Design notes
Site Design Notes
wherein the springs and mechanisms are revealed...
This site is not guarenteed to render properly on web-enabled Microwave ovens, wrist-watches or GPS devices. However, the electrons on this site are fully recyclable post-consumer content.

Read the accessibility statement for this website to know more about the accessibility-specific ehancesments that were implemented. The focus of this page is mainly on the non-syntactic issues that were handled.

Markup

I was unable to
find a robust
WYSIWYG editor.

This site was completely hand-written (hand-typed?), i.e., without the use of any WYSIWYG editors. This was not out of choice, but out of sheer necessity. I was unable to find a good WYSIWYG editor that could handle a website in an elegant, robust, standards-conformant way using external CSS that gracefully transforms in text-only user agents. So, resorting to good old text editors and my own brain for good measure, I set out to write these pages. Some utilities that have made life easy are:

Vim: A great text editor. The makers call it the editor. Its extreme configurability and compactness made it an instant and easy choice for me. Parts of the site were also written using the Microsoft Visual C++ IDE and the Evrsoft 1st Page 2000 IDE. Both Vim and the VC++ IDE have syntax highlighting for HTML and auto-indent. Also, I can easily convert source code to HTML at a keypress; not to mention the nifty macros in VC++ that help me insert tags and typeset and format text. Bingo.

Amaya: The open-source editor/browser from the World Wide Web Consortium. Amaya started as an HTML + CSS style sheets editor. Since that time it was extended to support XML and an increasing number of XML applications such as the XHTML family, MathML, and SVG. It allows all those vocabularies to be edited simultaneously in compound documents.

HTML TidyUI: A GUI add-on for the HTML Tidy Library Project. Serves as a touch-up artiste, a HTML validator and a W3C guidelines checker.

If you are aware of an editor that you think meets these standards, please let me know.


Testing

Well, this being a website and all, I didn't use any piece of software more sophisticated than uh, a web browser. I've tested the site on both GUI and Text-mode browsers (Opera, Mozilla, Internet Explorer and a few others; and Lynx and (E)Links), but if there appear to be problems with rendering this site properly on any browser, don't hesitate to point them out.

No fancy proprietary
extensions here.

This site was tested, if that is the term to be used, on IE, Opera, Firefox (on Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows 98 SE), Konqueror, Galeon, Opera, Mozilla, ELinks and Lynx (on Debian Linux) and on QNX Neutrino. I've tried to make the site viewable on any platform with any browser (that is to say, I haven't put any fancy proprietary extensions that makes you install ShockThis or FlashThat or ScriptKiddie 2.0. The site is written using just HTML4 and CSS2. If your browser does not display these pages properly, then it is probably the browser's fault. If you think otherwise, drop in a mail and I am willing to look into the problem.


Of course, testing a website using a browser is not proof of correct markup or design at all. For markup, I also ran this site through TidyUI and Amaya, turning warnings to the highest level. For a few cases (like table caption for Google SiteSearch), I have not corrected the errors pointed out to me by TidyUI, as I believe it is irrelevant in the context. These have been judgement calls, but I'm sure they have been straight and honest.



A little note

If you find your browser messing things up while rendering these pages, consider switching to a good, standards-conformant browser. I recommend Opera.

I don't have access to a Mac, so I haven't tested the site on it. If you have problems with this site relating to my non-compliance to standards, I will quickly fix it. However, I am not willing to waste my time fixing broken parts on non-standards- conformant browsers. Reports of broken links and other such mistakes are most welcome, and shall be looked into immediately.

Main content appears
before navigational links.

The HTML on this site has been designed to degrade gracefully in non-CSS-aware environs. In such a browser, I have taken care to ensure that the main content appears before the navigational links. This is by design, and is aimed at making these pages more accessible to people who use screen readers.


Scripts, cookies and other unnecessary evils

No cookies,
no scripts.

You need not enable any kind of scripting (JavaScript, JScript, VBScript...) to view this site properly. And no cookies shall be deposited on your computer. My aim is only to share information, not track which website you frequent the most. The only requirements are HTML and CSS. That's it.



Guidelines that were kept in mind

I've tried to keep in mind the piercingly true hard facts of bad design. I've also tried to comply with the Anybrowser specifications, and the W3C guidelines. If you think I've screwed up somewhere, drop in a mail, and your criticism shall be heard.


More

Read about many of the non-syntactic issues that were tackled in designing this site in a companion article: There's more to web design than just HTML.