Friday, 05 August 2005, 20:13:16 EDT
New design. How do you like it?
I started this design last Friday when I got home from work. I worked on it all day Saturday and then as much as possible during the week. When I wasn't working on this new design I was preparing for my calculus final. I rewrote the whole of the HTML and CSS from scratch. Doing so allowed me to cut out a whole lot of unnecessary markup and styles. If I may boast for a second, the way I wrote the new stylesheets is amazingly clean and the markup is almost pretty, minus the spacing as a result of the template engine. Okay, boasting over. Every page has been updated in either content, appearance (aside from the overall theme), or both — including the rarely used search page! Okay, that is a lie, the archives page didn't change but that is the only page. While I was at it I even fixed the news feeds. I threw away the third party class I was using to generate them and wrote my own implementation. So, the dates are correct on the feeds now. Rejoice.
More so than ever before you need a browser that supports CSS2 very well to view this site. While Internet Explorer mostly gets it right, it leaves out quite a bit and gets just as much wrong. I extensively tested this new design with Safari, Firefox, and Opera. Opera has a small problem with the width of the view port but works well enough for the ten people that use it; seriously, Opera only hit this site sixty-four times last month. If you are using Opera and haven't ever changed the user agent string from Internet Explorer to Opera then wake up and fix it. I digress; the reason you need to use a decent browser is because the stylesheets are a good bit more complex than the old ones. I moved all of the navigation content to the bottom of the markup so that search engines can rank the pages better and textmode browsers can view the content first. What that means is all the buttons to the side, more on those in a second, the menu at the top and the archives link, along with the feeds links, load last but are positioned first, visually, on the page.
While working on the design I came across several things that Safari gets right which Firefox doesn't. For example, I really wanted to use upper case Roman numerals on the links page. Safari numbered the links correctly whereas Firefox labeled every one of them as "0" which isn't even a Roman numeral. I also wanted to put a text shadow on the menu text but Firefox doesn't even support the "text-shadow" CSS property. I don't know if it is just the poor version of Firefox for OS X, but Firefox doesn't even scroll the content window on this page smoothly. There are a few more things that I can't remember right now. Basically, Firefox turned out to be disappointing but it is still worlds better than Internet Explorer.
About the buttons, I have been wanting to add them for a long time but there wasn't anywhere in the design to add them. The number of buttons is going to grow slightly over time so you might as well learn to live with them. Actually, if you really don't want to see them then they can be turned off by adding the right code to your browser's default stylesheet. The buttons are all contained within a single element with an id named, appropriately, "buttons". If any of that makes sense to you then go for it; I won't be telling you how to do it. I could really use any revenue generated by people using the clickthru link to Bluehost and they are not very intrusive. As for Bluehost, it is a good web host and if you are looking for one then I highly recommend them — just use my link to get there when signing up :)
All of that being said, the new design is not finished. You may have noticed that the link to my picture gallery is missing. I haven't worked on that section of the site yet. I will probably get it back online within the week but it needs a lot of work. The other missing links will not be coming back; a lot of that content was out of date and I don't want to keep stale material around. Also, I haven't yet worked on the print styles yet. So, if you were regularly printing the content on this site you might want to hold off until I reimplement the print styles. I highly doubt many of you do that but at least you are aware.
Well, the Braves game is turning out rather poorly and I want to play some Guild Wars. So, enough of this. If you find anything wrong with the site let me know either in the comments or via an email and I will get it fixed. If you have Guild Wars, send a message to Semaj Srenmus and we will adventure together.
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