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Comments and Themes

Sunday, April 26, 2020 - 16:55

Hello beta testing StrangeQuarkians...

I know I have not done much on here in the last few weeks, and I'm sorry for that. I'd hoped this would be far further along than it is by now. There's a bunch of things I want to fix up, but I'm finding it a lot more challenging than expected to do so. Drupal - the software that runs the site - used to be so easy to work with, and fixing up small display problems was never much of a chore. You had to write more of your own code for any given site back then, but because it's your own code, you knew it well and could navigate it easy to debug and tweak. But things have changed a lot since SQ used to be around, and now making even small cosmetic changes can take hours to figure out how to do. Where there used to be a few dozen settings, there are now well over a thousand even for a simple site like this, and because none of it is my code, it can be really hard to tell where some behaviour or other is coming from.

I don't want to let that be an excuse for my procrastination either though. I know that I'm more easily frustrated lately thanks to life circumstances and all that, so my tolerance for dealing with the bumpy road of (re-)learning what I once knew how to do has unfortunately been substantially diminished. I'm working on it.

There's a couple areas in particular I want to update you all on though:

Commenting on Chronicles (resolved)

You had probably noticed that it wasn't possible to post a comment to a Chronicle. This was not by design, and I've spent many frustrating hours on this since the last update. In fact, I had commenting turned on the entire time, and as near as I could all the settings were identical to those in the Forums where commenting was working just fine. Well, they weren't quite all identical. The old setting to control this used to be - literally - a single check box, but it is now around 30 settings spread across a dozen or so different configuration pages. I'll spare you the details, but I figured out what was going on (it wasn't even exactly a setting per se) and comments are up and running.

Comment attribution (in progress)

I'm sure you've also noticed that the lines identifying the author of a comment are weirdly displaying above the comment itself in such a way that they look like they are a part of the post or comment above it. Why is this happening? No idea. For the content itself (the forum or chronicle) there's full control over what fields get displayed and where, but they appear to have left that functionality out for configuring comment display. I think this means designers can only control this through the theme (the display and presentation of a site) which means so long as I'm using someone else's theme, I have no control over it. So I don't know... either I hack this downloaded theme to fix it, or I just say screw it and write us up a theme of our own. I'm leaning strongly towards the latter even though it's a huge task because there's heaps of other little changes that will all be easier if I do, and it is part of the long term plan anyway.

Logo and Banner (upcoming)

The logo and top banner are just the defaults for this theme. I know, they're both bland and ugly and certainly don't draw you in to the site. I generally lean towards colourful logos and site designs like we used to have with a lot of shape to them. I drafted some up but they were all way too loud and high contrast for this current soft pastel-coloured theme with thin lines. Aesthetically it just looked horrible to mix the different styles together. I think if I'm going to code up a theme from scratch then it will be easier to align the two, but that also leads to a bigger question...

Theme (upcoming)

When I chose this theme to throw on for this interim beta-testing period, I was thinking that it would be best for New-StrangeQuarks to modernize with thin straight lines, flexible display areas, lots of white space, and minimal use of images for borders and edges of display areas. This is the current trend in web design, and even OSs have moved towards this (think Win10 vs Win7). Old-StrangeQuarks was the opposite - thick colourful textured borders that were made with lots of small image files. A thin theme loads fast and is easily adapted to different sized displays, whereas a thick theme takes a bit longer to load and is not very flexible when it comes to smaller displays like smartphones.

But the more I think about it, the more I'm leaning towards a return to the Old-SQ look for two reasons. One, SQ is all about long format discussions and posts with some meat on them. This is not something people are likely to do on their phones anyway - nobody likes typing for long on their phone. And Two, I really just don't like the trend. Every website looks the same now. I understand why it is happening, but I like unique websites that have their own character, and that means using thicker borders that give a design some shape and colour.

If you have thoughts on this let me know... or post your preference in the Community Chatter


New kinds of procrastination in the era of a pandemic
by puxapuak on 2020-04-11
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by dragonbreath on 2020-04-28
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by dragonbreath on 2020-04-18
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occasional entries describing thoughts and emotions during the Pandemic.
by dragonbreath on 2020-04-05

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