Saturday, February 19, 2005

I'm renovatiing

Well, it's not finished yet, the new template I have been working on for months, that is.

I started from scratch (Ha, you started from Eric Costello's site, you mean. -Ed.) when I saw two Glish templates, his Blogger template and what he calls his Holy Grail of templates - a center fluid, three column template. "Excellent!", I said to myself on seeing both, "It would be so cool if the color and features could be combined with the columns."

The outside columns would always be in the viewing window no matter how narrow it was and I wanted lots of things in sidebars. Also, if I did do Blogads, or such, they would always be visible, an important factor for advertisers, I supposed. Also, the sacrifices made with the center column are not that bad. I mean, who keeps their bookmark sidebar open to 40% of the screen width?

The color. I love the color, but not for the reason you may think. It isn't that it's cool to watch, its just the fact that it changes. My eyes hurt and things are fuzzy after getting my news for the day. (You spend too much time on the web, idiot! -Ed.) It's the white backgrounds, no it's all backgrounds -- it's the constancy of any color background. But mostly it is the white that hurts. The changing background helps the eyes, mine at least, and hopefully yours. Besides, it is cool, isn't it? (Better hope they don't have javascript turned off, chump! -Ed.)

Combining was easier than expected, surprisingly easy, though tweaking it so the columns have background in between took some time. (Up until November when I started this blog, I never even thought about web program code much less looked at it.) Except for the text-sizer which, for some reason, unfathomable to me still, does not work. I have given up on that for the time, but it's still on the checklist.

The hard part was the menus, compact, very effective, menus. For that, I needed tutorials to do what I wanted to do. That was fairly easy, too and soon I had some 45 menus. The hard part was getting them to function the way I wanted. More tutorials and that was harder - some 8 testing templates in six folders and finally I configured a function that worked - "onchange" and in a new window. Unfortunately that meant 45 functions. Ugh! Back to tutorials, nothing that helped me to understand how to write one function to operate all the menus. Finally, I broke down and asked Ken Ward of Trans4mind, because he had the best tutorials I had found that brought me closest to actually doing it myself. He sent me the function right back. I was delighted and, if you knew how long it had puzzled me, you would know how indebted I am to him, even though I fully realize that it is not a complicated function. In fact, I was able to modify it to open new window easily and then easily add a second for a pop-window to be used for a few other menus I have in mind. Anyhow, that was now done.

Next on the list was doing the archives menu. For that I was lucky enough to find a pleasant chap by the name of Glenn of who provided free to use menu code for that.

After that a translation menu was on the list. There are a bunch out there. Although I prefer this one by Deepak of that uses Free Translation (many more languages available), when I put it to the test with my current (soon to be old) template, the translated page is an uncontrolled, obviously Free Translation page and everything gets centered. It is possible that it's me, or rather my template or how I stuffed it in my template, but getting everything centered looks like ..., well, not good. I am afraid to see how it might butcher my new template and if I have to do code to solve that, no thank you. I doubt the problem is Deepak's code but may reside at Free Translations. Heaven knows it isn't my template! So, I found another written to use both Google for some and Free Translation for others, and that did help me with writing one for Google. After much trial and error it worked. Yeah!

After all that work, I found leads for some of these things at the Blogger Support page under hacks. What the heck? I swear, use of bandwidth on the web would be reduced on the order of several percentage points, I am sure, if more sites used good Table of Contents and Index pages. For all the great innovations computer geeks have developed to make computers user-friendly, they still seem to revert to MIS mode when it comes to readable HELP. (I love MIS people, I really do. Bwahahaha.) And to tell the truth, FAQ's are over-rated as a tool and under-answered as a help.

Okay I'm off my tangential rant and back on the circumference. There's a ton more I want to do, but I'll be much older and grayer if I wait until it's done to get it up in place of my first model. I've been anxious, but hesitant about this 'out with the old and in with the new before it's done' but now think it will be enjoyable to renovate my attic in something like real time.

So that's a warning. Its going up sometime today. There may be some erratic access until I get the template in place, stable and working properly. And it will be off line for a tiny bit of time. Patience, please.

Also, I have tested it with Firefox and IE6, but only hope it works well with other browsers. Please let me know if you see quirks in appearance or improperly operating functions.

Thanks and I appreciate your visiting my attic. (And yes, I have a building permit here, somewhere!)

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This page is part of CSS LAYOUT TECHNIQUES, a resource for web developers and designers. Does it VALIDATE? (Ha! Not likely.)

Template Credits::
Eric Costello at Glish for the base templates; Glenn Roveberg at Roveberg for the archives menu; and Ken Ward at Trans4mind for menu open window coding.

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