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the web log of Simon Jessey

Monday, February 3rd, 2003

To list, or not to list

I am getting closer. The test (not a permanent page so don't link to it) of my new site design has been successful so far. I am still awaiting feedback from users with Macs (running anything) and PCs running versions of Internet Explorer older than 6.0, but initial comments have been favorable. Please feel free to email me if you have comments of your own. The long process of transferring existing content to the new design will soon begin and I expect this to take many weeks.

But first I must resolve a dilemma. I need to decide on the structural format of the si-blog. Currently, it is laid out in a simple way, with an <h3> heading for the date, an <h4> heading for the title of an entry, a <p> element containing the permanent link of the entry and then a paragraph or paragraphs of content. A separate, permanent document is then made for each entry.

There are certain things I would like to do to limit the time I spend working on it. Firstly, I intend to combine the permanent link with the <h3> heading and then turn the <h4> heading into an anchor. This will mean that several entries on one day will be combined into one document. Secondly, I would like to devise a standardized mechanism for including images with a blog entry, instead of just throwing them in and creating temporary style rules.

This is where an important decision has to be made. I have looked around at other web logs and found there are basically three flavors of markup. The most common appears to be similar to my existing method, but I am not happy with it. The next most popular is a series of nested <div> elements, with the blog itself getting a <div> and then each individual entry getting a <div> also. The new method emerging appears to be to use a list. Tantek, for example, uses an unordered list, nested within an ordered list which is itself within another ordered list. A slightly simplified example of this technique is used quite effectively by Richard Rutter. I have considered using a definition list, with each <dt> element used for the title/anchor combination, and the <dd> element being used for the entry itself. The whole list could then be nested within an unordered list, where individual <li> element have the <h3> heading/date/permanent link combination and the definition list. This may be misuse of the definition list mechanism though. I am going to have to give this some serious thought before proceeding, and I would be grateful for any comments about which way to go.

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