CSS improvements

HTML-savvy Oil Drummers may have noticed that I've been struggling quite a bit to get a liquid 3-column layout to render properly in all of the popular browsers. Well, reader xaxat finally pointed me to a solution that seems to work on all of the browsers I can get my hands on. So, in honor of TOD's 1st birthday, I present you with the new layout. The new layout no longer uses tables, the right sidebar no longer gets chopped off in Safari, and the page renders much faster in Firefox and IE.

Let me know if you have any problems!

Ads by blogads posts to the left of center and obscures the column of post text on IE6.0.2800.
Rendering speed vastly improved.

Thanks for your efforts.

It seems that this layout breaks in IE when the browser window is less than 600 pixels wide. Are you among the 9% of TOD readers that has an 800x600 display? If not, try making the browser window bigger.

I modified the z-index property of the center column so it appears "on top of" the sidebars. This should make the main content more visible.

1152 by 864. Don't fix the IE render on my account. Firefox is my preferred browser but there are times when I have to make do with what is available at work :-(
Doesn't disply correcting in IE for me, either.  (I usually use Firefox, but I checked in IE for curiosity's sake.) My display is 1153x864.

I suspect the problem is not the display size, but the text size.  A lot of people these days have huge monitors and high-res graphics cards.  Of course, that means text looks like microfilm when you're browsing a Web that still seems mostly designed for 800x600 displays.  The solution is to increase the text size.  Especially if you're north of 30.  But this does screw up the formatting of some web pages.

You might check to see what happens when you increase the browser text size settings.  


Yeah, at work I use 1600 x 1200 (so I can fit in all the AutoCrud menus on a 17" screen) which makes the text awfully small.  Here at home I use 1024 x 768.  I should probably try Opera again someday.  Does it still zoom?
Both IE and Firefox allow you to increase the text size.  It's under "accessibility" in IE.  You can set it ignore text size (if the Web page has a set text size) and use your preferences.  Firefox is easier - just get one of many extensions for controlling text size.  I used to use Textzoom, but I don't know if it's been updated for the latest version of Firefox.  I'm using Text Size Toobar now.
Yes Opera still zooms.

Using Opera 9, tech preview 2, works like a champ.  Touch the "+" on the keypad and blow it up as big as you want.  

BOP or Leanan: Can one of you post a screenshot of this problem?

If I had my way, everyone would be using Firefox. But according to our stats, 53% of TOD readers use IE, so I have to make sure it works for IE.

Wow!  53%!  This is proof that TOD users are more intelligent than the average 'net user!   ;-)

 Super G - I checked before I left work and it was fixed. I then minimized the browser window so I had three equal size columns and the blog text rendered correctly within its third of the browser window with no overlap. Firefox does the same with no problem. Also Opera 8.52

 Now just tweak the CSS to blow the ads off the screen altogether - Oops, forget I said that. Just trying out my Cherenkov imitation. Still needs work :-)

Looks okay to me this morning, too.  The login box is cropped off at the end, but you can probably use it even so.

One weird thing I noticed: when you click on a thread, the two sidebars don't display.  Not really a problem; makes the thread very readable.  Very odd, though.  The sidebars display in Firefox fine, but just aren't there at all in IE.

i am running IE on a macos x 10.1.5
as far as i can see i cant update to safari
without buying 10.3.
thats a no go for me, I'm a luddite with a free
computer and free broadband!!

lefthand bar is still in the middle of the screen

however everything is much faster
and i can skip between applications,
something i couldnt do before.

if i can download something please tell me,

thanks super G
you the man

Have you considered using free Firefox instead?  
yeah tried that earlier, but it crashed, wouldnt even open :(

thankyou leanan

I just looked at the Site Meter stats.  I can't believe someone is actually trying to view this site with a 240x320 screen!  That's addiction for you!  ;-)
Must be a phone of some sort.
If someone wants to buy me a web-enabled phone (complete with monthly service), I will make TOD mobile-friendly!
It was prolly me. I test phones for a living. It was either an HP iPaq or a Palm Treo 650.

BTW, great job, Super G! I'll have to look at it on a phone now.

Palm Treo 650

I've pulled this up a number of times on my Treo 650. Works OK.  I do it when the withdrawal gets too bad and I need a fix before I can get to my laptop.

Super G, there's ways you can test for phone-based clients and generate an optimized page for the itty-bitty screen size.

P.S. I discussed wind power scalability issues with my friend in the business.  As a courtesy to him, I did tell him that it was research for public consumption.  So what I know is necessarily general.  I want to do some extra reading to fill in some blanks.

As I said in the other thread, SG, you are the man.
think i might be repeating
the first post!!
 the left handbar
 has moved into the centre
so i cant read posts properly
that are at the top of the page
and this is as far as ican type

i am reading this through
explorer on a macx OS

Wow!  Heaps faster here with Firefox.

I've got the 'FasterFox' extension and the pages were taking over 50 seconds to download most days (mostly due to the off-site stuff).  But the last few pages I've looked at have loaded in about 15 seconds!

Great Job!  As you Americans would say.

Much faster, and I am a Firefox user as well.

Thank you, and very nicely done!

There was always the most annoying problem where if I go to post a comment, I could start typing, and something would sieze focus and change it to somewhere else on the page.  Usually I would have to wait quite a while to let the thing settle before I could write a comment.

As best I can tell, that problem seems to have been corrected.  Or maybe it is just because the page was rendered so much more quickly.  Either way, no complaints.

Works fine in Opera. Fast.
No longer are the right side of  my posts being typed blindly
under an ad. Thanks! And Thanks for all your work.
two things.

1.larger images then the width of the text collom in the middle get choped off by the right collom.

2.plase state on the main page that this site needs java and java script enabled or you cannot post.

both of these apear in Epiphany version

JavaScript is no longer required to leave a comment. Thanks for the tip.
good work, Super G. Now I can copy your solution instead of futzing with it when I have time. A few comments on browsers and their users. If you currently use IE and don't want to try Firefox, you are like the fellow who wears dark socks and lace dress shoes with shorts. Go on. Give it a go. If your sys admin won't install Firefox, get back to work and visit the Oildrum in your free time. If you are interested in the subject of why IE6 is not up to snuff, read Eric Meyer (da Man when it comes to CSS) on IE 7. As for bigfootvegan, Microsoft stopped updating IE 5.2.3
In June 2003, the Microsoft Macintosh Business Unit announced that Internet Explorer for Mac would undergo no further development, and support would cease in 2005. In accordance with published support lifecycle policies, Microsoft ended support for Internet Explorer for Mac on December 31st, 2005, and is not providing any further security or performance updates. Accordingly, as of January 31st, 2006, Internet Explorer for the Mac is no longer available for download from Microsoft. It is recommended that Macintosh users migrate to more recent web browsing technologies such as Apple's Safari.
And now back to the decline and fall of the Empire.
I don't use Firefox just because it doesn't work properly. It misinterprets some Javascript code and some colour background tags. This is especially annoying if you're programming ASP.NET pages.

I may suggest Avant Browser a free dustribution browser which has none of this problems with the same (or better) ease of use.

Tried Avant, hated it.  Wouldn't even let me sort my bookmarks the way I wanted.

I love Firefox.  There are a few pages that don't display correctly, but they are getting fewer and fewer all the time.  

What I most love is that there are extensions that do almost anything you can imagine (including post HTML to blogs like this one).  And you only have to load the ones you use.  (Ad-Block has made the Web so much more pleasant.  Not to mention faster.)

And it's a pretty lean and mean program.  You can usually install it even if you're not an adminstrator, because it doesn't entangle itself with Windows' innards the way many other programs do.

Hate at will.

My preference for Avant comes from the fact that it's a Multiple Document Interface aka MDI. You can play arround with the tabs on the browser, change size, drag them arround etc. And of course it interprets correctly my asp code.

By the way what was your problem with the Favourites folder(s)?

I can't remember exactly what it was.  I think it put them in alphabetical order, and wouldn't let me change that.  Or something like that.  It drove me crazy.  I hate IE, but I hated Avant even more.  

I always loved Netscape, so Firefox has been a dream come true for me.  

xaxat I dont know what lace dress shoes are but I dont like the sound of them.

I have now gone over to netscape navigator and that is working just fine.

Hi Super G.

I use Avant Browser and I'm having that under 600 pixels problem. In the post comment page it is worst than that (try it with IE).

Here's a print screen of it.

I'd like to use Firefox too, but it doesn't interpret correctly ASP.NET generated code. That's why it hasn't completely overcome IE.

I can live with it this way, after all it's the ads that go away.

That print screen is 300 Kb. Sorry forgot to say that.
I found 2 additional problems:

  1. When I adjust the tab's hight the right column simply desapears.

  2. When I scroll up and down, the blue background on the blockquotes and on the comments header desapears, entirely on partially (haven't found why).

You should experience theese same problems in IE.

As for the width problems try to shorten the value of min-width in the body style. If min-width is lower the side-columns should be present at a lower tab width.

When I scroll up and down, the blue background on the blockquotes and on the comments header desapears, entirely on partially (haven't found why).

I'm seeing it too. It sounds like this bug, except that it's occuring in top-level comments, which aren't inside a dl tag. Weird.

Hi again.

Can you tell me what's the problem with simple code like this?

It doesn't solve the speed problems, but it is all HTML standard.

If a browser doesn't support standard HTML one should be pragmatic and drop it, don't you think?

The problem with it is it uses tables to lay out the page. Now what is the problem with using tables? I really can't say except that professional web weiners dont want to use them anymore. Or is it something about usablity I dont know. All I know is layout out with tables to get it to do what you want on the screen is super easy. Doing it with layers/divs seems to be a hack-filled pain in the ass. I dont know why people want to lay out with divs.
Web development makes a good part of my work. I really don't see the problem of using tables. DIV tags can help you to design roll down menus and other pimpy stuff, but not much more.
Internet Explorer, the most commonly used browser in the world, has problems with tables.  While many would love to drop support for IE, it's really not practical.
TOD's goal is to reach as many people as possible. For that reason, we must be pragmatic. The shift from a table-based layout to a purely CSS-based layout was not motivated by any dogmatic notion of separating form from content. I chose a CSS-based layout because it gives the best performance.

Internet Explorer's table rendering algorithm requires that the table's entire contents be loaded before the table can appear. In the table-based layout, the entire content of the page was inside a table, so a user had to wait at least 5 seconds before the content appeared. Using a CSS-based layout solves this problem.

I've never tried it, but I think you can use a Javascript function to load the contents later with a timer. If I manage to do it I'll tell you.

Still I've no problems with this new layout, I can see the posts and comments clearly. It just seems to me that a table based one can be better than this. Better said than done though.

Ahh see I knew there had to be some real practical reason ;) Thanks for the info and for what its worth I think the site is lookin great (FireFox on winxp sp2) :)
If a browser doesn't support standard HTML one should be pragmatic and drop it, don't you think?

Are you making an argument against supporting Internet Explorer?

I was talking of HTML not CSS. I don't care much about IE I don't use it.
Looking really good with Safari 2.0.3 (417.9.2).
Very fast loading on a 'not too fast' DSL connection.
One thing that confuses me:

When I look at the list of articles on the home page, I see one with (14 new, 28 total).  When I eventually navigate through other articles to that page (using the next or previous topic menu at the top), the comments show (0 new, 28 total) at top & bottom, but there are 14 new comments.  I would think the new comments would still be unread.