For the last 2–3 months I’ve been too busy to write much new content for the site. This hasn’t been helped by a drop in things to write about — most of my articles are about technology fixes or exciting new HTPC related developments. There haven’t been too many new developments, and I haven’t fixed much technology because I’ve been too busy. That doesn’t mean the site has been entirely ignored however…
Whilst content has been rather limited, I have done a lot of work on the code (i.e. wordpress) behind the content. You probably wont notice too many differences, but fixing little niggling issues can sometimes make a big difference, and there were a fair number to address. The site has also had a few minutes of downtime due to a few of the fixes not working quite right first time, but hopefully it hasn’t been too disruptive.
The outcome of all these little fixes is that there should be fewer UI issues, we should be even easier to access on mobile devices, we should be quicker to load, and our compliance with web standards should be even better. In terms of measurable metrics there are a few below
- Google PageSpeed has been improved from 95% to 98% on the homepage (and 96% on content pages)
- Our HTML5 is currently 100% passed by the w3c validator (altho HTML5 is currently a moving target, so it’s likely more changes will be needed as the standard evolves)
- We currently pass the google rich snippets testing tool (although, again, google are moving from microformats to microdata so this is also a moving target)
Other issues which you may have noticed that should now be resolved include
1. Text sometimes missing from the middle of sentences in the popular posts sidebar.
This was caused by a bug in a wordpress core function strip_shortcodes() which doesn’t just remove shortcodes but also their contents! A quick edit to line 331 of wp-includes/shortcodes.php was needed. Changing
return $m . $m;
return $m . $m . $m;
does the trick, altho I don’t know if this might have any side effects yet.
2. Magnifying glass image in search box wasn’t correctly positioned in non-firefox browsers
I generally use firefox and hadn’t noticed this slight appearance glitch. A few CSS tweaks fixed it, altho as is so often the case, it is positioned using a float and various negative margins and paddings in combination so it was actually quite a tedious process to work out how to clear this up.
3. Hover menu partially incompatible with non-mouse devices
The menu pulldowns require a hover which touchscreen devices can’t provide. When attempting to create a hover, by clicking, the actual result was instead to click on the link — the submenu appeared but quickly disappeared as a new page was loaded. I have now disabled the links from the heading buttons to fix this. Clicking on a touchscreen device now brings down the submenu as it should. The loss of the links to the parent categories isn’t important — the parent categories aren’t very useful and they can be accessed through the breadcrumbs if for some reason someone really wants to view them.
4. Wasted space in popular widget sidebar
The images floating in the popular posts section didn’t have text wrapping below them very neatly. Specifying a line height of exactly half the image height has fixed this — the 3rd line is now always full width.
5. Bullets not shown in correct position
The CSS reset code we use sets the left-padding of unordered lists to 0, which results in bullets being shown outside the left edge of the content display area. We had overlooked overriding this styling, so bullets weren’t correctly located. This has now been rectified.
All site tweaks are now logged in our public site updates log
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