A Whole New Style

I sat down to write today's post and realized it will be a bit meta. The blog's style has been updated - I'm sure you couldn't tell, right? I guess that means today's update is for those folks reading this in the far-flung future.

Whitespace Wackiness

The old styling had some serious issues with whitespace. The paragraph body text and headers ran into each other a bit too much. Bulleted and numbered lists were even worse with way too much space between items. Nested lists kicked that oddness up a notch. My significant other isn't all that much of a design snob but I knew we had a problem when she said something to me about several of the above problems.

Back to Roots

Most of you know that I'm a software engineer for my regular day job. The oldbies probably remember when I was working more with databases and doing analytics work. What you may not know, however, is that my first job in tech was web development and design.

It's been roughly twenty years since I had a professional gig to write HTML or CSS. My background always lands me on focus teams working with designers and web developers so, even though I've not done much of the actual creation work, it's not wholly unfamiliar territory. Armed with my knowledge of HTML 2.0 and CSS 1.0 I charged into the abyss of updating the blog's layout.

Wait, Did You Say HTML 2.0?

Did I mention it's been twenty years since I did any kind of work beyond simple tuning and tweaking? A lot has definitely changed. Mobile-first is the new hotness and involves a whole new array of things to consider. We can now write CSS like actual code with variables using this really nifty tool called Sass. The cascading style sheets standards have matured and, even though there are still issues, most of the nightmares that I still have about creating content are now solved issues or have fairly easy workarounds.

It's always humbling to polish up old skills. It took a couple of nights to get up to speed on the latest and greatest stuff. I started slow and focused on fontography and spacing issues. The list elements got fixed first with a little help from the great docs Mozilla publishes about the CSS standards. I spent a few hours fixing some mobile device issues with the help of an old friend; the internet.

What's next?

The whole experience was a lot of fun. It was a total throwback to all the great times I had at my first job and reminded me why I grew to love coding and development. The experience also provided some valuable lessons.

I realized how much I enjoy this particular kind of development. This doesn't really apply to RetroMud proper, however, it's a good thing for me to realize as a professional developer. The next couple months I will definitely be pursuing more skill updates in this arena.

This process also brought a lot more clarity to the RetroEQ and main website redesign projects. I have a much better understanding of what I should be able to speak to when working with consultants and asking questions. Twenty years ago liquid layout and CSS were just getting off the ground and we accomplished many of these tasks very differently. Little details like data containerization are much more complex now. The flexibility CSS provides also means there's a lot more pre-planning that has to happen to make the prototype we are creating from our sketches work flawlessly.

I hope you're as pleased as I am with the results of the new blog design. Send me your comments or feedback in game and, if you find any weird bugs, please mention the device type and browser you're using to help me fix them.