server side ways (logically: "the dark side of the force")- PHP, ASP(.NET), JSP, CGI, Perl, Cold Fusion, etc.For a proffesional realization, one needs to know the basics, at least one client side way and at least one server side way. My personal choice currently in the client side realm is XSLT, along with some of the other XML languages, among which is RSS of cource. I still haven't chosen a server side way, simply because I'm teased of Cold Fusion, ASP.NET is somehow attractive and PHP... it has one major problem* for which currently I height it. And the others... they are even worse. However, in Bulgaria some people all refer to PHP as if it's the only way for server side scripting. Therefore, there aren't any ASP.NET and Cold Fusion hosts. I could always get an international host, but that could complicate thing I would otherwise be able to solve "personally".If by "web interface design" you meant graphical design, then what Skemcin suggest is truly it: Adobe Photoshop and perhaps a vector graphics editor such as Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator.As for Flash. I personally height it and prefer SVG a lot more, scince I'm already fammiliar with XML based stuff. But I still have to admit that folks who decide "hey, let's build a web site" still refer to Flash as if it's the only option. Sad, but true.The best method for university plan in my opinion would be to have some kind of lecture to explain all of the language's possibilities, advantages and drawbacks and let the student decide for themselves. There's no right path TODAY. There will be once browsers support CSS3 completely along with all XML based languages. Until then: we can't decide what's the best path in the client side reaml at least. In the server side realm... never, scince they aren't browser dependant.*Doesn't have a built in support for executing XSLT transformations. Some kind of extensions are requred, but I don't know which and how to install. Even if I was able to install such extensions, most (all?) free PHP hosts would not bother installing extensions and payed ones... I have no idea, but I wouldn't like to take the risk.

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I get annoyed when I read job ads were the employer has no clue what these techonoglies even areexample 1

You must have 2-4 years of experience in: HTML DHTML Javascript CSS PHP
Do they even know that DHTML is (HTML,CSS, and JavaScript)???? :) Programming job ads are the worstExample 2
must have 3-5 years experience inPHPMSSQLSQLASPJAVAASP.NetMySqlOracleJavaScriptHTMLXMLDHTMLAJAXCSSPERLVisual Basic
seriously they probably don;t get eh right guy for the job because they do not know what the 'buzzwords' they are using even mean.They don't realize that half there requirements are reputition using other buzzwords and that many of those are siffrent langauges and can't be used together. Do they really run 3 different database softwares??? Not likely! :D It drives me crazy...There should be a position on Job websites that moderate these posts and force the employers to know what they want instead of posting useless garbage (for our sakes and theirs). :( Perhaps they should hire CatBert :)
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I can agree with a lot of what boen_robot says. One particular thing to point out is that RSS is not a language since it is XML, it is a convention - but nonetheless his point is clearly made and valid.A university should develop programs that introduce individuals to a variety of options that when put together create a career path - and it should be left up to the indivudal to choose it. So, a program could be setup like this:

  • Project Planning/Management
  • Web Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Web Development
  • Testing/Implementation
  • Marketing
  • Managing Feedback and Change

(off the top of my head mind you)I think there shoudl be a distinction made between server side and client side options and tools when it comes to development.Two side notes:a.) Here is some related and interesting information:http://www.tiobe.com/tpci.htmb.) International hosting should the last resort first because of service (as boen_robot points out) but more importantly because their "middle of the night" maintenance downtime is often the peak of your business day - and I am speaking from experience.:-(

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