I know that if I don’t document it as I go along I’m never going to find the time to do it at the end, so I’ve decided to do a play-by-play of all aspects of redoing this site. The details will range from purely aesthetic to highly technical. It will cover software such as WordPress and Gallery, and the modifications I make to each, plus a little about the home grown database stuff I have running most of the rest of this site. I’ll be going through section by section until it’s all done.
Also, starting tomorrow, I am going to be moving out of the house and into a new apartment with my new roommate Josh, another event which I plan to document and photograph mercilessly, so I christen this new category Matt Reality TV, or MRTV for short. It’s not going to be overly put together, just stream of thought and code very similar to the actual process I use. It’s raw, hence the “reality” name. I invite commentary on everything, but please try to keep it constructive.
Of course at this point I should probably discuss what’s been done so far, and I’ll try to catch up, even though I’m awfully tired.
The many reasons for the redesign have been touched upon, but I haven’t really said why I kept the old one for so long, after changing every month since the site started. It was actually because it was stolen not too long after I first finished it. While I complained on the surface I was actually genuinely flattered on some level because it was the first design I had done that someone had thought good enough to swipe, as silly as that sounds now.
So far I’ve been playing around with different things. The current layout comes from a sketch I did on a piece of paper (thanks Rannie!) that I later discussed and brainstormed some things with Greg. Greg helped me come up with some colors (not the current ones exactly) and the rest was really just implementation. I had Dante in my mind from the beginning as the serif I wanted to build things around, but I didn’t have it in the format needed (OpenType or TrueType) so I ended up springing for it (a bargain!) at My Fonts. The title I put together and tweaked manually in Photoshop but the entry titles are all generated dynamically from a very simple PHP script (source). The titles are actually text with CSS backgrounds and hidden text using a modified CSS image replacement technique with the common elements in the CSS and the actual image reference inline so as to make things easy. I have just made the titles smaller than they were (32 instead of 36) and I like this better, I may make them smaller still.
I like this technique because (amoung other things) you can still use Mozilla type-ahead for links and you can still search for text within a page. Nifty. I went ahead and made the titles the permalink as well, which I’ve advocated several places before and made the default in WordPress, but never got around to doing it myself.
I just cleaned up a bunch of stale files, particularly in the root directory. That sort of thing can accumulate to an alarming degree. Now I try to put everything I used to stick in the root for convinence in subdirectories, usually divided chronologically so as to start “fresh” every year. This also lends to the permanence of everything I may link to, most of the work in keeping links valid comes from forethought. I also used a number of files that were purely for my own testing into a more appropiate sandbox area.
The background is a simple GIF image that is actually derived from that garish green that was on here the other day, faded and changed a little and then filled with a line pattern in Photoshop to get where you see it now. The colors need more tweaking, which I’m going to work on after this post, but I’m leaning away from the green look I was so partial to the other day. We’ll see where this goes.