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the pooks

Website development

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Before I get berated because this is off topic - I'm just honing my techie skills to place better caches!

 

Up to now I have had lots of fun learning about websites and html by using Microsoft Frontpage and the free webspace offered by my internet provider. In fact, I develop my cache listing in Frontpage and then copy paste the whole html into the space provided in the "edit listing" page.

 

However, I would like to explore other fun web site stuff, like how to add a comments section, a photo gallery, a main picture that changes everytime you open the page (or that changes all the time while looking at the page), and those funky pictures that look as if they burst apart and then reassemble themselves. The free webspace I get and Frontpage don't seem to be able to handle this more advanced stuff (the service provider specifically states "your free webspace does not support Microsoft Frontpage Extensions" which seem to be relevant to the fact).

 

Can you technos point me in a direction where I can self teach myself some web design skills? A friend mentioned Yola, but I am not excited by it - it is all online and and consequently a bit slow. I also do not feel in control of things. I prefer doing all the preparation offline and then uploading via ftp.

 

Thanks

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Agreed - I'm also keen to get into better cache page design.

 

Help would be greatly appreciated - remember I don't know basic HTML code - so need an easy program interface.

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I found it quite satisfying to use Notepad, although a 'bit' cumbersome.

I would be easier if I actually knew more tags...

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I found it quite satisfying to use Notepad, although a 'bit' cumbersome.

I would be easier if I actually knew more tags...

 

Thats right real programmers/web designers use text editors!!!!!

 

But for the rest of us there are other alternatives.

 

Dreamweaver is nice but expensive

 

Kompozer is free open source and works on mac linux and windows and is what I use to edit my own website.

 

Those fancy effects you are referring to often can be downloaded and used for free- you might have to be a bit more tech savvy to getany where though,

 

To make use of Frontpages fancier features your provider does have to offer the Frontpage extensions or else they will not work.

 

Yola is quite cool and you can get something half decent if you out in a bit of effort.

 

You could also have a look at the various CMS systems out there which can be tricky for a novice to setup but they can make updating a breeze.

 

I would recommend Wordpress which is a blogging system and there are tons of extensions for it that will most likely take care of all those things that you mentioned Pooks,

 

To use wordpress you have to have a database and not all webhosts offer you that, Although these days most do. If your web host does not a allow a database on you package you can always host your Wordpress site with Wordpress for free and it would have a url such as wordpress.com/yoursite. I think you can even register your own domain and have Wordpress host that all for free. You would have to purchase the domain though.

 

It is a bit of a learning process but you can do a lot out the box with virtually no technical experience.

 

There are also other blogging systems out there.

 

http://www.w3schools.com/ is an excellent resource for learning about html and css

 

You could also try http://www.webmonkey.com/

 

Or just google as there are many resources available out there!

 

Good luck and have fun

 

Trev

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I find it great when I read a cache description that is really fancy and has all the bells and whistles. I have recently started using Front Page and it is doing what I need it to do for me. That said though, I have noticed that when I access some of my pages from a computer other than my own [at work for instances] many of the fonts are not displayed as they "should" be. ;) I think this is due to my home setup being Vista :D [yes, shoot me down] and the work setup XP Professional.

 

However, the point I really want to make is this. More and more people are doing paperless caching and these really "fancy" cache pages present a bit of an issue here. Firstly, if you are using an on-line application such as a Blackberry, etc then it takes forever to download the information - depending on download speed - not to mention the data usage if you are paying per MB. Secondly, I use the gc.com application on my iTouch whereby I download the information and then save for off-line use. Once off-line the pictures and other "fancy" graphics disappear and you are left with the text only. This is not a problem unless it is a puzzle cache that relies on some graphics or such. With this in mind I have now started to limit my "creativity" on my descriptions not to include anything too fancy that might not be supported by some paperless applications.

 

I would be interested in what some of our "geeky IT dudes" such as DamhuisClan, BruceTP, Trev7000 and others might have to say about this. Also other users of paperless applications that have encountered some fancy description pages filled with graphics, etc.

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It is also important to note that anything that uses javascript will most likely be stripped out of the cache pages.

 

You would really be better off getting rid of the "tools" that tend to use proprietary widgets and can't be uploaded to all host/providers. The cache pages created by them also tend to be bloated with lots of unnecessary code.

 

Learn some basic HTML skills, open notepad and start coding.

 

With basic coding and some imagination you can do some pretty impressive things. Also it is good to understand that the use of lots of those "fun things" like exploding pictures are a sign of a newbi designer. Take a look at the professional sites you like and you will see very little if any of these things. With the exception of Adobe flash player I would hazard a guess that you don't find any of it.

 

Groundspeak for instance doesn't have any, Microsoft, the creator of Frontpage doesn't have any, even on the Expression Web page, the software that replaced Frontpage. Even Adobe doesn't use lots of flashy stuff on it's pages.

 

For profile use you can look at http://www.geocaching.com/profile/?u=ranger+fox or my profile to see some usage of the tags that are allowed on Groundspeak servers. I would say that my profile is pushing the limits and is dangerously close to being amateur with it's use of graphics.

 

For cache pages you can look at the Cache Across America - Series Final cache page to see what I consider to be the upper limits of what should be used on a cache page.

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Thanks for all the input. Lots of stuff to work on.

 

It's all good and well saying that "real web designers use Notepad" but that sound like hard work and trouble. Chances are you are going to make a typing error with all those brackets and slashes and then it is a mission to track the mistakes down.

 

I am aware that Frontpage does fluff up the html with unnecessary stuff. Somewhere on the main forums they suggested using Nvu (which I downloaded), but for the little bit I do I did not the extra fluff a problem - in fact copy paste the entire Fronpage generated html of a listing into the box provided and it works.

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The geocaching page allows HTML coding, is this the only coding that can be used? or is it the best one? what is the difference between this and others? Is HTML and CSS the same thing except in different format?

It seems to me to work quite well to use links on the cache page that are linked to a photo/picture hosting web site, This does seem to work, but is there a better or easier way of doing it? That way you can link to animated gifs/banners aswell.

Are any of the photo hosting sights better/easier to use than others, I have a few photos loaded up on "photobucket" but it seems a bit of a hassle to use? photo quality seems to be lost somewhere along the way between uploading them and linking to them from the cache page. Dont really understand it. I recently was trying to get a maze upoaded and seemed to lose quality, also a banner/heading that seems to have lost quality. The maze I eventually got right by taking a printscreen shot of then edited it in paint then saved as a gif, but the heading which is animated did not work, and the quality lost. grrrrrrrrrrr.

Maybe i should spend some more time googling all this, but maybe some of you have all the answers

 

Mike

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I used to do some web development, and know most of the older HTML tags, so I am quite happy to code my pages in HTML using a text editor.

(Using indentation, it is easy to keep track of tags)

 

I never try and go to fancy. As soon as one tries that, I would find that it either works just in IE, or just in FireFox.

 

KISS: Keep it straight and simple.

 

However the guys who are jazzing up their pages, go ahead, it is a fun way to learn a little more of the internet, and web page design, but cincol has a good point, so don't get to fancy.

 

I have spent a considerable amount of time on my stats page, to make it different from the normal GSAK pasted HTML text

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The geocaching page allows HTML coding, is this the only coding that can be used? or is it the best one? what is the difference between this and others? Is HTML and CSS the same thing except in different format?

It seems to me to work quite well to use links on the cache page that are linked to a photo/picture hosting web site, This does seem to work, but is there a better or easier way of doing it? That way you can link to animated gifs/banners aswell.

Are any of the photo hosting sights better/easier to use than others, I have a few photos loaded up on "photobucket" but it seems a bit of a hassle to use? photo quality seems to be lost somewhere along the way between uploading them and linking to them from the cache page. Dont really understand it. I recently was trying to get a maze upoaded and seemed to lose quality, also a banner/heading that seems to have lost quality. The maze I eventually got right by taking a printscreen shot of then edited it in paint then saved as a gif, but the heading which is animated did not work, and the quality lost. grrrrrrrrrrr.

Maybe i should spend some more time googling all this, but maybe some of you have all the answers

 

Mike

CSS (Cascading style sheets) is very much part of html these days. Basically your page layout and preferred fonts are kept in a separate file, so that you do not have to redefine those elements on each new page. I know very little about it.

 

I have annotated a picture or ScreenPrint in Excel (added lines, arrows, text). Excel has cropping, complex curves and dotted lines for instance, which Paint does not have. Then if you turn gridlines off and select>print area and select an area bigger than the picture and copy paste it to Paint, then you have your image merged with all your annotations. Saving as a tiff retains quality, but takes more space - I will have to experiment with that. Selecting the image alone will leave the annotations behind. I'm also concerned with the loss of quality when going the Excel-Paint route.

 

Question: Any suggestions for software for better image annotations (Photoshop is great with picture enhancements, but not annotations). Maybe Powerpoint?

 

Photobucket (I use Picasa) works well, but I like keeping my geocaching listing pictures on the Geocaching site. One can add images to your profile (quite elaborate - something like edit your profile avatar/image/upload images but do not choose any of them. They are there to link to). I have an archived cache that I use to add pictures that are not related to a specific cache log. Works quite nicely as you have a dated log as a title and then the pictures attached - almost like an album.

Edited by the pooks

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I use the GIMP.

It has the power off Photoshop, and is completely FREE to download and use. It can be quite daunting when you first use it, and the various windows don't make sense to us Windows users.

I did a tutorial on layering, somewhere on the web, and once that makes sense it becomes much easier to use.

I save my master images as XCF (native GIMP format), but export the images to PNG, GIF, JPG or TIFF for web or diary use.

 

@Pooks: What do you mean with annotation?

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...

@Pooks: What do you mean with annotation?

 

Adding text, lines, arrows etc for exaple i have a picture of a mountain and I want to indicate where the path is. Normally paths are indicated as dotted lines, but Paint cannot do that (they only have solid lines)

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OK. Gimp can do all of that, and you can do it on layers. Then when the final product is saved, you can decide with layers should be switched on or off (and which layer is on top of which layer).

If saved in XCF format, the layered info is saved in the file.

 

Should do exactly what you want it to do.

(However there is a learning curve, for 1st time users)

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...

However, the point I really want to make is this. More and more people are doing paperless caching and these really "fancy" cache pages present a bit of an issue here. Firstly, if you are using an on-line application such as a Blackberry, etc then it takes forever to download the information - depending on download speed - not to mention the data usage if you are paying per MB. Secondly, I use the gc.com application on my iTouch whereby I download the information and then save for off-line use. Once off-line the pictures and other "fancy" graphics disappear and you are left with the text only. This is not a problem unless it is a puzzle cache that relies on some graphics or such. With this in mind I have now started to limit my "creativity" on my descriptions not to include anything too fancy that might not be supported by some paperless applications.

 

I would be interested in what some of our "geeky IT dudes" such as DamhuisClan, BruceTP, Trev7000 and others might have to say about this. Also other users of paperless applications that have encountered some fancy description pages filled with graphics, etc.

 

I haven't experienced a major conflict of interest between the needs for paperless and a flashier listing. At the moment I am using SmartGPX for downloaded PQs and GClive for completely on the fly caching. Both provide text only listings but have a www link so that you can go to the full html listing if necessary. The bandwidth cost for the occasional time that you do need to look at spoiler pictures for instance is small compared to the time you are spending or travelling costs.

 

I think one has to accept that puzzle caches require homework. I would not easily attempt any puzzle or multi without investigating at home.

 

Now for the other situation - being out of cellphone reception/mobile internet access. These are normally caches out in the boondocks that require significant driving and hiking time. It is unlikely that one would invest a lot of time and money going for a cache without homework. The places where paperless comes into its own (too many caches to print out) is normally within cell reception.

 

GClive really works like a bomb for on the fly caching. The other day my GPSr battery went flat (OK I forgot to charge it) and I could find/attempt the 3 caches I had in my sights. I spent the afternoon caching, drove 100km with the bakkie and spent R2.50 on cellphone costs. The internet was the cheapest part.

 

Most of us (well I definitely do) spend quite a bit of my caching time at home looking at listings, writing logs, reading others logs. So I quite like it when a listing has extra pictures, maps, information about the site so that one can invest more time in the at home part of the caching experience. In the few caches I have, the paperless/text only version will still get you to find the cache, but the listings add extra for home enjoyment (I hope).

Edited by the pooks

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OK. Gimp can do all of that, and you can do it on layers. Then when the final product is saved, you can decide with layers should be switched on or off (and which layer is on top of which layer).

If saved in XCF format, the layered info is saved in the file.

 

Should do exactly what you want it to do.

(However there is a learning curve, for 1st time users)

 

I second The Gimp.

 

Also be aware that Nvu is no longer maintained so you should rather use Kompozer that adds to the old Nvu code base and is being actively developed.

 

As CapeDoc mentioned at our techno cache event recently, there is a very nice Firefox Addin called WriteArea which you can find here https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/6147

 

Another good reason to use Firefox if you are not already.

 

Write area takes care of the HTMLcodes for you and you do not have to edit your page in any other editor!

 

Have fun

 

Trev

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