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I'll admit that I've only very lightly dabbled in JavaScript before this.  I tried two books and got frustrated just skimming them.  I'm going to have to try another.  I spent yesterday trying to get better Search Engine hits for a very old animal care website I maintain.  Since I don't have Dream Weaver anymore, and this page uses templates I wasn't looking forward to it.  I have a spry menu and since I couldn't set it as a library item when I was using Dream Weaver I had kind of given up on being able to edit it once and have it dynamically change on all the pages.  So I've been opening every file and pasting the new menu in addition to fixing the page titles, changing my h3 headers to h1 and fixing page description and keyword issues.  I got all the CSS into one file and am using classes on the body tag to change colors.  I'm painfully proud about that as I redid this site last before learning advanced CSS.

This morning as I have 350 or so more files to open I thought what about googling java script menu load.  This  wonderful site popped up.  I did some programming in college (mostly crashed lab computers) so I really just need syntax and such.  It was painfully simple, and my new JavaScript menu file is also simple.  It is a set of 117 document.write commands with my spry menu list tags in them.  It took less then 20 minutes to work out the kinks and it freaking works.  I replaced the code on all the pages of the huge menu with 3 lines for the script call and a link in the header.  I think I'll make one for the footer as well, though I can change that with find/replace easily.  It was just the multi-line menu that notepad++ would not search through.  Using simple noscript tags I can just make them appear where the menu would if someone has JavaScript turned off.  This site is on a cheap shared server and I don't know enough programming to play with PHP outside WordPress yet, so I’m finding this an awesome solution.

Downside: I still have to open all those files, and now I have to reopen the ones I fixed yesterday.  It will probably also kill my XML sitemap as it will appear there are very few links on all the pages. 
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I fiddled with my portfolio contact page today.  I have some how avoided using forms in the last 10 years of web design.  I avoided forms for two reasons, number one had to do with a lack what to do with them (i.e. no databases running), and number 2 was validation.  I didn't want useless info, though I hadn't figured out what I wanted anyway.  When I worked at a small website the programmer did all the forms and database work, I jut had to leave space for them.  So far it turns out they aren't that hard. 

I mushed together 4 different script chunks with else statements, and spent a hour figuring out where the brackets went, but it does work now.  It is not pretty, but I'm not getting any errors and it is validating that there is text in each input, and that the phone number is all numbers and the e-mail address is at least the right format.  All in all I'm quite proud of myself for my first attempt. 

Tomorrow I'll see about limiting the length of the one textarea I used.  I also have to fiddle with my mother's business website and give it a contact form as well.  E-mail me links just don't look professional. 

I also finally decided that the wordpress I have been fiddling with is going to be my photography portfolio.  I'm a little too limited in using my design portfolio for photography.  WordPress would also be easier to update.  I'll probably be redesigning my mother's site as well with WordPress so she can change text as soon as it occurs to her, and post a blog as well. 

Now if only someone would come out of the woodwork and offer me a job doing this I'd be happy.  I really don't want to apply to that pet store chain again, but so far they are the only retail store that calls me back. 

WordPress

Feb. 3rd, 2011 05:23 pm
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After several hours I am finally figuring out how WordPress works.  I've been fiddling with the Twenty Ten Theme, since I assumed since it is the one you start with would make changing it easier.  Nope, full of overly obsessive CSS.  I downloaded a few other themes and their CSS is much cleaner.  Twenty Ten likes declaring classes and ids in several places, and not grouping them in ways that seem appropriate.  Admittedly I like there being so many classes, but not many of them were for things I was interested in.  I don't need 40 classes for comments.  I've been creating extra div ids to go around the existing ones to use some extra wide backgrounds.  I also wanted to fiddle with the way the dates showed up.  My CSS and loop files are starting to look a little odd. Firebug has been an absoulte lifesaver in weeding out what is doing what. 

Now I just have to decide what the theme of the site will actually be so I can create some visuals.  I want to do something with board game pieces and scrabble, but that probably isn't going to work out.  I am desperately missing when I had money for stock photos, rather than scrounging around for photos I've taken or stuff I can photograph.  I'm also not the best at coming up with the overall theme.  Give me an idea of what you want something to look like and I'm great.  Come up with the entire idea myself, not so great.  I also rarely plan out an entire design at one time.  I'm not so great at the big picture, more of a details person. 

It's too bad the WordPress posting interface throws iffy code.  I'd love to get this blog at least XML coded clean, I know CSS compliance is not happening.  That just means I get to play with opacity and all those other CSS3 things I want to try. 

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