H3RALD.com v8.1 Released

Featuring a a brand new newspaper-like design, powered by HTML5 and CSS3

Just over a year ago I released the 8th version of this web site. The biggest change then was abandoning the Rails-powered Typo blogging platform in favor of nanoc, arguably the most versatile static site generator out there.

A year later, I am still very happy with nanoc, hence there’s no need for another major release. Nonetheless, I decided to improve the site’s overall design and image, making it (hopefully) easier to use and more pleasant to the eye.

I always had a problem finding the right theme for my web site. I always wanted to find something related to the word herald, so in the last release I went for a herandry-oriented theme. For this release, I decided to go for a newspaper-style layout: after all, the word herald is often used in newspaper titles, and I picked the name “h3rald” after the International Herald Tribune.

Also, I was desperate to try out the new features offered by HTML5 and CSS3, and a newspaper layout seemed a good excuse to use columns.

Browser Compatibility

Although I shouldn’t really say this, the site is meant to be viewed with a WebKit-based browser, really. It works in other (modern) browsers (read: no IE6), and it degrades more or less gracefully if a particular feature is not supported.

That being said:

  • IE7 and IE8 just barely render it (Javascript is used to “patch” the DOM with the new HTML5 elements)
  • Firefox 3+ renders pretty much everything right.
  • Safari and Chrome render the site as it is actually meant to be rendered

Nobody ever died from not being able to see CSS3 rounded corners anyhow. The most important thing about this site is its content, and I made sure that whatever browser you’re using you can still read it.

Columns and hyphenation

As I previously stated, I couldn’t wait to try out CSS3 columns so I kinda went crazy on the home page, but just there. Some may argue that they are not suitable for web use of course, but I think they contribute to give the site layout a unique feeling.

The problem with having columns is of course text alignment: justified text looks good, but unless you hyphenate text properly it shows a lot of blank space. Luckily, I discovered hyphenator.js, which solved the problem nicely.

CSS and layout improvements

I made a point out of improving the old stylesheet to make the site easier to read and generally prettier. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but still, I think the new stylesheet brings some improvements, especially concerning text (the Gentium font is used throughout the site) and syntax highlighting.

Moreover, I worked on streamlining navigations across different sections of the site, in particular on article pages:

Under the hood

Besides appearence, the new site also features some improvements in its underlying business logic. In particular: