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75 Posts Tagged 'Web Design' RSS

Split page vertically in CSS (minus pixels)

I was designing an online database application recently. The layout I wanted was, I thought, fairly simple:

  • N pixel header at the top
  • The rest of the page split vertically into two panes
  • Each pane should scroll independently

Super easy to do in CSS, right? Of course not! You can't do this:

#header {  height: 50px; }

#panels {  height: 100% - 50px; }

#top, #bottom { overflow: auto; }

This is because (of course) you can't do simple arithmetic in CSS.

I can't think of a reason why it's not supported. My browser knows the height of the window at any given point in time. The browser can surely subtract two numbers. If someone knows of a solid reason why we can't do this in CSS, please clue me in.

I can think of many reasons why I would want to do it though. The above use case is just one of them.

I really dislike resorting to this (which does work, as seen here):

#header {  height: 50px; }

#panels {
    position: absolute;
    top: 50px;
    left: 0px;
    right: 0px;
    bottom: 0px;

#top, #bottom { overflow: auto; }

Whenever I start using absolute positioning, I know something went off the rails somewhere.

The worst part isn't that CSS doesn't support this, it's that even if CSS did suddenly support it, I couldn't use it until sometime in 2023 when all the major browsers implemented it and everyone using the old browsers switched or died of old age.

April 23, 2012 @ 2:43 PM PDT
Cateogory: Programming

gaka 0.2.0

Per many commenters' suggestions and thanks to code from Steve Purcell, you can now use maps for CSS attributes in gaka.

user> (println (gaka/css [:a {:color :red}]))
a {
  color: red;}

This looks more like vanilla CSS thanks to the curlies, which is nice. You just have to keep in mind that your key/value pairs could end up being printed in random order, and order is significant1 in CSS.

It just so happens that maps are implemented in Clojure right now such that if they only have a few entries (16 key/value pairs), the order will be preserved, because you get a PersistentArrayMap instead of a PersistentHashMap. But it's highly dangerous to rely on such a thing. It could change at any time in the future.

In any case, you can also mix and match maps, lists and "flat" keyvals. They'll all be flattened That can help preserve attribute order in those cases where you need to.

user> (println (gaka/css [:a :color "red" {:padding 0} (list :margin 0)]))
a {
  color: red;
  padding: 0;
  margin: 0;}

I've also enhanced "mixins" a bit further. You can now mixin entire tags as well as attributes. Or a combination of both. Say you want a mixin that means "Make my element have no padding, and make links within the element be red":

user> (println (gaka/css [ mixin :margin 0]
                         [ mixin])) {
  padding: 0;
  margin: 0;} a {
    color: red;} {
  padding: 0;} a {
    color: red;}

You can get gaka from github or Clojars.

  1. Order is only significant in cases where you're doing things like padding: 0; padding-left: 1px. This is arguably bad CSS style, but it's valid, and it's also possible you'll have this kind of thing if you're generating CSS procedurally. But most of the time, order is not significant. e.g. it doesn't matter if you set text color first and background color second, or vice versa. So maybe this isn't so much of a problem in practice.

July 29, 2010 @ 6:59 AM PDT
Cateogory: Programming


Did you ever notice how footnotes make your writing seem more important1 somehow?

Maybe one reason is that "real" books use footnotes. At a glance, it looks like I have references2 backing up everything I say. In reality, I don't, but the connotation carries through somehow3. Now my blog seems scholarly and authoritative.

And if you're like me, you can't resist clicking footnotes to see what they refer to4. According to my estimates, by utilizing footnotes, in one fell swoop I have decreased my readers' average reading efficiency by 73%.

In any case, I've added experimental, rudimentary support for footnotes to cow-blog.

I'm loosely copying the syntax from Markdown Extra for this. Markdown is great, except when it isn't. The standard doesn't have support for some useful extensions. I use Showdown for Markdown support, and I'm probably going to work on adding more features of Markdown Extra to Showdown in the near future.

I just dread actually doing it. Showdown (like Markdown itself) is implemented as a series of hackish regex transformations of blobs of text. It's not a proper grammar. Implementing more of Markdown Extra means more regex blobbing. It's brittle and fragile and even getting incomplete support for footnotes was less than enjoyable. But at the same time I find myself wanting to do things that Markdown can't so, so I may have to bite the bullet.

(If there's a Showdown Extra out there already, drop me a URL. It'd be most appreciated. But I couldn't find one.)

  1. In reality nothing I say is important.

  2. Does my inner dialog count as a reference?

  3. Via telepathy.

  4. See?

July 27, 2010 @ 5:30 AM PDT
Cateogory: Programming

Clojure syntax highlighting via SyntaxHighlighter

How do you syntax-highlight Clojure code for display on a website? The best way I can find is SyntaxHighlighter.

Daniel Gómez wrote a brush to give SyntaxHighlighter Clojure support. I tweaked it a bit myself and integrated it into cow-blog. I also converted my favorite color scheme to a SyntaxHighlighter theme. So when I write this code:

(defn- ip
  "Given a request, return the IP.  Looks for an x-forwarded-for
  header, falls back to :remote-addr on the request."
  (or (get-in request [:headers "x-forwarded-for"])
      (request :remote-addr)))

You should see something like this:

Syntax highlighting example

...unless you're reading this via RSS, or in a browser without Javascript enabled, in which case you'll see plain, depressing black and white. But that's one nice thing about SyntaxHighlighter. It degrades nicely.

One bad thing about SyntaxHighlighter is that it doesn't play nicely with Markdown. Or rather, Markdown isn't powerful enough to let you specify the class of any markdown-generated HTML tags. If you want the <pre class="brush: clojure"> that SyntaxHighlighter requires, you have to write out the HTML by hand. But I hacked Showdown a bit to let me specify classes more easily, so I can avoid having to do that.

The code for all of this is on github with the rest of my blog.

July 21, 2010 @ 8:17 AM PDT
Cateogory: Programming

In which border-radius is abused

I threw together a new blog layout today. I scaled back the level of cows a bit (just a bit, don't worry!) Criticism / feedback welcome. (IE-related feedback should be dropped off in the circular file by my desk.)

In what is surely a prelude to the future of the internets, I'm abusing border-radius pretty heavily in this layout. border-radius is likely to become the new marquee HTML tag or text-shadow CSS attribute: Maybe an OK idea at first, but then everyone uses it so much it makes your eyes bleed.

So I figured I'd best get my border-radiusing in early while it's still cool. IE8 users, you still get pointy corners. Sucks to be you.

Also, if you have any ideas for features I should implement for cow-blog, please let me know. I've been crawling the internet looking at blogs for ideas of things to implement and features to steal, but I'm running out of ideas. It does everything I want now, but I'm not a reader.

July 05, 2010 @ 8:54 AM PDT
Cateogory: Programming

Goodbye Tokyo Cabinet, hello PostgreSQL?

The first version of this blog used MySQL; then I switched to Tokyo Cabinet. But now I've switched back to PostgreSQL. Here's why.

June 29, 2010 @ 4:32 AM PDT
Cateogory: Programming

Introducing Gaka

The CSS for my blog is now being generated via gaka, a CSS-generating library I wrote this afternoon. It's extremely simple, but it got the job done for me. I turned around 600 lines of CSS into around 250 lines of Clojure without much effort. It looks like this:

user> (require '(gaka [core :as gaka]))
user> (def rules [:div#foo
                  :margin "0px"
                   :color "black"
                   :font-weight "bold"
                    :text-decoration "none"]]])
user> (println (gaka/css rules))
div#foo {
  margin: 0px;}

  div#foo {
    color: black;
    font-weight: bold;}

    div#foo a:hover {
      text-decoration: none;}

Gaka is partly inspired by Sass, which I found very pleasant to work with recently. And it's partly inspired by Hiccup, which is a delicious way to generate HTML in Clojure.

There's more info and more examples on github.

June 28, 2010 @ 10:59 AM PDT
Cateogory: Programming

New blog engine up and running

Well, my new blog is up and running. Sorry for the temporary lack of cows in my layout. I'm dogfood-testing the blog engine in a fairly vanilla state until I work out some of the bugs. This layout is based upon barecity, a minimalist Wordpress theme that I adapted easily enough to my blog.

As a bonus, I applied a dirty hack to my RSS feed that I think should help avoid screwing up people's RSS readers with duplicate entries.

I'll write again soon with some info about the blog engine and some things I learned writing it.

(As mentioned previously, here's the code.)

June 23, 2010 @ 8:48 AM PDT
Cateogory: Programming

Breaking links is easy to do

I apologize in advance to everyone who subscribes to my blog's RSS feed, but this week your RSS reader is probably going to suddenly find 25 "new" posts from me.

My blog currently uses /blog/title as the URL scheme, with similar URLs for categories and tags etc. Soon, I'm probably going to change it to /blog/123/title, as part of the impending release of version 0.2 of my blog engine. (The code-in-progress is in a branch on github, for the daring and foolish among you.)

This way, I can change the title of a post without breaking everything. I have heretofore lacked this ability. It's easy to code, you just tell Compojure to ignore everything after the number in a route. Something like this:

(defroutes foo
  (GET ["/blog/:id:etc" :id #"\d+" :etc #"(/[^/]*)?"] [id]
    (pages/post-page id)))

It's only a few lines of code to change, but the ramifications are widespread. It'll instantly break every link to my blog, for example. At least it's pretty easy to set up a bunch of redirects in Compojure to avoid that. I think this'll work:

(require (blog [db :as db]
               [link :as link])
         (oyako [core :as oyako])
         (ring.util [response :as response]))

(defn redirect-post [name]
  (when-let [post (oyako/fetch-one db/posts :url name)]
    (response/redirect (link/url post))))

(defroutes redirect-routes
  (GET ["/blog/:name" :name #"[^/]+$"] [name]
    (redirect-post name)))

(Oyako here is the experimental ORM-like library I'm using to interface with PostgreSQL nowadays, having ditched Tokyo Cabinet.)

Changing my URL scheme is also going to mess up RSS though, because I (foolishly) used post URLs as the GUIDs in my RSS feed up to this point. This problem I don't know how to avoid. I might reduce the number of posts included in my feed temporarily, to limit the damage.

June 22, 2010 @ 4:23 PM PDT
Cateogory: Programming

Getting list of referers out of Apache logs

I use Google Analytics, but it has a noticeable lag in updating its information. When my site is being hammered, I'd like to see where all the traffic is coming from. It'd also be nice to see how many hits my RSS feed is getting, and how many images and static files are being direct-linked, which Google Analytics currently isn't tracking for me at all.

So this script will look in my Apache logs and print referers for some URL, thanks to ApacheLogRegex:


require 'apachelogregex'

raise "USAGE: #{$0} log_filename desired_url" unless ARGV[0] and ARGV[1]

format = '%v:%p %h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b \"%{Referer}i\" \"%{User-Agent}i\"'
parser =
pat =[1])
refs = {}

File.readlines(ARGV[0]).each do |line|
  x = parser.parse(line)
  if pat.match(x["%r"])
    r = x["%{Referer}i"]
    refs[r] = (refs[r] || 0) + 1
refs.sort_by{|k,v| -v}.each do |ref,count|
  puts "%s: %s" % [count,ref]

I used to use awstats for this, but it was too heavyweight and a hassle to set up and keep running. Google Analytics is a no-brainer to use, even though the accuracy isn't as good as parsing Apache logs. At least I get an idea of which of my blatherings people are most interested in.

February 21, 2010 @ 4:46 AM PST
Cateogory: Programming