Karl Stolley Sends Me Back to the Basics

If you’ve been keeping up with things here at DigitalBibliography, you know that I’m getting a little preoccupied with scholarly digital texts and sustainable accessibility. Adobe Flash and Microsoft’s Silverlight just can’t be trusted for long term accessibility. So what to do? The first person I thought of asking was Karl Stolley. He’s the former Lead Designer and Interface Editor at Kairos. And now he’s an editor at the Computers and Composition Digital Press. Here’s an email exchange between Karl and I over the past few days:

Hey, Karl.

Quick question. My anxiety level is rising pretty quickly about Flash, given Apple’s recent refusal to accomodate it on the iPhone/iPad OS’s. So I come to see now just how unreliable a technology Flash really is.

I’ve been doing lots of research about possible alternatives, and I’m thinking I’ve got to learn a lot more about about the canvas element in HTML5. Do you know of any good resources or editors I might toy around with to learn more/experiment with Canvas?

If not, no big deal. I’ll certainly keep looking on my own. I just figured with all your experience and skills, you might have an answer at the ready.


Hi Trauman,

It depends on what you want to do.

If you’re trying to do video things, HTML5 is the way to go.

If it’s vector graphics, look into SVG.

If it’s animated interface elements and things like that, work up your chops on HTML5 or XHTML 1.0, CSS, and JavaScript & the DOM, and learn to use a good JavaScript library like jQuery or MooTools, which make movement and dynamic interfaces very easy to use.

A good, all-purpose text editor like Notepad++ for Windows or TextWrangler for Mac is all you need.


(From me:) You’re trying to intimidate me, right? 🙂 … Oh, and a sincere Thanks!

Gotta love his honesty and directness, eh? Man, we need more people with Karl’s sort of attitude about digital texts. Okay, so I haven’t had much time to process his recommendations yet, but for those of you who might be interested in following up on some of these ideas with me, I’ve provided a list of links that might be starting places of getting our chops here:

HTML5: “HTML5 Introduction“; “Introduction to HTML5

SVG: “SVG Intro“; “SVG Tutorial

XHTML 1.0: “XHTML 1.0: The Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (Second Edition)

CSS: “Cascading Style Sheets: An Interactive Tutorial for Beginners“; “CSS Introduction

JavaScript: “Javascript Introduction”; “JavaScript Tutorial

DOM: WC3 DOM Introduction, Introduction to the Document Object Model

jQuery: “Tutorials: How jQuery Works“; “jQuery Tutorial

MooTools: “The MooTools Tutorial: The Mootorial“; “Learning MooTools: 20 MooTools Tutorials and Examples

Notepad++: “Get Notepad++ at SourceForge.net

TextWrangler: “Barebones Software | TextWrangler

These are just the links I came up with after a relatively quick Google search. If you’ve got some links that you think are especially useful, please feel free to send them along or post them in the comments section. I know that there will be several people out there (me included) who still have a soft spot for the print-reference texts that we grew up on, so don’t be afraid to recommend one of those either.

(BTW: If you’re a little overwhelmed by this list, you’re not alone. Only a few hours after Karl sent me his email, I was overcome with some mystery bug. I’ll spare you the details, but I did end up sleeping for 31 of 35 hours. Fever. Chills. Sweats. Aches. Etc. Now that I’m recovered, I think it’s safe for me to start following up on some of these links.)

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