Blog Evolution

Welcome to version 3.0 of 90% of the code for this site has been rewritten, while the design itself has been substantially altered. I’ll have a lot more to say about the design and features of the blog in future articles, and there’s still more to come… but for right now let’s get straight to the changelog.

  • As mentioned, the code of the site is now completely written in HTML5. While I am certain that most pages are valid, I haven’t yet exhaustively gone through every one of the ~500 entries, so my $10 bounty to anyone who finds a validation error can’t be offered… yet.
  • Many user actions, including logging in and adding favorites, are now written via AJAX, making for a smoother experience.
  • The organization of content and sidebar navigation has changed significantly. XHTML and HTML5 have been grouped together as “HTML” in the menu. Posts that are specific to a particular language  (the optional XML prolog in XHTML, for example) are also in this category, but tagged with “XHTML”
  • Posts specific to full-time courses at SAIT have been removed – most students now have this information on the D2L system. Posts on student expectations, suggested reading lists, practice quizzes unofficial grade tools and continuing education courses remain, mostly in the “For Students” section.
  • The “Tools” section now contains both the entries on preference settings for applications and online tools.
  • An archive page allows you to browse blog articles by calendar month.
  • Search is more graphical.
  • Tag pagination works, finally!
  • User profiles! Every user has a simple profile. If you’re logged in, you also have the opportunity to edit your favorites on your profile page, and this will be expanded on markedly in the near future.
  • The commenting system has both a preview function and allows for simple markup to be entered, although the latter still needs to be improved for code samples.
  • Share options for Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for each blog article are now inside a “Share” area at the bottom of the screen.
  • There are now seven entries shown per page, rather than the previous nine, helping to speed up page load times considerably. Mobile users see five per page.

A few features still that need work:

  • While “Add to favorites” does work instantly, the added article is not shown in the user’s “Personal Favorites” list on the sidebar until after a page refresh. That will be fixed: I’ll also add an option to organize a user’s favorites by category if there are more than a dozen listed, and show the user that they’ve favorited a post by changing the icon on the article itself.
  • I’m afraid there wasn’t time to optimize the design for mobile or print. While the design is partly responsive, and should be usable on iPhone, etc, the full version for mobile will have to wait a few weeks. (Which will also tie in nicely with my work on developing a Responsive Web Design For Mobile Devices course).
  • I ran out of time to code in image uploads for avatars or achievements, but that will be the very next task.
  • I’m aware of some optimisations I can still do : Facebook, in particular, seems to be interfering with smooth page loads, and being missed on tag-based and individual post pages. I’ll play around with that and see what I can speed up further.
  • Search results are currently limited to the top 25 results; pagination will follow shortly.
  • Microdata integration is throwing up validation errors for some reason; I’ve removed it in the meantime.
  • There are a around two dozen article thumbnails that I need to complete; as a result, you might see the occasional visual gap in search results and on the archive page.
  • Signup is temporarily disabled while I work on that (and a password reset option) – expect that to return in a few days also.

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