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Usability Question du Jour

Say I’m building a website that deals with data from other websites (social and professional networks, etc), and I want users to be able to enter in their existing profile info into of the application. I can’t just ask for their current username (e.g. http://facebook.com/<yourname>), because some of these websites do not have very friendly URLs (e.g. http://www.spoke.com/info/<somecharacters>/<yourname>) and these may confuse the user. Our mock-up implementation looks like this:

usability_q_1

In the example above, “Sign Up For” send the user to the specified site’s sign up page, and the form element is their ID. It changes based on the site in question, and I don’t think it quite works. What troubles me most (I’m not in love with it being overlaid on the text) is the language, but none of it is something I can’t live without. “Finish this URL” makes it sound like a game, or look like a CAPTCHA, neither of which is what we want. So, UI/UX/Usability gurus: How would you do it? Comments are open.

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Another World Ported to JavaScript

To go with the pure-JS NES and GameBoy emulators, here’s a port of the 1991 classic Another World in plain ‘ol JavaScript. Impressive. For now, it shares the same problem as the aforementioned emulators: No sound support.

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Epic Games Releases Unreal Development Kit

The hyper-expensive and sometimes-maligned Unreal Engine gets a free / indie version. The Unreal Development Kit is free for non-commercial use, and $2500 per-seat for commercial games.

With Unity making a similar offering last week, the independent games scene is only going to get better.

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Game Engine “Unity” Launches Free Option

Interesting news from the world of creating video games:

The Unity engine is becoming even more affordable to independent and hobbyist developers, as Unity Technologies has retired the $200 “Unity Indie” offering and replaced it with a free license, simply called Unity.

Sounds like a great deal for the price.

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Amazon Relational Database Service

Amazon’s new MySQL cloud service.

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Using Helvetica Neue Light In Firefox + Safari

Great tip from Guillermo Esteves. Worked a charm on this very site.

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Raphaël — JavaScript Library

Looks great, supports every major browser including iPhone’s WebKit, and:

Raphaël uses the SVG W3C Recommendation and VML as a base for creating graphics. This means every graphical object you create is also a DOM object, so you can attach JavaScript event handlers or modify them later. Raphaël’s goal is to provide an adapter that will make drawing vector art compatible cross-browser and easy.

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Dive Into HTML5: Video

Mark Pilgrim dives in to HTML5 video, and swims around. This is essential reading for web developers.

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Preview of WebKit’s WebGL

3D gaming in-browser without plugins. Playable TODAY with a nightly build of Webkit on your Mac. Wow.

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Bulletproof @font-face syntax

Paul Irish’s guide to the best @font-face syntax for all compatible browsers.

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The 15 Largest ExpressionEngine sites

A list of large EE-powered sites. ExpressionEngine is the big brother of my PHP framework of choice, CodeIgniter.

via Shawn Medero

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Tile Drawer

Crazy-simple and robust-looking solution for hosting your own OpenStreetMap instance on EC2, with custom overlays. via Andy Baio.

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Dive Into HTML 5

The preview site. I love this so deeply.

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Infinite Mario AI

Incredible demo video from one of the entrants in the Super Mario AI competition. mentioned previously on Extra Future. See also: The project page, which explains the process behind the AI.

The developer says he’ll release the source code once the contest is over.

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Mario AI Competition 2009

Write a Mario Bros-playing AI in Java and win some money and nerd fame. I can see myself spending a lot of time with this.

via Jesper

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Modernizr

A new Javascript-based kit that tests for browser features, lets you do conditionals in CSS, and other things. Have a look at the tutorial.

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Text Rotation with CSS

Can I get a witness? Not only does it work, it works NOW.

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Web Fonts Now, for real

Zeldman on a proposed webfont permissions table. This seems sort of like attaching a file to a movie that says DO NOT STEAL and expecting it to work.

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INSERT INTO internet

The Yahoo! Query Language is strange.

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Using WordPress Functions Outside of WordPress

I’m working on a project that requires the use of WordPress functions (mainly creating users and such) outside of the WordPress installation. After some Google searches of varying specificity, I’ve found a method that appears to work for both WordPress and WordPress Mu. I’ve reproduced it here for my own purposes, as well as yours.

WordPress.org member oranfry posted the following helpful bit of code, to be inserted in the top of the wp-load.php, right after the <?php tag:

global $domain, $path, $base, $admin_page_hooks, $ajax_results, $all_links, $allowedposttags, $allowedtags, $authordata, $bgcolor, $cache_categories, $cache_lastcommentmodified, $cache_lastpostdate, $cache_lastpostmodified, $cache_userdata, $category_cache, $class, $comment, $comment_cache, $comment_count_cache, $commentdata, $current_user, $day, $debug, $descriptions, $error, $feeds, $id, $is_apache, $is_IIS, $is_macIE, $is_winIE, $l10n, $locale, $link, $m, $map, $max_num_pages, $menu, $mode, $month, $month_abbrev, $monthnum, $more, $multipage, $names, $newday, $numpages, $page, $page_cache, $paged, $pagenow, $pages, $parent_file, $preview, $previousday, $previousweekday, $plugin_page, $post, $post_cache, $post_default_category, $post_default_title, $post_meta_cache, $postc, $postdata, $posts, $posts_per_page, $previousday, $request, $result, $richedit, $single, $submenu, $table_prefix, $targets, $timedifference, $timestart, $timeend, $updated_timestamp, $urls, $user_ID, $user_email, $user_identity, $user_level, $user_login, $user_pass_md5, $user_url, $weekday, $weekday_abbrev, $weekday_initial, $withcomments, $wp, $wp_broken_themes, $wp_db_version, $wp_did_header, $wp_did_template_redirect, $wp_file_description, $wp_filter, $wp_importers, $wp_plugins, $wp_taxonomies, $wp_the_query, $wp_themes, $wp_object_cache, $wp_query, $wp_queries, $wp_rewrite, $wp_roles, $wp_similiesreplace, $wp_smiliessearch, $wp_version, $wpcommentspopupfile, $wpcommentsjavascript, $wpdb;

and in wp-settings.php replace all replace all occurrences of =& with =. Then include wp-load.php in your external file, and (in my case) wp-includes/registration.php. You can now call WordPress functions such as wp_insert_user.