Geoff Chappell - Software Analyst
Ideally, the changes that started in February will go unnoticed. More likely, there will be problems. The site’s scripts and stylesheets are being reworked. There was a growing list of small motivations that I had put off as not worth doing one by one until I had time for the obvious big task: removing FRAMESET and FRAME in favour of DIV and fixed positioning.
With that under way, I finally got to the more visible redesign of the document panel on the right so that pages have reasonable width for easy reading even when the browser is maximised on a huge monitor. At the other extreme, I’ve attempted some responsive design for reading on narrow screens, at least for pages of introductory and non-technical material.
Inevitably, once I started, I accepted that a thorough reworking has been a long time coming. It’s not that the scripts and stylesheets were poor or even non-compliant. Though I must yet rewrite the scripts that support the Table of Contents (TOC) that shows in the left panel of what used to be a frameset, I find I’m even quite proud of this TOC: how much better would my own occasional browsing of reference material on the Internet be if everyone’s navigational support was as capable as I think mine is!
Still, there’s much that can be done and the website will be much the better after this reworking, which is easily the most substantial since the scripts were written in 2007. There will be tweaks on and off through the month, continuing for who knows how long. There surely will be glitches, too.
A revised Browser Guide summarises what I aim to support by way of browsers, and continues with some explanation of my reasoning—or of attitudes and prejudices. Also updated is a list of Known Problems. Some have workarounds. Mostly, they are known problems in the sense that I don’t expect ever to have solutions. As for problems that I know from having solved or worked around them— or just been frustrated to find that the standards really are so deficient—I have started working on what I imagine will develop into a small series.
Some unexpected fruit from the web programming is that I have made the large tables of HAL and kernel exports interactive. The scripts provide buttons so that the hundreds or thousands of exports can all show in one table, as before, or in categories to show and hide separately.
For this particular exercise in web programming, it is very much that Internet Explorer is the stand-out case for awkwardness. No browser makes light work of expanding all the category tables for the page of three thousand kernel exports, but as I’ve learnt more about web programming I’ve brought the responsiveness within reach of what I consider acceptable except for one case: yes, Internet Explorer, but only while its Developer Tools are open. Then, but not ordinarily, the Expand All operation takes tens of seconds. I can’t welcome the thought but sometimes perhaps it really is that the tools are broken!