Saturday, October 04, 2008

Another round of website updates

I've tried to stay with a weekly update similar to Rick's, but with my long posts these days I've exhausted a lot of the tech posts I've had in mind. Less than a month until aphelionsites.net expires, so I've got to get all the sites moved over. Obviously this is my new blog site, the dgs is backed up here at /dgs/ and my flight instructor wiki got moved over to ksuflightteam.net/cfi. The index page of merkur.aphelionsites.net now redirects to this site. Instead of making entries, I find it an acceptable alternative to work and improve different features of this site. Some updates are small, such as new icons for the apple and flying posts. Another little update inspired by my longer entries is clicking "comments" at the bottom takes you down the page directly to comments posted and the entry form.

Little cosmetic changes are nice and all, but where's the beef? Well for the major update made last week, click features at the top of the page. What you'll see is the original idea behind having a features page. Before it was just a few links w/entry titles. I didn't like this for many reasons. It was way too plain with no creativity. The only good thing about it, I could edit the entries and switch it from "weblog" to "featured" and it would automatically move itself over. Problem is when you went back through the history of the weblog, those posts were now missing. It interrupted the history and now has a much better integration with the site. The idea is, if you were coming to the website for the first time, and wanted to know what it's all about, you go to "Featured".

The second big update I did today, and involves the "Friends" page. From version 1.3 to 1.4.1, the friends page can now detect how long it's been since you posted via RSS. Now the friends page will color code people based on how long it's been since you posted. If it's been longer than 2 weeks, your name turns purple and the entry is hidden. There shouldn't be any time where I go longer than 2 weeks without checking it, so it's not like I'm not seeing your post, but I can only look at that guitar you're planning on buying for so long. Jo suggested a grey color if it's been longer than a year, which sadly, I may need. You get a light blue color if you posted today, dark blue up to two weeks after that, and purple for longer. Red means RSS error. Your site could be down or the script timed out, etc... I like it organized by name, but someday might change it to order of entry.

RSS is tricky to program around, because it's very flexible. For example, Livejournal doesn't require you to title your post so that field is sometimes missing. I use the title as a link to the post on its home site. So I have to have a backup idea which is to use the link itself as the title. The content:encoded tag which I discovered on schultz's site gives me problems too. Which do I use? Content:encoded or description? What if there is no date? What should the script output? What color does it use? All these things have to be thought of and still make the script small and fast. I'm pretty proud of the script. It uses magpie RSS to actually grab the entries, but the output and design is all mine. I don't think any other people actually use the page, but who knows.

So now all that's left to do is make entries....but that seems to be getting done too!
Posted by eclipse on 10/04/2008 at 10:31 PM
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