Website Version 14

Website Version 13

20150123, 01:49 – Fixed the cast page, which has been broken for I don’t know how long. It’s not broken on the development site, which is a bit of a headscratcher.

20141231, 17:05 – 13.2 / 13f. Covers a number of minor tweaks and adjustments made over the past couple of weeks.

20141218, 09:16 – Fixed a weird CSS bug in the blog archive this morning; just tweaked the settings for the Project Wonderful ad boxes a bit. This is relevant in that the default ad for no bids now points to the DCRSA.

20141215, 02:08 – Some minor CSS tweaks. AYP takes the place of ATC in the footer ad space, which has remained unsold for awhile. I’ve also stuck the menu to the top, effectively disabling the left-column layout. I only see it on my PC and I think it looks better on top. This indirectly solves some issues I was having with skyscraper ad positioning.

20141213, 23:23 – Switched the div classes on the amongthechosen_content_nav function. Now left arrow / right arrow work as expected in the tag search results, blog archives, and anything else that returns multiple pages of entries. Prior to this edit left was forward and right was back and that’s not how it’s supposed to work dammit. I’ll fix nav.js in some future entry – this is one of the bits it needs to account for, and one of the reasons I left the old keyboard nav in place.

20141201, 17:44 – 13.1.9 / 13f. Some nav.js adjustments courtesy of Nomikos. I’m keeping the other keyboard nav in the <head> around for a bit longer, as it covers things that nav.js currently does not. Namely blog posts, cast members and glossary topics. Nomikos also provided the ability to invoke the modal with a button – a thing I spent more time than I’ll care to admit banging my head off of for the past couple of days. That button has been added to the footer as a keyboard icon, and if you haven’t (or don’t!) read this page it may be your first indication that the site has any sort of keyboard navigation. 😀

20141130, 22:18 – 13.1.8 / 13e. Ported the AYP keyboard shortcuts and made a couple of ATC-specific additions . Previously, left-arrow and right-arrow worked in most (all?) appropriate locations. Now F is the first page, L is the latest page, R is a random page, H is the site root, A is the archive root in some appropriate locations (does not work everywhere, not every page has an archive root), and P/N now works for Previous/Next, as do the vim shortcuts K/J. A modal box listing the keyboard shortcuts can be invoked with the ? key, just like github.

20141124, 05:40 – Uncommented the position: fixed; on the flavor div.

20141117, 21:47 – 13.1.5 / 13c. Parts and technical crew for the forest moon.

20141113, 21:15 – Added previous/next functionality to the comic archive, as you can see here. It’s hooked into the previous/next javascript triggers, so keyboard right-arrow is forward and keyboard left-arrow is back. This makes the comic archive a bit easier to navigate without using the drop-down menus, and should really fly on high-speed connections. This was accomplished with a bunch of hand-crafted links stuffed into an if/elseif – it’s a hack and it gets the job done. The archive template will need a minor edit when Fire enters production; new chapters are always a little labor-intensive to get off the ground so that’s okay.

20141022, 19:57 – Built October 18 through October 21, 2014 following an initial mockup begun September 7th. The mockup was largely finalized by September 12th and tweaked a bit on October 16th after TV.3 production wrapped. The design is descended from ATC website version 12 and was inspired by Wider Image. This is a clean-room implementation – the div structure is descended from ATC v12 and aside from some CSS developed for the chapter and cast listings all CSS is new.

For those of you who are interested in this sort of thing, this template began life as a copy of Twenty Eleven in Q4 of 2013. ATC v11 was built from that, v12 was built from v11, v12.5 was built from v12, and v13 was built from 12.5 – though I threw a few bits out before I got started, and flushed 99% of the CSS.

Here are the highlights:

  • New everything. Well, almost everything. The ATC Regular font remains the same, and the existing wallpaper proved adequate for use as a flavoring image. That’s all that remains from the previous website template.
  • The header font is now Orator Medium, which harmonizes with the titling font used in The Dualist and Transitional Voices.
  • The non-ATC icon font is now Fontello and uses a total of 55 characters, with massive redundancies. I picked everything I liked and didn’t use all of it. All four icon fonts and the stylesheet total 63k; the current Font Awesome is 633k.
  • The long list of chapter pages constant throughout most previous iterations of the website has been replaced with a slick carousel in a dropdown menu. It’s almost bug free, and I consider it good enough for use, at least in Chrome. I like the look, and I like being able to navigate thumbnails visually. This requires javascript; there’s a <noscript> tag that cleans up after it if javascript is disabled.
  • The site has a three-stage responsive design. Viewports larger than 1460 get the menu on the left; viewports smaller than 1460 get the menu on top. Viewports smaller than 1092 (1080 plus a 12px scrollbar) get a site set for a 720px width. Most of the site templates are already this width; the comic navigation adapts accordingly as does ad placement. This removes the need for juggling ad placement via Mobble. I’ll make it look good on my phone after launch; these notes apply to the development instance on my desktop so at this point mobile declarations are an educated guess. The narrow design looks decent – the cross-referenced Cast and Glossary bits are hidden to make room for the adbox but the tags are still clickable so the only information that’s actually hidden is cast member affiliation.
  • The Project Wonderful skyscraper ad now runs only on comic pages. According to analytics this is something like 97% of all traffic.
  • While I’ve written comment display CSS I have not written comment form CSS and don’t intend to. Feel free to comment on ATC pages (and ATC in general) on Facebook or Twitter!
  • The Cast and Glossary pages have been completely overhauled. I did this manually (four loops for cast, ten for the glossary), as articulating a single query that outputs all terms in a custom taxonomy and then lists all posts in a specific custom post type assigned to those terms is beyond my present skill level, and apparently well past the rest of the WordPress community’s as well. Even if the answer was easily dug up I’d probably still have to list the cast manually, as Major Characters come first, and would be sandwiched between Bit Players and Secondary Characters in an alphabetical list. C’est la vie!
  • The comic index now includes recent pages, which might make the work a bit easier to approach. More importantly it might make it easier to figure out where you’ve left off without having to dig around too much.
  • Footer widgets and sidebar widgets are gone. The blog still uses its sidebar, tucked in the dropdown menu. In fact the dynamic righthand menu is composed entirely of v11’s right-hand sidebars. All of the relevant stuff has been moved into the header menu.
  • This is the first version of the website to use a white background color in any capacity. Eleven years of beige and brown and grey was enough!
  • Front page links have been moved to the reconstituted links page.
  • This release will be accompanied by additional testing and checking in IE and mobile devices.
  • Medium thumbnails got a bit bigger. Medium-sized comic thumbnails were 150×225, now they’re 160×240.

20:52 – Fixed a number of rollout issues. Testing in IE11 revealed a couple of problems that have since been sorted. Sorting those problems caused additional problems that had to be sorted, then some consistency issues with footer height were noticed and dealt with. After that the blog local menu was unbroken, then the cast and glossary local menus were unbroken and fixed, then the blog local menu was re-unbroken, then the two huge-ass cast menus (the usual suspects) were expanded from one to two columns. I think this thing is good to go – at least until the Spacecraft menu gets out of hand.


Website Version 12.5

20140721 – In lieu of a comic update, a cast and glossary overhaul. Templates and thumbnails! The logical conclusion of work begun a couple of days ago. Also fixed an omission in the cast section – Role archives now present the character list, consistent with how the Glossary, comic pages, and cast affiliations handle. For some reason having multiple roles assigned to any character screwed up the relevant lists so to streamline things I just removed the “Chosen” role. That’s KIND OF A SPOILER ANYWAY.

20140720 – Broke formatting of the Search template with the previous round of tweaks. Fixed that and adjusted formatting to fit with recent changes to the cast and glossary. Changed the dimensions for WordPress default media size “large” from something fairly ridiculous and unusable to comic size, which works well with image.php.

20140718 – Tweaked Cast content a bit, and made a few adjustments to CSS and sidebar templates in the process. Added a background color to a.comic-thumb.

20140717 – Tweaked the glossary and cast templates a bit. Moved the thumbnail into the header; liked it but hated the mess it made out of paragraph wraps, right aligned it and it looks good. Hammered the “read more” link into the current design with the use of negative margins. There may be some glitches but I haven’t noticed any yet – also tweaked the “view all appearances” link to match.

20140629Sweetcaptcha has started inserting a 1×1 pixel gif via javascript. I don’t know when that happened but either it’s recent or the visual effects are. This breaks the page formatting. There is no style hook and no reason whatsoever to do this so Sweetcaptcha has been disabled. Which is too bad, really. I liked Sweetcaptcha. Until now. 🙁

20140616 – Triage to fix most of the issues with Bebas, which I finally noticed the other day. There’s a hard-wired gap in the leading in Chrome and whatever the current version of IE is and that fact has been FESTERING for awhile now. It’s been fixed in most instances in which I found it visually offensive. This work in turn led to a consistency fix – the entry header h1 font size is no longer 28px in one location and 32px in another. The fix is far from perfect but it looks better than it did, dammit.

20140611 – Spent a couple of hours banging on more or less everything. Revised some content, tweaked a few templates, added share links to comic covers, revised comment CSS some more, “fixed” the javascript that puts the <p><span id="more-$postID"></span></p> generated by the <!--more--> tag out of my misery and then fixed a few entries effected by it again. I swear I did this previously but at some point the original work got vaporized and it had to be reconstructed and then tweaked. There’s two bits of that javascript – one that kicks out empty spans and one that rips out the span entirely regardless of whether or not it thinks it’s empty. The latter only fires on comic pages and covers.

20140610Sweetcaptcha fell down. 🙁 Back to the default comment form for now until 03:02 the next day.

20140609 – Fixed the CRAP out of a bug in image.php. Wrapped the prev/next in a bit that only outputs the divs and spans if there’s other images attached to the parent.

20140607 – header.php has been tweaked so that image.php gets the post type of the post the image being displayed is attached to written into the body tag as an ID. This allows for Page attachments, Post attachments, and Comic attachments to be styled differently as those attachments are now body#page, body#post and body#comic respectively. The styling hasn’t changed much,  mind you – the real reason that’s in there is to allow for some changes to how the template handles blog posts with multiple images as that’s now conceptually different from how the template handles pages with multiple images.

I also finally wrote CSS for handling wordpress gallery shortcode – I’d already nuked most of the automatic styling with functions.php previously, now I’ve finally written styles for the results. These two facts are related – I’ll be attending the Latrobe Air Show this morning/afternoon and will hopefully be awake for the Blue Angels demo (I say hopefully as I conked out at noon Friday instead of later in the day as planned so today’s going to be hazy regardless of weather). The idea behind todays updates is simple: if I shoot some pictures worthy of a blog post then all of the formatting requirements will have been met beforehand. I have no idea when or if I’ll use the new work, but it’s there if I need it!

20140530 – Implemented some CSS fixes learned on another project to clean up after the <!--more--> tag. Most of this work is only visible to logged in users, though the public Cast and Glossary templates do see some benefits.

20140528 – A minor theme update to accommodate the addition of WP Polls. I haven’t rolled it out yet but when/if I do it’ll be properly integrated, at least until archive pagination kicks in as I haven’t tested that yet. No changes to running/displayed CSS or templates; all the new work is under the hood until I decide it isn’t.

Released 20140521. Website version 12.5 is an iteration on version 12.1, which is ultimately an iteration on the version 11.0 migration to wordpress. Changes include but are not limited to:

  • Fixed an eight month old bug in blog templates – the timestamp now correctly links to yearly archives.
  • Extensively revised desktop CSS. Links are back to “proper” orange from Forty Orange, the design is opened up again, the site makes slightly more extensive use of Font Awesome and the ATC Regular web font. Presentation is generally more consistent and color-coded than in previous releases. Book entries are now visually distinct from chapter entries in the comic archive.
  • Another 5px off the top. Menu, widget, and article spacing is completely consistent or should be.
  • New stats page, which is full of stats that either show off or hint at the site information design. This page is accessible from the footer.
  • Reddit and Twitter share buttons have been added to comic pages. They’re in the right-hand sidebar right below the page title and comments indicator (if present). Good use of the space in my opinion.
  • The mobile site currently uses the original v12 CSS with Forty Orange changed to Regular Orange. There may be some issues with share buttons but so far as I can tell the mobile site looks fine so I’m in no hurry to fix it at the moment. Oldskool still looks good on the phone.
  • The RSS link has now been moved to the footer copyright/version line.

Work began the weekend of May 18th as a “warmup” exercise in preparation for paying work. I’ve been asked for web portfolio material a few times this month and ATC was no longer deemed visually acceptable by my art brain. After some braining and some CSSing it has returned to a state of grace. 12.5 feels cleaner than the last few releases, and is closer than 11.x or 12.0 to the old “Furnace” look that lasted through several design iterations. Huzzah!


Website Version 12.1

20140213, 19:02 – Comment code and CSS tweaks. The original comment code from Twenty Eleven survived untouched until now, when I finally realized that the reason “Reply” links weren’t showing up is that the original code is is_singular. It’s now is_singular(array ('comic', 'comic_cover','post')), which should cover all likely usage scenarios for the immediate future. I also moved the “edit” link on comments to clean up presentation on my end, and made a few adjustments to the editor CSS last night to accommodate the development of a post that should go live tomorrow morning. The most visible change is probably form standardization – comment fields now highlight the same way the search box does. OH AND I GOT CARRIED AWAY AND set the width to 1100px, down from 1130px. This cramps up the right sidebar a tad but gets rid of a gutter issue with the left-hand sidebar that was driving me bonkers. I tried offsetting the right sidebar a corresponding amount and it just looked Wrong so I wound up giving the width a shave and now it’s Right. Both sides lost 15px – the left sidebar off the right and the right sidebar off the… well, it was briefly the left but ultimately the right. SYMMETRY!


Website Version 12.0

20140207, 00:36 – Comment post button CSS now behaves like text links; the page comments link on the front page sidebar now works correctly, comments seem to be working fine, and the site got spam on this page despite the fact that there’s no comment form in the loop. Turns out that’s not just a thing, it’s an old thing. Crazy!

20140117, 18:22 – Minor CSS tweaks to attachment templates.

20131231 – New CSS. Minor template changes to the footer and header files. A more consistent presentation with less documentation. Project Wonderful ads reworked from three buttons in the footer to 1x footer button and 1x sidescraper in the left column. That space has a dull black box to 😛 at anyone running adblock – I do that myself pretty aggressively but Project Wonderful is the only service I exclude from adblock, as with the notable exception of Amazon it tends to be fueled by creators (like me!). This is the THIRD RELEASE OF 2013 and was a lot less work than the first two. It really is just a minor upgrade from v11, but the aesthetics are so radically different that I figure it merited a new version number. I also made some under-the-hood tweaks that make the site less sluggish on my ancient-ass hardware and connection. Build time was fairly brief – I started on Solstice so it took ten days on paper but “ten days” is more like “1-2 hours a day, with one or two longer work sessions.” Far from the 120 hour dedicated rebuild of v11, this revision was strictly a mornings-and-lunchtime thing.


Website Version 11.1

20131115 – Minor CSS edits, mostly. Ironing out errors, “hotfixing” issues that didn’t show up in local development, adding CSS for the Project Wonderful ads in the footer, etc. I added a twitter widget but quickly realized there were CSS issues and timezone glitches and removed it – maybe until the codebase matures, maybe FOREVER!

  • Changed the book title logos from h1:before to h1 a:before to make them 12% awesomer. I rather enjoy it when an entire link changes color on hover, don’t you?
  • Fixed a menu display error on book covers that aren’t Observer Effect.

20131201 – Tweaked the comment loop and CSS, adding a date check if/else to compensate for the fact that comments on custom post types still don’t acknowledge “Automatically close comments after X number of days” option in Settings -> Discussion. This is currently set for 14 days in the dashboard and in the loop. That should be more than enough of a commenting period, though I may tweak this up or down or even turn it off entirely depending on how or even if comments get used. If there aren’t any other vugs under the rug this should be the only tweak needed for the TV.3 rollout.

  • Also broke the hell out of the front page, then unbroke it quite a bit but not entirely. Turns out everything works fine unless a custom previous was set. Probably a custom next as well but the original loop was conditioned to drop that on the front page. After quite a bit of rage the problem was traced to pushing lunch back almost two hours and improperly “resuming” the loop after a query reset. Not a problem inside a single page but in an archive or index… hooboy. Todays launch madness (such as it was) was ultimately a result of not testing for the present condition of the front page.
  • Modified the FPNC loop to account for things learned while fixing the above issue. If the latest page is a cover it will actually show in the loop. Will see how that shakes out on the 8th when the actual Page One of tv.3 is posted.
  • The front page is now running a gutted and heavily edited version of the actual comic navigation, which means I’ll probably have to rewrite it again if I ever decide to post a new page that isn’t the very latest in sequence. Fortunately there’s no danger of that for awhile.

20131208 – I was saddened to notice the Spam counter on the dashboard read 97 this morning. While that’s no doubt piled up over the past couple of weeks it’s still disappointing and depressing. I’ve installed and styled Sweet Captcha to hopefully slow the flow. I worked with SC on a project I’ve since disavowed and found it to be the first Captcha service that I can actually use. The number/word combo things in common use typically require a dozen or so clicks of the “new combo plz” to get something I can visually parse. Sweet Captcha really Just Works, at least for me. I hope it gets some kind of use – if the spam problem continues without any comments of value being posted I’ll just shut the poor thing off. But not this week!

20131209 – Now I’m getting trackback spam, so trackbacks have been turned off. Despite the captcha the site’s still getting comment spam. 🙁

  • Made some adjustments to the front page and the comic page templates. As of now there’s no indication that anything below the <– more –> tag exists unless you’re a logged-in user. This sweeps a huge amount of whining under the rug. The contents of the more tag are under a logged-in check, so build logs will be visible to anyone who wants to subscribe when I make (or make visible) a front-end for subscriptions. I may eventually extend this to encompass the blog, and I may tweak it to cover comic metadata in its entirety. I dunno yet. I do know that my depression-fueled bad attitude is the biggest single boundary to any measure of success, and while I certainly can’t seem to do much to change how I feel, I can do a bit to sweep those feels under the rug.

20131213 – Changed the commenting period from 14 days to 7 days. Spam continues to build up – two on Air this morning. I am a sad panda. The next step is either removal of comment capability or changing comment capability so it’s available to registered-and-logged-in users only – I’ll decide later. So far this has been a good amount of work for zero return, so “off” might be the correct solution.

Website Version 11.0

20131103 – It goes to eleven. In fact it’s so eleveny that the development process got its own epic nextpage‘d epic blog post of epicness.

  • Site transitioned from multiple Movable Type 4 blogs to a single WordPress install with multiple custom post types and taxonomies. This took approximately 120 man hours, with most of it spent on content vetting and information design.
  • All internal content links have been cleaned up to reflect the new information structure, or removed entirely.
  • Comic chapter navigation has been completely overhauled.
  • The old Universe section has been separated into Cast and Glossary.
  • Most of the old information design has transitioned cleanly to WordPress. The only major changes are improvements – things that would have been difficult if not impossible to implement in MT have proven to be difficult but possible to implement with WP. This is most evident in the comic archive.
  • The old Giant List Of Comic Pages has been removed, in favor of the new comic archive.
  • The old Links page was retired with v10.
  • Candy has been preserved.
  • Tag Search is now a custom Related tag-shaped taxonomy and is awesome.
  • Search is now a thing.
  • Comments will shake out over the next several months. The base capability will remain in place on the blog. The comment form has been removed from comic pages for the time being, though it may be added back at some point in the future.
  • New RSS feed.
  • A zillion other things, probably. This is the first “clean slate” since 2008, and the first New Platform since 2003.

The site will now Sit Here on a local hard drive until the Observer Effect cover is completed, after which the site will be taken live with new content. I’ll work out Jetpack, twitter, maybe a mobile stylesheet, etc. with version 11.1.