Innovation lives here: CBC centres Web site on page

Grant Lawrence and Scotty high-five

Years in the making, CBC Radio 3 launched their new website today. Now, we don’t want to be nerdy haters here, but motherfucking frames?

Despite all the time spent on it, it’s hard to see what’s new here. The design contains disparate elements and looks unfinished. There’s plenty of debugging markup commented out under the hood, which leads me to believe this was done in a rush. The social elements are superficial and far from groundbreaking.

Yet the word “genius” is on the home page a full three times. They sure seem pleased with themselves!

Let’s hope that rubs off on the rest of us.


  1. Sandro
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 10:23 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I’m actually enjoying Radio 3’s new website. Aside from the URL always being the same, I think the redesign was well executed. A big improvement from the previous site. You can easily fix the static URL problem by using SWFAddress, by the way. The fact that the streams aren’t broken while navigating the site is a crucial feature. Similar to and The Hype Machine (when the feature works).

  2. quelsuprise
    Posted October 25, 2009 at 3:08 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    dear gawd, is there anything more dull than a circle-jerk of middle-aged white guys whining about code?

    this tiresome thread actually bodes well for r3. if the teamakers hate it, chances are everyone other than your parents will dig it.

    huge drags, the lot of you.

  3. Posted October 15, 2009 at 8:05 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Fake Ouimet: Please check out the site in Opera now. We got it working in both mac and windows versions. It seems as though that browser is faster than chrome and safari in rendering DOM objects which is good for our site since we do a lot of dynamic html rendering with javascript.

  4. Posted October 9, 2009 at 9:39 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I’m one of the two coders who worked on the new CBC Radio 3 site for the past 15 months and I want to comment on a few of the points made above.

    “debugging markup commented out under the hood” – We comment/document all our markup and javascript where possible. This is good practice.

    OPERA BUG – We know about the Opera/prototype bug. It’s a bug that was introduced in prototype 1.6.1 that breaks the frame model. We needed to update to the latest prototype (from to support IE8. We’re deploying a fix on monday that fix this. The site actually runs beautifully well in Opera (rivaled only by Chrome). I’m a HUGE opera fan! not to mention, I test on FF 2, 3 on both win (vista and xp) and mac (osx, leopard,etc), safari 2,3,4 on win and mac, IE 7, 8, Opera, and Chrome (no longer ie6). Pretty much any browser I can get my hands on.

    IE6 – We made a conscious decision not to support IE6 since CBC announced that the official corporate browser was now IE7. IE6 was holding us back in our development and decided that it wasn’t worth the time and money to support it when there are 2 other versions of IE available. Too bad, so sad. Besides, IE6’s javascript engine is so brutally slow that the site wouldn’t be very much fun.

    USABILITY – Our site is very completely semantic and valid xhtml. We used css image replacement everywhere on the site, titled all the content, alt tagged all the images. If you actually disable the css (FF dev toolbar) you’ll see that the player is still completely semantic and usable HTML!. I tested the site in the Lynx text brower and all the content was completely accessible!!!! Our site and our permalink/play/favourite buttons degrade gracefully because they’re actually all hyperlinks that have been hijacked by javascript to extend the functionality. We made all the content readonly and extend the functionality with javascript for interaction. This way we can offer basic navigation and browsing for the blind/screen readers while providing an enhanced experience for users with full-featured browsers.

    FRAME – We know that the frame isn’t great for navigation but we’re definitely considering implementing deep linking (hash) when we get the chance. We went with the frame and not the NPR-site popup because our player is actually an fully integrated AJAX web application. The player maintains state and resumes state on every page load which is a pretty rad concept. There’s alot going on with interactivity/state behaviours to make the player/playlisting experience more seamless and not reliant on flash for rendering. Our number one concern was making a rich listening/interactive experience for our users. We’re going to continually improve this in the next couple of months.

    If you want me to get more into the technical specs of the site and why we did things certain ways I would be more than happy to talk about it. We’re extremely passionate developers, love what we do and believe in best practices all the way. We’re very open and love to share GOOD ideas and of course love fixing bugs that we may have missed in our hundreds of thousands of lines of code!!!

    • Fake Ouimetjoined April 10, 2009
      Posted October 10, 2009 at 12:22 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      Opera Mac: Site displays nothing. Windows or Linux? Different story perhaps.

      Your codes perfect? Its improved in the last few days. Lynx cannot operate the BUTTON element, hence the site isnt actually usable there. Selecting the server frame freezes Lynx as it attempts to decompress a .gz file. This is a minority use case no matter how you look at it.

      You can use the baseline CSS library for IE6 to give IE6 users basic access to the site. If I felt like exerting myself to open a new tab and Google it I could tell you more. Its Andy Clarkes baby.

      There are numerous other quibbles that could be levelled, such as divitis and classitis. I think it is generally accepted in this forum that the frames-and-player business was the wrong idea. I assume others disagree.

    • Fake Ouimetjoined April 10, 2009
      Posted October 10, 2009 at 12:23 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      Oh, and we dont give basic access to screen readers anymore. If you want to add an upgrade for the future, start with WAI-ARIA. Screen readers sit on top of full-featured browsers now, you know, and theyve understood JavaScript for ages.

  5. Bitchy MaGoo
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 2:04 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “If you hate him, you must hate the genre. ”

    Is this like one of those “if you disagree with the war, you must hate America” sort of things?

    • Fake Ouimetjoined April 10, 2009
      Posted October 9, 2009 at 2:22 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      The Tiëstos Club Lifé podcast is so smooth and well-curated its hard to dislike. If one does so anyway, it bespeaks antipathy for the genre.

      First hours listen of the R3 electronic stream included some version of the As It Happens theme and long periods of dead air. Im back to Bassdrive.

  6. Bitchy MaGoo
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 12:52 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    ‘allo bitches.

    Looks like r3 has the mp3 streams are up. You may now hate them for some other reason – maybe for not playing Tiesto’s lame, non-Canadian trance on the electronic stream?

    Hosted Radio Stream:





    • Fake Ouimetjoined April 10, 2009
      Posted October 9, 2009 at 1:16 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      I have elsewhere described Tiësto as the acceptable face of dance music, the perfect middle-of-the-road DJ. Tiëstos value proposition is dance music that is always in good contemporary taste no old disco and nothing insane like happy hardcore. He, and it, are easy to like. That makes him sort of a litmus test: If you hate him, you must hate the genre.

      I do feel somewhat foolish for not having schlepped down to HIV Records last Saturday to snap a picture up close and personallike, even with an alarm that went off on the iTouch to remind me.

      Im sorry. You were saying?

  7. Anonymous
    Posted October 8, 2009 at 12:13 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    So what’s wrong with a good ol’ popup? Seems like a reasonable solution to me.

    But if they had to use frames, why not implement hash bookmarking? That way they could get some nice urls.

    There was a time, not too long ago, was way ahead of its time. Way ahead.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted October 7, 2009 at 8:09 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    You people are a bunch of geeks. Get a life. No one cares about anything that you are saying.

    Radio 3 is a great service and Canadians should be proud of it.

    Opera, what is that? Again no one cares about your geeky tech talk. You all make me want to barf.

    • Fake Ouimetjoined April 10, 2009
      Posted October 8, 2009 at 12:11 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      We are not actually talking about Radio 3. We are talking about what they are talking about, which is its Web site. I assume you never want doctors to talk medicine either?

  9. Fake Reginald Fessenden
    Posted October 7, 2009 at 7:39 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Player in new window using standards compliant markup or just providing a link to a stream, playable in your application of choice. All other methods can pretty much fuck the fuck off.

    Don’t force content on me. I’m smart enough to prefer clicking on a link for what is on offer.

    On the subject of standards, there are about 75 markup errors on this page alone, FO.


    • Fake Ouimetjoined April 10, 2009
      Posted October 8, 2009 at 12:10 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      We (term used advisedly) know. But every posting since changing over to WordPress internally has valid HTML, up to and including correct custom-written alt texts. A number of snippets of third-party content nuke validation, but every posting has good code.

  10. Bitchy MaGoo
    Posted October 7, 2009 at 1:34 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece


    At some point obsolete technology has to be dropped in order to move forward. Radio3 is supposed to be a forward-looking entity. How can it do this if it chains itself to a decade old browser when other innovating websites like YouTube will not?

    As for my Opera comments being neither “here nor there”. Oh my friend… they’re both here AND there. It’s and Opera bug. Period. You are evading dealing with the fact that you were proven wrong.

    With regards to it being a “wrong idea” to have a media player that plays uninterrupted on a web radio station’s site, I would argue that it’s you who are wrong on this point, which is probably why you don’t work in web radio. One would think that the strategy of Radio3 would be to keep people listening AND checking out the other content on the site at the same time. I would argue that your opposition to frames (and flash) is ideological as opposed to being based in reason.

    As for you not wanting to read all about the new features, and how to get the most out of them. Fine. I didn’t, and I think I’ve managed to figure out most of the stuff. You want to listen to electronic, it’s 3 easy steps:

    Click on “web radio”, which is dead centre of the media player.
    Select electronic.
    Stop bitching and enjoy.

    As for NPR, I see two options to listen to audio. The player on the right side of the site does not play continuously when you click on blog links, and the option to listen to various streams at the top of the site opens up the player in another window, which isn’t what I was talking about.

    • Fake Ouimetjoined April 10, 2009
      Posted October 7, 2009 at 2:11 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      I wasnt proven wrong. I stated the site rendered nothing in Opera. I reported it to them, and they found the reason. I reported it here, then, minutes later, they did too.

      I would venture to say the future of Web radio is streaming, and not through a browser. Case in point: CBC Radio iApp. But I dont work in that field. I just listen to Web radio all day via non-browser methods.

      I will quite definitely listen to the R3 electronic stream if it shows up in iTunes. By shows up in iTunes, I do not mean I have to load the new R3 site and hack away to find a stream URL.

      Mr. Magoo, who exactly is bitching here? I would also advise you to double-check the byline of the original post.

  11. Bitchy MaGoo
    Posted October 6, 2009 at 7:06 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    So in summary:

    – Frames suck even if only because they allow you to move through the site without breaking the stream.

    – Because they have something called “The Genius’s Guide…” they must be referring to themselves.

    – They only play indie music (if we pretend that the new genre-specific streams don’t exist)

    – The site doesn’t work in Opera, and even though this is due to an Opera bug it’s still R3’s fault just because they suck balls.

    – And the 12 hour old site isn’t optimized for viewing by the blind, so not only are they stupid, they must be dinks.

    • Fake Ouimetjoined April 10, 2009
      Posted October 7, 2009 at 12:10 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      Frames suck because surely even Bitchy McGoo knows what a Back button is, to name a single reason among many. We expect standards-compliant redesigns from professional Web developers, which handily takes care of the blinks. Opera is doing what it always does: Repairing its own software to render invisible to the user the brokenness of the sites they use.

      How’s your IE6, McGoo?

      • Bitchy MaGoo
        Posted October 7, 2009 at 11:57 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

        So you are saying that it’s possible to design a site wherein a media player works continuously while users move around the site without using frames? You must have examples of this.

        And even though it’s been pointed out that this is an Opera bug, it’s in fact not so much a bug as a bit of code that corrects “brokenness”. Isn’t that pretty much all technology is about? Moving objects from a state of not working to a state of working?

        As for IE6, it’s being dropped by all forward looking companies. Digg is doing it, and so it internet giant YouTube. It is an old and horrible browser that does not allow designers to push the boundaries of what technology will allow. So what is it? Is R3 stuck in 1998, or is it being senselessly progressive by refusing to service a decade-old browser?

        Arguing with Tea Makers is like arguing with an Obama Birther. No matter how many holes you poke in their arguments, they will cling to the shreds and claim that they’re right.

        R3 probably could have built an orgasmatron into the new website, and you’d still hate it. Face it… nothing Strombo, Gomeshi, or R3 can ever do will make you happy. They’re fuel for you regular 2 minutes of hate.

        • Fake Ouimetjoined April 10, 2009
          Posted October 7, 2009 at 12:17 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

          Dude, what browser do you think the peons inside the Corpse are stuck with? Hint: It has nothing to do with a birth certificate.

          Your Opera comments are neither here nor there.

          Assuming I ever fire another browser up (apart from Lynx) and actually look at the new R3 site, Ill get back to you about the general wisdom of turning a browser into a perpetual media player. On the face of it, I put this plan in the category of the wrong idea in the first place. They should know better, since the previous site had the same wrong idea.

          I quite like Strombo. You are right that I take issue with Gomeshi and Radio 3. But, you know, I aint the only voice on this site. You seem to be adding yours quite handily. I assume you arent goofed up on 420 while youre doing it.

        • Fake Ouimetjoined April 10, 2009
          Posted October 7, 2009 at 12:46 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

          Actually, I just went in and reread their giant blog post, which contains more instructions than in my old WordPerfect 5.1 manual. Im not going to bother trying to figure it out, even with the dangled carrot of an electronic streaming music station (no doubt delivered solely via Flash). R3 seems like this alternate universe of indie rockers (they would now insistently add the word former) who simply accept inelegance and kludges as badges of authenticity. I admit this is an unfair generalization, but at least Im not trying to suggest Grant Lawrence wasnt born in Canada.

        • Anonymous
          Posted October 7, 2009 at 1:00 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

          “So you are saying that its possible to design a site wherein a media player works continuously while users move around the site without using frames? You must have examples of this.”

  12. Posted October 6, 2009 at 4:08 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Hi, I looked into why it doesn’t load in Opera and it’s Opera’s fault this time. It ignores the frameset because some code in the Prototype library has created form elements during load. For some reason it seems to invent an implied BODY to put any FORM inside when that happens, which is totally wrong and a very weird bug. I’ll try to follow up this with Opera developers to ensure a fix.

  13. Anon
    Posted October 6, 2009 at 2:26 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “looks” awful in Blind lynx text browser ( ) And the Javascript buttons don’t have AltCoding. Not w3c compliant.

  14. Fake Ouimetjoined April 10, 2009
    Posted October 6, 2009 at 12:50 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    And it renders precisely nothing in Opera.

    • Fake Ouimetjoined April 10, 2009
      Posted October 6, 2009 at 4:08 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      I reported it to Opera. A potentate replies:

      WOW. What a weird and totally stupid bug we have run into here. It breaks Prototype.js’s otherwise sensible bug-detection approach by inventing a BODY element in the DOM if a script does document.createElement(‘select’) – hence totally ignores the frameset. I’ve been campaigning for bug-detection rather than browser detection for a while so please excuse me while I go banging my head against a wall.

      This is not a justification for creating a 1998-era Web site. What Would Tiësto Do?

  15. Anonymous
    Posted October 6, 2009 at 12:34 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    also. to help us figure out what their bent is:

    What we play: The Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, The New Pornographers, Broken Social Scene, Metric, Tegan & Sara, plus so much more!

    wow. so what else is there?
    what breadth! what commitment to new canadian music!

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