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17 November 2011 @ 05:05 pm
FK Recs Project Format Modernized  
My Forever Knight recommendation-of-the-month project is now remodeled!  I hope that readers will find it more appealing and easier to use.

As you may remember, earlier this year, I hauled most of my FK fansite out of the pre-CSS darkness, but the recommendations project got left behind in its maze of interlocking framesets.  I finally gave up on preserving every permutation of external links that people might have made over the years, and settled down with a single, fixed-position menu.  (No link to an individual recommendation/anchor has broken! It's the annual framesets — one level up — that went.)  If the recs menu doesn't appear as a gray box on the left the first time you load the page, and you're not still using IE6 (which you shouldn't be doing, anyway; old browsers are security vulnerabilities; but if you are, the menu should appear at the bottom), perhaps try clicking "refresh" to be sure to pick up the new CSS file?  Otherwise, if you happen to notice any malfunctions in the recommendations, please let me know!  (I've tested on IE 9, Firefox 7 and Safari 5 from a Windows PC. I don't have access to a Mac.)

If you're inspired with ways to make the site overall more accessible and more appealing, please share those as well!  Point me to examples!  I'd be grateful.  Not every subsidiary page is yet updated, but I'll get there.  I'm striving for a thoroughly modern fansite, with an up-to-date look and functionality as far as I can push my skills and tools.  I would like to eventually wipe out all traces of a '90s relic site; they don't do any credit to FK's ongoing appeal... not to mention to me as a designer. :-)

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greerwatsongreerwatson on November 18th, 2011 02:43 am (UTC)
So...how does one get the full list of recommendations? I can see the "one year back", "two years back" list down the side. (It seems to go back nine years and then slide off the bottom of the page.) What I don't see is a link to a list of all the recs you've made.

IE7, by the way.
Amy R.: Computerbrightknightie on November 18th, 2011 08:55 am (UTC)
>"how does one get the full list of recommendations?"

There has never been a "full list of recommendations." The main menu shows the same content as always. (Of course readers can scroll up and down within each year, as before.)

>"It seems to go back nine years and then slide off the bottom of the page."

Might you perhaps share the size of your monitor and your screen resolution? I thought that my screen was as small as they came these days, so I'm surprised to encounter a tighter fit.

The menu goes back a dozen Octobers, at present, and, as before, displays the year links at the bottom, but as a fixed div, of course, it can only display fully on screens of a minimum size and/or resolution. As is, it will run off the bottom of a smaller canvas... (I don't want to leap to conclusions about possible scenarios until I have a better fix on the problem.)
greerwatsongreerwatson on November 18th, 2011 11:10 am (UTC)
My monitor says "HP w1907". It is described as "a 19-inch wide-screen flat panel monitor with liquid crystal display (LCD) and thin-film transistor (TFT) screen." I only bought it two or three years ago, so I'm sure there are plenty of other people still using monitors of much the same vintage.

Looking for details on-line, I find the following specs: it is 18.2" wide, 15.0" high, diagonal size 19.0" widescreen. The maximum resolution is 1440px x 900 px. However, I am not using it in widescreen: I have (I think) adjusted it to "standard" screen width, which is a different ratio, because I find the widescreen mode is simply too wide for my liking. Anyway, it's narrower than the full possible screen width; so it obviously won't be 1440px wide. I can't find out anything more about this by googling. Using Microsoft Paint to guesstimate, I'd say it's probably something over 1000px wide.

As for the usable height, one has to take into account that there are various assorted "bars" top and bottom with information and/or things to click on. To get the icons and info that I actually use (plus the things that they seem to insist on giving me perforce), I have four bars running across the top and one at the bottom. They take up quite a bit of room. Again using Paint to guesstimate, I'd say that the monitor only shows about 700px along down the actual webpage.

From what you say, I think your menu at the side must be going further down than my monitor will display. However, the way you've done it with a fixed menu, scrolling down only shifts the stuff on the right side of the page. Since the menu never alters position, I've no way to access the lower portion of it.

greerwatsongreerwatson on November 18th, 2011 11:26 am (UTC)
Maybe I should add that I never had any trouble with the old version of your Bright Knight website. Fancy-up-to-date or not, it worked fine. So often, frames make a website practically unusable; but that has never been true of Bright Knight.
Amy R.: Computerbrightknightie on November 18th, 2011 04:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

Framesets have become scathingly reviled, to the point where frames are no longer included in instructional materials except to say, "don't use them." One reason is that frames do not work well with accessibility software (e.g. audio readers for the vision-impaired). A more pressing reason in the business world is that they do not work well with search engines, which cannot fathom their relationships.

I always liked frames, so I think it would have been neat if people had decided to improve them and make accessibility software, browsers, etc. work better with them, but that's not where the consortium that controls the future of HTML has gone. You can't fight deprecated tags... eventually, new browsers will no longer recognize them.
greerwatsongreerwatson on November 18th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
To me, the reason to loathe frames is the horrible way most people used them. I have accessed far too many websites where there is (or was, since frames are used less and less) a broad top frame with a handsome picture that took up too much of the page; a menu on the left that runs down too far, and hence needs a scroll bar, which is just plain ugly; and a teeny, weeny section for the actual content. In addition, all too often, the content frame is too broad for my monitor, so it cuts off at the right.

Nevertheless, I have very occasionally seen websites that use frames handsomely to the point of elegance. I came across a few when saving GeoCities Forever Knight websites. One of them was an unfinished Highlander site that I kept coming across because it had a Forever Knight site mentioned on its links page. I thought it was so pretty that, in the end, I collected it myself just so that it would not be lost entirely. However, I'd have to upload screen captures for you to see it, since none of the large-scale rescue attempts seem to have collected it. Another was a webpage on a Dragonriders of Pern cyberpet site, Jerdan Weyr. It was created to showcase the character Girdra: you can see it here, because Geocities.ws saved it.

The secret to frames (apart from pretty graphics, of course!) is to have narrow top and side frames that leave plenty of room for content; and to put a short menu in the side frame so that you don't have to add a scroll bar to it. That's quite aside from the accessibility issues, of course. But, as you know, I tend to dwell a lot on the aesthetic appeal of websites.
Amy R.: Computerbrightknightie on November 18th, 2011 04:01 pm (UTC)
That is a lot of information! My apologies for accidentally putting you to trouble getting it. I can find my own screen resolution (1280x1024) just by right-clicking on my desktop and choosing "Screen Resolution." I mistakenly assumed you could do the same, or similar.

(I have a 17" monitor from six years ago. I can see the whole menu with a third of the screen to spare at the bottom, not counting toolbars and such.)

May I ask, have you ever used Google News? Do you have the same problem there? They have the same kind of menu in the same place. (Their menu extends from "Top Stories" down to "Spotlight.")

>"Since the menu never alters position, I've no way to access the lower portion of it.

Yes, I understand.

Actually, if you ever really, really wanted to access something with a problem like this, you could temporarily change your screen resolution or the magnification in your browser. You could change it back when you were done with a site. Naturally, I am not suggesting that applies to my site in any way; no, I am just noting that screen settings are within their users' control. ~shrug~

Edited to Add: The reason I ask about Google News is that if you don't have a problem with their menu, then my solution is in their code.

Edited at 2011-11-18 05:17 pm (UTC)
greerwatsongreerwatson on November 18th, 2011 09:40 pm (UTC)
I have never used Google News—but you put in the link, so....

I initially see a top section with a black bar across that has links to "WebImages Videos Maps News Translate Gmail More" on the left and "Sign in" on the right. The rest of the page has a menu on the left and content on the right.

The menu is headed "Top Stories", and under that is a first section with the current top news stories. This won't be what you see, I'm sure, since this section is clearly listing Canadian stories. (It starts with "Michael Ignatieff", and includes "Toronto Maple Leafs" and "Gordon Lightfoot", along with some international stories.) After that, I've got "Business", "Technology", "Entertainment", and "Sports".

As I scroll down, the black bar across the top of the page disappears, and the content on the left scrolls freely. The menu scrolls down just a tiny tad; but it does scroll a bit. It's enough to add "Science", "Health", and "More Top Stories". That's not what you report; but, as I do then get some white space, that may well be the end of the menu.

The fact that Google News clearly has a Canadian version—

Hah!

I can access the American edition! There's a little link near the top for changing edition!

Okay.

Yes, the U.S. edition does indeed initially cut off at "Sports", and then scroll down to "Spotlight". So your solution may well be in their code!
Amy R.: Computerbrightknightie on November 19th, 2011 07:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you. It will unfortunately take a while to imitate the Google News functionality. In the meantime, I hope that this modified design will provide smooth access.
greerwatsongreerwatson on November 19th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
Yes, that works fine.
PJ1228pj1228 on November 20th, 2011 10:23 pm (UTC)
Congratulations! I love the new design. Especially with the modification you made since I checked briefly on Friday and encountered the same issue that greerwatson reported. Now everything is accessible and clear.
Amy R.: Computerbrightknightie on November 21st, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm sorry about the earlier formatting challenge.

From now on, I will make a point of previewing significant changes to my site on one of the old terminals at the local public library. Their monitors approximated what Greer described.