I haven’t been blogging much because I really haven’t had much to say. Browsers have gotten to a point where most people are using something that doesn’t require extensive or creative CSS hacks to work with basic CSS-driven layouts which was my bread-and-butter for the middle part of the last decade.
I recently did a bit of contract work which inspired me to work on a new layout which then inspired me to do some spring cleaning and share with you a bunch of old designs I’ve started over the last five years, but never got around to finishing. So hang on, there’s a bunch of new stuff to get through.
Simplify is the new layout that I put together over the last week. I never intend for the layouts I create to be so damn boxy, but inevitably that happens. Furthermore most of the layouts I’ve been working with have multiple stylesheets and that can be a bit overwhelming especially to those relatively new to CSS. Simplify is something of an answer to those feelings of “I don’t like that” (which seems to be a primary motivator for me).
The layout is still a bit boxy, there are corners, but there are no edges to the page for the purpose of making the layout feel more open. The styling is intentionally plain (given the name you should expect that) with just black text on a white background.
There’s a famous Dutch artist named <a href="https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Piet_Mondrian"Piet Mondrian who got famous for painting a few boxes in solid, primary colors. I never understood that and when I enrolled in an introductory art class a few years ago my single goal was to come away with an understanding of Mondrian and I think I was successful. The idea is Mondrian was breaking down art into it’s most basic elements, a bit like scientists trying to find the most basic form of matter (atoms, quarks, etc.) From that breaking down we look to define the most basic properties of what stuff is, be it art or matter, and hopefully find a fuller understanding of the whole.
I think Simplifyis a step in that direction. I’m not down to quarks; probably closer to particles of matter with atoms, protons, and quarks still to come.
Portal is a layout I originally created for an application that would act as a transitional phase between and old portal system and a new, yet undefined system. Unfortunately the pseudo-portal application I wrote never caught, but I can at least share the layout. There’s a lot of generic styles defined in the stylesheet to be used in configuring both the layout of the page as well as individual portlets. I like the color scheme I had picked out (which is a rare thing for me) and I’d hate to see this thing go to waste so I’m sharing it in the hopes that others might find it useful.
The Experimentation Chamber has been around for quite a while, but you could only get into it if you ever noticed the little door icon in the upper-right corner of the layouts page (which very few did). So now I’m not only drawing attention to it, but also to the fact that I’ve added quite a lot to it.
Specifically you’ll want to check out the Abandoned/Unfinished Layouts section where you’ll find crap I started on and eventually forgot about over the years. The Flux layout is actually used right now in a production environment, but all the tweaks and changes made to that version haven’t been carried over to the version on the layouts site which is why it’s under the unfinished category.
There are a couple layouts in the wild that I produced which I can tell you a little about. One is for a blog called Team Dick and another is for Gargoyles on Station Eight. The S8 one is a couple years old, but I think has held up pretty well. I may clean that up, change the drop-down menu shadows from images to CSS3 box-shadows and release it into the public domain. The Team Dick layout won’t be released into the public domain for a while as it’s relatively new and I feel it still needs a bit of tweaking.
The rest of the chamber is worth going through, but the layouts are probably what most people are interested in.
Speaking of Team Dick, there’s a post on there that might actually interest people reading this blog. It’s a post on Xanadu which is a life-long project of Ted Nelson. Xanadu has some really interesting ideas about it that set it apart from the world wide web. It’s an interesting read if you’re into that sort of thing.
That’s about it for my biannual blog post.