Short Stuff

I’ve been doing a lot of website stuff this week. Here’s some highlights:

W3C Working Group Sites

A few weeks ago, after long neglect, I finally updated the SVG WG page with a template that better matches the new(ish) W3C site redesign. Each working group has its own eclectic home page, which seems a bit silly to me. So, I took the template I made and converted the group pages of the WebApps WG, SVG Interest Group, and FX Task Force, and I’m talking with other W3C team contacts about converting theirs as well, though we’ll see how many switch over. From my perspective, having a consistent look&feel is important, and would make the W3C site more usable.

The new template I made is done in HTML5, with the <header>, <footer>, <article>, <section>, <aside>, and <nav> elements (and a reference to Remy Sharp’s HTML5 shiv), possibly even used correctly; the SVG WG page has a scripted live microblog feed from the @svgwg Twitter account, and an inline SVG easter egg (look for it in Firefox and WebKit nightlies).

Short Notice

I have been wanting to write or install a URL shortener on my own site for a while, so I didn’t have to rely on the brittle third-party services like TinyURL, which I feel don’t fit the spirit of the Web. They obscure the link, and act as a massive throttling point. I looked around a bit before for a custom URL shortener, but never found one that suited my fancy.

But on Saturday, after converting my URLs to have nicer, more meaningful, more RESTful names on the advice of the ever-helpful Helder Magalhães, I was in a mood to tackle the problem, and I found a great summary of some of the options by a fellow named Eric Severance. He described a better list of criteria than I’d considered, and I went with his top pick, Pretty Link by Blair Williams.

Despite the silly name, Pretty Link has almost all the features I wanted and then some. It’s easy to use, it integrates into my WordPress blog, it lets me pick a meaningful shortname, and I can shorten not only my own blog’s URLs (lots of WP plugins let you do that), but any random URL I want; it even tracks how many people have followed the links, which to me is mildly interesting, but for people more into their brand would be very handy. The only thing I’d like to see is a way to automatically publish a public page that lists all the shortened URLs and the title of each page, along with the expanded original URL; maybe I can hack that in, somehow (and maybe I just haven’t found it yet). Just for posterity, I compiled a list of all the links I had tweeted before, and dereferenced them, which you can find on my expanded URLs page.

Commenter Avatars

I’m playing a bit with my site theme. I’m happy with it overall, but I think the column width could be a bit wider; I’ve already bumped up the font size. I want to enable nested comment threads, because I think they are easier to read, but I’ll need to overhaul my theme quite a lot to do so, since it’s from an older version of WordPress.

In the meantime, I added commenter avatars. The default image is a Gravatar; as with TinyURL, I don’t like artificial centralization in avatars, and in this case, it seems particularly silly. So I cobbled together my own WordPress plugin to take an alternative approach, which I’ll blog about next time.