Honestly, I was originally using Discus as a stop-gap until I put up a forums, I need to go through and remove it to integrate to the forums and/or Medium instead. I kind of stopped writing for my own site when Medium showed me it had better reach and better payouts than Adsense. Next iteration of the site -- when I have the time -- will likely kill off ads and just be the forums and links to either a section of these forusm and/or medium.
I will be both happy and sorry to see that day arrive. As much as I dislike Disqus and prefer your forum format, I like the articles here and even though it looks like some of your favorite phrases are in use in the articles in Medium, it just doesn't have the same energy as the rants here, which remind me of some of the best things about Usenet. Also, Medium cut me off after I reached my quota of articles, demanding that I register.
If you had already done the abovementioned changes before I found your site, I never would have made the progress I've already made in the 4 or 5 days since I found your site, which I have been binge-reading since I found it.
I've been maintaining this little site I'm now trying to "progressively enhance" for a few years, mostly updating the front page (weekly or every other week) and some other things (board meeting minutes and newsletters monthly, some things annually, etc). The site had been created in 2008 and it was obvious -- lots of borders boxed every little bit in, and each bit had a different pastel background. But you know, the site was for providing information and it did what it was supposed to do. It was also well-coded. It had things I probably wouldn't have added myself (I mean, I would now, but I know more now) -- things like breadcrumb trails and skiplinks that I originally thought were kind of overkill until I found out they are not. And since it already worked and validated and I really knew absolutely nothing about CSS, I wanted to evolve it rather than replace it. Especially as I had already tried "redoing from scratch" with things like responsive templates from w3schools and DID NOT LIKE the result.
The nonprofit I maintain this page for is my local chapter, there is also a state chapter and a national chapter. Those others use some kind of WYSIWYG editors or something, but they "look" modern -- and there was some pressure for us to use these tools, too, so I decided to upgrade our color scheme to take some of the pressure off. So I had to finally play around with the CSS file I had been avoiding. This was all at the beginning of the month, before I found this site.
We do have people that donate time to do graphics and stuff for us, but they sort of threw up their hands at the site, so I was on my own. I guess especially after I told them, "tell me what to change," and they said, "like pixels?" and I said, "no! no pixels."
So I downloaded the brand standards from the national site and sat down one weekend and commented out all the borders that were boxing things in and changed the backgrounds to white and changed the other colors to match the brand standards. And widened the tabs menu at the top to look more "modern." I was right about the site being well-coded. The most difficult part of this was just taking the plunge to play with the CSS -- I made the changes, and it just worked everywhere.
But it didn't solve the problem with the devices. On a mobile device, the site looked like a cute little postage stamp version of a web page, perfect for Barbies. But I wanted it to be "responsive," and as much as I read on w3schools or MDN, I just couldn't find ANYTHING to help me evolve the site instead of starting from scratch. Until I realized that the problem I'm facing now is a problem everyone else had like 10 years ago, so I went to find things that were older than what any search engine will serve you now.
So that's where I was when I found your site, which is "older" and which is just so perfect for what I want to do. It was like you wrote this for me, is what it felt like when I found it.
Particularly since a lot of my existing articles aren't aging well. Like with IE kicked to the curb a lot of what I said about HTML 5 a decade ago is no longer true and/or can be ignored. At the same time with the whole "living document" idiocy even more things wrong with it need to be added.
Well, can't they just be updated? I mean, the method is solid (start with the content, THEN do the markup, THEN do the styling, THEN...) I mean, between the Progressive Enhancement series and its prequel (the thread that brought me here -- https://forums.digitalpoint.com/threads/progressive-enhancement-design-from-the-inside-out.2759516/#post-19203751
) -- it looks to me like there is absolutely an almost-finished book in there.
I'm always looking to improve; to up my game. Sometimes I look back at my earlier writings with a measure of disgust, but that's true of many things. That should be the norm, as I often say if you're not disgusted with your own code of a year past, you might want to consider another job. The same goes for writing.
I know that feeling = )
... and something I've learned over time, writers should never be their own editors. You end up too emotionally invested in your own work to be properly critical of it. That and spelling errors that are still words will grab you every time when it comes to automation.
I have two favorite anecdotes about the difference a good editor can make. The first one is about the book, "Three Men in a Boat." Jerome K Jerome actually sent endless Rick-Steves-style looooooong dispatches to his editor at the newspaper. The editor was a good enough editor that he trimmed out all the bits that didn't lead to a joke.
The other one is Harper Lee. Lee didn't want to publish again after the first book had so much success, and I was always hoping that she did something like Prince did, which is leave some finished masterpieces for us to find when she was gone. Instead, when she was gone, they went and published "Go Set a Watchman," which I refuse to read. "Go Set a Watchman" is basically the manuscript she submitted to her publisher back in the 50s or 60s or whenever she first submitted it. Her editor replied, "These bits are the best bits -- can you develop this part of things more?" and that's what led to the book we all know.
Now, I probably have a lot of facts wrong in those two anecdotes. But the gist is right. Normally, I'd research all that but then it would take me a month to write this post.
As to your being "long winded" you barely posted a paragraph. I kind of miss the days when people used to complain that a 32k post size limit on forums was "too small". Hence my distaste for today's half-tweet TLDR nose-breathers who would scream "AAAH!!! WALL OF TEXT" over posts that don't even go past the height of a single screen.
Is this better? I haven't even gotten to the progress I've made since I found this site!
So it may not sound like a lot, but it is a huge amount of progress for me. I went through and cleaned up all of the html. Especially from comments. Since I am a team of one, I had a tendency to talk to myself in there. And leave in things that "I'll need again next year, I can uncomment it then." And "I used this one special box once, I might need to use it again." And since I had been afraid to delve into the CSS, I had put some inline styles into it here and there. I knew I shouldn't, but I told myself, "Oh, I'm prototyping this behavior and once it does what I want it to do, THEN I'll put it in CSS." And other times I told myself, (and this was true), "It will scroll of the front page next week anyway, so it is ok."
Well, and I stopped other bad habits, like -- I had put up an illustration to go with our most recent "free and open to the public!" event (so we'll look more "modern" = ) and I had put the attribution in <pre> tags to you know, make it look different than the other text. As I was going through doing cleanup, I found two <h1> tags on the front page. All the other pages have only one, but the front page will have more than one event if that's what's planned, and they both had <h1> tags. I was like, damn. I don't want to redo all the other pages over this just to make the <h2>s look like <h1>s and -- then I was like, oh, that's easy -- we don't use ANY <h6> tags, so I'll just CSS-up an <h6> to LOOK LIKE an <h1>, and then... then I was like, "can't do that -- I'll never be able to show my face at Cut Code Down if I do that." So I left the topmost event with an <h1>, so now it looks like everything else on the page is a child of that. So damn again, but at least there is only one <h1> there now, even though it isn't quite right.
So then I saw the <pre> tags I had put around the attribution and since I was going through the CSS as well, I noticed a "reference" class so I used that instead and even though I don't like the way it looks, I know it's better, and I can change the look later. Without this site, I'd probably have left the <pre> tags there (especially since these days URLs work even when they are in <pre> tags? WHY? Why do they do that?) -- but they probably don't do that everywhere
, so it's a good thing I took those <pre> tags out. Who else would have told me to do that? Over and over and over and over again? = )
Now we are mostly cleaned up. There is still some inline CSS on the front page. There is one paragraph that I want indented 15% and although I spent hours trying to make this happen in CSS, it just won't. I guess I have a specificity problem. This is my problem. But then on the front page and most of the other pages, the footer div is preceded by an empty <div style="clear: both"> in front of it, even though the footer in the CSS already has
in the CSS. When I commented out the style in the html, there was an obvious difference. I mean, things totally changed. Ha! Very funny. This has to date back to the person who maintained the pages before I did, because it's on practically every page.
Oh, and there's something else. The site now has a few pages that begin with
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
-- that will be me dabbling with trying to get them to be "responsive" (a few really simple ones even almost are, although I still don't know why because I can promise you, I didn't add anything to the CSS to make it work that way, and it doesn't look like I added anything inline either. Weird.). But most of the pages begin with
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"
So last night, I took a few of them at random, changed the loose to strict, put them through the w3s validator, and they all validated. So I'm not sure if that's just a little joke on the part of my predecessor, or what. But so many of these things -- one <h1> per page, DON'T USE TAGS BECAUSE OF HOW THEY RENDER, USE THEM FOR WHAT THEY ARE FOR, the constant focus on the difference between 4.01 loose and strict -- nowhere else could I have gotten so much information in just 4 days to make the progress I've made.
This weekend I hope to get all of the pixels out of the CSS. The base font (?) is "font-size: 10pt;" and I think all the font-related styles are in em, but borders are all in px and margins and padding tend to be 1/3 em, 1/3 %, and 2/3 px. I am hoping that the Progressive Enhancement article for Stage 3 and a few of the parts of "What's Wrong with YOUR Website?" will help me accomplish this, because I still don't understand em even though I had already read at least 10 articles about it before I found this place.
Wish me luck!
& Happy weekend, and good night.