website: May 2009 Archives

Back when I investigated how to create a webpage template, a couple weeks ago, I really had in mind the notion of using a template as the basis for a new Rad guide .. not one on Dreamweaver Templates however, but rather one for » Drive Imaging & Disk Cloning. Today I created that template, and began a new Rad guide.

Hard disk drive internals Definitely takes longer to get up-n-running when using a template, cuz you first must determine exactly how the guide will be structured .. and what items to include in the template, and what parts need to be editable.

Can't just start cranking out pages of text and entertaining new ideas (.. like I used to) .. leaving the details of page structure to deal with later.

Templates force you to pre-think everything up front, before you begin generating content-one. They even force you to anticipate changes .. which is new for me .. especially since I've grown accustomed to the ready-fire-aim approach, which leaves the details of page structure for later .. but by then it's difficult to make changes .. cuz each page must be edited individually (.. hence the need for templates).

I was so eager to get started on the guide that I actually had to start over (several times) .. due to major template modifications. (Arrgh!) Kept getting new ideas .. things I wanted to add/tweak.

You can always modify a template, as that's what they are designed for. But when a template requires many edits, it seems easier to just start over and create a new one. (Something I'm getting good at .. from all the practice.)

It occurred to me again today, while composing a short thank-you note, that Texans donate more to the Rad cause (this site) than all other states combined.

TexasNever been ever to figure out this statistical curio, seeing I live in California.

I've lived in many states over the years .. including Connecticut (where I grew up), Florida, (where I attended both bootcamp & the Navy's Nuclear Power school), Maine (shipyard at Bath Iron Works), Hawaii (the first state away from home to feel like home), Idaho (gorgeous .. in the summer), Washington, Pennsylvania & Illinois, and vacationed in many others, but Texas isn't one of them ..

.. tho I do recall being enchanted with the sense of expanse there as I drove thru the panhandle on I-40 (on my way to California). There was something compelling about the landscape .. readily apparent soon as we crossed the border. Vast & open. Felt like I could see for a hundred miles. Couldn't stop looking, as if it were beckoning.

So maybe Texans are simply the most generous?

Anyway, thanks to all you Texans for your continued generosity over the years .. especially during these difficult economic times, when so many are struggling financially. I'm sincerely grateful.

While surfing the web recently, I've noticed more website authors including a photograph of themselves on their home page (.. places such as here & here) .. aka 'mugshots'.

Mug ShotI forget when I added it, but my mugshot has been posted there for quite some time. It was taken at night (at the Noguchi sculpture garden in Costa Mesa after a yummy Italian dinner), and the flash illuminated only my image (nothing behind). So the background is dark .. which works nicely with the page design (dark background).

I even sampled the exact shade of black contained in the photo's background, so I could blend the photo perfectly into its surrounding box.

Personally, I like to see a photo of the authors whose sites I visit and whose articles I read. It's been said » the eyes are the windows of the soul. In other words, you can get a good idea of a person from a photo.

It actually took more courage than you might think to post that pic there .. so prominently .. for all the world to see .. the online version of stagefright. (Tho I wouldn't be surprised if some printed it out, blew it up, and used it as a dartboard .. or for other things.)

If you view this home page in Firefox (or a browser other than IE or Opera), you'll notice I added some rounded corners.

The rounded corners of this box use graphics to achieve its effect (1 in each corner). Not as cool as pure-CSS. But that's why you can see these rounded corners in IE & all browsers. This box will expand and shrink (down-n-up) as necessary to accommodate text inside, as its width is fixed (to 205 pixels).

Been reluctant to spend much time focusing on site styling, preferring rather to concentrate on generating » content.

In the world of cars, for example, I've always preferred the spartan cockpit of a Porsche to the bells & whistles you find sitting in a corvette. Tho admittedly, that's just my druthers.

My point » function should never take a back seat to form.

I've considered adding rounded corners many times before. Countless techniques exist. But they always seemed a kludge. (Andy agrees.) So I never felt it worth adding the extra markup necessary.

Techniques that use graphics to achieve their effect involve inserting additional HTML elements that are otherwise unnecessary, because current CSS standards (v2.1) allow only 1 background image per element (while each box has 4 corners). Future versions of CSS (v3.0) will support 8 images per element (for this very reason).

This approach has 2 main problems. First, adding (otherwise) unnecessary markup goes against all that is holy to the Web Standards movement, which touts the tenent of 'Semantic Markup' as one of its pillars.

If I knew then what I know now. Ever uttered those words? Looking back on my progression of web skills, one omission stands out » incorporating the use of templates to help develop & maintain the pages of my web site.

Templates are both powerful & flexible for two reasons:

  1. They speed up site development, by allowing the rapid creation of web pages based on a preformed (uniform) structure .. so all your pages have the same look & feel.

  2. They facilitate site maintenance, by enabling structural changes site-wide via the editing of a single-file .. similar to how CSS works. This aspect of templates is considerably more significant than item #1.

Dreamweaver TemplatesIf your web site grows bigger than expected (as they usually do), and you want to make structural changes (non CSS-based changes) to your web pages, you'll have to edit each page individually (.. which suks giant goose eggs). Tedious maximus.

When CSS came along, website designers could transfer all style controls into a single file, so that the look of an entire site could be modified by editing a single file (provided, of course, the entire site was based off of the same style sheet). Very cool development.

But what about structural changes? That's where templates come in. To be honest, I'm not sure if web design programs (such as Dreamweaver and Expression) had the ability to generate templates back when I launched the site. But they do now.

Upgraded the Rad Community forums .. to » YaBB v2.4 (released a few weeks ago). The boys at YaBB have adopted a new, fast-n-furious (3-month) release cycle, which keeps me hopping.

YaBB = Yet another Bulletin BoardThe 'upgrade' process begins with a new/fresh/clean install of the new version .. to a new/unique directory.

I then configure the new version to make it look like the version currently in-use.

After everything looks hunky dory, and appears to be working correctly, I place both (old & new) forums in Maintenance mode and copy all the member-accounts and posts (» folders labeled /Members and /Messages) .. from old to new directories.

That's always the trickiest part, cuz there are so many files to copy (more than 15,000). Our old Shared hosting server choked on this file-transfer. The forums contain ~5K threads with 40K posts (which I'd hate to lose).

Our new VPS however, seems to be handling the load much better. And I can now work from the (powerful) Linux shell (command line).

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the website category from May 2009.

website: April 2009 is the previous archive.

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