Before I get too into it: site critique?

Discussion in 'HTML' started by Ian, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. Ian

    Ian Guest

    Here is the site in question: http://bookstacks.org/ ... As you may notice,I'm not selling anything, or receiving any kind of compensation or anything like that. I have made it a habit over the years to come here and run my new version of Bookstacks past the community. I don't always like what I hear, but people here do tend to point out things I hadn't noticed.

    But before I get too into adding in eBooks and making it extremely difficult for myself to rework things, I thought I would ask for a general opinion about how it works, how useful it is, how it needs work, etc. I mean, you know, something constructive. I'm especially interested in how it might be useful for someone who can't see very well, or is colorblind, etc. I had always gone with variations of brown and red, but have decided that blue, grayand white would be the easiest to see.

    Hope all are well.
    Ian, Nov 4, 2012
    #1
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  2. 2012-11-04 18:25, Ian wrote:

    > Here is the site in question: http://bookstacks.org/


    This isn’t really a critique group (I’m not sure whether any HTML
    critique groups survive on Usenet), but this tends to be a broad-minded
    group and, besides, I’m just in the mood for critique…

    > But before I get too into adding in eBooks and making it extremely
    > difficult for myself to rework things, I thought I would ask for
    > a general opinion about how it works, how useful it is, how it needs

    work, etc.
    > I mean, you know, something constructive.


    Asking for constructive opinions does not generally work. People who
    were about to be constructive may get pissed off, and people who
    intended to flame you will do that more eagerly. (“Pissed off� Right.
    By saying you want something constructive, you’re saying that you’ll
    classify things as constructive and nonconstructive and will probably
    ignore any *real* deep criticism.)

    So, let’s see. There’s only one image on the front page, your face.
    Since people focus on images before texts, do you really want them to
    look first at you? An author’s face normally belongs to an “About this
    site†or “About me†page, not the front page. Sorry, I can’t suggest
    what images would be more suitable, but not every page needs an image. A
    generic image of an old book, maybe?

    On the front page, “About This Site†appears as main content, whereas
    links to actual content of the site are in the ads section. I mean the
    right-hand column, which is often taken as reserved for advertisements,
    casual annotations, and other aside stuff.

    The font choice is fine, at least for a person like me who is using
    Windows 7 and therefore has Constantia installed. A screen-readable
    serif font is a refreshing exception from the dominance of Arial (and
    her evil sister Verdana), especially on a literary page that really
    calls for a serif font.

    In formatting, you have produced a rather good look and feel of a book.
    The first-line indents of paragraphs are somewhat excessive (2em),
    though. Normally, around 1em is sufficient, especially when lines are
    relatively short. Moreover, there is no upper limit on line length in
    your code, so in fullscreen mode on a wide screen, they really get too
    long. Setting max-width in em units is generally advisable.

    The front page, as well the page containing War and Peace, uses Ascii
    apostrophe (') instead of the typographically correct apostrophe (’,
    U+2019). This is annoying especially since the page uses typographically
    correct em dash. In War and Peace, it disturbs me that American dashes
    (em dash without spaces around) are used but quotation marks are British
    style (single quotes as basic quotes).

    Plato’s “Απολογια ΣωκÏατουσ†has no diacritic marks in the heading, and
    the copy text uses the tonos only, i.e. monotonic Greek. I think this is
    unacceptable in a classical work. Polytonic accents and breath marks
    should be used, as normally used in classical Greek works for centuries.

    In Tolstoy’s “ДетÑтвоâ€, there are some references like “[1]â€, presumably
    referring to endnotes. They should be turned to hyperlinks, possibly
    implemented as “CSS tooltips†on supporting browsers.

    The translator of War and Peace has not been indicated. Note that
    although the original book is not protected by copyright, any
    translation may well be. In any case, the translator and year of
    translation should be specified.

    --
    Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
    Jukka K. Korpela, Nov 4, 2012
    #2
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  3. Ian

    Ian Guest

    Sorry to Jukka and BTS. I appear to have sent my replies to your inboxes. (Sigh.) I hope you read them, at least, and see that I have taken your suggestions to heart. Hope all are well.
    Ian, Nov 4, 2012
    #3
  4. Ian

    Ian Guest

    Yes, if I used newsgroups more than once in a while, I would definitely go back to using a real newsreader.

    As it is, it would not be worth the effort to type it in again.
    Ian, Nov 4, 2012
    #4
  5. 2012-11-04 20:27, Ian wrote:

    > Sorry to Jukka and BTS. I appear to have sent my replies to your inboxes.


    No problem as far as I’m concerned, but since you meant to sent your
    reply to the group, here’s the text (I might comment on it later but
    just insert it here now):

    On Sunday, November 4, 2012 12:33:16 PM UTC-5, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:

    2012-11-04 18:25, Ian wrote:

    > Here is the site in question: http://bookstacks.org/


    This isn’t really a critique group (I’m not sure whether any HTML
    critique groups survive on Usenet), but this tends to be a broad-minded
    group and, besides, I’m just in the mood for critique…


    Thank you. I knew this was the wrong place, but the last time I was the
    appropriate one, there was nothing there but spam.


    > But before I get too into adding in eBooks and making it extremely
    > difficult for myself to rework things, I thought I would ask for
    > a general opinion about how it works, how useful it is, how it needs

    work, etc.
    > I mean, you know, something constructive.


    Asking for constructive opinions does not generally work. People who
    were about to be constructive may get pissed off, and people who
    intended to flame you will do that more eagerly. (“Pissed off� Right.
    By saying you want something constructive, you’re saying that you’ll
    classify things as constructive and nonconstructive and will probably
    ignore any *real* deep criticism.)


    It's hard to avoid adding in those little manipulations, which of course
    are meant to "head things off at the pass", as they say around here.
    Instinct told me it wouldn't make a difference, and that's probably true.


    So, let’s see. There’s only one image on the front page, your face.
    Since people focus on images before texts, do you really want them to
    look first at you? An author’s face normally belongs to an “About this
    site†or “About me†page, not the front page. Sorry, I can’t suggest
    what images would be more suitable, but not every page needs an
    image. A
    generic image of an old book, maybe?


    Yes, that's a holdover from the site being on WordPress for so long, and
    having an "About" page. This is why the heading on the front page is
    "About This Site". I'll think about that.


    On the front page, “About This Site†appears as main content, whereas
    links to actual content of the site are in the ads section. I mean the
    right-hand column, which is often taken as reserved for advertisements,
    casual annotations, and other aside stuff.


    Do you mean that the sidebar should be on the left, where it would be
    more appropriate for navigation, or that I should do without a sidebar?
    Each section in that sidebar is separate, and each were originally in
    boxes, but I thought the boxes were superfluous.


    The font choice is fine, at least for a person like me who is using
    Windows 7 and therefore has Constantia installed. A screen-readable
    serif font is a refreshing exception from the dominance of Arial (and
    her evil sister Verdana), especially on a literary page that really
    calls for a serif font.


    Yes, I'm not up on Mac and Linux fonts, and can't remember what it was
    that gave me Constantia in the first place. I think MS Word. So it tends
    to cascade through the font list in terms of what is more readily available.


    In formatting, you have produced a rather good look and feel of a book.
    The first-line indents of paragraphs are somewhat excessive (2em),
    though. Normally, around 1em is sufficient, especially when lines are
    relatively short. Moreover, there is no upper limit on line length in
    your code, so in fullscreen mode on a wide screen, they really get too
    long. Setting max-width in em units is generally advisable.


    I will explore that. I'll have to find a way for the columns to stay at
    the right proportion.


    The front page, as well the page containing War and Peace, uses Ascii
    apostrophe (') instead of the typographically correct apostrophe (’,
    U+2019). This is annoying especially since the page uses
    typographically
    correct em dash. In War and Peace, it disturbs me that American dashes
    (em dash without spaces around) are used but quotation marks are
    British
    style (single quotes as basic quotes).


    Thank you. I'll look into that.


    Plato’s “Απολογια ΣωκÏατουσ†has no diacritic marks in the heading, and
    the copy text uses the tonos only, i.e. monotonic Greek. I think
    this is
    unacceptable in a classical work. Polytonic accents and breath marks
    should be used, as normally used in classical Greek works for
    centuries.


    Excellent. I trusted that what I was copying and pasting, since it came
    from a good source, was correct. As you might guess, I am mono-lingual.
    I just love messing with special characters.


    In Tolstoy’s “ДетÑтвоâ€, there are some references like “[1]â€,
    presumably
    referring to endnotes. They should be turned to hyperlinks, possibly
    implemented as “CSS tooltips†on supporting browsers.


    I have the footnotes in regular title attributes, a la <span
    title="Lorem ipsum globben globen.">[1]</span>. It's a kludgy thing to
    do in some ways, but it means I don't have to use any JavaScript. I
    didn't know about CSS tooltips, so I will look into that. I don't
    generally use anything that I don't understand, though I realize many do.


    The translator of War and Peace has not been indicated. Note that
    although the original book is not protected by copyright, any
    translation may well be. In any case, the translator and year of
    translation should be specified.


    That was just an oversight. I forgot to do it. Thank you.

    Ian


    --
    Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
    Jukka K. Korpela, Nov 4, 2012
    #5
  6. Ian

    Ian Guest

    On Sunday, November 4, 2012 1:59:00 PM UTC-5, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
    > No problem as far as I’m concerned, but since you meant to sent your
    > reply to the group, here’s the text (I might comment on it later but
    > just insert it here now):


    Thank you. I appreciate that.

    Ian
    Ian, Nov 4, 2012
    #6
  7. Ian

    Ian Guest

    On Sunday, November 4, 2012 1:59:00 PM UTC-5, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
    > there is no upper limit on line length in
    > your code, so in fullscreen mode on a wide screen, they really get too
    > long. Setting max-width in em units is generally advisable.


    Actually, Jukka, if you know of any good resource for learning how to effectively use the max-width property with em units, that would be great. I'm a bit flummoxed at the moment.

    Ian
    Ian, Nov 4, 2012
    #7
  8. Ian

    Ian Guest

    On Sunday, November 4, 2012 2:28:26 PM UTC-5, Beauregard T. Shagnasty wrote:
    > Copy and paste doesn't work in gmail?
    >
    >
    >
    > Real newsreaders even have the ability to quote what you're replying to!


    Not just that, but I refer to W3Schools constantly. LOL.

    Ian
    Ian, Nov 4, 2012
    #8
  9. 2012-11-04 23:09, Ian wrote:

    >> Real newsreaders even have the ability to quote what you're replying to!

    >
    > Not just that, but I refer to W3Schools constantly. LOL.


    Oh my. You haven't checked http://www.w3fools.com have you?

    My most recent observation of their bogosity:
    "The text-justify property is supported in all of the major browsers.",
    with icons of IE, Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Safari displayed above the text.
    http://www.w3schools.com/cssref/css3_pr_text-justify.asp

    That's patently false. The property is IE-only so far (and implemented
    in IE in a manner that deviates from CSS3 drafts), and you can even
    check this very fast using their "Play it" links on the page. They
    apparently don't use their own tools.

    --
    Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
    Jukka K. Korpela, Nov 4, 2012
    #9
  10. Ian

    Ian Guest

    On Sunday, November 4, 2012 4:22:24 PM UTC-5, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
    > Oh my. You haven't checked http://www.w3fools.com have you?


    Yes, I have. I bookmarked it, and thought it was excellent. I even got a wild hare up my butt to go out and make my own HTML tutorial, with all the right info, gleaned directly from the sources at the W3C and WHATWG, with a column on the right displaying the actual source used to create the page. But, in the end, I realized it was a monumental task beyond my own capabilities, and besides, if I pick up some wrong info there, it will probably make itself clear--either when I validate, or when I test in various browsers. Probably not great for the total newbie, but then it's all a process, and I think it's okay to pick up the wrong fact from time to time, as long as youeventually realize you're holding on to something false. But ... in general, I find quite a bit there very useful. Their HTML colors list is something I've been going to for about ten years now. I get nostalgic about that site. :)

    Ian
    Ian, Nov 4, 2012
    #10
  11. Ian

    Ian Guest

    On Sunday, November 4, 2012 4:22:24 PM UTC-5, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
    > Oh my. You haven't checked http://www.w3fools.com have you?


    Also, while being generally smart, I have an incredibly difficult time learning new information, and their "just the basics" approach is very helpful to someone like me. It's not for want of trying that my skills rest somewhere around the level of seasoned beginner, even after 10+ years of study.

    Now, if I want to get some sort of certificate, I wouldn't start there. LOL..

    Ian
    Ian, Nov 4, 2012
    #11
  12. 2012-11-04 23:08, Ian wrote:

    > Actually, Jukka, if you know of any good resource for learning how to
    > effectively use the max-width property with em units, that would be great.


    It's a rather simple property, see
    https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/CSS/max-width

    The difficult part is to decide on its value. Roughly speaking, 1em
    corresponds to about 2.5 characters, depending on font, and text lines
    should seldom be longer than 100 characters, i.e. about 40em.

    In your case, the content proper seems to be in an element with class
    "main", so

    ..main { max-width: 35em; }

    would prevent lines from getting all too long. But a smaller value might
    be better; it's really a judgment call and a matter of opinions how
    small it should be.


    --
    Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
    Jukka K. Korpela, Nov 4, 2012
    #12
  13. Ian

    Ian Guest

    On Sunday, November 4, 2012 11:25:03 AM UTC-5, Ian wrote:
    > Here is the site in question: http://bookstacks.org/


    In case anyone is interested, I have ditched tables, in favor of taking my three main elements (<header>, <aside> and <section class="main">) and using absolute positioning on them, since my knowledge of CSS is so bare.

    It doesn't work as nicely as I would like. My main problem is getting any space in-between the bottom of the long main section, and the bottom of the page. Especially in my Kindle, it looks like it's just stuck on there.

    Probably the reason I started with tables in the first place. :)
    Ian, Nov 4, 2012
    #13
  14. On 2012-11-04 19:58:59 +0100, "Jukka K. Korpela" <> said:

    > 2012-11-04 20:27, Ian wrote:
    >
    >> Sorry to Jukka and BTS. I appear to have sent my replies to your inboxes.


    [ ... ]

    >
    >
    > So, let’s see. There’s only one image on the front page, your face.
    > Since people focus on images before texts, do you really want them to
    > look first at you? An author’s face normally belongs to an “About this
    > site†or “About me†page, not the front page. Sorry, I can’t suggest
    > what images would be more suitable, but not every page needs an image. A
    > generic image of an old book, maybe?
    >
    >
    > Yes, that's a holdover from the site being on WordPress for so long,
    > and having an "About" page. This is why the heading on the front page
    > is "About This Site". I'll think about that.


    Jukka seems to be seeing a different page from what I'm seeing, because
    there is no image at all on what I see. Maybe you've already thought
    about it.
    >
    > [ ... ]


    >
    > Do you mean that the sidebar should be on the left, where it would be
    > more appropriate for navigation, or that I should do without a sidebar?
    > Each section in that sidebar is separate, and each were originally in
    > boxes, but I thought the boxes were superfluous.
    >
    >
    > The font choice is fine, at least for a person like me who is using
    > Windows 7 and therefore has Constantia installed. A screen-readable
    > serif font is a refreshing exception from the dominance of Arial (and
    > her evil sister Verdana), especially on a literary page that really
    > calls for a serif font.
    >
    >
    > Yes, I'm not up on Mac and Linux fonts, and can't remember what it was
    > that gave me Constantia in the first place. I think MS Word. So it
    > tends to cascade through the font list in terms of what is more readily
    > available.


    I'm looking at it on a Mac, and it comes out fine (it appears to be Times).
    >
    > [ ... ]


    > Plato’s “Απολογια ΣωκÏατουσ†has no diacritic marks in the heading, and
    > the copy text uses the tonos only, i.e. monotonic Greek. I think this is
    > unacceptable in a classical work. Polytonic accents and breath marks
    > should be used, as normally used in classical Greek works for centuries.


    I don't see this item at all (there is nothing in Greek, and the
    drop-down list doesn't include the work in question). I agree with
    Jukka's comments about diacritics, to which I'd add that σ isn't used
    at the end of a word.





    --
    athel
    Athel Cornish-Bowden, Nov 5, 2012
    #14
  15. Ian

    Ian Guest

    On Monday, November 5, 2012 12:13:35 PM UTC-5, Athel Cornish-Bowden wrote:
    >
    > there is no image at all on what I see. Maybe you've already thought
    > about it.
    >


    Yes, and besides, in some parts of the world, bandwidth is at a premium.


    > I don't see this item at all (there is nothing in Greek, and the
    > drop-down list doesn't include the work in question). I agree with
    > Jukka's comments about diacritics, to which I'd add that σ isn't used
    > at the end of a word.


    I figured it would be wise to take it out. It was only good luck that someone who was familiar with Greek could tell me that it was wrong. Perhaps putting in the foreign-language books is a bad idea, no matter how interestingthe work is.

    Ian
    Ian, Nov 5, 2012
    #15
  16. 2012-11-04 20:58, I (Jukka K. Korpela) wrote, forwarding Ian’s message,
    where quotations from my previous message appears as indented:

    > So, let’s see. There’s only one image on the front page, your face.
    > Since people focus on images before texts, do you really want them to
    > look first at you? An author’s face normally belongs to an “About this
    > site†or “About me†page, not the front page. Sorry, I can’t suggest
    > what images would be more suitable, but not every page needs an
    > image. A
    > generic image of an old book, maybe?
    >
    > Yes, that's a holdover from the site being on WordPress for so long, and
    > having an "About" page. This is why the heading on the front page is
    > "About This Site". I'll think about that.


    “About This Site†might be suitable for a small page that really just
    describes a site, but on a front page, the main heading should say what
    the site is about, instead of saying that the page is about to tell
    about it.

    Granted, writing a good heading is a real challenge, and most writers
    don’t even try to address it properly.

    > On the front page, “About This Site†appears as main content, whereas
    > links to actual content of the site are in the ads section. I mean the
    > right-hand column, which is often taken as reserved for
    > advertisements,
    > casual annotations, and other aside stuff.
    >
    > Do you mean that the sidebar should be on the left, where it would be
    > more appropriate for navigation, or that I should do without a sidebar?


    Not really. Rather that on the front page, or the main page, the
    “navigation†(list of content pages) should be part of the main content.

    The page http://bookstacks.org/ now has that main content in a dropdown
    menu, which means that initially, before opening that menu, only the
    text â€Author and Book List†is visible. Besides, the menu is
    JavaScript-driven with no fallback, and this is not only a problem to
    people surfing with JavaScript disabled. It’s also an obstacle to search
    engines. This calls for my dusty but still useful treatise on links
    “Links Want To Be Linksâ€, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/www/links.html

    > In Tolstoy’s “ДетÑтвоâ€, there are some references like “[1]â€,
    > presumably
    > referring to endnotes. They should be turned to hyperlinks, possibly
    > implemented as “CSS tooltips†on supporting browsers.
    >
    > I have the footnotes in regular title attributes, a la <span
    > title="Lorem ipsum globben globen.">[1]</span>.


    I see – but I did not see it before this explanation, and I for one do
    know about title tooltips! I see that you now have “[*]â€, but I don’t
    think that’s an improvement. In any case, the title tooptip
    implementation in browsers is lousy: tiny font, and the text vanishes
    before you read it, if it is of some length, and then you need to mouse
    out and mouse over… CSS tooltips work better, and for robustness, links
    to endnotes are the safest bet (though perhaps overkill these days, but
    what about printing the page?).

    > The translator of War and Peace has not been indicated. Note that
    > although the original book is not protected by copyright, any
    > translation may well be. In any case, the translator and year of
    > translation should be specified.
    >
    > That was just an oversight. I forgot to do it. Thank you.


    I see. The translation copyright seems to have been expired, even under
    the EU rule of 70 years from the year of the translator’s death, so
    legally it’s free even without mentioning the translator, but the
    information is surely relevant.

    --
    Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
    Jukka K. Korpela, Nov 5, 2012
    #16
  17. Ian

    Ian Guest

    On Monday, November 5, 2012 4:03:51 PM UTC-5, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
    > 2012-11-04 20:58,
    >
    > “About This Site” might be suitable for a small page that really just
    > describes a site, but on a front page, the main heading should say what
    > the site is about, instead of saying that the page is about to tell
    > about it.
    >
    > Granted, writing a good heading is a real challenge, and most writers
    > don’t even try to address it properly.


    I agree. I'll have to think about how to implement that.

    > Not really. Rather that on the front page, or the main page, the
    > “navigation” (list of content pages) should be part of the main content.
    >
    > The page http://bookstacks.org/ now has that main content in a dropdown
    > menu, which means that initially, before opening that menu, only the
    > text ”Author and Book List” is visible. Besides, the menu is
    > JavaScript-driven with no fallback, and this is not only a problem to
    > people surfing with JavaScript disabled. It’s also an obstacle to search
    > engines. This calls for my dusty but still useful treatise on links
    > “Links Want To Be Links”, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/www/links.html


    I will read that as soon as I post this. The dropdown box was useful, especially in the Kindle (where it created a big, scrollable list as soon as youclicked the actual form control). I had forgotten about search engines, though, and I think one of the main benefits of hand-coding is search-engine friendliness.

    > I see – but I did not see it before this explanation, and I for one do
    > know about title tooltips! I see that you now have “[*]”, but I don’t
    > think that’s an improvement. In any case, the title tooptip
    > implementation in browsers is lousy: tiny font, and the text vanishes
    > before you read it, if it is of some length, and then you need to mouse
    > out and mouse over… CSS tooltips work better, and for robustness, links
    > to endnotes are the safest bet (though perhaps overkill these days, but
    > what about printing the page?).


    To be honest, footnotes have been the bane of my existence on this site forten years. One of the reasons I made the books in PDF format for so many years was because both Word and LaTeX handle footnotes very easily, depending on which of those I was using.

    Just trying to avoid putting in two sets of links for each note. It's an enormous, soul-sucking hassle. It stretched out War and Peace (originally) for six months. But yes, no matter how well some browsers may handle those notes, eventually I will run across a note that's too long. ... At least eachof those notes has the same formatting, so it should be an easy search andreplace.

    > I see. The translation copyright seems to have been expired, even under
    > the EU rule of 70 years from the year of the translator’s death, so
    > legally it’s free even without mentioning the translator, but the
    > information is surely relevant.


    It's in there now, although without the year. I realized that if I specified the year for the translation, I would need to specify the year for the original, and then would have to do that for every book, just to be consistent. ... Maybe I should have worked in gov't. LOL.

    Anyway, thank you for the insight, and for taking the time. I appreciate it.. I'll read that page on links.

    Ian
    Ian, Nov 6, 2012
    #17
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