All in the <head>

– Ponderings & code by Drew McLellan –

– Live from The Internets since 2003 –


24 Ways in 24 Days

1 December 2005

I’m excited to announce one of the things that’s been keeping me busy lately. 24 ways to impress your friends is a festive blog designed to act a bit like a seasonal advent calendar. Instead of counting down the days to Christmas with little cardboard doors, allow me to present 24 web development tips and tricks from myself and my good friends.

Each day from now until 24th December, we’ll be publishing a new short article or tip designed to teach you something that perhaps you didn’t know, and in turn can share with your friends. It’s a holiday thing – share the lovin’.

Many years ago, my friend Massimo Foti urged me to learn about regular expressions – “Learn regexp and impress your friends!” he used to say. I always liked that notion. There’s a lot of fun to be had in learning something that will impress those you work with – especially if then you can share what you know to everyone’s benefit. Impressing your friends is a great thing to strive for.

So, to get the ball rolling, first up is Easy Ajax with Prototype which I wrote after just a short while playing around with some Ajax. Thought Ajax was rocket science? It’s really not, especially with so many good frameworks available now. Prototype has its roots in Ruby on Rails, and does a nice job of handing the tiresome bits and letting you get back to building your applications. Do give it a go.

Oh, and to keep the surprise going (just like an advent calendar) we won’t be telling you who the next guest author is each day. Let’s just say there’s an awful lot of names you’d recognise.

So enjoy – and spread the word. Ho ho ho.

Update: Ending up on the home page of is both a blessing and a curse. Hopefully the server will be up again shortly.

Update: I’ve ditched Textpattern and am serving static pages. Basically my server doesn’t have enough memory to keep up with demand (we’re still on the home page of digg, and currently hold spots 2 and 3 of Perhaps I should be running lighttpd. I’m trying to get the server upgraded now.

- Drew McLellan


  1. § Jesse: hahah… great idea! Now i have something to do everyday ;)
  2. § Dave Lowe: Excellent! An advent calendar for web developers. I like it! I do miss those little cardboard doors though.

    On “learn regexp and impress your friends!”... with my friends it’d probably be more like “learn regexp and further solidify the notion in your friends’ minds that you’re a complete geek!” Ah well, what’re you gonna do?
  3. § Dennis Bullock: Great idea! I cant wait to see them.
  4. § Rob L.: Thanks in advance—I have a feeling this will wind up being a resource many of us will come back to again and again.

    Happy holidays!
  5. § Remi Prevost: It sounds great. Really :)
  6. § Ashley Bowers: Sounds great can not wait to see them and start playing with them!
  7. § Si: I was looking forward to my daily advent chocolate but I suppose I’ll have to settle for a little nerd-comforting code instead.

    Cheers for that Drew!
  8. § Neil Edwards: Great so far :) Any chance of a demo for each day? Sometime it’s just the push you need to try it yourself.

  9. § Raanan Avidor: Waiting for day 2…
  10. § Drew: I should mention that the site runs on GMT ;)
  11. § mike: all the sites I visit daily are sent to my google homepage via RSS, it would be great if I could add 24 ways into that (well any RSS reader) and see when a new way appears.

    Bloody good idea though!
  12. § mike: ignore that, I just noticed that there IS an RSS feed… Doh!
  13. § Dalibor: Great idea Drew, I look forward to reading it. I hope you don’t take it down after the holidays.
  14. § Tom Rix: Hey Drew,

    Say 24 ways & am enjoying it so far! I feel I may have something to contribute, check out just uses basic style manipulation with Javascript. I could write up a tutorial.

    Tom Rix
    aka. rixth
  15. § Alan Pyne: Drew,
    two thumbs way up for this.
    I just commented on one of the entries and ran into a few problems with the Textile markup, and I was wondering if you knew some way around these:
    1) when including a multiline code sample, the “at” signs need to be placed at the start and end of each line, causing the code block to be visually “sliced”
    2) is there any way to post HTML source? (tried the char entities instead of angle brackets trick to no avail)
    3) is there a way to combine/nest markup hints – for example, in a line of code, I wanted to highlight just the part I’d changed – nesting a strong inside a code results in the strong being expanded to its HTML tag equivalent

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think that considering the subject matter, it would be very useful to be able to have the comments perform these tricks.

    Anyway, just some tips for next year!

    Thanks again,
  16. § Drew: Alan – this is something I plan to write up in an article here, but if you think you’ve been having problems expressing code in Textile, imagine what a nightmare my life has been trying to publish the articles!

    I live and breath Textile most of the time, but for technical publishing, it totally sucks. I’m feeling the pain.
  17. § Denis:

    Well done drew!

    That was relly some great works. Trying to get in touch with you to see if you would consider a french translation of some of this articles? (espicially the first one about ajax with prototype).

  18. § Rizky:

    umm, i know it’s kinda late. but can i ask u some questions about your ajax tutorial? there’s still some stuff that i don’t understand.

    but is it okay if i ask my questions here? thx..


  19. § katalog:

    I was looking forward to my daily advent chocolate but I suppose I’ll have to settle for a little nerd-comforting code instead.


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About Drew McLellan

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Drew McLellan (@drewm) has been hacking on the web since around 1996 following an unfortunate incident with a margarine tub. Since then he’s spread himself between both front- and back-end development projects, and now is Director and Senior Web Developer at in Maidenhead, UK (GEO: 51.5217, -0.7177). Prior to this, Drew was a Web Developer for Yahoo!, and before that primarily worked as a technical lead within design and branding agencies for clients such as Nissan, Goodyear Dunlop, Siemens/Bosch, Cadburys, ICI Dulux and Somewhere along the way, Drew managed to get himself embroiled with Dreamweaver and was made an early Macromedia Evangelist for that product. This lead to book deals, public appearances, fame, glory, and his eventual downfall.

Picking himself up again, Drew is now a strong advocate for best practises, and stood as Group Lead for The Web Standards Project 2006-08. He has had articles published by A List Apart, Adobe, and O’Reilly Media’s, mostly due to mistaken identity. Drew is a proponent of the lower-case semantic web, and is currently expending energies in the direction of the microformats movement, with particular interests in making parsers an off-the-shelf commodity and developing simple UI conventions. He writes here at all in the head and, with a little help from his friends, at 24 ways.