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BlueWolf's Howl

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November 19, 2005

Upgrade and Revamp

Not exactly the news flash you may have hoped for... but I figured I'd post about my recent upgrade. Thanks to Learning Movable Type, I was able to upgrade to MT 3.2 and *that* sparked a revamp of my site.

The upgrade was not simple, but it wasn't torture, either. The tutorial helped with a number of reminders. There were a number of things that were simple 'gotchas,' but they weren't that hard to find and were easily fixed by uploading files. Since the last upgrade, I had forgotten all the tweaks and additions that I had put into the version I was using. Some of the plugins are no longer available or are now part of a 'paid' package. Other plugins just don't work anymore (or don't work with MT3.2).

My biggest frustration in this area dealt with the "What Am I Reading" plugin. Amazon has a funny way of changing their code from time to time and the plugin code that worked a long time ago no longer works. I tried to sign up for AWS (Amazon Web Services) so that I could link my 'currently reading' book - mostly for simplicity of code rather than any pittance of points that I would get from a referral. But, the Amazon plugin and the current Amazon interface just don't match up. The plugin is looking for one reference number and the signup gave me a different type of ID. It all turned out to be more trouble than it was worth to figure it all out and I gave up on the idea altogether. WAIR was simple and worked. This took too much effort for what will probably be very little return. Perhaps some of that may be because I wanted to use it in a different way than they expected. I didn't want to publish my 'wish list' of books. I didn't want to do a search to display relevant books on the topic of my post. I simply wanted to pull in the image of the book and link to that book's page on Amazon. I didn't want to start a pseudo e-commerce site. Sheesh.

Most of the revamps that I did won't be noticable. Mainly they're all 'under-the-hood' type of things. People on Foxfire might notice, though. As I started to make my site a little better and smoother running... I got tired of chasing down obsure css tags. I needed things to be a bit simpler. So I basically pulled my site apart and put it back together again. Yes, I have 23 leftover screws. But they were unnecessary ones.

I decided to really use the modules and stylesheet the way they're supposed to be used. Well...kinda. Most of the modules simply carry the content. I saved the div tags for the Main Index, Category Archive and Individual Archive pages. I used the header tags in a context rather than in a hierarchy. This should keep everything together and allow me to change the page around with just a style sheet. The main difference is that I documented everything.

I created a new module called "Module Documentation" which carries all my little notes about each module. I put down where the module could be found, what's in it and what it's used for... All of this is neatly put into a text file that I can download and print. It will help greatly when I'm looking for similar code for a new module or looking for the module to update Item X on the site.

Then I got into my style sheet. I started off with a very simple style sheet - just body, html and link tags. Then I put each item in as I used it in my site. Above each item, I put a comment about the tag's use. Now I know what item affects what part of my site. I won't look at it later and say 'what the hell is that?'....'oooops, I guess I shouldn't have deleted it...that just screwed up xxx.' [announcer voice] I can now code with confidence.[/announcer voice]

One of the benefits of fixing my style sheet was that it fixed the look of the page in Foxfire. Apparently IE and Foxfire don't handle complexity the same way. When you put a class of a class inside a div id of a div id... well, things in Foxfire can go a little caca. IE didn't like it all that much either, but it just played havoc with the indentation rather than going for the default browser format. All the same... my code is now simpler and everything is lining up the way it should. Yea for the CSS deep cleaning!

Once all this was done, I decided to really live on the edge... I went to the Free Broken Link checker at Dead-Links.com. I was surprised to find only 32 dead links. By the time you read this, I'll probably have them fixed (or delinked).

I'm hoping that with everything more organized, I can upload all the things I have on my hard drive that I've been holding on to (waiting for a round 'tuit'). Only time will tell.

Posted by BlueWolf on November 19, 2005 06:00 PM