Site Launch: Hike New Jersey

Hike New Jersey - 2009

A little while back I mentioned that I had reclaimed an old domain of mine and was looking for something to do with it. It took about two months to pull the free time together to design and build it, but I’ve just relaunched the site: Hike New Jersey.

There are already a few great sites for trail information, milage data and directions, so I stuck with the premise of the original site from back in the late 90s and hope to inspire New Jerseyans to get out and see their local parks as much as to inform.

The Technical Notes

With the rare freedom of building a site for myself I embraced the opportunity to experiment with a few CSS3 features. With fallbacks where appropriate — and without where I didn’t feel them necessary — the site uses properties like text-shadow, box-shadow, rgba() colors and a few other tricks.

But not all the tricks are targeted only at the bleeding edge. The layering of transparent background images will work in most anything you try.

The backend was simple as well. Not wanting to turn a side project into something that feels like work its a fairly simple WordPress install with templates formed from the Sandbox theme.

Still a Work In Progress

As much as the new site is a constant work in progress, CSS3 support in browsers is as well. While working with the layout model and box-shadows I found some interesting things in all browsers in how they deal with and clip the space taken up by the shadows. Firefox 3.5 had a few extra quirks with the interaction of margins, shadows and outlines. Look for a future post coming from me after re-reading the specs and writing up some test cases.

Redesign: The New Place Name Here

Hey look, I did it!

After roughly six months of sitting on a design I was happy with I’ve found both the time and ambition to finish building an update to Place Name Here. Not quite sure what version of the site this is, but 6 seemed like a good number when I started.

Like with all previous versions of the site the new layout is fairly simple, and doesn’t use a lot of images or tricks to play things up. This site always proves to be difficult to rebuild in a uniform way because of the patchwork of different side projects, and technical demos that have been posted since the site first launched in late 1998. The new design and slightly rearranged navigation will hopefully help give a better perspective of what is hiding on the site.

Though not glitzy, there are a few tricks hiding in the new design which I’ll cover in detail in a future post. One element in particular is the code used to create a “liquid” like layout via JavaScript. If you are reading this and seeing a two column layout the left column is made of content that has been pulled out of the main column and repositioned to fill the gap on the left. This is similar to using floats where content will stack if there isn’t enough room to go side by side, but in this method I can pull content from anywhere in the flow of the main column depending on the given page — introduction content from the top, extra content from the bottom, or something I’d like to highlight from the middle.

Another new site feature is the beginning of better integration with the aggregated content on Place Name Where?. This can be seen in the combined tag searches found on pages such as the PHP tag page. This was really what I build the mechanics behind PNW for, but hadn’t gotten to any implementation before this redesign.

More about the guts of the site can be found in the updated colophon. Please take the new look for a spin and let me know what you think in the comments.

Multimedia Sharing Site Treemo Launches

Does the world need another Web2.0 Community Video Sharing Massive Group Social Networking site? Treemo thinks so, and I might agree.

Joining the likes of Flickr and YouTube and a fairly busy marketplace is the recently launched Treemo. Though its a busy space, Treemo /is/ trying to change the status quo in two noticeable ways.

The first is that they’re paying strong attention to the mobile device market on both the contribution and the consumption side. MobileCrunch covers this a bit more.

The other twist is that the company seems to be very interested in growing a socially conscious community and have set up affiliations with a number of different organizations in an effort to keep its users involved in some things besides just sharing video clips from last night’s adventure at the bar.

The site is still a bit rough around the edges (I’d love to see a more detailed progress bar while I’m uploading 12MB videos from my F30, and a few other changes) but from what I’ve seen looked solid. Ultimately like any other community oriented site, the real test will be whether it gains enough momentum to become a viable destination.

[Also of note, Camino contributor Samuel Sidler is on the staff]

Allsopp's Crazy For Microformats

Though I already had mentioned his recent Vitamin article John Allsopp has been quite busy the last week or so on the microformats front and deserves another mention.

Besides his article on microformat magic he also has a new article on Digital Web Magazine titled The Big Picture on Microformats covering many ways they are being used /today/ and has also just launched microformatique a new blog covering microformat happenings around the web including places like Yahoo! and ma.gnolia.

(If John’s name isn’t familiar to you it should be, he’s been in the industry forever and has been fairly visible with his work at westciv.)

Introducing: Place Name Where?

A week or two ago I posted some comments about working with CakePHP for an upcoming project. Well, I’m happy to announce that that project—Place Name Where?—is up.

Place Name Where? is a personal information aggregator that tries to reverse the trend of decentralized content contributions that seems to be one of the core features of “Web 2.0” sites.

Web 2.0 is great, but at a certain point one can feel too distributed. You’ve got news stories here, pictures of your pet dust bunnies over there, and in the cellar you keep your favorite wines. Each service is kind enough to provide ways to include the content you added to their site back into your own site, but typically this is limited to a presentation that doesn’t go further then “hey, look at the last 10 things I did on this other site”.

The site works by regularly grabbing several feeds associated with my accounts on the selected services and then permanently storing a copy of the data on my end. Once I’m free of the restrictions of RSS feeds, APIs or JavaScript embedding techniques I can build much more elaborate views on the data like displaying recent activity across all services or looking up all things tagged with nhl regardless of the type of thing it is. I dubbed it a “Web of Web Things” after the discussions of similar tagging and aggregation of real world Web, or Internet of Things (call them spimes, blogjects, or whatever you’d like) by Bruce Sterling, Adam Greenfield, and others.

This aggregator isn’t intended to be a stand alone site forever—though it does work fairly well as such. I need to find some time to spend working on design and integration issues, but I hope it won’t be too long until the ideas behind Place Name Where? are integrated into this site and appear both in place of the current “link” lists as well as integrated into tag lookups and maybe search results.