Pardon the Mess

Version Six.5.01Last night I took offline to start implementing the new redesign that I’ve been talking about for some weeks, so most of you will be reading this either via RSS feed or on Monday (or sometime thereafter). It’s been an interesting process, and it occurred to me that it would be entertaining (to me, anyway) to document a bit of it. So I’m going to use the next few days’ posts to talk about some of the improvements that this new redesign introduces.

First, a little explanation of the rationale behind all this trouble, and why it comes so soon after I completed version Six.0 in late March.

The working process behind Six.0 could be characterized as laying down railroad track in front of a speeding locomotive, to borrow a cliché I heard a lot during the dotcom days. That is, I spent as much time learning about the ins and outs of Movable Type and Cascading Style Sheets as I did actually designing the site. That’s a fun way to dive immediately into a personal project like, but it’s also a messy design process that yields less than optimal results.

As a consequence, almost as soon as I finished with Six.0, I knew that I wanted to fix pretty much everything that I’d just done. My confidence with Movable Type had grown considerably, and I knew that I could resolve a lot of the problems I’d come across much more easily and sensibly with another go-round. Along the way, I had also become a budding CSS proponent, and it became important to me that should reflect that. So version Six.5 gets at least these two things right.

The old calendar display, which could display only one post per day. The new, super-clever calendar display can be seen on any Month archive page.
Six.0 Calendar Display

To begin with, it makes much smarter use of Movable Type’s powerful tools for personal publishing. The home page, for instance, incorporates my list of random links (now renamed “Elsewhere”) in a much more integrated fashion, rather than the sorry-looking, tacked-on, columnar display of Six.0. Also, on monthly archive pages like this one, I’ve discarded the out-of-the-box calendar display, which emulated a traditional wall calendar. That format was a problem because it could only ever link to one post per day. I wrestled with MT’s tags and came up with a new calendar display that makes multiple posts available immediately. Also, at the risk of tooting my own horn, it’s a pretty original way of navigating blog archives.

Of course, these changes, like the rest of Six.5, are implemented entirely in CSS. That is, there’s not a single HTML table in this new display (though I don’t rule out eventually using one or two in a marginal way). I’m very, very proud of this fact. The content code itself is also nearly XHTML Transitional 1.0-valid — nearly. It’s going to take me at least a while longer to sort out all the final details on that front, but in the meantime it conforms to Web standards at the least in spirit.