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Microsoft sucks. - Tina Marie's Ramblings
Red hair and black leather, my favorite colour scheme...
skywhisperer
skywhisperer
Microsoft sucks.
I'm going to take over the local Angel Flight wing newsletter. In preparation for my meeting tonight, I decided to put together a prototype in FrontPage. I'd never used it before, and after a 3 hours of cursing at it, I ended up with this. It's ugly, it's raw html that's going to have to be tweaked every time I want to change the text, and in general is totally unmaintainable.

I'd planned to make the real implementation be an XML file that contained the data, and an XSL file that contained the transform. That way, I could just edit the articles in the xml file, rerun the transform, and have a new newsletter every month, with a minimum of hassle.

So, without ever having done this before, I spent 3 hours yesterday afternoon generating an XML file (view source to see) and an XSL file. When combined with /usr/bin/xslproc, I get an html file that looks like this.

It's clean, it's simple, it's infinitely maintainable....and it didn't take me any longer then it did to generate a much worse page in Front Page. MS Sucks.

(Ace, if you have a few mins, would you run the final one (http://www.tripacerdriver.com/AFHouston/Feb05/) through your collection of browsers? I tested it already in IE6, Firefox, and Firebird)

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Current Mood: pleased pleased

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Comments
alioth1 From: alioth1 Date: February 16th, 2005 11:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Works great on Apple's Safari browser on OS X 10.3.8.

Safari uses KHTML, so I expect it will render fine on Konqueror (the KDE browser) too.
sgillbee From: sgillbee Date: February 16th, 2005 11:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's actually quite cool. I've never done XML and XSL transforms for HTML, though I've heard they are cool. Similarly, I've never done CSS, but I've heard its cool :)

As for your two docs, I see how they work. A couple of minor quibbles:

1. I would have thought the XML doc should have pure data. I see a bit of layout information in that doc (such as colors and image data). Probably I would have put the leftbar and headerbar stuff in the XSL file as part of the static layout. If you need a second layout, create another XSL file.
2. I (personally) like the color scheme and font and darker blue borders on the FrontPage version better. Its crisp and clean. But even on this one, I would tend to make the article titles bold.
3. I like the fact that the FP version has absolute width set on the master table. The XSL version does weird things when you look at it in a narrow window.
skywhisperer From: skywhisperer Date: February 17th, 2005 12:06 am (UTC) (Link)
1) I put the things in the document that I was going to change every month. The picture in the upper right will change, and the colors will change to go with the image, so those went in the doc. The logo in the upper left, on the other hand, won't change, so it went in the xsl.
2) It may still get a border here and there. But the FP was just too blue. It looked like a cartoon of a newsletter, IMHO...
3) I'm allergic to scroll bars. Table widths aren't valid HTML, anyway - it won't pass validation.
sgillbee From: sgillbee Date: February 16th, 2005 11:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Out of curiousity, did you hand-roll the XSL or use some kind of authoring tool?
skywhisperer From: skywhisperer Date: February 16th, 2005 11:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hand-rolled it. It was easy enough that it wasn't worth trying to learn a tool...
acelightning From: acelightning Date: February 17th, 2005 02:38 am (UTC) (Link)
it's mostly okay in Netscape 4.8, except that the middle column - the leftmost column of text - comes out rather narrow, compared to the right-hand column. and you might want to either knock the text font down one size, and/or use Arial (or your favorite sans font) instead of TimesNewRoman - even in IE, it doesn't look quite crisp enough to me. but it's perfectly readable and usable as it is.
skywhisperer From: skywhisperer Date: February 17th, 2005 03:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! It should be using Georgia, but older browsers might be ignoring the style where that is set...
sgillbee From: sgillbee Date: February 17th, 2005 05:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Arial is okay... I find myself really liking Verdana these days.
skywhisperer From: skywhisperer Date: February 17th, 2005 04:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! It should be using Georgia, but older browsers might be ignoring the style where that is set...
acelightning From: acelightning Date: February 18th, 2005 06:47 am (UTC) (Link)
i don't have Georgia - i've never even heard of a font called Georgia. i assume it's a serif font?
skywhisperer From: skywhisperer Date: February 18th, 2005 08:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's a very-slightly-serif. Originally a Mac font, but my W2K and XP boxes both have it available. It's the default font for my journal, too.

Anyway, I changed the first choice to be Helvetica, and the second choice to be Arial, although that's got to be the most boring font in existance.
acelightning From: acelightning Date: February 19th, 2005 12:55 am (UTC) (Link)
none of the links work now, so i can't see what the changes look like...
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