Linked by Eugenia Loli on Sun 10th Feb 2002 23:42 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes After more than a week of coding, the updated OSNews design is pretty much done. While a lot of you (including myself) prefered the older, simpler & cleaner design, which was also much faster to load and even rendered nicely on... text-based browsers, this updated design was necessary. We had to expand PriceGrabber (part of the deal) so we can get some revenue to be able to pay for our (always on-the-increase) bandwidth needs, and the only way to do so was to add a vertical bar. Also, we needed to add more menu items (check out the massively updated "OS Resources" and "Advertise" pages), so we had to make the menu vertical (the 765-pixel wide horizontal menu was not a scalable option anymore). UPDATE: I just added better support for Lynx, Links & W3M text-based browsers. *You will have* to load www.osnews.com/home.php instead of the plain www.osnews.com though because the default index.php is actually static (generated on-the-fly every 1 minute) so it won't work with my PHP text browser detection code. UPDATE 2: Better AvantGo support added.
Order by: Score:
I like the new design...
by dag on Sun 10th Feb 2002 23:59 UTC

I like the new design quite a bit, I think its actually a bit easier to use (case in point : the comments are easier to read the way they are formatted now). Keep up the excellent work.

Great stuff...
by CattBeMac on Mon 11th Feb 2002 00:01 UTC

It is looking good Eugenia!

Threaded comments
by fatius on Mon 11th Feb 2002 00:07 UTC

Threaded comments, that would be a nice feature indeed.

Looks great though. Cheers.

as long as the articles are good ...
by rp on Mon 11th Feb 2002 00:13 UTC

as long as the articles are good ...

okay
by DavidGentle on Mon 11th Feb 2002 00:31 UTC

The new design is fine.
Not sure about threaded comments. I always find them a little annoying.

Design
by OS Observer on Mon 11th Feb 2002 00:46 UTC



No don't worry about threaded comments. I think this is just fine. I like the new design.

Threaded?
by LinuxDude on Mon 11th Feb 2002 01:01 UTC

Are you sadistic? Why would you want threaded comments?

Current:
Scroll with arrow keys, scroll bar, or (my fav) mousewheel.

Threaded:
Click, back, Click, Click Deeper into thread, Deeper again, back, back, back, click next topic, back to tree to find where you are, Click next topic, back, [...]

The design looks good Eug. I agree too that the previous looked better though. You did what was required to keep the site running, and you did it without idiotic click the monkey games or deceptive blinking/flashing/strobing banners. Keep up the good work.

Re: Threaded?
by Eugenia on Mon 11th Feb 2002 01:09 UTC

>without deceptive blinking/flashing/strobing banners

*cough*... actually, unfortunately, the ValueClick advertising company that loads in our ad space when we have unsold inventory at TribalFusion's ad servers, sometimes it loads that stupid flashing banner. But there is no way I can only take out a single ad that I don't like. The whole ValueClick ad serving facility would have to go, which is not so good if we did that. ;)

Lucky Me.
by LinuxDude on Mon 11th Feb 2002 01:21 UTC

I must be really lucky because the last 20 or so times I've signed in I've gotten the "Sonork" or Rackspace ones, never a monkey or "YOU HAVE 1 EMAIL WAITING!" one.

Ads
by OpinionBoy on Mon 11th Feb 2002 01:31 UTC

I never see any annoying ads here. I have scripting, java, activex and animation behaviour disabled in Norton Internet Security 2002. Can't stand the web without it.

Watch out CNet, here comes OSNews!
by yc on Mon 11th Feb 2002 01:38 UTC

Very nice work indeed!

Keep up the good work folks.

ciao
yc

New logo
by catharsis on Mon 11th Feb 2002 02:07 UTC

The new logo is pretty cool too. Great work, Eugenia (& co?)!

nice :)
by Kevin on Mon 11th Feb 2002 02:34 UTC

Nice! But I still don't understand what was wrong with the old desgin!

just kidding ;)

Eugene,
by Another matthew on Mon 11th Feb 2002 03:01 UTC

Considered text-ads?

Under Lynx...
by marco on Mon 11th Feb 2002 03:24 UTC

The navigation has become more cumbersome due to the
looong list of pricegrabber links ;)
I'm not paying for OSNews, fair enough, but Linux Today
detects Lynx and whether it actually formats the page
in some special way or not it's still by far, far the most
Lynx-friendly site I visit...

pop ups
by Brad on Mon 11th Feb 2002 03:25 UTC

The one thing I would like to see go is the pop up ad, I understand needing ads and it would be fine if it was inbedded in the page. I just hate closing my browser and having it there. I keap mis-clicking on it which launches a new page. very anoying.

The no threads thing is good, I can come back and see that there is a few new comments and find them fast since there at the end. No searching. What ever happens don't make this forum like the slashdot one, it has the worst layout ever. Not all threading is bad, I liked the old Benews forum, it was very simple and clean, but I understand the server wasn't happy about it. Never the less the site is great. And enjoy the new apartment.

OpenBeOS
by Assem on Mon 11th Feb 2002 04:00 UTC

Hey....

You forgot to add OpenBeOS to your OS Resources section.

I won't be surprised to see some popup adds one of this days. It's kind of dissapointing, cuz i know, from now on money talks on this site.

anonymous coward
by dave_sn on Mon 11th Feb 2002 07:28 UTC

...It's kind of dissapointing, cuz i know, from now on money talks on this site....

Maybe you've got a better way to pay bills?

Fixed width?
by obi on Mon 11th Feb 2002 08:13 UTC

I wish you wouldn't have gone for a fixed width layout - it's bad for people who increase their font size or people with large screens, which means more and more people these days.

I'm 1600x1200 at the moment, and OSnews is a column taking 1/3rd of the width.

Could you use a relative size instead of absolute?

Otherwise the look is nice, and the ad doesn't bother me.

Re: Fixed width?
by Eugenia on Mon 11th Feb 2002 08:23 UTC

>I'm 1600x1200 at the moment, and OSnews is a column taking 1/3rd of the width. Could you use a relative size instead of absolute?

That was the idea. Personally, I never maximize a browser window... If I make it variable width, it looks pretty crappy (because of the way the logo/ad is placed) and the headers will wrap on lower resolutions. Ugly...

The only real reason to use variable width, was that the 640 users were bitching because they had to scroll left and right all the time. Now, with the new design, they can read osnews without a problem. I do not think that I will ever make OSNews variable width. There is not a real point anymore (do not maximize your browser, it will still take the SAME height space even if it was variable width, due to the vertical bar - I run my desktop usually at 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 under XFree, but I never maximize a browser window ;) .

Am I the only one...
by Charlie on Mon 11th Feb 2002 09:16 UTC

...that finds those horizontal green bars damn ugly!

Nice otherwise.

Good work
by Don Cox on Mon 11th Feb 2002 09:24 UTC

It looks good, it's easy to read, and most important to me, it works
on low tech browsers without Javascript or CSS.

Please keep it that way.

Great site
by KinkyClown on Mon 11th Feb 2002 09:26 UTC

Love the site and it's new makeover. And yes I will use the 'Send to a Friend' function.

Looks good. Bars, and colors.
by Marques on Mon 11th Feb 2002 09:46 UTC

Don't take this seriously, it's just a very personal impression on the fly of how I like to see things aesthetically displayed.

Somethings that need to be design "cleaned" to make this site completely neat INMHO (of course), are those upper four separator bars and the website colours.

I like simplistic web design generally, specially for just reading. I am daltonic yet I count 7 colours (including black & white, and excluding ads). The price comparison shop adds two new colours that could be replaced for two existing ones.

Except for that little shadow, the OS news logo has come out very nice. Those four upper separator bars don't seem to fit anywhere. They really don't serve any purpose, couldn't you just eliminate those bars, or make 'em plain green?

Anyway, contents is what really takes me here.

My USWD awards to the Ultra Simplistic Web Design go to...
<a href="http://www.tinyapps.org">TinyApps.Org, where small is beautiful.

http://dfarq.homeip.net">the by David L. Farquhar, a simplistic diary.

And last but not least, one of the truly greatest of them all, http://www.softpanorama.org/index.shtml">SNDP )






I forgot to mention TheRegister.co.uk
by Anonymous on Mon 11th Feb 2002 10:21 UTC

It only has 5 colours: blue, red, white, black and grey. No bars at the top, see who needs those ugly bars?
Separation is done by changing font color rather than background (thinking of the Price Comparison shop).

Otherwise it somehow has a similar organization, except for their flashy big colorful ads, that point goes for you.

green bars
by poisti on Mon 11th Feb 2002 10:34 UTC

I like the new layout except for the green bars and please don't use threaded forums ... ;)

Very nice!
by danlu on Mon 11th Feb 2002 11:02 UTC

But again the bars...they are ugly :-)

Don't add threads until it's an absolute must.

Nifty outset look
by Rogier on Mon 11th Feb 2002 14:21 UTC

Hi Eugenia. I kinda like the design too. But I noticed that the nifty inset look of the news items borders do not work in Opera. I could resist the challenge, s recreated it with some other code, just for kicks ;-). This works in both IE and Opera, and gives the same look as far as I know:

.table {
background : #DDE3DD;
border : 2px;
border-color : white;
border-style : groove;
}

Haven't tested it in Moz so far...

Rogier

Two comments
by Damien on Mon 11th Feb 2002 14:48 UTC

Firstly, regarding the fixed/variable width page, maybe you could use Javascript to detect the window size, and if it was smaller than, say 600px you could set it to a fixed width, and for anything larger you could set it to variable width?

Secondly, regarding threaded comments, please consider having the comments nested ala Slashdot, rather than having to click on each comment ala Phorum.

Damien

as I read this right now..
by Evan on Mon 11th Feb 2002 14:54 UTC

the most annoying capitalone banner add is shaking on the screen and could possible induce seizures in some people think you could do anything about that?

lynx navigation
by Dave Poirier on Mon 11th Feb 2002 15:08 UTC

I know it's a bit unconventional but I've noticed that a lynx viewed page will be more navigable if the menu is on the right of the news instead of on the left. That way all the pricegrabber stuff would be after the news rather than before.

Is anybody against having the menu on the right part of the screen rather than on the left?

I'm not a big fan of the bars either, I think the current tables with fine borders and such makes them useless.

yeah
by Evan on Mon 11th Feb 2002 15:35 UTC

if the thing was on the right I could block the annoying seizure inducing ads too! ;)

well there is alwasy my 'togge images button' in Opera so either way.

Looks good Eugenia
by Mystic TaCo on Mon 11th Feb 2002 16:16 UTC

I personally like the new look, and the banners don't really bother me. Most of the time I've scrolled off the top of the screen, and don't see the banners anyway.

As far as width goes, the width works for me. Of course, I also never use full screen unless forced to by insufficient screen real-estate (1024x768 yuck!).

The new logo is very cool.

I don't think threading is the right answer, but I do think we need a better way to view comments. There is just getting to be so much comment traffic on this site that it is hard to parse it all. Maybe we could have a 3 liner description, then a full body comment if you choose to open it? This would mean a round-trip to the server on non DHTML compliant browsers, but could be written to be very fast on the back end. You'd also need to introduce browser detection code, and have different renderings for those which support DHTML and those which do not. Maybe this approach is too much work for too little reward. Of course if you *were* rendering different code for different browsers, you could make the % width thing work for the IE folks.

Oh 1 more thing:
by Mystic TaCo on Mon 11th Feb 2002 16:16 UTC

Why do we only get 15 comments/pg now? I liked the 25 model better.

Answers to most of you
by Eugenia on Mon 11th Feb 2002 16:53 UTC

>those horizontal green bars damn ugly!

Please suggest another kind of bar then. Because without these bars, TRUST me, OSNews looks like crap, kinda bald.

>Make it simple like TinyApps.com

Excuse me, but that web site is WAY too simplistic. It looks like it is 1996 again. Sorry. OSNews is already simple. It used to be more simplistic, but even today, it stayed pretty simple.

>But I noticed that the nifty inset look of the news items borders do not work in Opera.

This is because Opera do not support BORDERCOLORLIGHT, as this is an IE property. IE users are about 70% of our readers.

>This CSS works in both IE and Opera, and gives the same look as far as I know:

I was actually thinking about using CSS for the table border just yesterday. I will experiement with this in the near future, after my move.

>Firstly, regarding the fixed/variable width page, maybe you could use Javascript to detect the window size, and if it was smaller than, say 600px you could set it to a fixed width, and for anything larger you could set it to variable width?

Such javascript is out of the question for OSNews...
I am a bit of a control freak, I want to know how exactly the site renders on all browsers at any given time.. ;)

>Secondly, regarding threaded comments, please consider having the comments nested ala Slashdot, rather than having to click on each comment ala Phorum.

I do not like the Slashdot threading. As someone pointed out, it is too much clicking back and forth. I like the old benews style, where everything is expanded at all times, and it is still threaded. Problem with that though is that the new design allows the comment tables to only "live" in a 610pix width, which is not enough for the kind of threading I want to do. I may allow variable width, ONLY to the comments pages.

>Is anybody against having the menu on the right part of the screen rather than on the left?

No way. ;)

>lynx

I want to add Lynx, Links and W3M support back. If anyone knows of a PHP script that *successfully* detects Lynx, Links and W3M please send it over. When these browsers are detected I will not use the vertical bar, so it will render nicely on these browsers. Just send me a PHP script (not javascript please).

>I think the current tables with fine borders and such makes them useless.

Under IE, it gives them a really nice 3D look. This is why I have these borders on. And as I said, most of our readers are using IE.

>Why do we only get 15 comments/pg now? I liked the 25 model better.

Because the allowed width for the stories and comments is now 610 pixels as opposed to 765 pixels in the past. If I leave it as 25 comments, the page is incredibly long, and the left hand side is really bear. But as I said, in the new forum, I may allow variable width.

Looks good!
by Rude Turnip on Mon 11th Feb 2002 17:57 UTC

The new layout looks good and encouraged me to actually click on a banner ad on the side of the screen. The fact that the banner ad was relevant (AT&T Wireless) helped, too.
If Eugenia gets paid per banner ad click, then I suggest we celebrate the new site design and show our appreciation by clicking on at least one banner ad per day for a week.

Re: Looks good!
by Eugenia on Mon 11th Feb 2002 18:03 UTC

>If Eugenia gets paid per banner ad click,

I am not the one who receives the money from the ads (or any other kind of money), as OSNews is not mine. I just do OSNews for fun.

>then I suggest we celebrate the new site design and show our appreciation by clicking on at least one banner ad per day for a week.

That would be good, yes. Thanks! ;)

1996
by Darius on Mon 11th Feb 2002 20:37 UTC

"Excuse me, but that web site is WAY too simplistic. It looks like it is 1996 again."

What's wrong with 1996? Fact is, many websites were much more pleasent to view in 1996 than they are now.
IMHO when it comes to the web, less is almost always better.

Re : 1996 (Darius)
by Jean-Baptiste Queru on Mon 11th Feb 2002 21:25 UTC

Agreed. I'd like to go back to the time when browsing the web wasn't as irritating as watching a movie on commercial TV. TV has too much wasted time (ads), the web has too much wasted space (ads, non-resizable layout, etc...).

I'm disappointed that OSNews is becoming "just another site", with lots of noise. As I'm tying this, out of 12 "news items" on the front page, only 6 are actually OS-related.

JBQ

Re : 1996 (Darius) - Jbq
by Eugenia on Mon 11th Feb 2002 22:05 UTC

>I'd like to go back to the time when browsing the web wasn't as irritating as watching a movie on commercial TV.

Good luck to your time travel.

>the web has too much wasted space (ads, non-resizable layout, etc...)

Queru.com does not have these distractions. Maybe you should stay there and not visit this and other sites then.

>I'm disappointed that OSNews is becoming "just another site", with lots of noise.

Nothing has changed on OSNews since last week. Just its layout. Even the basic design/colors and especially its content are the same as before.
I am planning to make OSNews one of the coolest tech web sites on the web. Staying the small, hobbyist web site forever, won't serve that purpose.

>As I'm tying this, out of 12 "news items" on the front page, only 6 are actually OS-related.

Our news are mostly technology news with more emphasis on operating systems. If we are only to report on OSes as per se, the number of news per day will go down, A LOT. And that would be a bad 'business practice'. Our content, I believe, is interesting (at least to people like myself), and they always have something to do with OSes anyway.

Re: Nifty outset look
by Eugenia on Tue 12th Feb 2002 01:39 UTC

>Hi Eugenia. I kinda like the design too. But I noticed that the nifty inset look of the news items borders do not work in Opera. I could resist the challenge, s recreated it with some other code, just for kicks ;-). This works in both IE and Opera, and gives the same look as far as I know:

Rogier, I tried your CSS code, but under all browsers I tried, it only creates a border for the outer table border, not for the rows and the TDs.
I had to modify it in the following way, and use it as a "class" because I do not want all tables to have borders:

.table3D
{
table-layout: inherit;
border-collapse: inherit;
background : #DDE3DD;
border : 2px;
border-color : white;
border-style : groove;
}

So, while I tried "inherit" twice, the outset look only shows on the outer border of the table, while I want it everywhere in a specified table that uses that .table3D class. Any CSS ideas are welcomed. ;)

green bar suggestion
by llamaX on Tue 12th Feb 2002 03:24 UTC

i love the new look, Eugenia, except for the green bars... one way to make them look better would be to maybe have the header at the top look like the other tables on the site, only with the logo and banner ad... just an idea.
--llamaX

Lynx support...
by marco on Tue 12th Feb 2002 04:46 UTC

... is looking good. Thanks!

Re: fixed width and comment style
by Damien on Tue 12th Feb 2002 12:05 UTC

> > Firstly, regarding the fixed/variable width page,
> > maybe you could use Javascript to detect the window
> > size, and if it was smaller than, say 600px you could
> > set it to a fixed width, and for anything larger you
> > could set it to variable width?
>
> Such javascript is out of the question for OSNews...
> I am a bit of a control freak, I want to know how
> exactly the site renders on all browsers at any given
> time.. ;)

That's a fine plan, but a bit unrealistic when you are using the one set of code for all browsers. What you could do is make your front page dynamic, rather than cached, and have a little options page for users to set their preferred window width, which would simply store the preferred table size as a cookie. Then on your pages it would get the table width from a cookie, otherwise use a default of 610 like you do now.

> > Secondly, regarding threaded comments, please consider
> > having the comments nested ala Slashdot, rather than
> > having to click on each comment ala Phorum.
>
> I do not like the Slashdot threading. As someone pointed
> out, it is too much clicking back and forth.

Then you didn't understand my suggestion. Go to Slashdot, read a story, set the comment style to Nested, then get back to me.

> Problem with that though is that the new design allows
> the comment tables to only "live" in a 610pix width,

Hence the reason you need to make your site more flexible ;)

Damien

Re: fixed width and comment style
by Eugenia on Tue 12th Feb 2002 13:52 UTC

>What you could do is make your front page dynamic, rather than cached,

There is no reason to go back to this. By having the front page dynamically generated every 1 minute we save a LOT of cpu cycles so mySQL can deliver faster when we get Slashdotted. That was a measure we took recently, as it was truly necessary. Also, even Slashdot's front page is cached. It really saves a lot!

Browser detection + static front page
by Ash on Tue 12th Feb 2002 14:23 UTC

You could do some fairly cheap detection in something like mod_rewrite and do a [L]ast to one of two periodically generated static files, one . That way folk can still get slash to see the latest news.
mod_rewrite is fab for making URLs clean and meaningful, and less dependent on how you happen to service a request at present.
Also do the pricegrabber folk care about their stuff not going out to certain users?
Last niggle, it'd be nicer if the top graphic linked to '/' rather than '/index.php'. Also the merits of linking a page to itself are dubious. On the front page it'd be better left unlinked.

Nice though
by Ash on Tue 12th Feb 2002 14:24 UTC

On the other hand I like that everything's still pretty readable - thanks for a worthwhile site.

Re: Browser detection + static front page
by Eugenia on Tue 12th Feb 2002 15:49 UTC

>You could do some fairly cheap detection in something like mod_rewrite and do a [L]ast to one of two periodically generated static files, one . That way folk can still get slash to see the latest news. mod_rewrite is fab for making URLs clean and meaningful, and less dependent on how you happen to service a request at present.

Honestly, I do not understand what you mean and what is you describe. Everyone can get to the latest news by going on home.php, but the idea is that if you are not using any of the text-browsers or AvantGO to NOT go to home.php but to the static index.php. C'mon, the front page is generated every 1 minute! It really saves us a bundle!

>Also do the pricegrabber folk care about their stuff not going out to certain users?

They should not really. I mean, I have taken Pricegrabber and the ads out of the Lynx, Links, W3m and Avantgo pages. These users should not be seeing Pricegrabber or ads. I have created a custom-made menu for these browsers that helps rendering better for their special needs.

>Last niggle, it'd be nicer if the top graphic linked to '/' rather than '/index.php'.

I prefer to link to index.php for my own reasons. And do not worry again, Lynx, Links, w3m and Avantgo have a different header file which links to home.php, not to index.php. I have taken care of almost everything. ;-)

>Also the merits of linking a page to itself are dubious. On the front page it'd be better left unlinked.

Not really. I find it useful and it helps the site been equally "distributed". Neither I am going to create a different header just for the homepage. I like things to be simple. ;)

Sorry
by Ash on Wed 13th Feb 2002 12:02 UTC

I didn't explain what I meant very clearly. I meant that you could keep generating the front page statically, but generate both versions, and then do the browser detection stuff in something relatively cheap to run - like mod_rewrite.
Say you had static versions index-full.html and index-text.html you could do:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{USER_AGENT} ^(blah|blech)$
RewriteRule ^/$ /index-text.html [L]

RewriteRule ^/$ /index-full.html [L]

Then you'd still be doing the bit of negotiation you want, but in a pretty cheap way, and everyone could just get '/' and know they'll get the version intended.

As for a different header on the front page it's really just a tiny bit of logic in the page that generates it, but that's up to you. Jakob Neilsen does a better rant on this than I'm likely to knock out in a few mins.

BTW is your index.php still being handled by the PHP handler, but it just has no dynamic code in? If that's the case you'll likely see better performance if you let Apache treat it as a static file and just get to banging the bits out. The overhead will be lower then. If you want to do this, but still serve it off /index.php (for historic or any other reasons) you can do:

RewriteRule ^/index.php$ /index.html [L]

(Presuming that the handler set in your apache conf for .html is the ordinary run of the mill one).

Sorry for the big pro-mod_rewrite rant. I'm just quite a fan. Plainly the same problems can be solved in a bunch of other ways, I just find that it's very effective. If you haven't got it installed already, it's worth trying and pretty simple to add.