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I would RTFM if there was an FM to FR Ornament Apr 30th, 2004

This is going to be a massive rant. I kid you not. There will be much swearing in this article. Much swearing. There will be vitriol. There will be abusive language. This is going to be R-rated stuff.

I’m about to let loose, so if you read this article, you have been duly warned. Do not read further unless you can handle it. Or if you can excuse my language.

[Expletive] the OpenSource movement

There are three reasons why the OpenSource movement has not taken over the world.

The user interfaces for nearly all OpenSource programs suck beyond belief. John Gruber has already written on this topic in Ronco Spray-On Usability. Enough said.

The installation procedures for OpenSource programs suck worse than their obtuse user interfaces. I’m still shocked I was able to install MySQL, MoveableType, PHP and Perl on my Mac OS X system. I installed all of it nearly blind, it took three days, and if I had to do it again, I think I would probably shoot myself instead of going through that torture test one more time.

The documentation for OpenSource technology is truly horrendous. This is also a problem with the W3C specs, so I’ll address this issue below.

Until these issues are adequately addressed, the OpenSource movement will be nothing more than an underground clique for those who have nothing better to do with their lives than memorize massive amounts of obscure command line syntax and drink lots of Red Bull.

And no, Apple is not scoring points with me lately when it comes to working with OpenSource technologies. Mac OS X has become a maze of extraordinarily arcane UNIX procedures to fix low level system problems. So sure, I may be able to turn Apache on with a checkbox in the Sharing System Preferences panel on my G4 Powerbook, but how do I configure Apache? Oh yeah… That’s right. With a file hidden entirely from my view in the Finder unless I use the Terminal or BBEdit to access it, and then I have to parse the all the obscure textual information in that config file.

[Expletive] XHTML 1.0 Strict

So, I was chided by a blogger for the fact my web site used awkward markup and non-validating XHTML 1.0.

It was a valid point. So I fixed the awkward markup. Easy enough as it was just laziness on my part. But then I decided to try and fix the validation issues with my templates and XHTML 1.0. That was like pulling the infamous string of the infamous sweater.

What did I discover? Here’s the short list:

Imagemaps don’t validate. Yes, I followed the only spec I could find, the W3C HTML 4.0.1 spec for imagemaps. I used the example format for client-side imagemaps, using name instead of id. Why? Because using id seems to break imagemaps. But in switching back, now my site refuses to validate for the Gurus v. Bloggers article even though I followed the example. What is causing this? The name attribute is supposedly not a valid XHTML attribute. [Expletive] brilliant.

Blockquote requires a P tag to wrap the quoted text inside the blockquote element. This was news to me. Was it mentioned specifically in the W3C HTML 4.0.1 spec for the blockquote element. Nope. Oh wait… There is an example and it uses the P tag, but there is nary a mention in the definition of the element that this is now the case. Sure, maybe I missed this documented elsewhere, but it was a surprise to me. I discovered the rule from a web site other than the W3C’s. I should also note that I see a lot of other blogs out there that also do not do seem to do it correctly all of the time. Even Dan Cederholm’s and Keith Robinsons’ blogs seem to miss this markup gotcha, so I don’t think I’m the only one who missed this little change.

The whole encoded ampersands for URLs issue just sucks. I don’t care what the reason is, but the whole encoded characters for URLs and URIs is [expletive] lame. It’s not my fault other people have URLs and URIs that use all sorts of ampersands or God knows what special characters throughout. Why can’t the validator ignore everything inside the href attribute?

The MovableType header bug. I’ve come to the conclusion MovableType’s knack for adding P tags around header tags when you have Convert Line Breaks enabled is nothing more than a bug. Why? Because MovableType doesn’t seem to add those P tags when a line in the Entry or Comment field starts with a UL or blockquote tag. That tells me that MovableType seems to be scanning for unique tags, so why not add all the H# tags? As such, I had to hack a close paragraph and open paragraph around my header tags to fix this problem, and it sucks.

There was much more than this. However, I spent a good six hours with these four very simple issues. Why? Because the [expletive] spec and documentation for all this stuff is [expletive] lame, and doesn’t tell me what I need to know in simple, clear and concise language.

[Expletive] the W3C

If anyone wants to know why the W3C sucks, I give you these two simple reasons:

Their web site sucks beyond belief. Trying to find specific answers to specific questions about web standards in that heap of a web site is nearly a huge waste of time.

The documentation for HTML, XHTML and CSS is wildly out of control. I fear looking at anything past the main specs I need — I might just lose all hope in the entire technology thing.

Reading the specs on the W3C is mind boggling, akin to how bad it was trying to read old volumes of Inside Macintosh where you had to have prior knowledge of at least ten iterations of the changes to the core APIs in order to figure what the [expletive] went wrong with a simple line of code. Further, the language and examples in the specs are horrendously formatted. The key examples to understand how various elements work are either lacking in relevant detail, or leave out key information. How many times must the box model be described in blogs across the world in order for people to get how to make XHTML and CSS work together?

The documentation and spec for the W3C should be flattened. Everything I need to know about XHTML should be in one updated spec. I shouldn’t have to backtrack through all sorts of web sites and other W3C specs to figure out how the [expletive] to code something as simple as HTML. Same goes for the CSS spec.

Look, HTML code is easy. It’s not hard. CSS is fairly trivial compared to learning the ropes of desktop publishing or Actionscript. It really is. The only reason any of this is hard is because the specs and documentation are a [expletive] joke.

So the W3C is an organization that is run by volunteers. I realize this, and I don’t care. If people are going to spend large amounts of time creating standards, and then have the nerve to get the rest of us to attempt to develop to those standards, they better find a way to fix the specs. And soon.

One idea to fix all this crappy documentation

So, even though I’m ranting, I do have a suggestion to offer. I know the W3C is made up largely of volunteers, and they seem to have little time to write good documentation. Well, let’s find someone who does have the time and can write good specs. Maybe someone like Eric Meyer or Dan Cederholm.

If every blogger out there were willing to pay $20 for good specs, it would only take ten thousand (10,000) bloggers to create a nice $200,000 paycheck for someone like a Meyer or Cedarholm to spend their time fixing this crappy specification problem. (And I’m only referring to the XHTML and CSS specs right now.) Ten thousand bloggers sounds like a lot, but there’s ten of millions blogger out there now. I’m sure the blogsphere could get 1% of them to pony up such a small amount if people passed the word along.

I’m not asking that either of these guys do all this work then put a PayPal donation button up hoping people pay them for their hard work. I say we get a trusted third party to hold the donations in escrow, create an account for donations and blitz the blogging world asking for money. It would be like NPR donation campaigns or the Jerry Lewis Telethon or the recent success of the Howard Dean campaign. Once the blogsphere hits a specific amount, I’m sure we could get someone who is trusted by the web community to tackle the job.

Just fix the damn W3C specs.

A grass roots movement. If the W3C had knock down, bang up specs with clear, concise examples, the web development world would be a seriously better place.

I feel better now

So much better. I really won’t do that again. I promise. But I had to vent.



Standards rant

Repeat after me Separator Standards do not block, impede or otherwise hinder innovation. Businessmen, engineers or product managers who only care about how they want to implement technology or only care about their own bottom line are the ones doing the real damage in the larger economic picture.

Design by Fire strives to be as standards compliant as humanly possible in spite of the fact that those in charge of developing the technology, the browsers and the operating systems can't seem to to code to the W3C specification with 100% compliance.

However, even though I'm a firm believer in standards, I'm beyond sick and tired of trying to figure out what works and what does not work according to the W3C specification. So while I make every attempt to do the right thing, occasionally I'll just do what I have to get the thing working. In other words, if you run any Design by Fire URI through a code validator and find invalid markup or css, please don't bother sending me an email.

With that little rant out of the way, here are some good articles about the benefits of web standards.

And of course, there's Zeldman's Designing with Web Standards, which is easily one of the best reads from both a practical and technical point of view on the subject.

All of these sources discuss simplification of code, rapid development, smaller file sizes, faster download times, better accessibility for a larger set of users, easier code maintenance and platform scalability - all benefits of standards at a technological level. There's also some ROI discussion on using standards.

Really Simple Syndication is still a pain in the ass

Here's the RSS feed.

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You should know the drill by now.

Andrei Michael Herasimchuk

Updated 2010 Separator The quick and dirty summary is that I am largely considered one of the first official interface designers hired by Adobe Systems. That is, the first one hired to do nothing but interface design across the professional product line. I worked personally on the interfaces for Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign.


One of these days, I'll convince Adobe's legal eagles to let me write a book about all that I have been through while working on those products. I just doubt they'll agree to it in my lifetime. Until, then you'll have to be satisfied with the History of Photoshop, an article written by a long-time friend of mine, Jeff Schewe.


Director, Design Team bullet Twitter
March 2011 - Present

Sr. Director of Product Design
Applications bullet Yahoo!
September 2009 - March 2011

Chief Design Officer, Co-Founder bullet Involution Studios
July 2004 - September 2009

Project Lead, Adobe Lightroom bullet Adobe Systems
December 2002 - June 2004

Director, User Interface bullet ePeople
April 2001 - December 2002

Director, User Interface bullet Impresse
January 2000 - April 2001

Director, User Interface bullet Mambo.com
August 1999 - January 2000

Senior User Interface Designer bullet Adobe Systems
August 1995 - July 1999

Co-Founding Member, Director bullet Specular Int'l
June 1990 - August 1995


Having the opportunity to work on Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom has given me a chance to explore photography in way I would not have had access to otherwise. You can find samples of all my personal work on this web site, and unless otherwise noted, everything here is photographed by me.

For a short period of time, I was exploring a screenwriting career. I had a script optioned by Hyde Park Entertainment (a division of MGM), a studio that has since gone under. I even had an agent in Beverly Hills for a short period of time.

I enjoy playing poker on the side and find the game infinitely fascinating. I have made the final table in a few bigger tournaments. One at The Hall of Fame Poker Classic and the other at the Bay 101 Open, but no World Series of Poker bracelet for me yet. I have had the opportunity to play against some world-class poker professionals and have gotten crushed by them.

In my off time I play bass guitar and far too many video games.

Publications and Awards

Industry Awards bullet 1995-2000
Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign have won far too many awards than is possible to list here.

The History of Photoshop bullet February 2000
An article written by Jeff Schewe for Photo Electronic Imaging Magazine. This covers the history and development of Photoshop. A copy of this article can be found here in PDF format. You can also find another copy on Jeff's web site, Schewe Photography.

Design Graphics, Cover Story bullet June 1999, Issue 46
This article covered the work I did on the redesign of the professional product line while at Adobe.

Collage with Photoshop bullet 1994
This book features 14 digital artists using Photoshop and Specular Collage. I'm only mentioned in the prologue, but the book was created to promote Collage and what digital artists were doing with it at the time. I'm still fairly proud about the book and the work produced inside of it.


Amherst College bullet 1989 to 1990
Left Amherst College to start Specular Int'l

The Hill School bullet 1984 to 1988
College preperatory school.


andrei@designbyfire.com bullet To avoid getting tagged by my spam filter, be sure to create a meaningful subject line.

Colophon and other details

Design by Fire v4.0 Separator A quick overview of the design and implementation of DxF for those who care about such details.

Browser Support

If you are viewing Design by Fire in either Firefox or Safari, congratulations! You are experiencing Design by Fire in the manner it was intended. If you are using Internet Explorer 6.0 or less, you have my sympathies as you are getting a version slightly less dynamic. The reason for that is due to Microsoft's lack of support for the CSS property "position: fixed;" plus a few other things.

Get Firefox

Bottom line, Internet Explorer promises to fix these things in version 7, so in the meantime you can either download the beta for IE7 or switch to Firefox.


If you have purchased the Adobe Creative Suite, you should have Helvetica Neue installed in your font library. If so, then you are reading Design by Fire as it was intended to be read. For everyone else, you are either seeing Lucida Grande or Arial.


Clearly, Helvetica Neue is far superior.

As for the logotype of Design by Fire, it's set using the classic Bodoni typeface, complete with ligature for that extra flourish.

Content Management System

This version of Design by Fire is managed using WordPress. So long MovableType.

Copyright Information

Design by Fire is ©copyright by Andrei Michael Herasimchuk. All rights reserved.

You may not use any material, articles, logos, essays, technical illustrations, photos or any content from this site without expressed written permission.

Design articles

This page intentionally left blank Bullet Oct 31st, 2008

Keeping up with the Joneses Bullet Aug 16th, 2007

Introducing Spivot Bullet Mar 5th, 2007

The unfortunate death of Helvetica Bullet Oct 23rd, 2006

An Open letter to John Warnock Bullet Aug 28th, 2006

Convenient Lessons from An Inconvenient Truth Bullet Aug 2nd, 2006

The kids aren’t alright Bullet Jul 17th, 2006

The Culture of Fugly Bullet Jun 25th, 2006

Please make me think! Are high-tech usability priorities backwards? Bullet Oct 10th, 2004

Rebranding the World Wide Web Consortium Bullet Sep 30th, 2004

You say toe – may – toe, I say [expletive] that Bullet Aug 17th, 2004

Gurus v. Bloggers, Round 2 Bullet Jun 20th, 2004

Design Eye for the Usability Guy Bullet May 18th, 2004

Et tu, Brute? Bullet May 6th, 2004

I would RTFM if there was an FM to FR Bullet Apr 30th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part III Bullet Apr 27th, 2004

Gurus v. Bloggers, Round 1 Bullet Apr 9th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part II Bullet Mar 31st, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part I Bullet Mar 29th, 2004

Redesigning Google’s search results page Bullet Jan 25th, 2004

Lifestyle articles

Welcome to the new school, same as the old school. Bullet Jun 19th, 2006

Bubble Boy at the Bay 101 Shooting Star Bullet Mar 1st, 2004

Beginner’s Tips for Poker Bullet Jan 31st, 2004

Crucial mistakes against Scotty Nguyen Bullet Dec 10th, 2003

Photography articles

Santorini in black and white Bullet Jun 17th, 2004

Santorini in red Bullet Jun 9th, 2004

Santorini in blue Bullet Jun 8th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part III Bullet Apr 27th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part II Bullet Mar 31st, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part I Bullet Mar 29th, 2004

Party like it’s 1999 Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

An Oakland Rave Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

Random favorites from the shoebox Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

Portraits of Donna and Alexa Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

Politics archive

How terrorism works Bullet Sep 10th, 2004