Crikey. It's been over two weeks since I made a weblog entry, due in part to my utter disappointment at the bitch-slapping that AOL dished out to Netscape and its poor minions. From a web standards point of view, the news over the last month or so has been fucking depressing. I've pretty much resigned myself to spending the next half decade building web sites that work in Internet Explorer 6. All the fancy shit I was hoping to do in the near future is going to have to be put on hold, or at least hidden from Microsoft's forgotten child. In the meantime, all sorts of stuff has been going on:
- My sister got married last week. In Malta! My little sister! She's now a Nixon; a name which has all sorts of different connotations here in the United States. I wish Sam (and her new husband James) all the best for the future.
Pie/Echo/Necho/Atom? is coming along nicely. You wouldn't believe the amount of time and effort that is being expended on trying to find the damn thing a name. Nevertheless, the model looks pretty good at the moment.
- Web Design World is doing its thing in Seattle. I couldn't go, but I am thinking about trying to make the next one in Boston at the end of September.
- For the last three weeks, I've been learning VBScript, in readiness for having a go at ASP. At the same time, I've been using Dreamweaver to create my first ASP pages that are pulling data from a Microsoft Access database. It is my hope that these will be a gentle introduction into the world of dynamic pages. In the future, I intend to develop in PHP over a MySQL back end.
- I've started casting my eye around for a new web host, with a view to doing more serious stuff. Although my current host (Your-Site) is excellent, it suffers from a lack of features. The Zeus web server doesn't support some of the stuff I'd like to use, so I'd like to find a host running Apache or Microsoft IIS. This one, from Canada, looks pretty good. Perhaps readers can recommend someone?
I'm still thinking of a redesign, but it's had to go on the back burner for a bit. I have too much going on at the moment, especially at school, to give it much thought. Keep checking back for more news, though.
"People, it's over. Netscape is dead. Nothing to see here."
More implications of the recent deal between Microsoft and AOL TimeWarner are coming to light. Netscape is all but dead, with it's parent company pulling the plug. Details are coming out of various Netscape employees, with a rather depressed Eric Meyer making a muted reference to it, and a positively livid Daniel Glazman explaining how he has been laid off. A few more details can be found on MozillaZine.
My first thought when I heard this story was of Mozilla, but thankfully it seems that the organization has been spun off into an independent, non-profit foundation that pretty much guarantees its security for a while. At the same time, Ben Goodger has redesigned the front page of the Mozilla site. I don't like the redesign very much because it seems more cluttered than the original. The new design uses a hybrid layout approach, with tables controlling the overall positioning and CSS covering just about everything else. I rather think that an open-source, standards compliant browser like Mozilla would do better to have a website that embraced web standards, showcasing the browser's talents.
At my school, you get an A- if your percentage score is between 90 and 93 inclusive. Getting 94% or better for an A is not easy, so an A- should never be considered a failure, should it? To me it is:
Needless to say, it is my intention to talk to my English II instructor as soon as school starts on Monday. I want to find out if some sort of negotiation might help.
I spent most of Thursday and Friday working on the redesign. I managed to produce a version of this weblog, styled almost identically, but with hardly any classes and entirely free of all
spanelements. I also managed to incorporate a style sheet switching mechanism into the design which allowed the user to choose alternative styles.
So why am I not using my new design? Because I hate it. I am pleased with the revisions to the stucture, which is closer to semantic purity, but I am unhappy with the creative limitations it imposes. In theory, the new structure can have styles applied just as effectively as this existing one. But because of Internet Explorer's poor support for CSS selectors, applying style to the new design is excruciatingly awkward. I find myself yearning for support of child selectors, adjacent sibling selectors, attribute selectors, and the :first-child pseudo-class.
To easily get around these problems, I could just add one or two classes, the odd
divcontainer and a
spanor two, but that would take me right back to the beginning. So has all my work been for nothing? No, it certainly hasn't. I have learned a great deal about document structure, and I can certainly apply some of this new knowledge to eliminating some of the non-semantic stuff. But my experimentation is far from over. It is still my intention to create a revised version of this weblog, with better structure and better design, that is more flexible than the existing version.
What does my weblog actually consist of?
- A top level heading that is also a link
- Primary navigation
- Secondary navigation in the form of:
- Internal links
- External links
- Visual fluff
At the moment, all of these things are wrapped in a
div, but do they need to be? The heading could probably lose its container, and since all the navigation elements are in list structures, perhaps I can lose these as well. Since the content is a list of entries, I currently have them as an unordered list beneath a heading, but since this list is in date/time order, should it be an ordered list? And does it need its container?
Stripping down my weblog like this is pretty scary. It would be easier if Internet Explorer had better support for CSS selectors, because then I could define the presentation of elements with respect to each other, as discussed by Jeffrey Zeldman when he talks about rules based design. When I look at the bare bones of the weblog, every
divcontainer is used as a style hook. But all these elements are containers in their own right. So I don't need the
divelements, do I? Gulp.
I woke up early this morning, with these questions in my head:
- Shall I base the layout on absolute positioning or floats?
- Should I put in a stylesheet switcher?
- Should I revert to XHTML Transitional?
- Can I eliminate more markup? Are there a couple of pointless
DIVelements lurking in there?
- Should I present all non-content images as backgrounds?
- Should I stick with my relatively large default font size?
I'm leaning toward absolute positioning, simply because float continues to be rather buggy. I'm also unhappy about having to revert to XHTML Transitional - perhaps someone can suggest a way in which I can continue to use XHTML 1.1 while satisfying the text/html problem? I'd appreciate feedback from readers. Feel free to email me if you know my email address.
Back in February I did a complete redesign of this weblog that propogated to most of my website. In addition to making the pages look and function better, I changed the way they were archived to make it easier to make them persistent. I was especially pleased that I had made the pages more accessible.
So I think it is time to start putting what I have learned into practice. I will shortly begin a process of public redesign, much like the one undertaken by Jeffrey Zeldman recently. However, I intend it to be more than just a redesign. I want it to be a voyage of self discovery at the same time.
So while this is all going on (I expect it to take several weeks), I would ask you to be patient. The site will look boring/crap for a while as I sort out things behind the scenes, but hopefully it will end up being better than it is now. I will make a special effort to keep all archived material just as it is. Also, I will be restricting the redesign to the weblog for the time being. Wish me luck!
In a departure from my usual format, I'm going to post about several things in brief to start off this month. Various bits of news warrant mentioning, but none of them really deserve their own entry. Since they come in no particular order, let me give you an unordered list:
- Jeffrey Zeldman got married to Carrie Bickner this weekend. After hinting at children in The Daily Report, I emailed him to suggest that he should call a future daughter Naranja, which is Spanish for orange. At least I think it is; my Spanish is limited to about 10 words, all of which I learned watching movies.
- Dave Shea of Mezzoblue fame is also at it. I bet his garden will be positively blossoming!
- More bitching has been diverting attention away from the amazing work being done on the Echo Project. Dave Winer continues to exercise his right to piss everyone off, especially if he sees them as any kind of threat to his beloved child. Nevertheless, great strides have been made to make the Echo Project yield something significant, and Dave is playing just as important part in its genesis too. Sam Ruby, Mark Pilgrim, Tim Bray, and other clever folk, are making great things happen.
- A peculiar countdown has been taking place on Hixie's website. At last, he has revealed what is going on. Once more, the wandering Ian has moved to a new land; he will be now be living in Norway and working for Opera.
- I ordered Wil Wheaton's book, Dancing Barefoot last month, but Amazon say it will be over a month before they can deliver it. That fact that I ordered it at all disturbs me somewhat. I guess I am just curious.
- An English language book has topped the best-seller list in France for the first time since its inception in 1999. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has sold an estimated 25,000 copies in France alone, but the French translation version is not available until December. I love all the Harry Potter stories.