07.28.19

Five Techrights Prototypes

Posted in Site News at 4:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Thoughts on how to improve the reading experience on this site, whose layout has been the same for almost thirteen years

THIS Web site turns 13 in a few months (November) and it will, at that stage, have published about 26,000 blog posts (that’s an average of about 2,000 a year). The daily links have been around for more than a decade and the same goes for our IRC channels. Thankfully I still have a daytime/nighttime job to help pay my bills, including this site’s bills. I’m personally losing money — not just time — on the site. But it’s worth it. The site’s goal/work is important, as almost nobody else does it (Groklaw did it for almost a decade), and it’s rewarding in the fulfillment sense. I sort of live for it.

“I’m personally losing money — not just time — on the site. But it’s worth it.”Recently some readers suggested changes to the site’s layout. We’ve had lengthy discussions about these (those are actual, working Web pages, but we’re showing just screenshots of these because they’re crude prototypes, nothing beyond that). In the interest of transparency and spirit of collaboration we’ve decided to do a quick (but possibly lengthy) blog post about it. Just to keep readers ‘in the loop’ and invite feedback. There’s more in IRC logs when they become available (soon, some time next month).

To us — and to me personally — what’s most important is the substance, not presentation, but poor presentation can harm a site. I don’t judge sites by their appearance but their contents; if you’re promoting all sorts of “alternative medicine” and “survival kits” and “gold bars” in the side bar, that’s an instant credibility loss. If you use words like “fuck” and “asshole” in an article, that too can be a problem (depending on the context). If there are no links in the article, that alone might not detract from the message, but it helps to have ways to verify and trace individual claims back to sources. It inspires confidence. When dealing with companies that spent billions of dollars on PR it is inevitable that “shoot the messenger” tactics and nit-picking will be leveraged to dismiss the message. People have been defaming me, even using imposter accounts (with my name), for nearly 15 years.

Due to the size of Techrights (total number of pages) it has been exceptionally challenging keeping everything up to date, up to standard, consistent etc. But we try our best given our limited capacity. We recently got more volunteers. We’re very thankful. They’re part of us. They’re the family. We're growing.

“In the interest of transparency and spirit of collaboration we’ve decided to do a quick (but possibly lengthy) blog post about it.”Anyway, about layout…

“I’ve taken a few hours to make small modifications on Techrights stories web page,” one reader told us, “as we chatted in another dialog. These examples are very ugly, and of course are not intended as anything but a proof of concept. In fact, I’m not sure if I fully like them even in concept. So please feel free of [sic] not liking any of it either. But I wanted to give it a try anyways, in my little spare time. Who knows… maybe they end up triggering some actual good idea eventually. [...Y]ou’ll find 4 html files.”

It is based on the saved “/?stories” page from that date.

“Then there are three other versions of it,” the reader explained. “They use the same assets (as they’re all just an edited copy of the html file), and every one has a different modification…”

- “v1″ reacts to posts given its height. When height > 1000px, there’s a script that limits the post height to 1000px, adds a little gradient at the bottom, and a clickable div for expanding the full content.

wordpress-techrights-1

- “v2″ does the same, but instead of expanding the contents, the div just opens the post url (given in the post’s title) in a different tab.

wordpress-techrights-2

- “v3″ shrinks the posts to 100px, without checking its height, and adds a div on the post’s top-right corner for expanding it or folding it.

wordpress-techrights-3

“Of course this is all client-side,” the reader noted, “even when there’s no need for it (as in “v2″, or the css classes assignation). The point is just to toy with the idea of scrolling and being able to focus in what I want to read, without trying to go to a “fully personalized” privacy nightmare and/or a 20MB webpage full of unwanted assets, invasive behaviour, and obfuscated javascript. Just tiny tools that should not break anything and could make it better for someone. By trying this stuff, I guess using desktop I liked more something in the lines of “v1″ or “v2″, but liked more “v3″ on a cellphone. There’s something about the tiny screen and not having too much data in it that feels adequate, but not on the monitor. It would be nice to not have this dialog in private, as I believe a lot of readers may have cool ideas.”

“To us — and to me personally — what’s most important is the substance, not presentation, but poor presentation can harm a site.”We’ve passed that around internally last week. “I haven’t looked in detail,” one person remarked, “but in regards to layout it is 100% possible to avoid any and all javascript and use only pure CSS. If it is a matter of ‘bling’ quite a bit can be done with CSS3: There are accordion menus, pull down menus, and many other things possible with just CSS. However, my main concern is the reflow of the columns on smaller, more narrow screens. The [...] v3 at least does not address that, at least not once it has been sanitized and the scripts removed.”

The person then named/suggested a better mode: “Here’s an example of one site that does 1, 2, or 3 columns depending on the browser’s width: https://www.deccanchronicle.com/

“Techrights needs to be able to reflow like that. HTML 5, which should also be used, has “summary” and “details” elements for hiding or revealing additional material. There are work-arounds in CSS for HTML4, but HTML5 ought to be the standard used. Working with WordPress to make those kinds of changes will be the hardest part.”

This is still work in progress and IRC logs, which we publish once in 4 months (for efficiency’s sake), have more on that.

“When worked on those files,” the reader added, “my stronger doubt was: “What are the most important issues to tackle here?”. And that’s very subjective, so I needed your feedback to know it: it’s your site, and there are lots of readers. I didn’t want to be many hours tunning/designing/refactor not-my-web with only my criteria. And that was specially uncomfortable on the “styling” front. Also, didn’t wanted to let the whole thing die without doing anything. So, some dirty sketches sounded like a good start, without needing to tackle all possible ideas at once, and without needing to touch a single given style. If that kind of work were well received, I was about to work next on the styles, which includes the flow, but also things like the font size given the screen size, the distribution of the posts, things like “night mode friendly”, and so on.”

“This is still work in progress and IRC logs, which we publish once in 4 months (for efficiency’s sake), have more on that.”Longtime readers are probably aware that the site’s looks have been virtually the same since 2006. This is intentional and it assures consistency (e.g. the looks and layout of old posts, of which there are many)

We recently ranted about JavaScript. We don’t want to ‘pollute’ the site with it. It would not help the substance.

“There’s also new stuff like CSS grids, flexboxes, and other stuff I never tried,” the reader said. “But in my experience, working on a CSS+HTML ONLY solution (which I always try to do) ends up in LOTS of quirks convulting the code, or in sacrificing something for the sake of purity. Things like the box model, pixels and margins that renders differently in different browsers, and so on, end up generating weird scrolls, broken lines, overlapped items, and stuff like that. On my blog I refused to program a reflow, because I couldn’t care less about mobile browsers, and it just adapt to screen size; I just zoom with the fingers if I happen to read it on mobile, or just flip the screen. It’s not a big nor a news site. So it barely uses any javascript, it has my own personal bling that pleases just me, and works well enough. WordPress didn’t make it hard for me to program it. [...] Techrights deserves a professional work. That means no trash code, no CSS whack-a-more against heavy HTML, no gratuitous javascript, and yet good SEO and good compatibility with other tools. That means lots of work. And neither you or the readers shouldn’t do that without a clearer idea of what should be done.”

“We’re open to the idea of making changes site-wide provided they’re sufficiently beneficial and the benefits outweigh harms associated with backward compatibility.”If anyone has ideas, please share them with us in the comments, in IRC, or bytesmedia at bytesmedia.co.uk (shared inbox). We’re open to the idea of making changes site-wide provided they’re sufficiently beneficial and the benefits outweigh harms associated with backward compatibility.

Another person has meanwhile created a prototype without JavaScript and explained: “I agree with most of that except regarding the importance of CSS. In my experience it remains the only way to keep the pages light weight. However, to do that, it does have to be written by hand and not use any off-the-shelf libraries. As for the flow and for stripping extraneous material, see the [following]. Don’t mind the background colors or the borders, they are there to show the blocks used.” Prototypes are shown below (as screenshots only, as the underlying code isn’t polished).

wordpress-techrights-4

wordpress-techrights-5

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2019/07/28/five-techrights-prototypes/

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 4/3/2021: Pardus 19.5 is Out and Free Software Foundation Gets Consulting Grant

    Links for the day



  2. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, March 03, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, March 03, 2021



  3. The Free Software Foundation Should Re-add Richard Stallman to the Board

    Dr. Richard Stallman is missed by many who perceive him to have been wrongly treated; putting Stallman back in the Board (at the very least) would help the image of the Free Software Foundation more than the newly-announced work with Community Consulting Teams of Boston



  4. Free Software Calling

    Fewer people are willing to "put up with the shit" given by so-called 'Big Tech', seeing that it's mostly about social control rather than enablement or emancipation



  5. Meme: EPO Management Totally Gets 'Tehc'

    The bestest patent office in the whole wide world is besting the “hey hi” (AI) cutting edge; don't worry about exam and certification integrity



  6. The EPO's Software Blunders Are Inevitable Outcome of Technically Clueless Management Which Grants Illegal Patents on Software

    The "clusterfuck" which the EPO has become is negatively affecting not only EPO staff but also stakeholders, who sink into depression and sometimes anger, even fury, at great expense to their health; this is how institutions die (for a quick but short money grab, a culmination of corruption which piggybacks half a century of goodwill gestures)



  7. Links 3/3/2021: OpenSUSE Leap 15.3 Beta, GNU Denemo 2.5, and NomadBSD 1.4

    Links for the day



  8. What Free Software Organisations Can Learn From Australia's Rape Crisis

    Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock



  9. Microsoft Weaponises (and Further Spreads) Racism to Distract From Its Own Incompetence (and 'Five Eyes' Collusion for Back Door Access)

    Racist Microsoft is at it again; we're meant to think that China is evil for doing exactly what the United States has been doing but more importantly we're told not to blame Microsoft for shoddy code and back doors (classic blame-shifting tactics and overt distortion of facts, as we saw in the wake of SolarWinds backdoors)



  10. GNU/Linux News Sites Need to Promote Software Freedom, Not Binary and Proprietary Blobs Merely Compiled for GNU/Linux

    There has been lots of proprietary fluff in GNU/Linux 'news' sites so far this week; it merits an explanation or clarification, e.g. why we should generally reject proprietary stuff and instead promote Free/libre alternatives



  11. Links 3/3/2021: OpenSSH 8.5 and Absolute64 20210302 Released

    Links for the day



  12. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, March 02, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, March 02, 2021



  13. Links 3/3/2021: IPFire 2.25 Core Update 154, Red Hat Satellite 6.8.4, Kiwi TCMS 10.0

    Links for the day



  14. Links 2/3/2021: KDE Plasma 5.21.2, Qt 6.1 Beta, Refund of Pre-installed Windows

    Links for the day



  15. 'GatoKeeper'/IP Kat (AstraZeneca) Still Suppressing and Censoring the Public Views or Internal EPO Talks About EPO Corruption

    The suppression of comments critical of the EPO‘s administration (especially corruption scandals surrounding António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli) is a real problem; those ought not be a taboo subject in comments (where bloggers used to speak about those issues openly and regularly)



  16. Pocock on Removing Cognitive Bias Around Consent

    Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock



  17. IRC Proceedings: Monday, March 01, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, March 01, 2021



  18. Links 2/3/2021: Maui 1.2.1, RSS Guard 3.9.0

    Links for the day



  19. ZDNet Really Hates Golang (Maybe Because Microsoft Does)

    The Golang programming language seems to be the target of intense FUD campaigns from sites connected to Microsoft, so it’s likely a bit of a Nemesis/endgame to Microsoft monoculture (unlike Rust, which Microsoft has already pocketed and is actively besieging to promote Microsoft monopoly and hardware monoculture)



  20. Links 1/3/2021: KStars 3.5.2, ET: Legacy 2.77, Flameshot 0.9

    Links for the day



  21. Five Years of António Campinos Coverage in Techrights (We Correctly Predicted His Presidency in March 2016)

    We've warned about António Campinos since March of 2016; well, António Campinos isn't just EPO President right now but he's also an oppressor who demonises the union of the EPO's staff



  22. In 2021 the EPO Works for Parasites Instead of Scientists (and It Cannot Even Hide That Anymore)

    Europe's second-largest institution is working for those who attack instead of create (or those who attack actual creators, with lousy and sketchy patents as ammunition)



  23. Links 1/3/2021: Manjaro ARM 21.02 and First Linux 5.12 RC Released

    Links for the day



  24. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, February 28, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, February 28, 2021



  25. On Gangstalking and Victim-Blaming

    Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock



  26. If the Web Can Be Increasingly Replaced (or Complemented) by Gemini and IPFS Etc., Then Large Monopolists Will Try to Dominate Those

    Monopolists and sociopaths won't be clapping and cheering for whatever stands a chance of replacing the Web (or Big Banks); if they ever embrace those replacements, it'll be to dominate and in turn undermine these



  27. Links 28/2/2021: Nitrux 1.3.8 and Kraft 0.96

    Links for the day



  28. Techrights Over 3 Internet Protocols and From the Command Line, Using Either Curl/Wget/Text Editor (Over WWW) or IPFS or Gemini

    A quick demo of how Techrights can be accessed without a browser, either over gemini:// or over http://



  29. The Command Line for Weather and Football Scores, Among Other Stuff

    A lot of stuff can be done from the command line and productivity (not to mention privacy) enhanced by automation and scripting over the Web (or even Gemini, as we shall show in a future video)



  30. You Know Gemini Space is Getting a Lot Bigger When You Need to Implement DDOS Protection

    Techrights is currently working on tools or programs that help detect and respond to DDOS attacks (or abusive over-consumption of pages) over gemini://


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts