Watts (chipotle) wrote,

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Stop worrying and love CSS

After a couple weeks of vaguely feinting at Textpattern, a freeware content management system that's somewhere between weblog software and full kitchen-sink style CMSes, I spent most of today beating on its templates and CSS. I've finally managed to get -- well, I don't know if it's what I'll want long-term but it's at least close to what I envisioned. Textpattern (or "TXP" to its friends, which I am not sure I am one of) takes an approach I described to a friend today as "More Modular Than Thou," which is more flexible than a system like Movable Type is (I think I've already done things that would be hard to pull off in MT), but a little difficult to wrap your head around.

Like nearly all of the freeware systems, TXP strives to be chock full of semantic goodness, using XHTML templates and styling everything with CSS. (TXP goes MT and WordPress one better in this respect by having tags which are well-formed XML in their own namespace -- although in practice that's an advantage only in the sense of philosophical purity.) I love CSS. And I hate CSS.

CSS has a reputation for being difficult to use and inconsistent across browsers. Well, it's not too difficult to use, and it's not that inconsistent across browsers anymore. CSS Level 2 has been around five years or so, after all. The problem these days is with -- surprise! -- Internet Explorer, which had buggy CSS support circa 1999, just like everyone else, but unlike everyone else, never had it fixed.

After a great deal of beating things with a stick, I managed to get CSS that looks more or less the same on all the browsers I have access to. The problem is that I don't have access to IE for Windows currently, and IE for Mac doesn't use the same rendering engine. As they say, though, I'll burn that bridge when I come to it. (There's more than a few PCs wandering the house.)

I have one other IE-related bugaboo currently -- the title graphic I'm using is a PNG, and for the view I have in mind, it has to be a PNG because it'll need alpha transparency. Theoretically, there's a way to pummel IE for Windows into displaying that correctly. I suppose I'll find out.

Even so, I think most people will like the design, save for the ones who are going to shake their fingers at me for using a fixed-width page if I go with the look I'm currently sketching out. To those people, I say: kindly put a sock in it. What I have in mind will have a "landscape" image across the top of the page, possibly a fixed one, possibly one that changes based on what the top story is, possibly a randomly-chosen one. (The title graphic overlaps the box for this picture, which is why there's a need for the PNG format.)

This, of course, means I'll need to get an artist who's good with color to come up with something that'd look good in what I believe will be a 720×200 box. The difficulty of that might be a reason to be playing around with other formats (perhaps a front-page image to the right that's in normal portrait orientation, 360×450 or so?).

Now, though, it is well past time for bed.

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