Archive for the ‘Web’ Category

WebMD Health Video Library

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

WebMD Daily Health Videos Archive

Phew… it was an intense couple of days pounding this out but it went live today. I’ll write an article about the JavaScript techniques employed to take a static HTML page and make it interactive (while keeping the page search-engine friendly), but for now I just want to link to it and give it some Google-juice.

Automatic external link interstitials using JavaScript and Behavior.js

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

Working for a health information website has some disadvantages – you must take greater than normal care to ensure user privacy. One of the requirements is to pop up an interstitial message before going to another website, because the new website might have different terms and conditions.

With the new blogs at WebMD, we’re tying into social networking sites like Technorati and, plus linking to other blogs, so we have a lot of external links.

Previously this meant manually modifying each link so it passes through a special page on WebMD then redirects to the target URL. But I thought that was a lot of work, plus very error prone and hard to maintain.

Instead I used Ben Nolan’s behavior.js, a wonderful library for attaching behaviors to page elements, to add an onclick behavior to every external link. I used regular expressions to determine which links should be considered “internal” links that shouldn’t be modified.

You can go to a the WebMD heart disease blog and click a Technorati link to check it out.

Here’s the code: behavior-external-linkify.js


Julien writes:

I tried the scenario you listed in your blog (go to WebMD and then
click a Technorati link) in Firefox 1.5 and it didn’t work: the popup
got blocked…

Yes, I noticed that as well; unfortunately the actual part of the
process that displays the interstitial is not under my control – all I
can do is redirect the user to the WebMD page that does the rest.

I need to notify them about this difficulty – they could probably
change that page to display an alert box if the popup did not open.
Alternatively, if you didn’t care about redirecting through another
page you could modify my JavaScript such that it displays an alert
instead of redirecting the page.

Update 2006-03-09: Here is another implementation using Yahoo!’s libraries instead of Behavior.js

New web features for WebMD

Monday, December 5th, 2005

The last couple months have been extremely busy – here are some of the projects I have been working on at WebMD:

Site redesign

The whole site has been given a new look. One of my contributions was a DHTML slideshow prominently featured on the home page:

Custom slideshow for WebMD

This was a complete custom rewrite using many of the same techniques as my ever-popular BarelyFitz JavaScript slideshow.

Blogging comes to WebMD

My buddy Jeff (director of user experience at WebMD and principal of Interaction Society as well as various podcasting shows) was behind the “doctor blog” project. They now have 15 doctors blogging on various topics: it will be great to have such personal viewpoints available on the web. I created the HTML and CSS templates for these blogs, plus added some dynamic WebMD news feeds using RSS and JavaScript.

Custom Blogger blog template for WebMD


And finally, to earn my title “Development Manager, New Media and Syndication”, we need some new media! So we launched the WebMD daily video. It took a great team of people to pull this off, and the ongoing challenge of a daily video is tremendous!

Flash video player for WebMD

So… that’s what I’ve been up to, how about you? :-)

A tutorial for the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder

Wednesday, November 16th, 2005

I’ve been using a nice piece of free software called Wink to make Flash tutorials for my web applications. It’s missing some features that you might want in a Flash tutorial, but it’s free and easy to use.

A producer at WebMD thought we should use Wink to create a tutorial for the upcoming Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder. Considering Medicare’s target audience, and the complexity of their web application (yeah, it’s pretty confusing), I thought this was a great idea.

Here’s what we came up with: Tutorial for the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder

Tutorial for the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder

Considering our budget, timeline, and file size limitations, I think it turned out nicely.

Microsoft acquires FolderShare / removes references to iTunes?

Thursday, November 3rd, 2005

When I read the article Microsoft buys FolderShare, I jumped over to to check it out. I wondered if it had any restrictions for sharing music files, so I searched their site for “music” and found a reference to a page “How do I sync my iTunes music files?”

But when I clicked the link, the page had been altered to remove the section about iTunes.

Hmmm… did they remove that because they are now affiliated with Micro$oft?

They didn’t do a very good job, because their search is provided by MSN, and you can see the following in the cached page:

How do I sync my iTunes music files?

When syncing iTunes, it is important to sync only the actual music files located in the iTunes Music folder in the iTunes directory. Syncing the entire My Music or iTunes folder can result in the accidental deletion of the iTunes .xml file which contains track and playlist information.

To sync iTunes: With your devices online and running FolderShare, select “Sync My Folders” on the My FolderShare page. On each device, select the iTunes Music folder – the default location on Windows is:

C:\Program Files\iTunes\iTunes Music

Once the sync is complete, you will need to tell iTunes to add that folder into the iTunes library to update the listing with any new songs. Open iTunes, select File => Add Folder to Library.

Boxer shorts for sale

Saturday, October 8th, 2005

I could not resist the urge: after seeing the popularity of the I’m blogging this t-shirt from ThinkGeek, I decided to make my own version:

I'm flogging this boxer shorts
I’m flogging this boxer shorts

How you know it’s time to go to bed

Sunday, June 5th, 2005

…when you type “exit” into the address field of your web browser in an attempt to close the window.

WordPress comment and trackback spam

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2005

I’ve been enduring a storm of comment and trackback spam on my blog the last few days. Some chuckelhead has been trying to post links to his online poker website – it’s almost enough to make me swear off playing texas hold’em. Hundreds of posts have been caught in my moderation stream since I don’t automatically post comments if they have links, and it’s a pain to sort through and delete them all, because they keep coming.

Luckily I have a solution for fighting automated comment spam attacks – I just run a script that moves the comment submission forms to a new, random URL. I do it manually right now, but it looks like I’m going to have to set it up to run on a daily basis. That way I only have to deal with a limited number of automated spams before they are nipped in the bud.