solarbird: (pingsearch)
[personal profile] solarbird
I finally wrote up the design document for Coexistence Alpha. (Link goes directly to an .rtf.) Does this read coherently to people?

Date: 2017-05-08 11:28 pm (UTC)
annathepiper: (Final Test)
From: [personal profile] annathepiper
Looks generally coherent to me. :)

Date: 2017-05-09 09:58 am (UTC)
marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)
From: [personal profile] marahmarie
This part, emphasis mine: The default text size is outside the direct control of the style, being set in user preferences. However, it is set in em, which is unreliable across browsers. The default user text size should be set in px, which - despite the apparent hardware-related nature of the unit - is actually more predictable across browsers. I suggest 14px.

That will _probably_ never happen - but don't quote me, as I don't work for DW nor do I volunteer nor do I join in on their IRC, so I might be wrong. But using pixel-based design has been strongly discouraged across the web - at least for fluid, responsive, re-sizable designs - for years because it can't be re-sized, so even if a design scales up/down based on screen width exactly as it should, if the user wants text bigger or smaller than what the designer chose (from what I understand of the reasoning behind this) then they won't be able to have it, as the pixel basing makes it so browser font resizing doesn't work.

As there are likely people who don't have Dreamwidth accounts but surf to Dreamwidth links given to them by friends/found in Google etc, it has to be taken into account that at least a small segment of people won't have access to the Wizard to reset things themselves.

That said, it is of course for Dreamwidth to decide, I'm just throwing out thoughts for why they may not go with that (but they might: I want to stress that I have no idea, only that I think they chose ems for a reason).

The only suggestion I'd offer up otherwise is to change "Neutral Good for Practicality" throughout your paper to say something like, "many of Dreamwidth's layouts, including, in this case, Neutral Good for Practicality" and to back off more direct criticisms (like the line that starts with: "Neutral Good for Practicality, as currently set up on new user accounts, sends the eye back and fourth four times") because the vast majority of style sheets, likely including that one, are made by Dreamwidth's unpaid, volunteer coders, not site staff or admin, and many of those layouts are already several years old (and even older than that) so the volunteers weren't able to take cutting edge design (flat, compact, responsive, etc.) into account when they designed them, because those weren't really Things yet, and I can just see someone getting a bit sore should they run across your paper and see it as a critique of their coding of that particular style sheet, which I'm sure isn't your intention, but right now that is how it reads!

That said, I'm not criticizing you and hope you don't take it that way: I'm just trying to figure how your paper might read all around.

*goes back to reading the rest of it*

ETA all done reading through it. I know you asked if it was coherent (and it is, totally!) but I just thought I'd throw these thoughts on it out there, as well.
Edited (eta/more info) Date: 2017-05-09 10:15 am (UTC)

Re: pixels

Date: 2017-05-10 04:01 am (UTC)
marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)
From: [personal profile] marahmarie
Not that I'm showcasing any bastion of good design over on my own DW (you couldn't use my style sheet for ideas if you wanted to because the mobile functionality is written in backwards, which I did shortly before finding out I was supposed to make my design Mobile First, according to all the Good Designers; so after that I looked at my style sheet and considered re-doing it like they said, but then I was like, the hell with it - it's just for my ow personal use, so maybe next time I switch to a new style I'll try it) but fwiw I get around the fact that ems (and percentages, in my case, which I like even more) are a pain to work with for mobile design by over-sizing most of my break points. Like, if I should wrap some page element at exactly 750px for whatever reason, oftentimes I'll wrap at 775px or slightly higher. It keeps things - like text, usericons, post body user-added images, etc. from running off the visible/usable portion of the page - because everything starts re-sizing/getting re-scaled downward in size at least 20px before the re-sizing is even required.

Then again, I wrote my mobile end of things backwards, which might make anticipatory re-scaling a bit easier (I've never tried it the opposite/recommended way, so I really don't know).

But I mean, if that's specifically what gets on your nerves about not being able to write more of the code in pixels, that's how I get around it for the most part. Stepping back from using pixels so much annoyed me, too, for years (actually, my entire style sheet, including my mobile section, remained _in pixels_ until about 2014, when I very slowly and very badly began converting it over).

And yeah, resizing on iOS/Apple et al in pixels might be a thing but afaik is not on most other devices. The whole reason I converted my own layout was hitting the wall of being unable to adjust my DW's text size on my phone, which was running Windows 8 Mobile at the time! All it took was that, because then I thought of other people leaving my page after seeing they couldn't adjust my text size, either, and I was like, OK, the heck with it, I'll just try to convert everything.

Date: 2017-05-10 04:22 am (UTC)
marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)
From: [personal profile] marahmarie
Yeah, we're really used to bad design around here (I'm not kidding) so I can see why you'd want to drive that point home - I think everyone who's hung around DW for a while has taken bad design as one of the tradeoffs of being here, since the site has tons of unusual and particularly good features that really do differentiate it from Most Journaling Places.

And no, I'm not taking it bad at all, because I totally understand the desire to Make This Right that's driving you - I feel the same way, I've just never been one to pipe up much about it (although I have been known to go off the deep end about the navbar - a rant of mine which pre-dates this particular convo and previous ones we've had on it by many years). I think the reason I keep quiet on the design front around here is because my trade-off for putting up with all the bad design is I get to make suggestions in the Suggestion community for improving other aspects of DW and some of the extant functionality, and that does tend to keep my fires lit, so to speak.

Date: 2017-05-10 03:38 am (UTC)
marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)
From: [personal profile] marahmarie
Thanks for the many clarifications.

My hair did sort of stand on end last night wondering what the maker of the style and layout might think should they ever stumble across this (but that's actually two different people; the base style and a slew of initial layouts were all made by one person (user timeismymeasure) and many more subsequent layouts were made by a few others.

The original style submission:
https://dreamscapes.dreamwidth.org/43646.html

History of new layouts for the style: https://dreamscapes.dreamwidth.org/?tag=%7Epracticality&skip=20
(last updated in 2011 but that might not be a canonical resource to tell the entire history from)

The base style was made by them in 2010, which, just for emphasis, makes it seven years old. At that stage of the game Windows 7 for mobile (which actually jump-started flat design here in the States, afaik) was probably not even getting started. All these things I held in my mind as I read through the paper, which is the only reason I offered the suggestions I did.

That said, I had no idea (and don't know how I missed it, but thanks for making me aware) that Dreamwidth has (just recently, I guess?) adopted Neutral Good for Practicality as the site's new default base style. In light of that unknown to me fact, then yes, it does have - according to what you're saying (not too familiar with it, myself) a lot of problems to be the default offering for all users, so in in that sense it's indeed pretty appropriate to point out what's wrong/why it's wrong/what needs updating.

Maybe it would take the heat off it a bit to emphasize that back in 2010 all the things we prefer and need now, things we consider part of "a good style" (on the responsive/re-scalable/re-sizable tip, especially) were simply Not Much of A Thing back then (but that's just me: I'd focus more on what needs updating and less on _what's wrong with it_ per se, but if you're focusing on selling the updated design to DW then it does make sense to point out *why* it needs updating, not just *what* needs updating).

But everyone on DW/LJ (myself included) was pretty much still designing for wide screens back in 2010, which, as you probably know, is a much more forgiving design medium for overdoing certain elements (borders, I'm looking at you) and underdoing others (like coding the CSS and underlying HTML so there's any hope of re-sizing the darn thing on mobile without all hell breaking loose on-screen).

I'm glad the work you're doing now is to improve the "default layout" (I still can't believe I didn't know it was the new default!) because we've needed a good/responsive/more workable layout to present to new users forever. And I agree the poor styles DW has overall do tend to drive some away (only because I've seen people say so in the site comments _so many times_ over the years I can't even count up all the comments to that effect. This complaint has Been a Thing, lemme tell you!).

Best of luck with it. :)

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