| Created: 03/11/05 | Last update: 20:46 08/09/07

This Site

The mechanics of simplicity, or Who's Afraid of Java?.

(This is the what of this site, for the why please see the Introduction).

I find one of the most irritating aspects of browsing the net is waiting for s-l-o-w pages. It's totally dead time. I want information, and I want it now.

“Making a Web page is really simple. All you have to do is fire up your page generator...”

...and make an unholy mess.

I started off following this advice using FrontPage, then trying a couple of others.

The HTML they produce is diabolical, buggy and bloated. It's bad enough having to deal with the wrinkles of different browsers without having your authoring tool fighting against you too.

Okay, I'll confess that I'm really an Assembler programmer and have written a fair bit of code of one sort or another. A while back a young friend took a mockup page I had generated and gutted it to one-fifth the file size simply by removing redundant markup. It rendered exactly the same but much faster and some bugs vanished. “I write my pages in NotePad” she said with more than a slight air of superiority.

Well some of these pages have been composed using only NotePad, but I mostly use NoteTab Lite (free) which has markup macros that give you automated manual control, and takes a lot of the drudge out.

So why not go Java roll-overs and animated GIF's against a sexy backdrop?

Time mostly. Mine because I don't want to write decorative programmes, and yours because downloading them would add nothing to the information you are looking for. This is a living archive, not an amusement parlor. On this site it's all about content. I see it as a shared workshop filing cabinet.

If you really want to play you can try some reduced windows and see how your browser tries to re-arrange the plain HTML pages into whatever window you set. Try that with a framed page. :) I actually think that throwing a whole bunch of images on a page and letting the various browsers sort them out is in itself a kind of demi-performance art.

Shannon's Law defines one bit of information as “that which reduces your uncertainty by half”. Decoration not only carries no information bits, it clogs up the channel and becomes noise for the real bits of information you want.

If someone offers me a Java Anode Load Calculator or whatever that they have written, or created an animated GIF that demonstrates or explains something well, it will go in, but such additional complexity must have a clear payoff. Not a bad design philosophy in general actually.

Very few guitarists use every chord in the book, and very few programmers use every instruction in the language. Most get by with a sub-set(*). So when the aim is to make a set of pages as accessable to as many people as possible, trying to remember the potential young, poor and disabled users who may be struggling under serious limitations (and computers make us all disabled to some extent), the coding needs to be as basic as possible.

A side benefit in writing for the slowest and worst equipped is that the lucky few who have an aircraft carrier connected to broadband should enjoy almost instant response time.

The central theme of this site is helping. Helping to repair. Helping to build. Helping to learn and understand electronic technology and the physics of sound and music.

And when all said and done it's the music, and peoples' primal inate reaction to it, that it's all about.

* Languages such as Dartmouth BASIC and Kernigan and Richie C are the cores on top of which various enhancements have been laid, MS-BASIC, QBasic, Visual-Basic; C+, C++, and so on. These enhancements generally maintain core compatability but add useful new functions as a super-set, making the core a sub-set.

Where code has to be portable (such as between different browsers running on machines of very different capacity) then the code must stick to the core sub-set and ignore those tasty new functions, such as scrolling banners, which only a few browsers will display correctly.

The “Bleeding Edge” is aptly named. The pioneers catch the arrows.

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