Bods Central v3 and Conditional Comments

Posted on 22 January 2005 in Planet Bods, Web Development (No comments)

Well here it is, Bods Central v3.0 - code name Scumble, for no apparent reason. Hopefully you like it - assuming you're actually seeing it and don't view the site through an aggregator!

It's only really a re-skin of the content but the old design had been in use since November 2002 (crikes, has it been that long?), and I've been itching for a change for a while. Something with a bit more colour in it, and a few curves. Hence the introduction of lots of the old Georgia font - a nice little serif for all the headings.

But overall, it's more of an evolution of design. There were elements of the old one I quite liked. The colour scheme and overall layout for starters. So the purple remains, the nav is still in the same place. The body text now sits on white, and the right navigation on grey, in a reverse of before. There's some dotted lines around to break up flow a bit. And you may also notice a bit of a border just to make it look more interesting.

Perhaps the other big change is that the Rant 'n' Rave contents page now doesn't show full posts - just a description of the entry.

I've been thinking about this for a while, and it just seems to be less daunting. When a few other blogs I read started doing this, I wasn't a fan but I was won over to the cause. It just seems nicer to read a blog that way.

Internet Explorer 5 and 5.5

The biggest difference is with IE5 and IE5.5 on Windows where the site looks very different. Indeed this was one thing that held up the whole redesign - neither browser would get it right.

In the end, I gave up and implemented a second stylesheet for those browsers, which gives a simplified design which is actually very similar to the one I've just replaced. If you've got either of those browsers and you can upgrade your set up, may I just recommend that you get Firefox - you won't regret it!

The big problem was working out how to give IE5 a different stylesheet. I am not a fan of some of the hacks you can use to do this stuff in CSS - putting random code segments into my CSS is not my style, especially as I feel that exploiting a browsers undocumented bugs is just storing up problems for the future. What happens if that bug is fixed, or even worse, if it's not fixed because people are using it to hack CSS! Urgh no.

So instead I plumped for conditional comments - a feature of later IE browsers which looks like this:

<!--[if IE 5]> Some code for only IE5 <![endif]-->

I wasn't a fan of these things when they came out, but it has to be said that they have their uses. They render as valid HTML and they're firmly documented. No other browser would accidentally implement them and anyone browser spoofing won't see the wrong CSS. They're also reasonably clean.

In fact the only major drawback is that people might abuse them - do IE only sites, but then people will do that anyway with JavaScript or server side detection. There's also another one where anyone who has managed to get multiple versions of IE installed, and is viewing this on IE5 on a machine that also has IE6, won't get it right, but then only very odd people would do that anyway!

Of course I'd rather it not be there at all - I'd rather Internet Explorer just did things properly - thankfully IE6 displays this site fine but the older versions have too much trouble. We can only wait for the day they too are banished, just as Netscape 4 was.

And the rest

I should say that as I don't have a Mac, the new look hasn't been tested on one. It does seem to work in Mozilla Firefox on Windows and Linux, on Opera 7 on Windows and Linux - and obviously IE5, 5.5 and 6 all work fine. Konqueror on Linux gets almost all of it right - there's a small bug that I haven't found a fix for but it's just a bit of spacing so isn't a problem.

If you notice a problem, let me know - as you can do if you've got any views on the new look. And with that I'll end by saying... if you're viewing this in an aggregator, I bet this was a thrilling post.

Enjoy.

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