As you can see, Ookii.org has gotten a revamp. Now you may wonder, why make such a radical update to a site when the content doesn't change that often? The main reason is that I wanted to get my hands dirty with some modern web technology.
While web development has never been particularly important to me, it was something I knew how to do and I kept somewhat up-to-date with. This dates back to making the site for my high school (at the time in Frontpage). However, as I'd been busy with my Ph.D. in Japan, I had very little time to keep up to date with stuff I didn't have any need to use in my research. Now that I've finished and haven't started my new job yet, it was the ideal time to brush up a little.
Back when I started this site, I wrote it in ASP.NET 2.0. I hand-rolled an AJAX library, because jQuery was years from being invented and actually AJAX support in websites wasn't all that common yet. The AJAX parts of the site used web services that returned data in XML, because no one had thought to start using JSON yet either. "Mobile browsers" at the time meant IE for Windows Mobile, which didn't support script at all and was barely on par with IE6 on the desktop otherwise. And speaking of IE6, supporting that was still very much a priority at the time.
But things have changed, and the goal was to re-familiarize myself with the state of the art. So this site is written in ASP.NET MVC 4, using the Entity Framework for data access. On the client, it uses HTML5 and CSS3, with scripts utilizing jQuery and a few related libraries. The site now has a responsive layout thanks to Zurb Foundation (try it: resize your browser window and watch the layout change), which has the side-effect of making it much more friendly for mobile devices. I've also used Knockout.
I have to say I was surprised at how much web programming has changed. ASP.NET MVC is light-years beyond the old web forms. Not only are the frameworks much better and the HTML/CSS much cleaner (at least, as long as you only target modern browsers), the tooling (in the form of Visual Studio 2012 in my case) also has improved tremendously.
Besides just redesigning the layout, I've also made a new front page that de-emphasizes the blog a little (since I don't update it that often), and instead provides a few more useful links as well as news about my Let's Plays from the associated Twitter account.
Note that not everything uses the new layout. Currently, only the blog has been updated. I intend to move other sections of the site to the new layout over time.
Let me know what you think, or if you find something that's broken.
I've made a few small changes to the site today.
The most obvious one is the picture in the header (if you're still seeing the old one, refresh the page). The old picture was a satellite image of Leiden, which hasn't been really appropriate for about five months now, but I couldn't decide on what to replace it with. A similar satellite image of Tokyo might've been nice but the old one had a nice uniform colour scheme on account of all the roofs in the Netherlands being the same colour. Tokyo is more varied in roof colour, which makes it very hard to put legible text over the image. In the end I decided on this image of the Shinkyo sacred bridge from Nikko.
The other changes are less noticeable. For one thing, my own comments are now highlighted, making it easier to see when I've replied to one of your comments. I've also added links at the bottom of the main page to page through the post archive. The category pages, which previously would show all posts in a category which led to huge pages, now show only five posts and use this same paging mechanism. Similarly, on the page for an individual post, links at the top lead to the previous and next post. This should make the blog somewhat easier to navigate.
I've also changed it so a post with images attached shows at most five thumbnails in the post display. Any further images are simply indicated by the text "N more images". This should decrease loading time for posts with lots of images, and should reduce my bandwidth usage.
Since I wrote the blogging engine used by this site myself, it lags a bit behind some other blogs in terms of features. I specifically chose to do this though since it allows me ultimate control over the look and functionality of this site, and give it a few unique twists (for example: there are, as far as I know, no off-the-shelf blogging engines that do the AJAX comment loading and calendar that I have here).
I've been working on getting some of the gaps filled. In the past week I've added post categories and more friendly URLs for the individual post pages. Also new is that the calendar now shows the number of posts for that day if you hover over a link (it's rarely more than one, but still). I've also fixed some bugs and improved the code in many places, which should make for a better experience all around.
This post is just to let you know that the e-mail addresses firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, previously used for feedback on the Channel9 and El Goonish Shive sections of the site respectively, no longer exist.
The reason for this change is the amount of spam I received on these addresses.
If you wish to contact me for any reason, including anything about those sections, please do so by posting a comment here on my blog.
Find As You Type for Internet Explorer has just reached 1000 downloads on the site: about 900 x86, and 100 x64 (and an additional 263 downloads of the source code).
And that's not even counting the downloads from Channel9 or other places that may be mirroring it. Since the IE blog linked to Channel9, and since C9 has slightly more traffic than ookii.org, I suspect it's been downloaded even more times there.
Thanks for your support everyone!