Yep, I finally did what I’ve hinted at for some time now and updated the site design. Behold: Eos. It’s sort of an in-joke, one that I would expect exactly four other people to get straightaway, along with perhaps a few others who happened to see the pictures. Checking the styles might help those who are really curious to unravel the mystery, but trust me, it’s not really that interesting if you weren’t there in the first place.
So anyway… the new design is based around positioning, as opposed to the old one, which was based on floats. The underlying structure of the site has barely change, with one exception. The navigation/presentation portion of the pages is now found at the end of the document, instead of the beginning. This seems more accessible to me. If you want to see what the raw, unstyled page looks like, pick the theme “void(style);” from the menu.
Note that not every theme is guaranteed to work in your browser. I stuck to the CSS standards as much as possible, and I did do cross-browser testing. This uncovered some weird whitespace-sensitive bugs in some browsers. It also showed that not every technique works well in all browsers. I’m open to hearing about workarounds for broken displays in browsers, should you find them, so long as they’re based on standard CSS and don’t break the display in too many other browsers.
A few other notes:
- Unlike the old design, the new themes are intended to have notably distinct layout approaches. Almost all of them put the sidebar on the right, but that’s just because I prefer righthand navigation. With the old themes, each one was basically a different set of colors and backgrounds for the same layout. This time, I wanted to be a little more original. I’d credit the CSS Zen Garden with prompting this, but I’ve been slowly working at this change since last fall.
- The cookies that store the theme name and base text size (if you change it) changed their names to be a little more verbose. You can of course deny said cookies; the site will be completely navigable without them. The theme switcher won’t work, that’s all.
- Only one of the themes uses pixel-sized text: “Classic MW.” Since the theme is intended to reproduce the old design as closely as possible, I figured I’d leave its 11px baseline text. You can always override it with text-zoom features, or else on the advanced setup page, like before.
- Some themes use ems or percentages to set the
bodyelement’s text size to be smaller than the user’s default. I did this to prevent the sans-serif fonts employed in those themes from looking stupidly big in default browser installs. If you object to this approach, then pick a theme that doesn’t override text size—the default theme, “Eos,” is one of these—or set your preferred base text size on the advanced setup page. Or both.
- When switching from one theme to another, you may run afoul of bugs in various browsers that let styles leak from one theme to another. If you see a totally horked display, reload the page to see if that fixes it.
- Although I was tempted, I didn’t end up using any PNGs to create the translucency effects in various themes. I didn’t use
background-attachment: fixed, either. It was a lot more challenging to figure out ways to let IE/Win users see the translucent effects with scrolling backgrounds and regular old JPEGs. I may write a tutorial on how I managed this, but anyone who can’t wait is free to tear into my CSS and figure it out for themselves. And to copy the technique, if they so desire.
- Despite it not being the default theme, I think my favorite is Aware. The name is not necessarily the English word meaning “having knowledge or cognizance,” but is instead a Japanese word meaning “the sense of poignant beauty arising from an ephemeral thing.” Since I think the latter is only possible with the former, I find this to be a wonderful intersection of cross-linguistic meaning. Thus you can take the title to mean whichever of the definitions appeals to you most. For me, it changes back and forth over time.
There may be adjustments to the themes in the future as I find techniques I like better, or as I fix up oddities in and add extra visual frosting to the more experimental themes (like “Matrix”). Meanwhile, please feel free to share and enjoy.