Frustration

September 30th, 2007  

Arrgh!

It’s been a frustrating week as far as Turtle Trax revisions are concerned.

I’ve been making a lot of small internal changes that should not have affected anything a visitor would see. Hah!
Take it from me, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets for those who don’t make web pages) will drive you mad. Every browser interprets CSS differently, and of course the two most used (Internet Explorer 6 & 7) are the two with the most bugs and quirks.

Modern web pages are supposed to use modern techniques, CSS being the foremost of those. Still using tables to lay out your pages? Hey, that’s a blatant misuse of tables! Use CSS, you fossilized recalcitrant!

Problem is, CSS is a) inconsistently implemented and b) doesn’t have the equivalent functions for layout that people so happily misused in tables. For example, I can place an image in a table cell and then in the next cell, all I need is a single keyword to place text that is vertically centered with the image. This is a nice effect that I use a lot. See those links at the right? They’re examples of what I’m talking about. (Those are still done with tables by the way.) Of course, when I made all those pages I never thought that CSS would simply throw out that simple functionality.

Apparently, you see, web pages are supposed to be laid out horizontally. Who’d ever want to do vertical layout? Judging from the Google, a gazillion frustrated web page developers, that’s who. There is a lame CSS trick you can use that sort of works, but not exactly and not always. So your choices are: a) misuse tables for layout but get exactly what you want, or b) misuse a CSS function and get something that might be close. You decide.

It gets worse

So in the process of trying to modernize and follow standards, what do I discover? Internet Explorer 6 has been screwing up my blog pages since day 1! Yes, yes, I know you’re shocked, but it’s true, I swear. For some reason that I haven’t yet uncovered, it’s taking the CSS drop-shadow trick I use and mangling it. For years I used tables to get drop-shadows that are nice (meaning attractive, at least to me) and flexible (meaning they can be applied to any size image with a minimum of fuss) but I wanted to Do Things Properly. Silly me.

I think I might be a masochist, because despite the grief I’m pressing ahead with implementing pages that use CSS instead of tables for layout. You sadists out there can post taunting comments to test this theory.

…and then…

All the while I was engaging in that banging-head-against-wall stuff, I was taking small breaks to describe my frustration in this blog. I don’t know how much I’d written, or even what I’d said, but there was a lot of it. I might have needed some editing. Anyway, that was yesterday and today, when I finally got myself psyched up enough to come back to this mess–my draft was gone! Gone, Jerry, vanished! Disappeared completely. Nowhere to be found. Didn’t you hear the scream?

What did I get done?

Well, no video this week, but I did find the elusive videotape. You don’t want to know where…

Oh, you do? It’s a bit embarrassing. Okay, it’s a lot embarrassing. It was in the box with the other tapes, in plain view, right where I remembered putting it! The problem was that the label on the spine was wrong. It read Tape 3 instead of Tape 2. Of course the label on the front of the tape was correct, but I was only looking at the spines. It took me the better part of a week to notice that we had two Tape 3s and no Tape 2. D’oh!

The page I was working on that got me so frustrated with CSS is done, although I’m not 100% happy with the way I had to do it. Nevertheless, our metaphorical mission statement, which is also our memoriam to my youngest brother, is revised. the layout is slightly different but otherwise, it’s all under the covers.

Last but not least, I’ve posted the latest cartoon: A Highly Prized Visit. The Corporation apparently has its own ideas about why having Howzit come to visit is a Good Thing. Boy, do they have a lot to learn.

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