2005-01-19

How Cascading was my Stylesheet?


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I've been doing a lot of online work with templates, stylesheets, etc.
lately and I'm quite pleased with the progress. .css files used to
really mess with me, but as most of these things go, a little trial, a
little error and slowly but surely you start to get the hang of it.
Some notes ...

- I finally shut off the Front Page extensions on the website last
night. Don't get me wrong. MS Front Page is a nice package and allows a
novice webster to get up and running with a arsenal of features that
would otherwise be beyond their grasp. The downside is, after a while
this crutch holds you back. As you progress with html, depending on how
much work you did previously you may be stuck with Front Page-specific
lines of code in your files that don't play well with more standard
techniques.

- It's less dramatic, but I finally fixed my template here at the blog.
I prefer text to be a bit smaller. I don't know why. It feels cleaner
that way, and more fits on a screen so you don't feel like you are
constantly scrolling when reading a post. Anyway, rather than take the
time to tweak the blogger template, I set up custom tags in w.bloggar that reduced the font size at the post level. Short-term solution, long-term problem. Now I've fixed the
template, but the tags remain in previous posts which makes them appear
too tiny. I'm going to go back to the beginning of the year and remove
the tags from each post. Apologies to those rare souls who may want to
dig back further than that.

- Props to PmWiki. We're using wiki out at the website, but
are really only beginning to tap its enormous potential, I feel. Part
of the problem up to this point has been our software, WikiDX. I'm not
even going to link it because its not worth the trouble.

When you look at something like WikiPedia you see that this tool is the ultimate in
flexibility and open-ness, while still allowing users to create some
reasonably sharp pages. WikiDX, on the other hand, was a struggle. It
had all the basic wiki features, but nothing even slightly more advanced
to help with presentation. Thus pages became a mish-mash.

Like WikiDX, PmWiki is free. That's where the similarities end. It's
an easier install. It is much easier and allows the user more
flexibility in customizing even the program's shell. And it includes
features which allows for the creation of organized, clear pages which,
in my book, boosts user-friendliness. Let's face it, you're not going
to keep at it if you constantly have to sort through a mess.

- Finally, props to WordPress. I'm not sure if I've tipped my hat to
them before, so I need to do it now. This is free, open-source, blog
software. Admittedly, things were a little dicey when I first started
using them. The software is continuously in development and there are
still bugs to be worked out. But, our current version is much smoother
with many of the major problems having been fixed.

In addition, their support forums are now well-stocked with valuable
information on the minor glitches. To date I've only encountered one
problem that couldn't be solved - designating categories when posting by
e-mail. It turns out that at this point, this is something the software
simply hasn't been designed to do. For everything else I've found some
combination of tips, work-arounds, and patches to keep us going.

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