Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Learning New Stuff

I don’t know how many of you have keeping up with reading my updates, but in case you don’t know the Kingland site that I designed is now up. As I’ve been going through and making updates to the site optimizing everything I can I’ve had to learn some new stuff. I put in some work with asp code for all of the active server pages. Most of that work is done and I probably only have a few small asp updates to do, but it was fun to learn and I hope to do a little asp work on this site sometime, maybe as a way of accessing all of the archives instead of me doing html work by hand for each update.

Now that most of the asp work is done, I’m looking into creating a cascading style sheet for the entire site. A style sheet for the site will be nice since I can just define the style for each section of the site in one spot instead of formatting the text in each section of the site to match the rest. The only thing is, I’ve never worked with style sheets before so I’m learning how they work which means a bunch of reading of tutorials and definitions. I don’t mind reading so much, but when it’s going over syntax and code examples it gets a bit tedious. To complement the CSS reading that I’m doing, I’ve also been reading up on some javascript tutorials on how to make tooltip popups on web pages. I’d like to have it so that when someone hovers over a selection or title on the Kingland site there would be a small box that would come up explaining what that portion of the page is for.

It’s actually fun trying to gussy up the site and make it pretty and efficient. So far as I’ve gone through optimizing everything I’ve eliminated probably 20 html pages or more and easily 50 images that were just multiples of the same image but output into different directories when I exported the original site templates from photoshop. Once I get all of this web work done, and after Stefan, the other intern in the office, leaves at the end of this week, I’ll also be taking over all of the technical writing duties. This is basically going to be me focusing on finishing the user’s manual for Kingland’s Independence program. Considering the release notes are extremely long, I think the final manual will probably be at least 100+ pages in length, but unfortunately it probably won’t be all that interesting to actually read.

I was thinking, wouldn’t it be way cool if a manual was written in a narrative style? Instead of sticking to the tried and true method of just explicitly stating the programs options and how you do certain things, why not go through the operation of the program as if it were a story. I would love to open up a manual that started, “On a hard drive in a computer far, far away…” Think of all of the different styles of manuals you could have according to different authors. Stephen King could write about a rampant operating system that slowly took over your computer and haunts it to this day. Tom Clancy might craft a tale of two conflicting word processors, each trying to subtlety outspy each other and anticipate their next keystroke. Alan Moore could craft a graphic novel about a super program that is coming to grips with the sheer amount of responsibility it possesses. The possibilities are endless!

No comments: