I noticed that one of the entries in the style contest has a very cool feature: the option to sort comments chronologically instead of by thread. This style is cmshaw's Wide Lines layout. I asked him how he feels about his layout being used and adapted, and he was happy for me to play with it.
So what I've done at the moment is applied it to my journal as a secondary style, and I have included links from my comments page to 'Unthread comments', so that the links reload the comments page in the chronological version of his layout. This is kind of a crude kludge for the time being; what I'd really like to do is adapt his code to my layout directly. But obviously the latter is more work, especially for a clueless non-programmer like me. So if you read my journal directly rather than on your friends page, you can use this feature if you like.
If you want to apply it to your own journal it's a bit of a complicated process, but I can explain how I went about it. You need a paid account to be able to do it, though of course if cmshaw wins the competition his style may become public and thus potentially available to free users.
Also, I pointed out to cmshaw some potential usability issues with his layout as it is, and offered to modify it to make it more customizable by adding more named CSS classes to the HTML it generates. And he was very receptive to my ideas. So I feel all Open Source-ish now; I wish I knew what I was doing more!
Well, the reason I want to do it is so that when there's a huge discussion with several hundred comments, I can put them in chronological order and this makes it much easier to go straight to the new ones I haven't read yet, rather than having to open all the threads to check whether there's any new comments. This is mainly useful for other people's journals, though, because with mine I get the notifications anyway.
I'm not quite sure why you'd want to, though. :) A lot of people want LJ to be more like Usenet, and one of the reasons is to be able to see new comments easily. This way isn't perfect, because the new comments are still not marked, but it does make it a bit easier to find the new comments by just going to the end of the list. If there are only a dozen comments it's easy enough just to eyeball them, but with more, especially after LJ collapses threads, I find it gets harder to remember which comments I have already read. Though that may be partly because I'm not a very visual person.
'tis very impressive, your layout. *blush* Thank you, I'm most flattered. Though credit where credit's due: I didn't design the layout, just the stylesheets for it. The actual coding was done by torgo_x.
If you're thinking of breaking into journal design you might find his layout a good starting place; it did work for me, as a kind of training wheels set-up. I started out not touching the code at all, just playing with the CSS. Then I found I was getting annoyed because there were <span>s where I wanted <div>s. So I went through the code looking for HTML, cos that was the only bit I could understand. Then I got more ambitious. There was a long period of frustration when I kept finding S2 gratuitously hard. Then it clicked for me one day. I still don't know what I'm doing very much, but at least I know where to start and I can get somewhere by trial and error.
pseudomonas ascribes this to transitioning from procedural to object-oriented thinking. I barely know what the terms mean, and I would hardly call myself a procedural programmer on the basis that I messed around writing crude text adventures in BBC Basic when I was 7. But yeah, it's kind of a learning curve, I think.
Only the first bit; the rest is my commentary on it. You remember how I was trying to explain S2 to you and I turned out to be completely confused about what object-oriented actually means? And then you explained it to me and you also mentioned that people who switch from one kind to another often find that it's very confusing at first until it eventually clicks.
Yeah, I know, all my pages look weird in Opera. Apparently the hack that the underlying layout uses so you can style it with external stylesheets either breaks in Opera or it breaks in IE. So the author of the style decided to adapt for the more popular browser. Sorry about that; that's one bit that's not really under my control.
I keep meaning to learn S2 at some stage, although I'm put of by the lack of decent documentation. What I'd really like is a minimalist, machine-readable style which I could use to write something which would check for new comments on threads on other people's journals without hammering LJ's servers too hard (it may be, of course, that the database loading involved dwarfs the effort of producing the HTML: I'd have to ask on lj_dev first.
How does your/cmshaw's layout cope with posts where the comments would span multiple pages? I've never had such a thread, I think, but I've seen other "do fancy stuff with comments" code which didn't like that.
By the way, in Safari 1.3 (Mac browser) and in Firefox, your navigation links to "n comments"/"add comment" (or their equivalent) are only active when the mouse pointer is right at the top of the region you'd expect, so that the pointer points to the top of the text. Don't know why.
I keep meaning to learn S2 at some stage You're a Python person, aren't you? S2 is somewhat of a hybrid of (very cut down) Perl with Java-ish bits; I don't know if that appeals or puts you off.
I'm put of by the lack of decent documentation. The documentation is really, really hopeless. I learnt by looking at the public styles, and a lot of guesswork, and badgering kunzite1 and the people in s2styles.
What I'd really like is a minimalist, machine-readable style Minimalist should be doable. As for machine-readable, I think tinyjo has a way of making the Friends page available to RSS readers, so I suggest talking to her as someone who's clueful about this kind of thing.
it may be, of course, that the database loading involved dwarfs the effort of producing the HTML This is very much the impression I have, yes. Asking knowledgeable people is a good idea though. The problem with asking about stuff like this is that the developers have been promising for years that the Next Big Thing is going to be a system where you can subscribe to threads to get notifications when there are new comments. So you'll likely get put off with, don't bother, it's going to be handled from the LJ end soon enough.
How does your/cmshaw's layout cope with posts where the comments would span multiple pages? Not perfectly; it doesn't break, but it makes the comments chronological within each page. But I suspect that's all that's possible with the way LJ does comment threads. As it is it's kind of loading the whole comment thread, including the collapsed threads, in order to sort.
your navigation links to "n comments"/"add comment" (or their equivalent) are only active when the mouse pointer is right at the top of the region you'd expect Ugh, I know. They're partially behind a transparent image (the fancy corners from the bottom of my journal.) I can't find a way round this with CSS, so I think the solution may be to resign myself to having a huge gap at the bottom of my journal. Maybe I'll put a graphic in the centre so it doesn't look too unbalanced. Or maybe I'll give up trying to fit square text into a round frame!
It's so lovely that you have time to do cute geeky stuff again! We-ell, to be absolutely honest, I've been fiddling with this while I was supposed to be thesis-ing. The thesis was such a long-haul project, I got the point where I was really craving something to do that would be instantly rewarding. Sometimes playing computer games scratched that itch, but in the end I don't get that much of a sense of accomplishment from them. So I was playing with my webpage because it felt so nice to do stuff, and then the page would turn out all pretty. Rather than spend a whole day working and have nothing to show for it at the end but an incrementally bigger thesis.
Pretty journal Thank you! You are my web design guru, you know. When I was first starting out with this, I was learning from your book, and then your webpage was my inspiration, and I kept looking up all the stuff you put up for the language school kids to help with HTML.
Not sure about the icon-fitting-inage Can you explain exactly what you mean by that, please? I'm not particularly attached to the way I've incorporated the icons into the style; I definitely want them to be there, but I'm open to suggestions. Which icons in particular are you talking about? The ones associated with posts, the one at the top of the page, the ones in comments? Or all of them?
Can you explain exactly what you mean by that, please?
Sorry, I spend far too much time expecting sentences to mean what I want them to mean, and not enough time making sure they actually match up to how other people use the words. I meant in the posts - it looks a bit forced, having square icons butting up against that pretty rounded border. You could try centering (oh hell, I've forgotten how we spell that in English - HELP!!) it because then it would balance the straight line at the top in the middle, or making it display with a border like the border you're using for the posts, which wouldn't help the shape, but would unify it a bit more so it wouldn't matter.
I'm not much of an HTML guru any more, I fear. HTML moved on while I wasn't looking. Although I did just learn about style sheets, which was fun. I hijacked one of Dreamweaver's samples.
oh, and, modify original statement to read "It's so lovely that you have time to do cute geeky stuff without feeling guilty again."