[Update: 19 May 2016]
Have to say some of what’s below already smacks slightly of ‘false dawn’, but hopefully cracked it now through a combination of further reading, real-life phone feedback/screenshots and Chrome Developer Tools as apparently the only mobile phone emulator I can trust. So now we’ve got the meta viewport tag, HTML5 replacing XHTML everywhere except the blog (apparently some work to do on validation there), some more thoughtfully-tweaked ‘break points’ in line with what I’ve learned and seen, and things looking/working much better?
Also bashed ahead with a long-desired rebuild of the whole site to parse all those irritatingly uneditable legacy static HTML files as PHP to include main menus, section sub-menus etc. from a much smaller, more maintainable repository, so now much, much easier to make quick site- or section-wide changes where things should be almost infinitely adaptable because the layout’s been predominantly freeflowing/unconstrained from the very start.
[Original 15 May post with some annotations]
As a hand-coding, standards-compliant web designer from my first forays into HTML and CSS to create this site 16 years ago, nobody should be surprised that I’ve always believed in fluid/flexible layouts. But I doubt many designers were really thinking about phones or even tablets back then (I still don’t use them for Internet myself, but try not to forget folk who do), and have been aware for a while now (= years!) that some site elements here like the main menu (still a slicker variation of the original 2000 concept) and blog sidebar (a 2009 addition) were going to be at least ugly on smaller tablets and impossible for many phones. So now finally (!) some quick belated hacks to keep things more or less usable [edit: fail!] in narrow viewports:
- CSS max-width now overriding hard-coded sizes for all site images (with a few necessary exceptions like the Kinlochleven main photo) so they shrink with the viewport width.
Hide the menu text at <= 768px width (yes, I’m still thinking way narrower!) because that’s basically neater than reducing font size, allowing word wrap, hiding overflow etc.
- Add HTML title attributes to the menu images for when the text’s hidden. [No use when you can’t hover with fingers?]
- Restyle the blog sidebar to make it slightly narrower and send it to the foot of the page when there’s no longer room for it down the side. [Stayed put on some phones where I’d expected to see it gone, but hopefully getting there now I’m starting to twig stuff like the difference between physical and logical pixels?]
Now I don’t have a smartphone when my idea of a mobile phone’s a weatherproof, ruggedised brick for the great outdoors, but I have tested my modifications down to phone-type widths in computer browsers without finding anything unusable to the previous degree. So perhaps some of my smartphone-wielding, mobile-browsing friends could give things a whirl (especially the blog) with actual phones and let me know if they’re still finding any absolutely ‘stopper’ issues?
Last month (with many blog posts being filed under multiple categories and WordPress seemingly no longer respecting my chosen ‘main’ category for the post URL) I decided to take the category name out of my custom ‘permalink’ structure to change it from ‘http://www.petestack.com/blog/category/postname.html’ to ‘http://www.petestack.com/blog/postname.html’. Which would have been fine if that’s what I’d actually done, but I stupidly just selected the similar standard WordPress ‘post name’ structure assuming that’s what it did and landed myself with ‘http://www.petestack.com/blog/postname/’ (see the difference?) instead… which worked fine for all new posts and WordPress-generated links to older ones but completely broke all the manually-entered links in nearly six years’ worth of previous posts and comments! So, being aware that these links were broken but not why, I set about fixing them and ran a series of MySQL queries to strip the category names from ‘post_content’, ‘comment_content’ and ‘comment_author_url’ table columns. Which, despite correcting the URLs to what I thought I’d set up, was still baffling me this afternoon by not fixing the broken links. And then it hit me… the new ‘post name’ format was not the same as just stripping the category from the one I’d had, and, having twigged that simple and now-so-obvious mistake, all should be hunky-dory again. I’ve even dealt with .htaccess redirects to take care of search-engine links to the old (category-inclusive) permalinks, so now just have to hope they’ve not got the whole blog reindexed too quickly with the December versions!
Might just add that I’ve also taken this opportunity to retrospectively file many previously mislabelled ‘climbing’ and ‘running’ posts under the new ‘walking’ category but, with my redirects taking care of the old category thing, shouldn’t have broken any older links from outwith the site by doing so.
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So what do you do after 134 emails with the subject line [Petestack Blog] Please moderate: “February blog post”, not a legitimate comment among them and similar (if not always quite so drastic) spam-to-genuine comment ratios for most posts over the three-year history of the blog so far?
Try installing Spam Free WordPress (a CAPTCHA-free ‘comment spam blocking plugin that blocks 100% of the automated spam with zero false positives’), post something new to attract the bots, sit back and hope (might even be able to relax my 28-day comment ‘window’ if it works!)…
While the discussion settings (those relating to posting comments) for this blog were set up with pretty tight spam controls and I’m still deleting enough rubbish from the moderation queue to be cagey about opening things up too much, it’s a pity that my original 14 day comment window was too severe to let Richie comment this morning on my recent ‘running books’ post. So I’ve doubled the allowable window to 28 days (might yet increase that further, but not keen to encourage comments on ancient posts!) and am also now allowing comments from authors with previously approved comments to go straight through without being held for moderation.
Now let’s see how things go. :-)
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I guess you’ve found my blog. And, if it’s still 25 February, it didn’t take you long!
Got this thing set up yesterday, linked into the site today, and now just waiting for everyone to discover it…
Nothing else to say right now, so leaving it at that for tonight. :-)
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And does it do what it says on the tin?
Well, it’s a blog, and to me that means a place for quick reporting of things that don’t necessarily merit a full webpage of their own. It’s not going to be a daily, blow-by-blow account of everything I say or do, but I’m still expecting to keep something a little closer to a diary of my various activities than the very selective write-ups I’ve done for the site in the past. And, while I toyed briefly with the idea of it taking over the role of my existing What’s New? page, it’s purposely been kept separate from the main site structure so I’ve always got the option of ditching it later (consigned, like the old ‘Flypaper’ forum, to oblivion?) without rocking the whole boat!
Anyway, I’ve started it with the intention of using it, so please do check in from time to time to see what I’ve been doing (or feel like telling the world about), leave me a comment if you like (NB admin approval currently required before publication) and we’ll see how it goes…
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